Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Fenix Lighting The Way

A product review from Caver Keith Videos. We've always struggled to get good video in large cave passages so we tried out some 3800 lumen FD65 focusing torches from Fenix. The torches were able to light up some of the largest passages and they are absolutely brilliant for video. The range of light settings and the fact that at flood setting there isn't a trace of a hotspot make them ideal caving video lights.

Filmed in Agen Allwedd, South Wales on Sunday 11th March 2018.


Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Caver Keith on the Radio (and TV)

I'm Nearly Famous 3


Following on from the Birmingham Mail article and my not so modest success on social media I was invited to appear on the Danny Kelly Show (which was being hosted by Rachel New) on BBC WM 95.6FM to talk about my caving adventures on Thursday 15th February.

After the interview I was walking down the steps from The Mailbox when I received a comment on one of my YouTube videos from a researcher for The One Show:

"Hi Keith, I work on The One Show and we are working on a Sport Relief challenge for the show. We'd love to use some of your amazing caving footage."

To illustrate the caving part of Sport Relief 2018's 'Mother of All Challenges' she was looking for caving clips and really wanted clips from Porth Yr Ogof - a South Wales cave that I've never videoed! I was planning a trip to Craig A Ffynnon on Sunday 18th to try out some new Fenix FD65 3800 lumen torches I've acquired to use as video lights.

5 seconds of fame


The team were easily persuaded to divert to Porth Yr Ogof and about 5 seconds of the video we took on the day appeared on The One Show on Wednesday 21st February.

The torches performed very well and proved to be excellent for video with a very white light, no hotspots and of course very, very bright. Oh, and Brendan tested out the waterproofing of the torches when he accidentally dropped one in the underground river. It survived a 10-minute dunking at a depth of 60cm while we frantically searched for it.

This is the video we took at Port Yr Ogof:

Keith

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Caver Keith Videos on Social Media

I'm Nearly famous 2


Back in October I received an email from an intern working for Extreme on Facebook asking if he could use clips from Caving Claustrophobia Kill or Cure.


Extreme

I said yes and a shorter edit was uploaded to the Extreme Facebook page on 24th October last year under the title Claustrophobia Level 9000! To date it has been watched over 7 million times, shared 59,000 times, has had 35,000 post reactions and has attracted 33,000 comments.

Extreme Adventure

I was then asked if it was OK to upload it to the Facebook page Extreme Adventure. This was uploaded on 14th November under the title Claustrophobia over level 9000! This version has been watched 600,000 times with 2,700 shares, 1,300 comments and 1,200 post reactions.

More Extreme

Extreme obviously recognised a good thing and re-posted the video on 20th December. This time the statistics are:

  • 20 million views
  • 200,000 shares
  • 62,000 comments
  • 85,000 post reactions

LADBible

On 12th February I received the following message via the Dudley Caving Club Facebook page:

Hey guys,
I work at LADbible on facebook
We came across this video of you guys..
https://www.facebook.com/Extreme/videos/574940612847693/
I was wondering if we could make a news video about what you guys do
We think our audience will love it!

The video appeared on Facebook on 13th February under the title ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH TO TRY CAVING. It's a mix of clips from Caving Claustrophobia Kill or Cure, Best Extreme Caving Video Moments 2017 and Caver Stuck in the Lobster Pot.


The statistics for this video are:
  • 2.2 million views
  • 7,500 shares
  • 15,000 comments
  • 12,000 post reactions
All of this exposure has led to mainstream media fame, but this will have to wait for the next instalment.

Keith

Friday, 23 February 2018

Daring cavers delve into UK's tightest, deepest and darkest spaces - Could you handle it?

I'm nearly famous


On 30th January I got an email from Newsflare who thought they might be able to sell one of my videos - Caver Stuck in The Lobster Pot, Sidcot Swallet. It sold twice, to Right This Minute and MSM. The videos did the rounds of social media and then on 5th February this message arrived via the Dudley Caving Club Facebook page.

"Hi there, I'm a reporter at the Birmingham Mail, would love to run a story about what you guys do and the amazing footage you have inside the caves, would that be at all possible? Thank you, Stephanie"

Several messages and a phone interview later this article appeared in the Birmingham Mail.

