dM in the local press

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Got a nice little article about doodledoMOTION in this week’s Greater Manchester Business Week in their new feature – ‘Brief Introduction’.  Pretty pleased with it, but we really could do with a better publicity photo – this was one the paper took back in 2011 at The Sharp Project official opening!

The article is also on the Manchester Evening News website here.

USA Adventure 2012

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I’m just recovering from an amazing (but exhausting!) 2 weeks travelling around America!

I decided earlier this year that with a major (and unwelcome) birthday coming up, I’d arrange to be out of the country for it, and so the planning for a trip to the States was begun!  I spent ages working out the trip – flights, trains, coaches, hotels – and surprisingly, it all went really smoothly!

DAY ONE: Chicago

The journey started on the 6th October, when I flew out from Manchester to Chicago.  We left the UK on the Saturday morning, and after an 8½ hour flight, got into Chicago O’Hare Airport early afternoon (the magic of time travel! 😉 )

Actually, the descent into Chicago was quite memorable because when you first come through the clouds, you see a cluster of skyscrapers by what looks like the sea, but of course is Lake Michigan, and then from that the city sprawls for miles upon miles.  Also, I won’t forget it in a hurry because as we were dropping towards the runway, the plane suddenly started pulling up again, and we went into a massive circle pattern over the city – the pilot told us that air traffic control had accidentally put us on the shorter of the two runways, which wouldn’t have been long enough for our landing, so they aborted right at the last minute!  For someone who’s not the greatest flier, that’s not really what you want to hear!

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Sharp Project launch and some publicity!

It’s been 10 months now since doodledoMOTION moved into the Sharp Project, and last week saw the official opening of the building with the handover from the developers to Manchester Council.
When we moved in last September, there were a lot less people in there, but now most of our section is full, the original part is quite full, and the 2 main production stages have standing sets in them for ‘Mount Pleasant‘ and ‘Fresh Meat‘.

With the official opening, the final Gold section is now taking tenants – I don’t think we’re in a massive rush to move down there because I actually like the quirkiness of our converted shipping containers, and the amount of space we’ve got works well for us.

Anyway, it was a busy night, with a load of BMX riders and skateboarders racing past our unit for most of it, although I don’t really know who any of the invited guests were.  I’m guessing a lot of them were council-related people as opposed to any from the media industry, but hopefully there’ll be more events in the future that attracts a more relevant crowd.

And then yesterday, following on from an interview me and James gave to a reporter at the launch night, there’s been an article published about the company in Greater Manchester Business Week (also published on the Manchester Evening News website).

To be honest, I’d have rather it’d focused on some of our other bits of work, but it’s still all good publicity. In fact the only annoying thing is they’ve got me and James the wrong way on the photo!

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Some non-work-related stuff!

We’ve been working incredibly hard recently, pulling in some all-nighters for a couple of our jobs, but instead of going on about that, I’m going to blog about some non-work stuff I’ve done over the last few weeks!

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Most recently, this weekend I’ve been down in Bristol visiting Ali, and Helen also came down so we could have a bit of a mini uni-get-together!

I was originally planning to drive down there on Saturday morning, but I’ve been doing such long hours at work, and on Friday afternoon I was totally knackered after having had just 3 hours sleep in 3 days(!), so at the last minute I booked a train ticket down there instead!

I got into Bristol around lunchtime, and walked the short distance from Temple Meads to Ali’s house.  It’s interesting to see how much the area has changed over the years. When I first visited Ali there back in the 90s, it was a pretty run-down area, but now a lot of it’s been replaced by riverside bars and restaurants, and hotels and posh apartments – and Ali’s estate is right next to it!

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Jo Brand’s Big Splash recording

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Me and James have just spent the last couple of days down in London, partly for a meeting about some more graphics we’re doing for a Channel 5 documentary later this year, but also we were down there to go to the Hackney Empire, where we were in the audience for the recording of Jo Brand doing stand-up for a show that’s going to be on Dave later this year.

doodledoMOTION are doing titles and graphics for the 5-part series called ‘Jo Brand’s Big Splash’, which will mix the stand-up gig with a documentary about water, which sees Jo trying out loads of different activities including swimming, diving and rafting.

Because we were guests, we got front row circle seats, so there’s a good chance we could end up in some audience shots in the final edit.  And knowing the way editing works, I can almost guarantee that they’ll cut us laughing at some innocent joke as the reaction to something really inappropriate!!

