Luckily back home, but far from finished

I’ve now been back in the UK for a little over a week, but it could have been very different. The last post was about our ‘interesting’ flight back from Lukla, and after the (actually quite minor) psychological trauma it inflicted I have not updated the blog, but after a certain piece of information was pointed out I thought I ought to mention it.

This was Lukla on the day we flew out.

OK, so not too bad, but what you have to remember is the entire area is surrounded with quite large mountains that are not very visible when covered by clouds, and the planes that fly in and out of here don’t have any fancy radar or instrument landing systems. Simply put, if you can’t see it, you don’t fly there, and if you can’t see through it, you don’t fly through it.

We got out. We knew we were luckily, just not quite how lucky.

We were on one of only two flights that got out that day (31st October 2011, for reference). Lukla then was shut for a little while. Actually a week, and they were still working through the backlog yesterday (9th November 2011), so if we hadn’t got out, we might still be in Nepal today.

The biggest thanks needs to go to our porter, D.B. Tamang, who despite technically being off the clock found us moping into our drinks in the early afternoon with the rallying cry of ‘first flight! you on first flight! coming now! airport now!’.

This was despite the fact that the previous afternoon when re-confirming our flights I was sure we had been put on the third flight, which for clarity did not actually make it that day.

We’ve contacted the trekking agency to get an extra bonus tip to him. Only fair, and he was great throughout.

So in the end we got back to Kathmandu on the day, if not the time expected. And as expected the Kathmandu Guest House had made a hash of our booking, so we stayed at the Excelsior around the corner. Although it doesn’t have the gardens and bar area, it does have a nice roof terrace in a traditional 6 stories up not sure if it’s safe nepali style.

What this doesn’t give an impression of is the noise of the streets below.

Of course it will, once I’ve pulled together all the various threads of the Stop Frame Everest film. But i do think it may be some time away, just down to pure logistics


I have around 25,000 photos and a few hundred video and sound clips to pull together, So far, in a week, all I’ve managed to do is put archive pictures into fairly generic folders based on where taken. I’ve started to work out the best way to go to video from stills with stabilisation, but it aint easy.

So lots of beta, like this;

The film will take a good few months, but I’m hoping will be ready for a premier at one of the Leamington Underground Cinema events in February – i.e. debut on the big screen at the Apollo.

And I’ll keep you all updated with teasers.

BTW – donations are still open now I’ve actually done the bleeding trek


Stop Frame Everest Film trailer

Just to add to the obvious buzz my last post has generated (a pathetically low number of views but beats my previous top daily number), I’ve spent at least an hour putting together a first draught of a trailer for the stop frame film I’m doing.

One of the things I’ve realised doing this is how difficult it is to do a trailer when you haven’t actually shot any footage for the film. This makes me understand (but not sympathise) with the following facts

  • All film trailers bear little resemblance to the film they are advertising, unless they are comedies in which case
  • All film trailers have 95% of the funny bits within so you may as well not bother going to see them, unless they are made a year in advance of a blockbuster summer release, in which case
  • All film trailers are the exact opposite of the meme they propose in the brief imagery you are supposed to use to work out what the hell it is about. And if they trailed it a year in advance, I don’t fancy the chances of it being remotely watchable

Great blog on this by Mark Kermode here by the way.

So with this is mind I’ve made a non-resembling un-funny meme-free trailer in the course of half an evening (music included).

Constructive Criticism

Its always nice to get some constructive criticism, and that’s exactly what I got via Facebook from a friend –

“That new one’s much better Nick – I have some criticisms to make but they are mere technicalities:
1. There appears to be a lack of dancing girls.
2. When you turned left at the Town Hall, you obviously weren’t thinking ‘straight’. You should have carried on to the Avenue and sunk 5 or 6 pints of Guinness.
3. Goto 2”
He continues,
“All the best and don’t fall down any holes with that camera glued to your mush. Coming off the kerb in Warwick Street isn’t too bad – I hear they have slightly steeper drops where you’re headed.”

Well I’d already thought about the first one. The history of stop-frame animation – essentially what cinema evolved from – is long, illustrious and filled with many examples of great endeavour, creativity and art. As I looked back down into this potential well of inspiration, my mind’s eye settled on one crowning glory that would be a fitting end for our trek, to be re-created at Everest Base Camp;

A heartbreaking work of staggering genius.

Yep, the classic BH chase. Sure that won’t be too hard to organise at 18,000 feet in sub zero temperatures.

As for points 2 & 3, well I’m going to limit those to before leaving & after the trek (though I’m sure a few scoops will be had on the way down).
Considering his last point on the practicalities (and just effort), I’m looking into a shoulder mount. Though I don’t fancy the look of this one;

Another video test

So just went out and did another test on the whole stop frame video thing. This latest outing involved me fixing a few of the previous technical errors;

  • Looking through the viewfinder
  • Keeping it in focus
  • Keeping the horizon level

It also involved taking more photos – one every five paces, so the clip below is a composite of around 400 photos rather than the two hundred of the previous.

Considerably smoother, however considerably more faff. Also consider the route for this test, as shown below –

is around 0.9 miles according to google maps. Now not many people measure the Everest trek in miles, as it is more about ups, downs, altitude and time, but I’ve heard 75 miles from Lukla being bandied about. So if we do a simple calculation on this basis, even just taking photos one way (which I now intend to do) you get 33K images. Not to mention knackered arms.

Out of interest I did a comparison between the first and second test eliminating the addition photos (by removing every other photo on the second test) to see how much difference paying attention to the shots. The video below has them side by side – the second one on the left.

Even with the frames taken out, it is noticeably smoother. So down to 17K photos then? Just noticed the battery took a bit of a hit, which is also a worry. Not back to the drawing board yet, but certainly major fiddles with the plan.