SanFran 30th Birthday Film (Ten Years Later)

 I finally finished a film I started way back in 2012. That's right, one of the first films that I shot seriously on my then-new Canon 5D Mark II was my 30th Birthday trip to San Francisco. After the trip, life and other camera adventures came at me hard, which meant this particular movie got put on the biggest of all back-burners, being finished just before I turned 41...

We had planned to visit New York City in Nov 2012, for my 30th birthday celebrations. A hurricane called Sandy put a hold on that idea. After many hours on the phone and being given the option to visit elsewhere in the states, I thought "Captain Kirk's crew visited San Francisco once, how about there?" This film captures the end result of that spontaneous decision - a truly unforgettable and amazing holiday, in one of America's greatest cities. (This video also holds the current record for longest time spent to edit... 11 years!)

I won't wax lyrical here about the many delays and reasons for them. As I say - life! Paid projects, short films, music videos, new jobs, being married, raising a family and... eventually ditching the 5D MkII for the wonderful (and equally as unedited) Sony A7S...

I had tried to edit this film over the years, but kept falling down rabbit holes with the many hundreds of photographs that I also took on this trip. Determined to do something different this year, I made sure that I put half an hour aside at least once a week to knuckle down and finish this job, without being distracted by photos - until the end. That process started in January, and I eventually finished in October!

The quality of the footage when I sat down to edit this year, and perhaps in years past, was also... awful. Had I dialled in the wrong setting? Was there something in the old Canon workflow that I had forgotten to implement, since I had sold the thing and stopped using it back in 2015... The blacks were crushed within an inch of their lives, and yet I had shot many films on this camera before this particular trip - whatever was going on, I had long forgotten the solution.

Literally not knowing what it was that I used to do with the camera to get the footage right, I started experimenting from scratch and eventually added a manual colour correction curve that brought back the detail - and voila! The pictures suddenly came to life, and with it, my enthusiasm for finishing this film. Until that moment, I did not quite perhaps realise the how much the terrible quality of the rushes had been affecting my motivation to want to spend time editing these clips.

In the process of all this tinkering, I did also manage to create some stunning HDR photos after all! I have vivid memories of taking far too much kit with me on that trip, hoisting a full tripod and several lenses with me most days. Far too much effort for hardly any decent photos - or so I thought. Again, thanks to some modern day tinkering, I had a little faith restored in the efforts and hard work of my past self - I just needed the right post-processing tools to bring them to life. I've included a few below.

Shout out to all of the amazing places and people we visited, and a special thanks to the great and awesome musician that is Sammy Patrick. He graciously allowed me to film him playing a set in the (now closed) Jack's Bar, and said it'd be "totally awesome" if his music featured in the end movie. I'm happy to say his music sets the tone in a few places, and I'd thoroughly recommend you all visit his site, and get a load of his authentic Californian sound.

Also, thank to the amazing website and resource for some amazing music, that really makes this film transform from a set a of clips, to a series of magic memories.

The following music was used for this media project:

Music: Time Travel by Frank Schroeter
Free download:
License (CC BY 4.0):

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Easy Lemon by Kevin MacLeod
Free download:
License (CC BY 4.0):

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Eastminster by Kevin MacLeod
Free download:
License (CC BY 4.0):

Hazel and I had an absolute blast - and I can't wait to take the whole family back there one day.



Hazel at the Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

Inside Alcatraz

HDR Archway, Golden Gate Bridge

Return of The Jedi vibes, in Muir Woods

The Palace of Fine Arts