It was actually a really good gig – I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d find it that funny, but I think Jo’s comedy has become a lot more inclusive, whereas in the past it had quite a reputation of being feminist and man-hating. I don’t really know whether it ever really was, but that’s kind of what gets associated with her!

Straight after the show, we went up to the green room for a few beers and to hang out with the crew and people from the production company and UKTV, and Jo also came up for a bit after she’d finished signing autographs at the stage door.

Then, once stuff had been packed up at the theatre, we went to a nearby pub with the production guys, and then a few of us went on to get some food in some part of London I didn’t really know!  To be totally honest, we had a few beers, and I was definitely aware that I was a bit tipsy as the night went on… I was certainly talking a bit more than I usually do!!

Not exactly sure when the show airs but will post about it when I know!
Just another quick mention for work stuff – a couple of weeks ago we did the opening title for a programme that went out on BBC1 called ‘The Street That Cut Everything’.

It was shown on Monday 16th May, with the first part showing at 9pm and then concluded after the 10 o’clock news. And in the morning they did a feature on BBC Breakfast with the documentary’s presenter Nick Robinson in the studio, with our main graphic appearing on video wall throughout.

May Day walk in Rivington

Well today’s been the 4th bank holiday in 2 weeks which is rather odd!  We obviously had Easter last weekend, but on Friday it was the Royal Wedding, which I actually managed to avoid watching at all, and instead went and did some shopping at IKEA, which was probably the quietest I’ve ever seen it! I’d planned to buy some storage furniture for my new bathroom, but I’m struggling to find something I like – I did find a unit there that I thought might work, but when I went to collect it I discovered that they’d discontinued the shelves needed to go inside it! So the search continues!

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Anyway, today was May Day bank holiday and I found out that there was a walk being arranged for the Vinelife / Reach crowd, so I headed up north of Bolton to tag along.

We all met up at Rivington Hall Barn, which really is in the middle of nowhere! I got a little bit lost – my SatNav first tried to take me across a golf course, and then eventually led me to a random collection of cars amongst some trees! Luckily, as I was pulling up, Dan and Gemma arrived as well, along with a few others, and we took an educated guess at which direction to take to get us to the main barn where everyone was meeting.

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There was quite a crowd really – I knew a reasonable proportion of the people there, but I did feel quite an outsider to be honest.  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised about that really!  It was nice to get out into the countryside though, and we all made our way up to Rivington Pike which is the top of Winter Hill, and has a great view of the surrounding area stretching for miles and miles. It was very windy up there – it’s all quite exposed, and it felt at times like you could get blown off the hill!  Luckily there’s a tower at the top you could use a shield when it got a bit intense!

There are some photos of the walk here on Facebook.

On Easter Sunday I went down to Tamworth to visit family – the first time this year!

In the morning, I went to church with my mum, sister and the twins, and then in the afternoon, we took them down to the fair in the Castle Grounds. It was a proper old-school funfair, and Chloe went on the teacups ride with Vicky, but Brandon wasn’t really up for trying any of them! He’s not quite as adventurous as his sis!

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Then afterwards, we took them to the kids’ playground nearby and they played there for a bit before we grabbed some ice creams!  And then we headed back tomum’s to break into some Easter eggs!

One final thing – I finally ordered myself a new washing machine yesterday! It’s been over a year since my old one died, and I’ve been using the launderette ever since!  I’d decided to wait until I’d got my kitchen done before replacing it, and I now have done… only a few months late!

The year so far…

It’s been a while, so here’s a bit of a catch up!
Yesterday I went to Liverpool Cathedral to hear Rob Bell talk about his new book – ‘Love Wins‘. I’d seen him do a Q&A at Greenbelt last year, so was quite interested to hear him in person talk about his new book which has already caused a bit of controversy within the church.

It was quite bizarre because quite a few influential people were highly critical of it via Twitter, even before the book had actually been released, so I decided I’d rather make my own mind up, rather than listen to emotional ramblings from people who can come across a bit arrogant at times!

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I went with Tom Green from Vinelife, and met up with Dave Bateman (who’s now living in Liverpool), and I also bumped into Tim Follin and his wife who were both there too. The place was pretty packed, and it was really interesting to hear his thoughts, but even though I think some of the stuff he said was quite though-provoking, I’m not totally sure I agree with all the points he put across.