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/daring-cavers-delve-uks-tightest-14252136#ICID=sharebar_facebook

To date the article has been shared 96 times via the Birmingham Mail website. It has also resulted in one potential new recruit to the caving club.

Keith

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Best Extreme Caving Video Moments 2017 with Dudley Caving Club

I had uploaded 16 videos to YouTube this year, 17 if you include this one. Six of the videos uploaded this year were filmed in 2016 or earlier but only got edited this year. Another four of the videos are compilations of old clips combined with some new original footage recorded in 2017.
With a scarcity of new stuff it seemed that making the customary annual highlights video wasn't going to happen.

However it has been a very successful year for my YouTube channel, in fact the most successful year to date with caving video views exceeding 1.6 million, so it would have been a shame not to celebrate with a highlights video. Also this year I won the Hidden Earth Video Salon, got a plaque for the best art work produced digitally in the Hidden Earth Video Salon and got a commission to produce the opening video for A Golden Age of Cave Exploration and Science.

In the years 2012 to 2014 an American caver, or should I say Spelunker?, by the name of Rob Spangler uploaded videos entitled Best Extreme Caving Video Moments on YouTube 2012, 2013 and 2014. The videos featured short clips of dramatic caving scenes set to equally dramatic music. Now there's an idea. So here's this year's annual highlights video with apologies to Rob Spangler.




Friday, 8 December 2017

The Story of The World of Caving

Hey Hey We're The Dudley
It seems that my opening video for Hidden Earth this year was quite well received as I was approached by Andy Eavis during the conference to make an opening video for A Golden Age of Cave Exploration, an event organised to celebrate 50 years of pioneering British cave exploration and scientific research which took place on 1st - 4th Dec 2017 at the Royal Geographical Society, London.
“Something similar to the first part of the video,” was the brief, “I like Hey Hey We’re The Dudley but I suspect that few people in London will know what The Dudley is.” I was flattered, obviously, but a little noncommittal as I’m in the middle having my house extensively renovated and extended, and didn’t know if I would be rendered homeless sometime during the two months I’d got to make the video, and two months to come up with a concept, storyboard it, film it and edit it seemed like a bit of a tall order anyway.

It seemed that another video based on a song was what was being asked for but I had no idea what song or who I might be able to get to sing it, not to mention getting it recorded. At Hidden Earth I had been introduced to Rostam Namaghi and his Anthology of Speleomusic. I fired off an email to him and he very kindly send me his songbook which contains a number of brilliant songs. They are all great but a couple of my personal favourites are ‘Doline’ a plagiarised version of the Dolly Parton classic ‘Jolene’ and Glen Campbell’s ‘Limestone Cowboy’. Unfortunately neither seemed to fit the bill of being an introduction to 50 years of British caving. One other song in the anthology that caught my eye was Paul Simon's ‘The Sound of Silence’ but Rostam had only written the first two lines, “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to crawl in you again.” A week had gone by since Hidden Earth and in spite of some serious head scratching I still had no real idea for the video.

Seven Weeks To Make A Video

It seemed that all of my head scratching might have been in vain as the days were flying past and Andy hadn’t contacted me, and I must admit to feeling a sense of relief. Then on 11th October with only 7 weeks to the event the email arrived. With luck on the previous day Jess had sent her re-write of the lyrics of ‘The Sound of Silence’ and they were very good and fitted the bill perfectly. However my problems were far from over as I now needed a suitable backing track,  a singer and a recording studio.

I couldn’t ask Nige Atkins again, could I? No. I asked Rostam if he would be the singer but trying to arrange a mutually convenient date proved to be too difficult, and also I’d no idea how I could get it recorded at a quality suitable for such a prestigious event. I phoned round friends, ex-colleagues and relations but drew a blank in either identifying a singer or a means of recording. Meanwhile I couldn’t help changing a couple of lines, including the chorus from The World of Silence to The World of Caving. I toyed with the idea of speaking the lyrics in the style of Peter Sellers when he did ‘A Hard Days Night’ as Richard III. I looked through iTunes for a backing track. Perhaps a string quartet? In my searches for suitable music I came across Disturbed's version of ‘Sound of Silence’ and when I imagined Jess’s lyrics sung in this style I thought we might be on to something, and I was able to download from iTunes 'The Sound of Silence (Originally performed by Disturbed) by Karaoke Pro.

