So, here, after many months of delays (I know, I know, I promised this film would be ready for the end of March), is Kite Making Three.

In a way the delays have proved a Godsend. You’ll probably notice that there’re a distinct improvement in the time-lapse shots as the film progresses. Those in the first third of the film were all shot using my home-made dolly, with which I had been more than satisfied. But during an (all-too-brief) improvement in my finances, I finally invested in a rig from TL Pro, one which came with the ability to “move-shoot-move”. That, and the ability to perfectly time the travel of the dolly and number of shots taken, meant that I was able to exercise control over my time-lapse shots in a way I hadn’t considered before. The result was that for the first time I was able to conceive a shot and know how to execute it; rather than just set up the dolly and “see what happens”.

As is generally the case with my films, KM3 is no different in being part and parcel of a wider project – predictably one involving another kite!

I started this kite back in October 2010 and fresh from finishing the last in my Calvin & Hobbes series, was searching for a new look.

As you’ll know, if you’ve seen any of my previous kites, cartoons have a special place in my heart. But this time I wanted something a little more contemporary; something that spoke to a wider audience than Calvin.

Of the plethora of choices Family Guy stood out head & shoulders above the rest: it has a synergy with the Calvin strips of Watterson, not visually perhaps, but more in the way it comments on our world. Perfect fodder for a kite then.

I knew from a very early stage that there was only one image I wanted to adapt; something from a scene in which Lois, dressed in fetish gear, says “the safe world is Banana”, before smacking Peter, fully bedecked in a leather gimp outfit, in the mouth.

That wasn’t quite enough though. Great for one side of a kite; but what of the other?

In stepped Quagmire: who better to be on the reverse of the kite, watching Lois & Peter at play?.

Knowing what I wanted to do, I then needed to think about the kite to use as the basis of the build. My love affair with Ozone’s snowkites is well known, and so it was only natural that I expand my quiver: this time though I evicted the moths from my wallet and splashed out on a brand new 12m Manta M3.

Two days after the kite arrived it was deconstructed into its component parts (having never been flown), and adorned the every available space in my flat.

Very shortly after dismantling the kite the delays started. I blame my friend Mark for the first of them.

We were in my study one afternoon, looking at a few of the time lapses I’d shot for the early parts of Kite Making Three, and discussing our plans to visit Nevada in early 2011, when Mark pipes up “you should build one of these for the guys at NABX you know”.

That conversation was responsible for diverting my attention (I’m easily distracted) for at least three months!

January rolled round as the NABX kite progressed and brought some excitement with it, in the form of an ambulance ride to A&E. A week in hospital, and strict instructions to take it easy after that, meant more delays. I finally finished the NABX kite in March, and was looking forward to getting back to work on my own kite, when yet more hospital time beckoned. Two weeks this time.

My health improved to the extent that NABX was back on the cards and during the event I meet so many wonderful people, and started so many video projects, that it was not until the end of May 2011 that I picked up work on the Family Guy kite.

All the delays proved a boon though. I’d been through a steep learning curve on the NABX kite, and with the video work, so much so that when I came back to this project I found that I was able to progress very quickly – whilst filming the entire process without undue delay. Even so, it was still several month’s work until the day finally arrived when I closed the trailing edge.

Now it’s over I’m still glad I did it, still happy with the design and quietly proud of the result. I do think this is my last cartoon though. Time to move on I think!

Things you might like to know:


Moving images shot at 24p 1920×1080
Ripped using MPEG Streamclip to APR(HQ)
Edited in FCP using APR(HQ) – I can’t be bothered with proxy codecs
Exported for Vimeo using H.264 (highest quality, multi-pass encoding), AAC Audio codec, highest quality 44.100/320kbps

Timelapses shot at full size jpeg 5616×3744 (raw takes too much time to convert)
Batch processed to 4096×2731 in PS (4k being the highest res FCP can handle)
Imported into an FCP project with sequence set up: 4096×2731, square pixels, APR(HQ) codec, editing timebase 23.98fps
Exported as .mov ready for re-importing into my editing sequence.


Canon EOS 5D MK2
24-70mm F2.8L
70-200mm F2.8L
Steadycam Merlin
TL Pro Stage Zero Dolly
Final Cut Pro 7
After Effects CS5


Trentemoller “Take Me Into Your Skin” from the album “The Last Resort”

The Chemical Brothers “Container Park” from the album “Hanna”


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