Life In A Frame

Tuesday, October 02, 2012 by Douglas And Gordon


The idea of video content originally came from Ivor Dickinson, MD, D & G, after his visit to David Hockney’s ‘The Bigger Picture’. As he had just commissioned a nine screen video wall to be erected in D & G’s new  Harrington Road office  it was an obvious  next step to look at the type of content he was going to utilise the screens for. Real Impact Productions, who had previously produced the viral comedy hit ‘Under Offer’ last year for D&G, was commissioned to create a video installation to reflect the area around the office, Kensington, and people’s lives who lived and worked there.

The Brief

To create a reflection of the location, including aspects of the people’s lives, whether relaxing, travelling, or at work. This would include the use of D & G staff to re-create some of these moments.
The videos must not be distracting, as it will be displayed in a working environment but cause people to stop, look and think. There could not be any sound, and as the videos would be on display for many months there must be something new each time you viewed. The videos would be displayed on a nine screen video wall clearly visible to passers-by, through the large glass front of the office, day and night.

Frames per Second

Today, our lives are constantly captured in a single frame like a photo, or multiple frames in a video, the use of which has increased rapidly due to mobile devices, which now seem to pervade all aspects of our lives. When we slow down or speed up those frames per second a different dimension is given to those images and the reaction they provoke from the viewer.

Filming: the cameras

We used 3 main cameras, at various different frame rates.

Phantom Gold:               filmed using 300 to 1000 frames per second   (super slow motion)
Canon 5D DSLR:             filmed using 1 to 25 frames per second
Nikon D200 DSLR:           filmed using 1 to 25 frames per second

What’s in the FRAME

In trying to make the pictures contain more than one element we constructed them much as a painting  would with fore ground, back ground and elements just in, just out or passing through. Nature and passers -by helped out in a way we could not have foretold but you’ll have to watch the videos them to discover how.


We filmed at a variety of locations in London, mainly around Kensington throughout  June and July but the abysmal weather proved to be the biggest headache with our Hyde Park shoot re- scheduled three times. There were less than a handful of the super slow motion cameras in the country at that time and trying to keep the location vehicle (Winnebago for downloading the digital footage) the talent (D & G staff and animal) the super slow mo camera and crew available became a nightmare.

Add to this the fact that Hyde Park itself was being re modelled to play host to the Olympics and we had to lean heavily on the goodwill of the Hyde Park event staff, who themselves were having their own battle with the elements. A big thank you to them for being so accommodating.

The sunsets were filmed overnight on three DSLR’S perched atop a flat near Queens Gate with stunning sunset and sunrise over the British Museum, whilst South Kensington tube and surrounding streets provided another backdrop.

Difficulties arose in trying to find a suitable rear garden for the BBQ,  and a dining room for  the ‘dinner party’ but we were luckily helped out by a D& G branch manager who kindly let us dismantle her home and re -construct her garden with several large generators and the Winnebago filling her street.

Without her patience and nerve in not screaming , especially when red grapefruit juice  (masquerading as wine ) was dripped onto her white chez lounge or when the  Lighting Gaffer dismantled her very large and ornate light fitting, it would not have been possible or half as much fun.

Finally the café location and food were supplied by Uno of Pimlico, a favourite haunt of head office personnel. On a dry, yes dry morning in July we filmed the exterior and interior scenes, again using
D & G staff as our extras that had to sit patiently salivating over plates of mouth watering food which they weren’t allowed to eat!


There is 3.5 hours of footage available to be viewed and editing of the footage itself was problematic as we wanted to do so much with it both in colour and speed.
Some initial tests, whilst very amusing would have been very distracting for anyone working near to the screens so we avoided speeding up some the DSLR footage.
 De-saturating a selection of scenes leaving black & white gave some of the pictures more contrast and depth.

The Wall

As this was a new video wall there was no template to how the video should be supplied. It could be operated from an iPad and Squint Opera where developing the software and assessing how we could transfer the video and keep the quality of the images. It took several tests over many weeks to ascertain the correct settings and we finally delivered the video content, all 3.5 hours of it.

Watch the videos - Playlist