It’s been a busy ol’ start to the year, with preparing photos for the National Whisky Festival, then the promotion and launch of our little 30 litre casks and now, finally, the opening of our pre-orders for the very first Raasay Single Malt. It’s here!
On Friday at noon, our big announcement went live, along with our shiny new webpage featuring shots and video stills I’ve taken over the year. The big debut for me though was a one-minute video that had kept me up all night for days on end: it’s called The Story So Far.
The basic premise was to try and show the ‘journey’ of the Raasay Distillery since 2016, bringing about a sort of nostalgic feeling to highlight the achievement of what we’ve done so far and hopefully get people invested in our future whisky. The inspiration came from a couple of shots in a beautiful short film made for The Singleton 25yo release called “Drop to Drop”:
That idea of a film or footage projected onto a cask or still just sparked an idea in my head and reminded me of a project I had helped with in Kyleakin a few years ago called Travelling the Archive. The idea was to highlight old photographs taken around Kyleakin and the execution of it involved some pretty extensive projection art and lighting installations in multiple locations.
I was only able to help out for a couple of nights, but the effect of projecting onto outdoor locations and sort of matching up old photographs with the current view was very clever and stuck with me ever since. Now I didn’t have a whole team of people to help me, but probably the biggest hurdle was that I didn’t have a projector and only a five-day deadline on the entire project! I quickly jumped onto Amazon Prime and looked the cheapest somewhat-decent quality LED projector I could find, and eventually came up with this:
This Elephas projector cost only £50, which is a pretty good deal for 220 lumens, HD projection and a robust enough build quality that it could handle a few bumps as I moved it from location to location. With that ordered, I then had to cut together a film, which really amounted to creating a 25-minute long highlight reel of all the best video clips of the distillery I’d taken so far, along with time lapses of the build and other TV/news reports made about the distillery. I decided not to throw them all onto the projector as separate files, as when testing this out I found some didn’t files play, some were an odd aspect ratio and some refused to even appear on the projector menu screen. With one long, uninterrupted video I knew exactly what I was going to get each time and I knew that pressing play meant not having to follow up or worry about any problems in playback. the projector arrived within a couple of days and the shoot could begin:
It was the old trusty 50mm prime lens on the A7III that I used for all the recording and it was, as always, flawless. I know I rant continuously about how much I love the A7III, but really just the ‘fire and forget’ nature of it in these situations makes everything so much easier. You know the battery is going to last all day, you know the autofocus, ISO and 4K are just going to bring out the best possible picture, and you can trust that any audio you need to record is going to come out crisp (with the right mic). The only issue can be overheating when recording in 4K, and that can limit you to the 25-minute mark of recording occasionally, but shooting in a freezing cold distillery after hours probably mitigated that problem.
In the end, I did upwards of 10 different shoots, projecting onto different surfaces for the entire 25-minute highlight reel and recording each in full 4K. For three days, I worked 9- 5, going home for some rest, back at 10 after distilling finished and projected/recorded until about 3AM. Absolute nightmare, but it meant that when it came to the edit I had every shot projected in every location to play with, making the final edit a dream to do. Normally you’re trying to edit around missing shots but with this, I’ve been left with hundreds of beautiful shots that I can use for future projects.
I was really pleased with how this came out in the end, but I do think overall the film is a bit short. Because of the short production window and also trying to angle it as part-advert part-short film, I think it suffers from being slightly abrupt towards the end. However, with a bit more time and planning, I do think I could make a really interesting piece out of what I have already and I’ll certainly be using the raw footage for a future project. Other than that, I also got a nice photo of a magazine feature we had:
So a busy week to finish a busy old month. But it’s been some great, creative fun that really makes me step back and appreciate what a brilliant job I have here, in that I get the chance to actually create these videos to my own standard and ideas. With all that out of the way now though, I managed to get a few other bits and pieces done today- namely getting out for a run in the Golf, which was long overdue:
I had forgotten just how smooth, nippy and comfortable the Golf is, especially having now switched to my wonderful (but rickety!) Jimny. Driving over potholes and reclining with the comfy seats and cruise control was great and reminded me just how much I love this car and also just how many thousands of miles I’ve racked up in her since 2017. However, when I stopped at the wee pier to check on the boat I tried to start her and had trouble turning her over. Suddenly, the reality of why I really need to sell her quite quickly returned. She’s a great car, but keeping her on Raasay and having her sit about is just a waste.
Anyway, a good, productive Sunday and, now that Raasay House is open, next week myself and Mary might be able to get there for a long overdue celebratory dinner. I’d kill for a burger.