Shanghai Transitions


** Selected for the Architecture, Design, Art Film Festival 2020, Palm Springs, USA
** Selected for Better Cities Film Festival in Detroit, USA (2020).

There are quite a few changes coming to citizens everywhere in the world. Cities become bigger, higher, more dense and smarter.

Shanghai is one of the largest cities in the world, and has undergone a gigantic metamorphosis in recent years. A lot is broken down and a lot has been built. Things are going wrong, but there is also a lot of beauty to see.

Three Dutch architects living in Shanghai tell each in their own way how they look at the transitions of this mega city. Not from a theory, but from their daily experiences as citizens.

Watch the trailer here!

Stills from Shanghai Transitions

With Tjerk Reijenga, Harry den Hartog & Joost van den Hoek

11 Out of 1.3 Billion; Football in China (release 2019)

11 Out of 1.3 Billion; Football in China

See also: Why is China, with 1.3 billion people and a great reputation in sports, not able to form a good national football team? 11 out of 1.3 Billion; Football in China will show the challenges of Chinese football by following six year old Kevin. He is talented and crazy about football.

Kevin’s dad is an exception to the Chinese social rules because he supports him to go to a special primary football school. By sacrificing his own career and spend every free hour on Kevin’s training he may finally fulfill his own childhood dream.

Along the way we meet players, coaches, fans and specialists who all have their own ideas about Chinese football and Kevin’s chances to ever play in a glorious Chinese team. Will Kevin fulfill his dad’s childhood dream and be part of a better Chinese football future?

Chinese football

There is certainly a will to win in Chinese football. Large sums of money are spent on foreign football professionals like Drogba and coach Francesco Lippi. David Beckham is now even hired as “image ambassador” for Chinese football. When he visited Shanghai seven people got injured just trying to get a glimpse of him, proving football is popular in China.

But is attracting foreign talent enough to raise the general level of football? Can the art of football be copied, like so many other things in China? Why do you hardly see any young kids kick a ball in the streets between the new high-rises? What about the match-fixing scandals in the past, and what does ‘our man in China’ Arie Haan think of it?

Through some famous and some less famous players, coaches and fans a surprising image if China as football country is drawn. Interviews are illustrated with footage from the Chinese football practice. The film is informative and entertaining. 11 Out of 1.3 Billion: Football in China is the first film about football in China and is full of ambition, enthusiasm and surprises.

A must see for Football fans and people interested in Chinese culture alike. Check for even more information!

  • Selected for SPORT MOVIES & TV 2019 – 37th Milano International Ficts Fest
  • Selected for Lift-Off Tokyo and Toronto
  • Selected for Enginuity Film Festival 2020
  • Selected for Athens Marathon Film fest 2020
  • In cooperation with AboutAsia.
  • Running Time 48 minutes
  • Full HD
  • Release: November 2019
  • Languages: Chinese, Dutch, English

In China | Dutch Architects In China

In China | 5 Part series about Dutch Architects In China

Series of 5 short Architecture Videos about Dutch architects working in China, made for ArchiNed, supported bij stimuleringsfonds.
All video’s are subtitled in English, click the CC button to enable.

In China | Tianjin | MVRDV

This episode features Martine Vledder from MVRDV in Tianjin. MVRDV Designed part of this urban project, the other 2/3 seems to be a copy… And how do Chinese adapt the style of their facade to local taste? (Click CC in player for English subtitles)

In China | Guangzhou | Mark Hemel

Information Based Architecture is a small Dutch architecture office that built one of the biggest towers in the world, the 600m Canton Tower in Guangzhou. How was the building influenced by the Chinese client? Mark Hemel explains in the tower how the design was so complicated that it could not be changed, and how important the story was for winning the competition.

