Close-up of a Katydid, basking in the Colorado sun.

Demo: The Movie – Production Blog 3

This is going to be another day of your wondering just what we were doing in the US. Running around filming demos in pretty places, certainly, but surely there’s more to it than that? There is, but… well, I’m not going to reveal everything just yet. Partly because I’ve only just finished logging all the shots, so it’ll be a while before we know what’s made the cut and what hasn’t. But also because I don’t want to spill the beans about the main story and content of the film until we’re much closer to publication. And that’s likely a few months away.

So enjoy the holiday snaps, and watch out for clues peppered through.

Day 3 – Friday 16th August – Durango to Blanding

There’s an old steam railway which runs from Durango up into the mountains at Silverton, so our first stop was to see if we could film two forms of locomotion in one shot. Which is to say: Alom’s favourite electric motor demo, as the train left Durango station:

Electric motor and steam locomotive, Durango-Silverton railway.
Electric motor and steam locomotive, Durango-Silverton railway.

Looks good, right?

Sadly, the demo gods weren’t smiling on us and while it looks fine in the still, the video clip reveals that the motor basically wasn’t turning unless we gave it a poke every few seconds. Which we might still use, come to think, but … perhaps not. Gutting.

Trudging back to our Jeep thing a few blocks away, we stumbled across a couple who appeared to be staring intently at the pavement. Now, you see some odd behaviour in any town, but they had cameras involved and very very few people love concrete slabs enough to photograph them. Turned out they were looking at this:

Cricket in Durango
Cricket in Durango

…which made more sense than staring at concrete. I want to say this is a cricket, but as an entomologist I read a good dictionary, and anyway Wikipedia informs me there are 900-odd cricket species. Can anyone name this cricket? By which I don’t mean ‘Basil,’ obviously. [looks like a Katydid to me: Microcentrum rhombifolium. It had wings.]

Alom wimped out of the Mexican breakfast special (missed a treat there, mate), in part because he was feeling rough as boots. Neither of us had really slept the night before, and as the day went on he developed a stupendous headache. Luckily, I’d spent some of the previous evening reading up on Acute Mountain Sickness, so I could bore him rigid in the car by misremembering all manner of details as we headed back up the Silverton pass. To 11,000ft. Again. Then down. Again. Then up. Again. Then arrrrrghhhh my head!

We did, however, bump into a local lady who’d been foraging for mushrooms:

Mushrooms, Colorado
Mushrooms, Colorado

Impressive. Close by, we also worked out how to do the bicarb-and-vinegar-inflating-a-balloon thing really really well. As in: far better than I’ve ever seen it before. The crucial tricks are:

  1. Stretch the balloon considerably. You don’t want a fresh balloon.
  2. Fill the balloon with bicarbonate of soda. Don’t muck about with half a teaspoon, get it in there.
  3. Use a large jar, and a satisfying quantity of vinegar. Like: half the bottle.
  4. Be at 11,000 ft.

Drat. Not entirely repeatable, that last part. Oh well, it’s a great shot.

Meanwhile, Alom worked out how to make a nifty dashboard mount for one of the cameras and fix his pounding head, all at once, by emptying the contents of a handy cardboard box:

The incredibly high-tech dashboard camera mount we used throughout the production.
The incredibly high-tech dashboard camera mount we used throughout the production.

What a pro.

After a bunch of driving shots we had a fascinating discussion about coffee in a wonderful plant nursery/bookshop/toyshop/cafe/coffee roaster (yes, all of the above). The discussion was nothing to do with the film, we just geeked out about coffee for a while.

Back on the road, we eventually arrived at a motel in the aptly-named but welcome Blanding, and promptly headed back out into the evening in search of more great light. This time the overseeing demo deities were kind to us, and offered not just light but classic desert detritus:

Bottle Rocket, Utah
Bottle Rocket, Utah

First and last shots of the day almost exactly twelve hours apart. Bleurgh.

Miles travelled: 325 (total 931)
Footage shot: 00:51:40 / 8.2Gb (total 03:05:13 / 31Gb)

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