Sunday 2 December 2018

Bolting in OFD Big chamber

After being rocked gently to sleep by the horrid weather Jess and I awoke refreshed and ready to rumble.
We were designated Duty officer this morning and so begun gently with a cuppa and taking the hut fees.

Once all had paid up we begun the search for the keys to get the SWCC ladder which was surprisingly harder than expected and took almost an hour to track down. Eventually though we had everything we needed. Ladder, rope, climbing gear, drills, spits and of course camera's ready to document caverns measureless!

I should explain that on a previous visit to OFD, Roo used big chamber near the entrance to instruct a group of us how to use the 3D scanner ahead of a couple of planned trips abroad. The result of this was that he had identified a passage that he wanted to investigate and so had contacted us to see if we could help.

Loz had joined us Saturday night for the curry, but after her 40 mile run she wasn't in much of a state to cave and so we only made her carry the 8m ladder up to the entrance rather than anything strenuous!

Soon Bartek and I were making our way through to Big Chamber with a section of ladder each and after a slight mishap where the ladder took a dint after tumbling out of position, we managed to get it up and secured.

Roo went up carefully and popped a bolt in to secure the ladder to before continuing up to take a look in the passage and with a deflated look on his face reported that it didn't go and was blocked with stal :(

Bartek and I made the most of the unusual vantage point and took a couple of photo's before we de-riggged and headed back to the hut for yet another cuppa before heading home.

Let the fun begin!

Big chamber from the inlet

Trip report: Mark Burkey

Present: Paulina, Bartek, Jess, Roo and Mark

Saturday 1 December 2018

Pant Mawr Pot

Having Promised Roo that we would give him a hand on the Sunday with a project in OFD, it meant that we would be in South Wales for the weekend so it made sense to do something local to the SWCC hut on the Saturday.
I had been hoping to get some photo's of Pant Mawr Pot a few weeks before, but plans had changed after our epic in Draenen and so we decided to give Pant Mawr another go.
To our surprise we had such a response that it would mean we would need to split in to two teams.
The walk over in was damp and the mist was thick and if it weren't for Dino's GPS we may have been wandering around the hills for hours. As it was we made good time and the walk didn't feel like long at all.
We decided to get Bartek to rig the pitch in and send down the more experienced first. This would leave myself and Jess to supervise the others down.
I knew Mel hadn't done much SRT, but didn't realise she had only ever practiced at the Mill. She was very nervous as I talked her though the getting onto the head of the pitch. Dino held the tail of the rope at the bottom, just incase, but Mel did fine and was soon as the bottom. Joe had no problems at all and followed and then came Sam.
Before getting to the cave Sam had shown me his setup in a tree outside the club and although unorthodox (Sam is an Arborist and his kit isn't quite as easy to use as the standard SRT kit) it was safe enough.
The key with Sam's set up was not to drop anything as he changed over ropes on the ledge to the free hang. Again there were no problems though and he was soon swinging around whilst Bartek took a couple of Photographs.
With myself and Jess down we stripped off our harness's and begun stomping down the stream. Although I had been there a couple of times before I had always been following either Brendan or Keith and I soon found I hadn't paid much attention.
Our objectives would be The Chapel, The Organ Loft and The Fire Hydrant. We stomped onward through the boulder chokes and down the stream and before we knew it were up to our chests in water and had a sump in front of us!
Not too disheartened as, I was always intending to photograph on the way out, we were a little more careful on the way back.
Roo spotted the Fire Hydrant and I wasn't surprised we missed it on the way in. I remembered it being an impressive jet of water, but although flowing it wasn't nearly as impressive as I recalled.
Next we found the grave yard and spent half an hour poking around for the way on before realising that the passage I swore definitely wasn't the way actually was.
I climbed the awkward climb to The Organ Loft and rigged some slings for the others and tried to get a quick shot of the flowstone, but the chamber was soon filled with stream from the amount of people in the small chamber and so I gave up. At this point we decided to split in to groups with Bartek and his camera leading one and myself and mine leading the other.
Next we went to the Sabre formation and took a photo before heading up to The Chapel to take a couple more.
We heard Bartek's group below us and shouted for him to come this way.
Whilst Bartek photographed in The Chapel the rest of us headed back to the entrance. I had packed walkie talkies in anticipation of a pitch shot and popped up the rope first whilst Jess set up the light below. Roo started up the rope and we played with photos until we heard Bartek's group approach.
Myself, Joe, Mel, Sam and Roo shivered at the top whilst Jess was passed on the message that Bartek wanted to take a pitch shot himself and so would de-rig if we wanted to head off back to the hut.
The wind had picked up and the rain lashed down. The walk back felt significantly longer and visibility was so poor that we wound up missing the track off the tram road and walked down to the club from the other rear field.
Our first group were changed and showered as the others arrived and so we headed off to reserve a table at the Indian where we all re-grouped for a good meal to end another successful day.