After he did his main talk bit, he was ‘interviewed’ by the host of the evening, but he wasn’t really very good at it and asked pretty rubbish questions.  And then they invited people from the audience to ask questions, but again I thought there were a lot of missed opportunities, and Tom went forward to ask a question, but they wrapped up just before he got a chance to which was a bit annoying!

I bought the book afterwards, and I want to read it myself to see what I reckon – I certainly think it’s good that he’s causing people to ask questions about it.

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Christmas and new TV!

Yet another Christmas has been and gone… and for this one I decided to stay at home and cook myself a Christmas dinner in my brand new kitchen!

I think Christmas dinner has to be the best meal you can have! It has so many different things in it, and you’re kind of allowed to over-eat for that one meal!

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I cooked a joint of turkey and a joint of gammon, and also had he full works with sausagemeat stuffing, bacon wrapped around sausages, roast potatoes, and loads of veg!  It was washed down with a nice glass of wine whilst watching Christmas Top Of The Pops on iPlayer live on my laptop!

And by the time the Christmas pudding made it onto the table, I couldn’t have been more festive if I’d tried!

Once I’d had my dinner I just relaxed and watched TV for the rest of the day! It was a proper lazy day, and I did actually enjoy it!

And last week, just before New Year, I popped down to Tamworth to visit my mum, sister and the twins, and give them their Christmas presents.  I bought Brandon and Chloe some Lazy Town costumes – a Sportacus suit for Brandon, and a Stephanie outfit for Chloe.  The only problem was that it freaked them out a little bit!

Obviously they’re so used to seeing those characters on the TV that they couldn’t get their heads around the fact that they could dress up as them! Maybe they’ll play with them sometime in the future, but I don’t reckon they’ll get much use in the immediate future!

And in other news, I’ve bought a new TV for my living room!  I’ve had a big widescreen CRT for about 10 years and I thought it was time to get myself a HD set.  I’ve bought a Samsung 37″ Freeview HD internet TV – and it’s got BBC iPlayer and YouTube built in. I’m quite pleased with it… now I just need to get Sky HD and a Bluray player!

America – YEAH!

Well, I’ve just got back from an amazing two weeks in the USA!

I’d never been there before, so when I got an invite to Emma McNeil’s (now Patterson!) wedding to Gerald in North Carolina, I decided that it’d be really cool to be there for that, and also to discover a bit of America at the same time!

I flew out from Manchester Airport on Tuesday 7th, and got on the plane around lunchtime, but not before being selected for a security check as I was boarding!  I guess it was because I was travelling on my own, but it’s funny how you start to feel guilty when you’ve not actually got anything to hide!  About 8 hours later I made it into Newark Airport – and it was really weird being able to see such iconic views as the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty as we came in to land!  After a bit of a delay waiting for my next flight to Greensboro, I finally boarded what can only be described as a coach with wings!  It was a 50-seater, small 2-engine plane, that was incredibly narrow with just 3 seats across, and an aisle separating one of those!  It was a bit of a bumpy journey – I’m not the most experienced flier, so it doesn’t take too much to make me a bit nervous! But we eventually landed safely at Greensboro airport quite late, although my awareness of time was a bit screwy due to the time difference!

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After getting through the airport, I met up with Emma and her mum, as well as her brother and his family who’d also just flown in, before picking up the car I was hiring for my time in North Carolina. It was a little automatic Chevrolet, and I then had to follow them back to her apartment on the other side of the city – which considering I’d only driven on the right-hand side once before in 1997, and this time it was also dark, it was quite an experience! I was actually quite relieved it was an automatic because it meant I didn’t have to worry about changing gear with the wrong hand!

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My new kitchen

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For the last couple of months I’ve pretty much been without a kitchen, because recently I finally got around to getting it extended and re-fitted, making it just over double it’s original size.

It was so small before – you could pretty much stand in the middle and almost touch all the walls!  I originally had plans drawn up in 2005, but it’s taken this long to get my arse into gear!  The builders started work on the foundations in mid-October, and then just before my birthday, they knocked a hole through the back wall, so I’ve been pretty much without a kitchen from then until now.

I’m really pleased with it – the kitchen units are from IKEA, and I’ve got a Velux window in a sloping roof above the far end which looks really cool and lets in a load of extra light.  In my original plans it had a flat roof and 2 windows, but I took the opportunity to get them re-done so opted for just one window meaning I could have cupboards on the outside wall.  I still need to put some flooring down – I’ve bought some laminate which Rob’s going to help me with soon, but it’s so good to be able to cook food in something other than a microwave!

