This is a blog post about the process I went through filming The Alphapadwork Series of Boxing Padwork instructional videos. You can find them here.

The main trailer for the whole series as well as a rough production diary is after the jump


And here are the subsequent trailers for each level individually, it was a fun project, hard work but im proud of the result. Im particularly pleased with the music choice, as a blend of hard hitting percussion with that infamous Michael Bay BWAAAAAAHHHH sound which I think hits the point home that this is killer instruction from a world champion.

Level 1

Level 2

level 3

I first met Darren Richardson when upon looking at my local gym’s classes board I saw kickboxing as a class. Having dipped in and out of martial arts for more than a few years this appealed to me. Let me just go back a bit here and say that in my time I’ve experienced and witnessed quite a few martial artists who have taught me and it takes a certain winning mind set that is apparent upon first meeting your instructor (sensei). After that first lesson I was hooked. I could feel the benefits, which is important for me. I had an excellent instructor. He was articulate, he had the experience (you can quickly tell if someone does) and he was a calm yet motivational instructor.

Weeks went by and I experienced the benefits of Darren’s instruction not to mention the good atmosphere (good music to get you pumped and good classmates)  which keeps you focused. During this time I also availed myself to the gym facilities as well (though the body protested a bit) and it was during this time I got talking with Darren – he also did personal training as well as working out himself. I remember in particular a specific moment where I was sitting down waiting for an appointment in the Gym lobby and he was sitting there and had time to speak to me while eating his lunch and gave me some great pointers on the importance of a good diet and keeping hydrated. I remember thinking to myself how he came across and if there was some way this valuable information could be passed on.

It was a few weeks after this that I met Darren in the gym again and we exchanged the usual ‘How are you?’ and ‘What are you up to these days?’. I mentioned my line of work and my initial assessment of how I thought he could market himself using good quality video. So I mentioned that if he ever needed any help I’d be happy to offer any advice or assistance, having remembered him taking time out of his lunch to speak to me.

After that I got an email from Darren saying he wanted to meet up to speak over a few ideas he had with regards to shooting an instructional series and potentially releasing it online. I think after that first meeting the planning for Alpha Padwork began in earnest for me.

I learn’t from Darren that it was a long time in planning – here was a world champion kickboxer with a lot of experience, in and out of the ring, who needed a platform to share his wealth of experience and knowledge. As it turns out an unfortunate event (a falling out with an unscrupulous business partner) prompted Darren to go out on a limb and develop Alpha Padwork by himself which ultimately led to Fire Flash Production.

As a proof of concept and to ‘show my chops’ I shot a couple of short trailers to demonstrate I had the ability to shoot what I said I could and these two trailers were used as a kind of taster for Alpha Padwork showcase.

This was shot at Eden Gym in Ealing featuring Sacha Baines and going through an Alpha Padwork Work out.

Next was a test trailer featureing Steven Sullivan a Right handed southpaw

and another Alpha Padwork session

I think the best and most successful projects is where each member of the production team (client and service provider alike) operate to their strengths synergistically. It wasn’t long before Darren had a script ready and a shot list was planned. All we had to do was find a suitable location for filming.

Filming in London can be expensive and it was only by luck that we found A Black Lie Studios

infinity_background2interior  interior2interior3I think it’s safe to say we’d found our location for filming, Darren was happy and I was happy as well. So we set a date for filming on the 1st of June 2014, spread over the course of 2 days.One thing I’ve come to know about projects of this scale is that you can’t achieve everything by yourself (though the post production was challenging) and great things are achieved with a great team. I was lucky to have the support of a few talented Individuals.


Bartosz Dzidowski (cameraman)

Michal Skorupka (cameraman)

Jamie Harris (production assistant)

Sophie Honeybelle (runner)

Anna Skorupka (behind the scenes photography)

I had the help and the equipment (GH4 & GH3, the latter kindly lent to me by Michal Skorupka). With a great location and talent we only had to get the lights in (4 big LED panels rented from Alias Hire These are a fantastic bunch of guys n gals, who always go the extra mile (sometimes literally) and my go-to place for hires. Of course on the other side Darren from Alpha Padwork had his work cut out for him securing the athletes to showcase his amazing system. All was organised and sorted in place. The crew and I turned up on the day before to offload all the equipment and get a few bits setup for filming the next day.

Copy of IMG_4186FILMING

It was an early start, being there for 8am. After a few teething troubles with colour temp setups we were out of the blocks full pelt. After a consultation with Darren we decided to make use of the San Baines (whom we only had for the morning of the first day) to demonstrate some of the chapters from Level 3 (complex footwork and punching combination), basically the creme de la creme of the Alpha Padwork system at full pelt.

Copy of IMG_3808Copy of IMG_3816Copy of IMG_3850The guys settled in and we filmed the scenes at a good pace with Darren being on form. I do find it helps to have an articulate talent who knows their craft. Being a natural teacher Darren presented really well with little to no retakes (a god send in this business).

