Richard Sidey, Digital Media Designer
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Hazel Boot - Home (a pinhole music video)

'Home' is an artistic collaboration between two New Zealand creatives, singer / songwriter Hazel Boot and independent filmmaker Richard Sidey, in response to the Christchurch Earthquakes, where the two artists have called home. Filmed entirely on a makeshift pinhole camera, the video was recorded on the Pacific coast in Sydney, looking over the ocean towards New Zealand. The next day Richard edited the footage onboard a 3-hour flight back to Christchurch, 12,000 feet above the Tasman Sea.

"It's about feeling at home In your own skin and about feeling really grounded" Hazel describes. "It's about being in an unsettling experience but knowing that all is well."

Making the Pinhole Music Video
The pinhole camera was constructed with a Canon SLR camera body, minus the lens, some tinfoil, sellotape and pin-sized holes to create an aperture. The diamater, shape and multitude of pinholes was varied throughout the recording of the music video, creating an original array of in-camera effects with light manipulation, layering and flaring. Aside from basic editing, absolutely no filters, colour grading or special effects have been applied in post production.


Filmmaker Richard Sidey filters sunlight through his fingers onto the pinhole camera to create dynamic lens flares
whilst filming the music video 'Home' with singer / songwriter Hazel Boot in Sydney.
Photo by Aliscia Young Photography

Richard Sidey's Synopsis
I hadn't made a pinhole camera since experimenting with them at Massey University in 2002. Back then it was a big effort to get a picture. You'd find an old Milo or Biscuit tin, put a pinhole in one end, go into a darkroom and install a piece of photo paper. Then you had to tape over the pinhole, carry the bulky biscuit-tin-camera to where your subject matter was, take the tape off the pinhole and GUESS the exposure - anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, then tape over the pinhole again, take it back to the darkroom and develop the image by hand - and chances were you got the exposure wrong and now half a day was gone.

But when you got it right the results could be epic. The pinhole creates an infinite depth of field, meaning whatever distance from the lens, the focus was equal. Light would play with your image in ways digital effects can't quite grasp. If the pinhole wasn't perfectly circular or the focal length quite right, the results would expose beyond expectations time and time again.

Then digital cameras came out. Then later even better digital cameras came out with big sensors that were super sensitive to light. A distant cousin of mine told me last year that apparently you could turn a digital camera into a pinhole camera if you tried and I never forgot that conversation. A digital pinhole photo - one that you could see the results immediately and in colour. That I had to try!

After converting my expensive professional Canon camera into the most basic photography elements - with a drill, tinfoil and sellotape, I began experimenting with digital pinhole photos with mixed results. It then dawned on me that my camera recorded HD video… imagine a pinhole video… would it be possible? was there going to be enough light through a pin sized hole to keep up a video frame rate? My Canon 5D Mark II is known for its low light ability and by amping up the ISO, in bright sunlight, pinhole video finally became a reality.

For Hazel's video, I wanted to make it entirely with this pinhole camera of mine. I've used a mix of time-lapse pinhole exposures and pinhole video. For some of the shots I have experimented with more than one pinhole, up to five on one shot. Not only does this let more light in, but it created super cool layering and sun-flare effects that I could never achieve through digital means. While shooting Hazel and I would check out the footage and the results just kept surprising us in true pinhole photography style.


Richard Sidey and Hazel Boot

Richard Sidey and Hazel Boot review footage from the pinhole camera.
Photo by Aliscia Young Photography


About Hazel Boot
Hazel Boot is a singer / songwriter originally from Canterbury, New Zealand and based in Melbourne Australia.

- Visit Hazel's MySpace page to listen to her music and for more information.