Roo on the entrance Pitch

The Sabre

The Chapel

The Chapel

The Organ Loft

Trip Report: Mark Burkey

Present: Paulina, Bartek, Dino, Mel, Sam, Joe, Jess, Roo and Mark

Thursday 29 November 2018

Shatter photo trip 28th Nov 2018
We met up in the priddy good farm shop after the night before having a few pints at the Hunters for the digger awards. There was myself, Tash, Kermit, John and Bev were heading down shatter in fairy quarry,
Mark, Jess, Paulina, Mike and Keith were heading down Rhino rift. So after filling our bellies with good food and lots of coffee or pop we said our goodbyes to the other group and headed to fairy quarry and got kitted up.
Kermit then asks where Chris and Jim were as they were due to be coming down with us. Iinformed him that Jim was feeling under the weather with a bad belly so Chris was taking him home. So of we plodded to shatter a really nicely decorated cave one of the best in mendips. On the way in I went ahead a bit with John and Bev while Kermit and Tash went at a more leisurely pace so Kermit could give Tash the knowledge of the cave as they went.
We waited for the just before pillar chamber and when we had regrouped I got my camera out to start taking photos as we had agreed we would take them on the way out. The first was pillar chamber then I took one of the Angel Wing which is Kermits fave formation in the cave next is Niagra fall, which is were John and Bev left us as John had to shoot off, and Bev decided to join him. Leaving just myself Tash and Kermit in the cave much to Tash's joy as it meant she would be my model now and we all no how much she loves standing around waiting for me to take a photo, I'm still learning so sometimes it can take me a while to get a nice shot.
We carried on and every 5 mins I was stopping to look at potential photo shots but decided to try to keep it to a minimum, in the end I had took 8 photos in total which I'm happy with but I have my favourites out of them ie the balcony shot and the one with tash in the second gate. Once I had finished we exited to daylight as it was about half 2 to 3 pm when we got out and were changed heading to the pub for a drink before heading home.
All in all a good day's trip Tash got to see a pretty cave and I got to practice with my camera so win win.

 Angel wing
 Balcony chamber
 A curtain
 Second gate
 Niagra falls
 Piller chamber
 Leaning tower of piza
Leaning tower of piza again 

Sunday 25 November 2018

Rhino Rift

Continuing our our recent trend of visiting caves new to us we decided on something a little out of the norm for the Mendips with an SRT trip in Rhino rift.

Our weekend begun in the Hunters Inn where we met up with Mike, Paulina, Tash and Kay who had spent the day In Reservoir Hole. We proceeded to sink many pints between us and eventually stumbled back to the Shepton Hut where Chris and Jim had a camp fire awaiting. After warming by the fire and chatting for a bit, not to mention pinching Kays chocolate stash, we eventually headed off to bed.

The next morning the gang headed to the Priddy farm shop whilst Jess and I made a slight divert to the Wessex to collect the key before joining them and Keith for the usual 5* breakfast experience.
(Many thanks to Mike Kushy for brining the Charter house permits to the breakfast stop for us to fill in)

We said our goodbyes to Kay and Tash who were off to Shatter cave for a photographic trip and Paulina, Mike, Keith, Jess and Myself headed off for our own adventure.