In China | Beijing | NEXT architects (John van de Water)

John van de Water visits a sales point of one of his projects on a building site. The model of the new built area is quite spectacular. The sales are going quite well. Being close to IKEA is a big selling point. (Click CC button in player for English subtitles)

In China | Kunming | BEAR-iD

BEAR-iD in Kunming. The assignment was to make an eco-friendly building, but did it work out? What about eco-friendly building in China in general? And how does Feng Shui influence the design. (Click CC in player for English subtitles)

In China | Shanghai | After “World Expo 2010”

A report with Harry Den Hartog (of Urban Language) about the World Expo area, two years after the event. The Italians are taking over the area, and even had a bit of the Dutch Pavilion cut off. (Click CC in player for English subtitles)

Filming in Cold Weather

Filming in Cold Weather

In earlier Tips I discussed the ins and outs of shooting in blistering heat. To balance this, now some tips about working in cold circumstances.

A good example is filming snow drifting, like Porsche SnowForce in Yakeshi, way up north in Inner Mongolia, China. People there don’t consider -30 as a temperature to stay inside.

On the frozen lakes a fleet of Porsche 911 is happily spinning and drifting around, which is very cool to film, but you need to take a few precautions.

Many people and on-line groups warn about batteries running low quickly, but it’s not that bad in my experience. In cold, they will surely last less long. So keep them warm, near your body (inner pocket of your coat) or with a heat pack (if packed in a bag), until you really need to use them. And bring as many as you can, both batteries and heat packs! The latter ones are also very nice to put in your shoes and pockets.

A thing you will quickly notice when it’s freezing is that you can’t use any touch screens with gloves on, and pushing any camera button becomes difficult. But not wearing gloves makes your fingers go stiff so that isn’t an option. So bring thin but good gloves to keep sensitivity for when you shoot, and thicker ones for the time between. Forget about the touch screen. As you keep it close to your face while shooting your breath will freeze up on the screen leaving it very hard to use for touching or even watching. Rotating the lens ring to focus or zoom can become much harder, take good care of this and don’t force anything. Even auto-focus can “hunt” much longer to find focus, especially if everything around you is snowy white!

If you want to make cool spinning and sliding wheel shots with a small action cam attached to the car, don’t use the sucking cup fixtures that have just one cup. The plastic will become inflexible and the surface of the car is full of ice particles, the camera will easily fall off. The attachments with three cups are much more safe when you take good care attaching. For any action cam, check and clean the lens as often as possible, as snow will freeze to it.

If you are working with a host or other people who need to say some text for your video, prepare it all inside, where it’s warm. Once outside you want to have it done as quickly as possible as people run out of patience quickly at minus thirty! Often you need to shoot that standing still which makes the cold creep up your coat!


Be extra keen on organizing what you bring, go back inside regularly to check your equipment, charge batteries and get it back to normal temperature again.

I’ve been warned about using a drone, as there could be a build up of frosty bits on the propeller blades. But even at -25 degrees I found no real problem with it, just don’t fly far because of shorter battery life. As long as it flies it will keep its own battery warm. Also here, the remote and screen are much more difficult to operate, and there is no way to put your hands in your pockets to warm up a bit as the drone needs constant control.

Finally, it’s good to bring some ND filter, which is a lens attachment to turn down the light input of the camera. You may otherwise get ‘stuttering’ footage in bright snow light because the camera has to use a very quick exposure.

Drink hot tea and happy shooting!

Filming at High Temperatures

Filming at high temperatures

Get it when it’s Hot

When I write this, birds drop dead from the rooftops, people in the streets get stuck to melting tarmac and the only thing i can think of is ice cream, fast! it’s a typical shanghai summer.

Normally you would not think of going out to shoot in these conditions, but sometimes things happen that won’t wait for a more cooler day.
Especially on asian racing circuits hot circumstances are very common. I’m happy when it’s less than 30 degrees. On the tarmac of the grid the temperature can easily reach over 50 degrees, and that’s where much of the job is done.

It’s good to prepare for hot shooting days. The good news is: modern equipment, even the 4K camera’s that generate quite some heat themselves, usually keep working just fine. The real problem here is you, and especially your sweat. When it drips on your nice camera it will get very slippery. This is why I always have a strap connected to the camera around my wrist. If i let the camera slip by accident, the chances of it really dropping are small.

