Storytellers – BBC the First 100 Years Movie & About Drone Photography


Chris Webb, Bob Hill, Andrew Gregory & Kieran Kelly

A most interesting evening was held with presentations from guest Andrew Gregory and club member Bob Hill.

Kieran K began proceedings by introducing his friend and fellow adventurer Andrew. Andrew has been a passionate photographer since his school days and his career has been one continuous adventure. He has climbed high altitude summits in Pakistan’s Karakoram and hiked the entire length of the Biafo and Hispar glaciers – the world’s longest continuous ice corridor. Andrew has also been involved in numerous expeditions and in 2007 received the Australian Geographic Spirit of Adventure Award for his Kayak expedition down the Negri and Ord Rivers in search of the lost crocodiles. He is planning more expeditions and adventures and producing films. The Lost Crocodiles of the Ord River and Pageant of the Waters (His journey with Kieran Kelly into Lake Eyre) are now in production.

Those of you who attended the Centenary Book Launch and Club photo will remember well the drone camera hovering overhead. Andrew was the photographer responsible and he actually brought along a drone to show us all. He then provided some background on drone photography and how this emerging technique is being used today.

storytellers-Andrew-Gregory-1Andrew told how that in the last couple of years he had become a licensed Remote Piloted Aircraft (RPA) controller which required obtaining a licence through CASA (in fact getting a private pilot’s licence). Drones are strictly regulated on how you fly them, where you fly them, not above 400 foot, or within 30 metres of people, and not in restricted areas. Andrew uses drones for photography purposes, with lots of work in the CBD in the last 6 months. Companies like Lend Lease want elevated views to show prospective purchasers what they can look forward to from example the 33rd floor of a new development. He then showed some panoramic views which consisted of 8 photos hovering at 130 metres and showed some 360 degree view taken by hovering the copter for about 6 minutes taking some 15 to 20 photo shots. Stability is important and is obtained with a combination of GPS, gyros and stabilisers, and within the actual gimbal, which holds the camera, there is a sensor. Photos still need a couple of hours of processing to correct the levels. Andrew explained how he generally looks at a monitor though being a photographer he can sense fairly much what he’s shooting. He never flies a drone with battery power at less than 80% (a battery can last up to 15 mins) and he hardly flies longer than 6 or 7 mins at a time. He spoke about how he built his drone as few are available “off the shelf’, and how this exploding technology is being put to use today e.g. inspecting under bridges and how Australian Geographic are considering commissioning him to travel around Australia to take photos in the remotest regions. A most fascinating presentation indeed.

BBC-The-MovieFollowing a short break Chris Webb introduced Bob Hill. Webby had thought for some years that it would be good to have a documentary style film on our club, something that says who we are and where we came from. A vehicle that would serve future generations as well as conveniently communicating to interested parties what we are. As Webby explained we had the material thanks to excellently maintained archives by Jackie and others, albeit in varied formats and what we needed was someone with the expertise and contacts to put it together. We were fortunate to have Bob Hill within the club and when Chris discovered his background asked him if he could assist. The Centenary Book of course gave the project some impetus. Bob agreed and the Board was able to provide some dollars so we now have our film for posterity which our grandchildren can view with amusement and awe. Bob then took to the floor and provided some background on himself and pointed out the challenges he and the others faced in the journey to producing a product ‘The Movie’ that will inform in the first instance and hopefully entertain.

Bob has been involved in film for some 40 years, predominately as a Production Designer and Art Director. He’s been a member of the Club for some 20 years, but really hasn’t been swimming regularly until the last 4 or 5 years. He was always doing commercials or film shoots in the summer and used it as ready-made excuse not to compete in racesstorytellers-movie-bob-hill. Anyway, now he’s sort of “quasi retired” he discovered that he should have been doing it all along! He started his career working on documentaries at Film Australia, and now found himself coming full circle with the Beach Club film. Most of his career was working on big TV commercials – a lot for overseas clients but after all that, he’ll probably be remembered for the Pro Hart carpet commercial – where he slides around in the spaghetti. He also designed about 16 or 17 feature films… including the stupendous beach-themed flop “The Coolangatta Gold”.

The Beach Club film took Bob about three months of pretty solid work. He shot footage for the 2013 Jack Cox for background, and then decided to cut a short film from it. He shot the interviews for the film in January and then (apart from a couple of additional interviews) started to put it together with a mate, Russell Kilbey, an accomplished editor and filmmaker … in Sutherland! He must have done 20 trips out there! Finally, we had a version ready for the Centenary Ball.

The biggest challenge of the film was to find a story that he could hang the images on: Kieran and Jackie provided that. The last thing he wanted was a pile of “talking heads” and old photos … It would have been just one long PowerPoint presentation.

The film is shot on high definition digital, with a mix of Go Pro and old formats like 16mm thrown in from the archives. The stills were all graded to fit the tone we were looking for. It’s a hell of a lot more work than people would believe. They also found themselves tracking the book in the film’s construction – as it just logically went that way. Jackie’s archives were terrific, but Bob also researched more from the Mosman & Manly libraries.

Bob then showed the complete film, a marvellous effort of encapsulating one hundred years of the BBC into some 16 minutes. For those whom were unable to attend the viewing at the Storytellers or want to watch again, the film is available on the recently upgraded club web site .. under Gallery then Video.

Hearty thanks were extended to Andrew and Bob for their entertaining presentations. Thanks also to Webby, Kieran and Jackie for their contribution in making the evening a success. Good promotional poster from Mark S too which did the trick and encouraged 50+ attendees!!!

Finally we wished the BBC adventurers soon departing for Malta the very best and naturally we are hoping for some stories upon their return!! Not everything that happens on tour has to stay on tour ….

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