Merry (Belated) Christmas, and an even Happier New Year

Christmas has come and gone for another year. Well, technically it concludes with the twelfth day of Christmas on the 5th of January, but for most the excitement is in the preparation and the big day itself. This was no ordinary Christmas for my family, as it was the first in many years without the presence of my grandfather. The whole year has felt odd since his passing in September, but time keeps ticking away, and all we can do is to try and keep going and strive for normality. And as is normal for Christmas, food takes centre stage.

Dinner from last year...a bit of a placeholder as I don't have the photos from this year yet!
Dinner from last year…a bit of a placeholder as I don’t have the photos from this year yet!

The Feast

I managed to get a decent amount of time off over the Christmas period, beginning on the 23rd of December. Following a mini-Christmas dinner and a screening of The Muppet Christmas Carol (it’s mandatory at this time of year), I made it back to my family home. I hadn’t put much thought into the food, and with only one day left to get groceries before Christmas, we had to figure out the menu in record time. Enter Tesco, saviour of Christmas, producers of inspiring magazines, and the source for our entire menu. Well, almost all of it. Deep fried brie with cranberry sauce to start. It’s fast becoming my starter of choice, and perfect if you’ve just got hold of a kilogram wheel of the stuff. For the turkey, it was time for another new tradition…brine! Granda was responsible for getting the turkey every year, and now the mantle has been passed to my dad. This year brought a 8.16 kg/18 lb bird – sizeable, but not the biggest in recent years. The turkey made its way into the fermenting bucket with the aromatic salt solution on Christmas Eve. The turkey would be served alongside honey mustard roast ham, roast potatoes, honey and miso roast carrots and parsnips (thanks to the Tesco magazine), mashed potatoes, cocktail sausages, cranberry and apple sauces, and gravy. For pudding, an Aperol spritz trifle (again from the Tesco magazine). Trifle is another relatively recent tradition for our family, from adventurous versions like a mincemeat and citrus curd trifle to the standard jelly and custard affair. The eating continued through boxing day. It was my 25th birthday and my mum made a chocolate fudge cake in a long tradition of non-standard birthday cakes – the last few years she has made sticky toffee pudding as an alternative to the standard sponge birthday cake.

The DaVinci Control Surface - a bargain at $29,995
The DaVinci Control Surface – a bargain at $29,995

Christmas Toys

Of course, Christmas is not just about food. It’s about spending time with family and friends…and presents! One of my presents was a Behringer CMD Studio 2A midi controller. Is this the humble start of a great career as a disc jockey? Nope, I just wanted it for the buttons. Using a keyboard and mouse works well for Premiere Pro, but there’s something to be said for being able to physically scrub through footage without having to drag virtual sliders back and forth. I’ve been looking for a more tactile editing experience for some time, exploring options like the Griffin PowerMate and the Contour Shuttle controllers, but they were limited in function. Then I stumbled across an article about using midi controllers, devices ranging from keyboards to boards with a variety buttons and sliders, as editing controllers. A proper video editing controller/desk can cost thousands of pounds and such equipment would usually be off limits to us mere mortals. DaVinci’s control surface will set you back a cool $29,995. Fear not! Thanks to a handy piece of software, Bome Midi Translator Pro, you can map keyboard shortcuts to buttons and wheels/faders on a midi controller. My favourite control is setting the step forward and back command to the jog wheels on my Studio 2A. I can quickly and accurately scrub through footage, and the second jog wheel is assigned to jump forward and back five frames, allowing coarse scrubbing through longer clips.


The Behringer CMD Studio 2A - so colourful!
The Behringer CMD Studio 2A – so colourful!

I started to think of the most important functions I wanted on my control surface. A few were easy to think of, like using the jog wheels to scrub through footage and another knob for timeline zoom, but it was difficult to decide what controls would be most useful until I started working on a project. And a project suddenly appeared! Dad had shot a few clips earlier in the year for a Lismaine Cottage promotional video – I had scant material to work with, but combining it with a few simple title cards and some decent music, it turned out to be a solid little video. Check it out below.

This year brought a great many changes. Political turmoil, celebrity deaths, and personal loss. But not all change is bad. A new job, a new hamster, a new nephew are just a few of the exciting things that happened to me in 2016, alongside a lot of fun making videos and two trips to Paris with Sarah. And an Asian adventure of course! It can be easy to focus and fixate on the negative experiences in life, but the positive ones often vastly outnumber them. In many respects 2016 was a great year, and here’s to an even more fantastic year to come!

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