We were quickly at the cave entrance and unlocking the gate, Mike and I went on to begin the rigging whilst the others held back with Keith to play with some video. The traverse at the first pitch was quickly rigged and I began my descent to a single bolt after around 15m, as the result of a single point failure would have been too large a shock load I put in a deviation at this point and continued on to wait for Mike to bring the second bag forward at the next pitch head.
Here the first y hang swings around a corner and is quickly followed by a hanging re-belay to a rock filled ledge above the third pitch. A call came down to let us know that Keith was finished playing with video and heading out and we were soon joined by Jess.
I had begun to rig on the right hand wall, but quickly realised the better route was a traverse on the left wall to a further hanging re-belay which is soon followed by an awkward deviation. Paulina came next and spent a while figuring out the best way to tackle the deviation and was then followed by Jess. I went for a poke around and down an awkward hand line assisted climb to take a look at the continuing rift, before heading back. Mike decided he'd had enough fun for one day and so we all headed back up with me de-rigging as we went.

Entrance Traverse

2nd pitch

Back on the surface we celebrated with mince pies before heading back to return the key and home to wash rope!

Photo's Paulina Biela

Trip report: Mark Burkey

Present: Paulina, Mike, Jess, Mark and Keith

Sunday 18 November 2018

Tatham Wife Hole

After a late night of drinking at the Marton Arms we gathered for a breakfast at Inglesport Cafe where we regrouped and were joined by Roo.
After a little retail therapy we were soon heading up past White Scar show cave and parking at the next lay-by.
Whilst kitting up I noticed Roo suddenly go driving off and wondered if he had abandoned us as he was the only one who knew the way to the cave!
The rest of us were about ready when Roo arrived back with a brand new pair of shiny wellies ;)

Everyone who had asked what we were up to over the weekend had mentioned the long walk in to Tatham Wife and they weren't wrong! We headed up past false horizon after false horizon until the landscape eventually flattened off.
Roo headed in along with Dave to begin rigging, whilst I took charge of Joe and Jess looked after Tash, followed by Kay and Loz.
It was quickly obvious that Joe was a natural and we quickly caught the rigging team. I passed responsibility of Joe over to Dave and headed back to make sure Tash was OK.
The re-belays are quite a stretch in Tatham and most are not required in dryer conditions, which these were. We had decided to put them in anyway to give the novices some practice, but they were told not to worry too much if they had trouble with them and just leave them out.
Tash was having a struggle with one particular manoeuvre and was having to kick off a wall to reach it. She refused to be beaten and i think she managed every single manoeuvre.....well done Tash!
Kay was struggling with a bad elbow and tendon problems with her feet and dropped out at the third pitch. We checked if Tash wanted to turn around and she said 'No Way!'
Loz at some point had gone ahead and as we turned a corner we were met by Roo who said he wasn't feeling too good as he'd slightly overdone it on the wine the night before. Loz elected to keep him company and escort him out so Jess and I could look after Tash.
At this point the cave changed character and we were soon crawling in water and thrutching along until we met Joe and Dave.
I took over the rigging and the five of us continued on. After the next pitch came a 30m rift which I couldn't fit through with my SRT kit on and had to pop it off, squeeze through and then pop back on :o/
At each point we kept checking that Tash was happy to carry on, but there was no stopping her. Our next obstacle was the duck. Joe and Dave, not keen on getting wet were looking at the trickier climb to bypass. I stuck my head in and decided it didn't look too bad and wallowed through.
Now Tash has always said 'she don't like water' in her caves and you could have knocked me over with a feather when she came paddling after me.
I heard Jess, Dave and Joe cursing on the other side as if Tash had done it then they could hardly refuse.
Again our merry group continued on. Here the going got a little more awkward, crawling and traversing in rifts until we reached the head of a wet pitch.
At this point Tash decided she was tired and turned around and headed back with Jess. I rigged the last pitch and Joe, Dave and myself dropped down, had a poke around, decided the idea of a canal, long duck and sump held little appeal and headed back.
Again, Jess took charge on the way up of Tash, Dave looked after Joe and I de-rigged.
We exited in good time, but with the nights drawing it was already dark when we exited in to the cold night air.
Dave navigated us back across the hillside, but if it hadn't been for the others having their headlights on in the lay-by then I'm not sure we'd have been able to drop down to the right point.
As it was the others left us a guiding light and we were soon changing, saying our goodbyes and heading home from another Dudley adventure!