If you applied sun cream lotion, the risk of damaging a lens becomes big. Sun cream is designed to stick on you, but it doesn’t know the difference between you and your lens: it will stick on that too if you touch it. There’s a big chance it leaves an stain on the glass that’s difficult or even impossible to remove. So before a hot shoot, make sure at least your hands are clean from any creams, or better; don’t use it at all. I prefer to keep covered from the burning sun rays by using removable sleeves and neck protection. These will make you drip much less and lotion isn’t needed.

Getting sweat into your eyes can also be a bother with focussing, a solution is to always have an “old men’s towel” in your bag to dry your forehead. (Ignore the comments of people around you!).

One more thing that can influence a hot shoot is temperature and humidity change. your nice air-conditioned heaven inside, where you prepared the equipment, is cool and dry. When you go outside a quite thick damp can block the lens for up to several minutes. wiping often doesn’t help much, the condense comes back or just changes into small drips that make a clear shoot impossible. Even the sensor inside the camera can be affected by damp. so don’t think of jumping out and take your shot right away, plan time for letting your equipment adjust to the temperature and humidity. Wipe it just once or twice to speed it up a bit. it can be a good idea to leave the camera and lenses in the same space (outside, where you shoot), so the temperature and humidity won’t change.

There are other times when you’re happy with a temperature over minus twenty. sweat isn’t a problem then, but other matters are. this i will discuss next time.

happy shooting!

Flying a Drone

Flying a Drone

(Chinese version published in Chinese edition of Auto, Motor und Sport, China)

When I am doing camera work I always want to be as free as possible. In an earlier writing I already explained how to keep the camera stable, so you don’t need a tripod. No tripod means you can go quickly to any place that gives the best shots!

“Going any place” got a new dimension for me when “Planet Earth” came out on DVD. I was amazed and captivated by how they filmed the biggest trees in the world, from the bottom straight up to the top. I was puzzled how that camera movement was done. “The Making Of” revealed the mystery: a camera was attached to a hot air balloon! A very complicated and jaw-dropping shot. But shots like this are not complicated anymore!

Only recently a very attractive addition to the filming tool kit became available and affordable for almost everyone, from the professional shooter to the enthusiast amateurs: the drone. It makes such shots easy and seems to give the ultimate freedom in camera placement.

Personally, I am not very interested in flying high over a landscape. Every now and then it can be good as “location shot”, but everything becomes tiny and distant too, details are too small and get lost. I much rather fly low and put the camera on places where things can still be seen close, but from an angle that is unexpected. The favorite move would be to start low, as if the camera is on a tripod, and then, following a moving subject, move the drone up a few metres, revealing the environment, and giving the viewer the feeling to be lifted up.

A drone shot is more interesting if it reveals something; start with something normal, and after a few seconds reveal the unexpected element making your audience go “wow!”.

Although I had just a few minutes to film it, I tried making a shot like that in the next video for Mercedes. Check around 35 seconds, with Chinese rally driver Joe Zhou talking to the camera. But there are more drone shots in the video that turned out nicely. :)

Of course, ultimate freedom we still don’t have with the drone. You can’t fly everywhere. They are noisy. You need to be really careful not to damage it, and especially not to damage people around you. I learned the hard way by cutting myself twice when I tried to fly the drone indoors. The blades are small but very sharp I can tell you! A drone doesn’t always obey your commands, there can be a delay, satellite interruption, a wind gush… so always keep safe distance. If you set the drone camera to the highest resolution (4K), you can still get closer by zooming in when you edit, without losing sharpness. Be smart, practice a lot. it’s big fun too!

Happy droning, happy shooting!

Better Stability


This happens a lot: you’ve been running around with your iPhone or other phone camera, or perhaps even a bigger DSLR or film camera on a circuit or other event. You watch your stuff back on the tiny phone or LCD screen and it looks great!
But then you want to show your friends on your TV and you’re embarrassed by the wild shaking that you didn’t notice before… The reason is simple: A tiny shake on your small screen becomes a really big one on the laptop or TV screen. You really want to avoid shaking as much as possible, and even when you think you’re doing o.k. while filming and checking the small screen, keep in mind it needs to be more stable for good playback on bigger screens.