Copy of IMG_4232Lunch time came and went, the Alpha Padwork guys performed well and the various sections filled the camera cards up. When we did stop for lunch at about 2pm we were straight on the backups. I cannot stress enough how essential it is the make backups as you go. We transferred to a large capacity HD on a laptop and then from there onto two separate external HDs (triple backup). It may be overkill, but the files from the GH4 were small enough to make backups of this nature possible. I must also state that the project would not have been possible without the Panasonic GH4 – it was a workhorse of a machine with all the tools we needed in such a small form factor to produce highly detailed crisps shots. We had a budget and the GH4 delivered. With amazing battery life, excellent ergonomics (for a DSLR) and all the bells and whistles for filming, we found the most important feature were the zebra stripes for highlights and focus peaking.

Copy of IMG_4335On a production of this scale, while you can plan some of the shots, a lot of it depends on good ideas on the day and the action dictating the style of filming. For example some of the action consisted of a lot of foot movement (dictating large floor space coverage) and we felt we needed more elevation. With that in mind we improvised with Michal going up a tall ladder and taking some top-down footage of the foot work in progress, while a 2nd camera did the mid- to close-up shots.

Copy of IMG_4011I can recall some particularly lovely shots captured with the GH4 on a great Nocticron lens (lent to us for the shoot by Michal) of Darren punching into the camera, to add some drama to some of the connecting shots.

Copy of IMG_4482Michal and Bart were handling the filming of the affair, with the GH4 being used for wide shots (filming in 4K, I’ll never go back to HD if I can help it) so we could ‘dial in’ if need be with that extra resolution. The GH3 was being used for the close shots in high bitrate HD (1080p).

Copy of IMG_4091Jamie was handling the audio and grip and Sophie was doing the clapper board and fulfilling the roles of production assistant along with Jamie. I was directing and making sure we had the shots we needed and everything was running as it should be.

Copy of IMG_3945The end of day 1 came and we had a lot of good footage. The guys at A Black Lie Studio had a large lock up safe room where we could keep our equipment over night and we all went home for the evening.

Day 2 came around and I could tell the athletes  were sore from the day before but after some warming up and stretches he was right as rain again. All the backups were checked again and the cards were formatted to begin afresh. The batteries had been charging over night ready for the day ahead.

Day 2A lot of the spoken audio was captured using a Sennheiser Lapel mic with wireless broadcaster sending to the receiver which was hooked up to a Zoom H6 for separate audio. Rode Video mics were used for the in-camera audio but just for sync purposes. I would say that if there is something I learnt on this shoot it’s to always leave your microphones on. Even using PluralEyes the syncs with no audio all had to be done by hand. :-S

Mic testDuring the filming process Darren had a good idea of making each level unique. Each level would be distinctive using a different colour palette. So Level 1 would be yellow; Level 2 Light blue and Level 3 would be black (à la Black belt status). In the edits this is where I tried to keep this consistent with the title stings for each level, carrying this colour coding theme throughout. Also when the e-commerce site was built it would follow through this paradigm of colour coding to keep things consistent.

We had an hour or so till we had to go and Darren pulled the stops out with some insane kickboxing moves to possibly promote a future en devour Alpha Padwork Kickboxing edition. Below are some of the shots from it and the trailer.



Editing was a mammoth task of sifting through over 20+ hours of footage to sync all the audio, the different angles and make a decent edit of all three levels of Alpha Padwork. It was in this stage that I also started experimenting with the visual look of the title stings and the look of the site. just little old me doing it all. In hindsight I think I should have gotten a 2nd person in to do the syncing and rough cut while I worked on the stings, as that’s a wonderful thing to have.

It was also about this time that my PC was dieing on me 4K is a hard task master so with that in mind I decided to invest in ‘THE KRAKEN’ as I call her, which ate through the edits and processing the footage and compositions in no time at all.

Some mistakes I made on the edit was trying to be too overly ambitious with the look and style of the titles and look of the video. This is an easy mistake to make especially with an overactive imagination like mine. After a few months of wrestling with a look I felt I needed to make a decision on things and move forward. With an added impetus from Alpha padwork I plunged ahead and didn’t look back.

20141130_162516I completed the rough cut for Darren’s approval and once approved added the bells and whistles, titles effects and graphics to make the content sing. After having designed the Alphapadwork logo with sharp angles I wanted to continue using the angular approach and incorporate that into the rest of the titles and web graphics (yup web site to make as well). There is too much to show visually but i think the site banner graphics set the tone.

level 1

Level_1cLevel_2bLevel_3bI can add more detail about the site, but it was constructed in WordPress and uses Woo Commerce to serve up the digital content which is hosted on the Amazon S3 CND. So far so good. Now the next phase is to work on the marketing and spreading the word. Watch this space for more posts.