Tom’s wedding

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Last weekend I trekked down to Bideford for a pretty special day – Tom Green’s wedding to Vicky!

Tom’s probably my oldest friend – we spend pretty much all our time together when we were kids… whilst at school we tried to start TV and radio stations, produced the school magazine and a yearbook, made a short film, wrote a ‘commercial’ computer game that earned us about £100(!), plus loads of other crazy ventures!

And then after school, we’ve kept in touch, firstly helping start up a community radio station together, and we’ve both then taken career paths in media – Tom in radio and me in tv and video.  We even shared a house together in Birmingham in the summer of 1997!

Anyway, Tom’s been living in the UAE for the last few years, and was in Cairo before that, so we don’t see other loads, but do keep in touch online, and have caught up when he’s been back in the UK visiting family.

So when I was invited to his wedding down in Devon, there was no way I was going to miss it!  It was a heck of a long journey down there from Manchester, but I stayed at a Travelodge on the M5 the night before to break it up a little bit, and then stayed in Bideford on the Saturday night after the reception.

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The wedding service itself was in a really picturesque village church, and then everyone drove into the town for the reception in a hotel at the side of the river.

It was great to see them getting married – I’d not met Vicky before, but we had spoken once on a Skype call about a month ago! And I also got to catch up with Tom’s sister Ellen, who I hadn’t spoken to for about 20 years!  It was a bit mad, because when I was younger, she was just Tom’s kid sister who we didn’t really have anything to do with, because that’s how it is when you’re kids!  But it was really nice to see her now with her partner and young daughter, and just seemed really happy with life and stuff.

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I also got to meet a few of Tom’s radio mates, which was cool – they were people I’ve heard him mention in the past, but never seen before.  And it was good to say hello to his mum and dad, who again I’ve not seen for a very long time!

I’ve uploaded photos from the wedding here.

One extra thing – after the robbery at our old office, we’ve now moved the business into a new place.  It’s in east Manchester, in a brand-new complex called The Sharp Project, and it’s designed to house digital and media businesses, as well as offering studio space to production companies.  It’s pretty exciting, and we’ve only been in there a month, but hopefully it’ll prove to be a really good move for us!

Summer 2010

Thought I’d better do a bit of a recap about what’s been going on over the summer, and I supposed the first thing I need to blog about is that we had a bit of a setback at work last month when we had a break-in at the office.

Basically, the whole top floor of our building was targeted, and the burglars broke into about 50 separate units in all! Most businesses had stuff stolen, but it seems like we were the worst hit, with us losing 3 iMacs and a Macbook Pro, plus all our filming kit comprising of a Sony EX3 and Z1, as well as a load of audio stuff as well.  It’s been a pretty horrible experience – luckily we’ve only lost a bit of work since they didn’t take our server or external hard drives, which would have destroyed us really since we hadn’t really got a decent back-up of all our work. But it’s just so gutting that you put so much time and effort into building the business to have some scum just take it away from you.

Anyway, we’re currently looking at options for what to do next – hopefully we’ve got a new office lined up because I really don’t want us to go back to our old one, because I think it might just happen again if they don’t sort out the security issues.  Should have a clearer idea of the future soon.

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On to happier stuff… at the beginning of August, Rob and Clare got married in a field in Mellor (a small village not too far from Stockport), and I was one of the 12 ushers who were all dressed fully in white!

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Enigma

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Last night I went with John to see Derren Brown’s latest live show ‘Enigma‘ at the Lowry.  John runs the Public Reviews website, and he had a couple of press tickets to go and review the show, so I went for free on his spare ticket!

I find Derren Brown fascinating – I think all his TV shows are great, and he presents traditional magic and illusion in a very contemporary way.  I also find it amusing to read people online who think he’s got real powers(!), but I’m actually in two minds as to whether he uses hypnotism and NLP as part of his act. Certainly stuff I’ve seen on the internet about those methods demonstrate that it’s quite possible, but I don’t really know, and am suspicious of any of his own explanations!

Anyway, back to ‘Enigma’. It really was a brilliant show – great theatrical staging, a very clever structure to the performance, and some really good magic tricks!  And Derren Brown’s an incredibly engaging character – he basically had the whole theatre eating out of his hand.

I’m not going to write about the tricks themselves – mainly because he asked people not to since the show is still touring – but I’m sure it will end up on TV in the near future, just like his previous ones have.  I’ve got an inkling how some of them were done (and today I’ve read a bit about some of the other perfotmances which have given me some more clues), but some of them were truly mind-blowing.