Trip report: Mark Burkey

Present: Roo, Dave, Joe, Jess, Kay, Tash, Loz and Mark 

Saturday 17 November 2018

Rowten Pot

This is a cave I have wanted to do for some time and so I put an email out letting the club know, as I was heading to Kendal for the film festival on the Friday, I planned on doing a quite technical SRT trip on the Saturday. Loz and Dave responded to say they'd be up for this and so a plan was made. We printed off guides and packed kit on the Thursday and you could tell Dave was pretty keen on getting his teeth in to something that would test his skills and so Dave would be our rigger and I would bring up the rear with a huge bag of camera kit.
The cave itself was smaller than I'd expected, but the rigging was most definitely technical with free hanging re-belays swinging in to tight rift passages to rig traverses and awkward take off' was brilliant!
We bottomed the pitches and had a look at the sumps at the bottom, shivered and turned to leave these for another day. I had a rough plan of what I wanted to photograph and had brought walkie talkies but still the roar of the water was deafening and made shooting the pitches pretty challenging.
I sent Loz up the main pitch first and then I went up. Once there I hauled up the rope from the last pitch and rigged a second line for me to descend and photograph Dave from. 
The head of the pitch is an awkward rift with no floor and so sorting camera kit was going to be a challenge. Loz carefully sorted this out with me and I soon found I couldn't get on the rope on the awkward pitch with he gear shoved in my suit and so I dropped through the tighter take off and Loz had to carefully pass me each piece of kit whilst communicating via walkie talkie to the others below that Dave could start up the main line.
Getting light in the right place for the pitch shot was far tougher than I'd expected, but Jess did a great job and we were soon heading back up the pitches.
At the entrance it was now dark, which was what I had been hoping for. I had an idea for a shot when were making our way in, but it wouldn't work with daylight pouring in through the entrance. 
Dave was flash monkey this time and did a fab job positioning the flashes out one at a time whilst I tested them. Finally we had everything in place and the shot is one of my favourites that I've taken.
From here it was only five minutes to exit.
Very happy we made our way back to the cars and on to the Marton Arms for food and perhaps one or two too many beers!

Loz gets the kit ready in the beautiful Yorkshire sunshine.....for a change!

Dave begins the rigging in The Eye Hole Route

Jess is hot on his heels!

Dave on the main pitch

Loz, Jess and Dave on the pitches and balcony traverse

Trip report: Mark Burkey

Present: Loz, Dave, Jess and Mark

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Fenix FD65 Rotary Focusing Flashlight Review

Good caving videos need great lighting. My grateful thanks to MyFenix ( for supplying these amazing torches.
Thanks also to Mark Burkey, Kayleigh Wood, Bill Nix, Clare Warwick and Graham Fentham for their help and assistance in making this video.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

It was 10 years ago today

10 years ago today that I uploaded my first caving video to my YouTube channel. It now has 130 caving videos and is the most popular caving channel on YouTube.

In the first twelve months I had 1.5K views.

In the last twelve months I've had 9.3M caving video views.