Nowadays many camera’s have quite good stabilisation built-in. Even some phones have it. It’s often just a digital trick, moving pixels around, but if it’s an option on your camera, be sure it’s swichted on. If you’re lucky enough to have a camera with so called “optical stabilisation” that’s even better. It can be built into the camera, the lens, or even both (working together). In this case it won’t degrade your image quality and you will get far better results. If you purchase a new camera, check for it, knowing “optical” is superior.

If you have the stabilisation or not, there’s always tricks you can use get more stable shots, even without a tripod. The first is to properly get ready. Don’t just rush around and flash your camera, but stand firm, know where you’re going to shoot. Keep your legs about 50 cm apart, so your lower body becomes like a triangle stable base. Keep the camera as close to your body as possible. The further you hold it, the more ‘enlarged’ your body movements (that can even be as small as breathing) will become. Also, when holding your camera far, there’s a bigger chance someone bumps into you if it’s a crowded place. So basically: feet: wide, upper body: small.
Then, if possible, find something to support you. Some lamp post can be useful to lean against and give stability. A wall is another obvious support. Lean against it and be stable!
Then finally, if you want to do some movement (for instance panning; moving the camera from one side to another) do it from your waist. Keep your arms in fixed position, elbows curved down, close to your chest. Move to the starting side using your lower spine as pivot point. Then move slowly to the other side keeping your upper body and arms the same position, only turnig your lower back.
I often take and hold a good breath before i do such a move to eliminate breating movements. As a side effect your lungs will be a stablilizing ‘cushion’ to keep you straight and move smooth more easily. it sounds crazy but it really works!

Happy stable shooting!

Recording Sound

Recording Sound

When video crews want to record someone talking with clear sound they often use a dead cat. It’s nothing to worry about as “dead cat is the term for a furry shield around a microphone to keep the wind out. Usually they put it around the microphone, which is put on a stick which is hovered above the filming scene.

But likely you don’t want to use any sound guys, and you want to keep your cat alive. So how to get good sound?

The dead cat is to combat one of the three enemies of recording sound: wind. The other two are distance and your own ears.

Even a slight wind breeze that blows into a microphone (hand-held, or the one built into your camera) will always lead to much more noise than you think. it will become hard to understand what people are saying. Therefore it’s always good to try keep out of the wind. Sometimes just turning your back to the wind direction can already help. that’s not always easy, because the light situation also changes when turning, so you need to balance that. When using a real microphone, any cloth (or indeed a “dead cat”) around it will muffle the sound a bit, but that is preferable to having the wind rumble.

Second enemy of sound is distance. especially on noisy race tracks it’s essential to be as close to your talking person as possible. Every centimeter counts! The sound level decreases exponential when going further away. At the same time environment noise gets worse. If you can attach an external microphone to your camera, always use that option. That way you can put the microphone nearby your ‘talker’ and still film from further away,. it gives you much greater control and, even with a cheap microphone, a much clearer sound. My trick is actually to use a not-sensitive microphone (so it doesn’t record much from the environment) but keep it just a few cm from the speaker (so the voice is still clear). Close enough for good voice, “non-sensitive” enough to not let through much environment noise.

The third challenge: your ears. You can never believe what you hear. Your ears and brain work together as a great noise filter, masking sounds you don’t ‘need’. But they only do this well ‘live’. Once you listen to something that’s recorded, it’s much more difficult for your ears and brain to filter out that aircon hum, some music playing from far away speakers, or a roar from a passing car. Try to stay away from any noise sources, even if they sound not so loud to you. If possible with your camera, use headphones during recording, then  you already get a much better idea of what you really record.

There is a lot more to say about sound, but for now, stay close to your talker, away from noise. Use a microphone if possible! Happy filming!