Four Weeks To Make A Video

Eventually I had no alternative but to throw myself on the mercy of Nige, and to my complete amazement he said yes. However he couldn’t get into the studio he used for the Hidden Earth video, but he said that if I could find a studio he would be happy to travel. It was now 28th October - just over 4 weeks to the event and I needed to find a recording studio, book it on a date when Nige could get there, get the song recorded and make the video. I was getting quite desperate. Then lying in bed one night with so much going on in my mind I couldn’t sleep I remembered an ex-work colleague had posted a music video to Facebook which featured a member of her family. I sent a message asking her if she could help in any way and she replied that her brother-in-law owned a recording studio in Birmingham! You could have knocked me over with a feather!

Three Weeks To Make A Video

Nige Atkins at ARC Studio Birmingham
The song was recorded with Nige on vocals at ARC Studio in Edgbaston, Birmingham on 8th November - just 3 weeks before the event. In the days preceding the recording session I had started looking through old video clips to see how much new stuff I would need to record. I’d got enough archive footage to match to about half of the song, and Antonia and Andy Freem were kind enough to agree to me using 3 clips from their excellent Dan Yr Ogof video.

I badgered a few Dudley members and we set off for a trip into OFD on 12th November with a shot list and managed to film 9 clips at various locations around Top Entrance. Also on the previous day I had filmed the ‘bustling world above’ on Bromsgrove High Street. The video then came together quite quickly but I was missing clips to illustrate the lines, “And the caving world expands throughout many foreign lands. Exploration opens up our eyes.”

Caver Keith videoing in Cross Rift,
OFD. Photo by Mark Burkey.

Caver Keith And His Hero

When I started caving back in the late 80s the first club I joined was the West Midlands Cave Exploration Group (WMCEG). WMCEG insisted on everyone having a nickname and I was christened Sid after Sid Perou as even in those days I took a video camera on some of the trips.
So Sid was always a bit of a hero of mine. As both Sid and Gavin Newman (another hero of mine) were involved in the video aspect of the conference I was put in email contact with both of them. Can you imagine it, me, Caver Keith, the chap that makes those silly videos, Mr. nobody, a numpty - chatting by email with caving royalty? Wow!

Two Weeks To Complete A Video

Anyway Sid sent me the video he was preparing for the event and in it there was a 17 second Ghar Parau sequence that fitted perfectly with the lyrics. I asked if I could use it and he said, “Yes!” I added a long fade into and out of Sid’s stuff and the video was complete 2 weeks before the deadline. Then disaster struck, my computer decided to trash my complete video library and the backup failed to restore it. I had got a backup of the backup of 'The World of Caving' so all was not lost, but Andy wanted the credits slowing down. I re-imported the video, chopped off the credits and re-did them. The video was finally finished.

Caver Keith Meets His Hero

Sid and Caver Keith. Photo by Mark Burkey.
The video was played to open the conference on the Friday evening and again on the Sunday morning to introduce Sid's session. It did seem to go down quite well with the audience and I got some good feedback from the delegates as well as great comments on YouTube and UK Caving. However it has had one dislike too.

At the conference I was able to chat to Sid on several occasions. It's always difficult chatting to someone that one holds in such high esteem and I hope I didn't burble too much.

On the Sunday I was privileged to be part of a team that filmed an interview with Sid and he was kind enough to do a short piece to camera about my humble efforts, but that's another story for another day.

Sid's Golden Age of Cave Exploration & Science Video



Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The World of Caving

Coming shortly to a computer/tablet/mobile phone screen near you a new film by Caver Keith - 'The World of Caving'. Release date Monday 4th December 2017 after its premiere at the Royal Geographical Society. Starring members of Dudley Caving Club with music by Nigel Atkins and contributions from Antonia and Andy Freem plus Sid Perou.

The World of Caving
Update: 4th December 2017

The video