The final trick was one that I just can’t work out how he managed to pull everything together in the way that he did, and with a clever back-reference to something earlier on that seemed pretty throw-away.  John was actually part of the finale – he was one of the 6 volunteers who caught a frisbee thrown out into the audience – so I know it wasn’t done with stooges!

If you get a chance to see the show at all, I can thoroughly recommend it!

A bit about April

The heading kind of gives away the content of this post!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with a weekend in Tamworth, a day at the beach, catching up with old friends, and a fancy dress party!

For Easter, I went down to Tamworth for the weekend, and it was nice to spend time with Brandon and Chloe again.  I was obviously down there a few weeks earlier for their birthday party, so I think they remembered me this time round!!

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I went with mum, Vikky and the twins to the Easter Service at ECC in Lichfield – it was weird going back there since the last time I was there was when I was 18 or 19 – nearly 20 years ago!  We got there pretty early because they were having a buffet breakfast before the service, and Brandon and Chloe managed to get quite a bit of the food down their smart clothes!  I guess that’s quite normal!  I said hello to a few people there who I remembered from when I was there years ago, and also chatted with Dave Bateman’s sister Helen who goes there, and actually works for them as a student worker!
Then on Easter Monday, I was back up north, and a group of us went over to Formby to spend the day at the beach!

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It was pretty windy, and not the warmest of days, but we had a good laugh walking along the beach, and climbing up the sand dunes.

I managed to provide a bit of hilarity for the others when we decided to do a group photo where we all ran off a 1½ metre step of sand, with the plan for the photo to be taken whilst we were in mid air.

Anyway, eight of us lined up to do the running jump, so on cue we all went for it, but as we landed, I stumbled whilst still running, and smacked down face-first into the sand!  It properly winded me – I didn’t get a chance to break my fall with my hands, and someone managed to collapse on top of me as well which didn’t help!

It was pretty funny, but it really knocked it out of me – and I guess I was most impressed by the great support from the others… especially Penny who was in complete hysterics and just couldn’t stop laughing at my misfortune!  Thanks guys! 😉

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And to add insult to injury, the photo was taken too early, so we had to do it all again!! Luckily this time I managed to stay upright, and the picture was taken at the right time!  I’ve nicked it from Steph’s Facebook album and posted it here to make the pain worthwhile!

I’ve uploaded a load of photos of the day on my Facebook.

Then last Saturday, I had to go out and get a new mattress for my bed because the springs had started to come through my old one!  So when I got back, I started to unload it from my car, when I started getting heckled! My next-door neighbour Jo had a visitor for the weekend, and they were sitting out on the doorstep drinking wine with Jez and a few other neighbours. Anyway, the woman who was Jo’s friend was actually being quite mouthy about my new mattress being quite small, so I started bantering back a little bit.  Then the next thing I hear is someone making a comment about her being from Tamworth, which is where I’m originally from!  So I said that I used to live there, and when the woman thought I was just saying it for the sake of it, but we soon discovered we both went to the same school, and then it turned out that I was in the same class as her sister, Ellie Sutton – and she was Faye, who I do kind of remember, although she was a  year or two below me. Really small world!!

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And last night was John Roberts’ 29th fancy dress birthday party at Baa Baa in Fallowfield.  The theme was musicals and theatre, so luckily there was quite a lot to choose from with regard to costumes, although I always do get a little bit stressed trying to sort out stuff like that! Anyway, I decided to go as a pirate, complete with hat, eyepatch and hook… I was also planning to add scars to my face using facepaint, but since I was going by bus, I chickened out and didn’t turn into a pirate until I got to the pub!

It was a really good night – I had enough drank enough beer to get me briefly up onto the dancefloor!  After the party finished in the function room, we headed down to the main bar – all in costume – so did stand out quite a bit! John and Matt’s costumes were so amazing – Shrek and Dracula – that people kept wanting to get their photos taken with them!  We eventually left at about 3am, slightly worse for wear, but it was worth it!  You can check out the photos from the night here.

Oh, the other thing I was going to mention with regard to random meetings was about when I was down in Tamworth for Easter.  On the Saturday, I nipped into Asda to buy a few bits and pieces, and bumped into an old mate from school – Dan Martin – who I hadn’t seen since sixth form!  Was really weird reminiscing about school days together and learning about what people are up to nowadays. I know Facebook has that pretty much covered nowadays, but it’s more real when you meet someone in person!