Caver Keith

Sunday 30 September 2018

Keith's Cavers in The Search for the Missing Potholer - Part Three

I guess I could be described as a lifelong learner. I enjoy setting myself challenges, acquiring new skills and working outside my comfort zone. I also take pleasure in problem solving. Making videos
satisfies my creative urges, and allows me to experiment with styles, genres and moods. I also bring to my film making my low threshold of boredom which I hope results in my films being unpredictable, watchable and innovative. All of this means that having produced a film of a particular genre, for example a documentary, I don't really want to produce another one the same, well not for a while anyway. So over the 10 years since I started my YouTube channel I have experimented with many different styles and genres - documentaries, music videos, promotional videos, pastiches, drama, comedy, factual, spoofs and even a five part mini cliff-hanger series. I've also incorporated special effects including green-screening and animation.

I bring all of the above to my video making and I like to think that these might be the reasons why my channel has enjoyed a modest amount of success, but perhaps my achilles heel over the years has always been my warped sense of humour which has been variously described as puerile, childish, twisted, weird, and downright embarrassing. So I'm under no illusion that my videos are universally liked.

But I hope this explains why when I was asked to produce the conference opening video for this year's Hidden Earth I wanted to try something different, something really different, completely different from anything I had done before or that had been attempted before.

I know that I could have gone for a safe low risk option and produced a beautifully filmed and narrated caving documentary, but this wasn't for me. As I've said above I'm naturally an innovator and a risk taker. Keith's Cavers fulfilled these urges. The 1 minute 10 second opening/title sequence took weeks of work to get it as close to the original as possible. Everything was timed to the split second, and it required me to develop or hone skills in animation, titling and working with transparent layers.The video sequences had to pastiche the original footage in Charlie's Angels whilst changing the theme from a police academy to caving.

The mini-episode that this opening sequence fronts presented a number of fresh challenges for me to overcome.

1. Telling the story in a very short amount of time
My fellow videographers will know that there aren't usually any time restrictions when producing caving videos for public consumption, but there are those imposed by competition organisers. At the moment this is 10 minutes maximum in the Hidden Earth video salon, although I have heard rumours that this might be cut down for next year's competition. So what often happens is that we produce a shortened version of an existing video for entering in competitions. Cutting down a documentary is difficult enough but it is usually possible to chop out whole sections without upsetting continuity. With a story/drama this is not possible. I had to tell the complete story in about 8 minutes and it was hard at times requiring many difficult decisions on what to cut out and what absolutely had to be left in to make the story work.

2. Working with transparent layers
I had already honed my skills with transparent layers when creating the opening sequence, or so I thought. The scene where Margo, having failed to get though the very tight squeeze and returns to Kay and Jess to spin the yarn that she's actually been to Five Mile Chamber required fantasy scenes to be incorporated in thought bubbles. This 25 second sequence took three evenings of head scratching and experimentation to achieve.

3. Working with actors
Didn't they all do well? I believe they excelled but it's much more difficult filming acted scenes than for example scenes of beautiful cave decorations set to etherial music, or action scenes. I really must publish the outtakes one day.

4. Working with one camera
My films are at the low budget, el cheapo end of cave videography. I do have two cameras - a Panasonic Lumix GX7 and a GoPro Hero 6, but I decided to use just one camera for this video - mainly due to time constants. This required most scenes to be filmed from at least two perspectives and then to cut-in to create interest and pace.

5. Continuity
It was essential to have good continuity for the story to work. This isn't an issue with a number of video genres but it was with this. The scenes were not filmed in order and they were filmed over multiple trips. Maintaining continuity was a nightmare. I couldn't have them covered in mud in an early scene and freshly laundered in a later one.

6. Lighting
I like to think that my use of lighting in my videos is okay-ish. I do like creating mood and drama by effective use of lighting but I will admit that this is not one of my best lit videos. Why? Well most of the video relies on close-up shots because the audience needs to see the actors speaking. So great lighting effects were a casualty of the type of video I had chosen to create.

7. Sound effects and levels
Getting the sound right was the biggest challenge by far. The dialogue had got to be audible and distinguishable when played in the conference hall for the video to have any chance of success. I was in the audience, about half way back, and thankfully I think I got it just about right, but it took countless hours of behind the scenes work. The biggest challenge in this video was recording sound in the cave environment. Caves do not have the best acoustics anyway with lots of echo in the larger spaces. Add into the mix the rustling of cordura caving suits and the horrible scraping sound they produce when rubbing against a cave wall and you will understand why the mixing took so long. Much of the audio was recorded, not on the camera, but on my mobile recording studio - my iPhone. The telephone sequences were mainly recorded in my studio aka the front bedroom on the iPhone using an external iQ5 Zoom microphone. The video utilises a number of audio special effects. The most noticeable is the telephone effect but the voice enhancement effect was also extensively utilised. The final challenge was timing. The scenes were acted out without the actors hearing what was being said on the phone so suitable gaps had to be left and the actors expressions had to match what was being said on the phone - which of course they couldn't hear! Some scenes miraculously worked but in others I have had to slightly re-time the video to match the audio. The re-timing is so subtle that I challenge anyone to spot where in the video it was implemented.

How was it received?

The video was played at the opening ceremony. As I've already said the dialogue seemed to be completely audible and the audience laughed in all the right places (or so it seemed), but at the end was complete silence! During the day I talked to several people. I had obviously produced a 'marmite' video. It was loved and hated in roughly equal measures.

I had entered the film in the video salon so I had a couple of days to reflect on whether the judges would love it or hate it. The result was neither. It did reasonably well but not good enough to get an award. Their comments were:
"Good fun film. Care needed with flickering lights. Predictable but end was nice."
"Good fun and audio."
"Good filming, thin comedy."

So the judges were ambivalent to it but what about my YouTube followers? The first comment was:
"Awesomely done, very entertaining. Very nice editing too (I suspect a lot of folk don't realise just how much goes into making something like this)   :o)" This meant a great deal to me because a lot of me did go into making it and getting it as good as possible did became an obsession. For example, at the eleventh hour I spotted in the animated scene change sequence a one pixel wide band that flickered on and off as the yellow caver moved up the screen. I couldn't let it go so another couple of hours was spent re-editing it.
Other comments are:
"Love this"
"Haha well done Keith good video very entertaining"
But my favourite comments are:
"One sec I’m at a rave, next I’m in my bed monging out to this, how did I get here?"
"Dude, that intro is FUNKADELIC MAN!!!!!! YEAHHHHH!!!!"
And my favourite comment of all:
"A superb and very entertaining video Keith 👌.  The world is a much better place, now that we have your angels 😇"

Finally here's the video. What do you think? Do you love it or do you hate it?

Keith Cavers in The Search for the Missing Potholer

Credit Where Credit's Due

Enormous thanks to my stars: Ian, Jess, Kay and Mark, to Brendan for his superb graphics and to Dave and Loz for carrying stuff and holding torches.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Keith's Cavers in The Search for the Missing Potholer - Part Two

In part one I wrote about how the idea for Keith's Cavers was born and how it was key to get the opening credits sequence perfect, but at that stage I didn't have an idea for the video. It was just like being a kid at school who has spent weeks creating the best title page ever for his project but hadn't actually done anything towards the project itself.

So with the opening sequence almost complete it was now time to decide on how to fill the remaining 6 minutes or so. As it was the conference opening video my first idea was to make a video (humorous of course) showing how members of Dudley Caving Club set about preparing for participating in the various Hidden Earth competitions. This was discussed with team members and received universal approval. I'll leave it to your imagination to think of the range of possibilities that were discussed for filming things like sack stuffing, ladder coiling, knot tying and photography. Although it had merit and would have been an excellent theme for the opening video I felt it was too safe an option. It would require very little filming underground and I do think that the majority of a HE opening video should feature subterranean footage.

My second idea was to base it on a caving trip we undertook in 2013 which didn't go quite according to plan. I had always thought that it would make a great video as it involved several incidents and a race against the clock which incidentally later featured as a lyric in The World of Caving. "Will we ever make our callout time?" We had gone to make an attempt on the Prokofiev Series in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu and chickened out at the 'horrible exposed' climb. That left us with time on our hands so we attempted to exit via Swamp Creek where the various incidents occurred. All the way through we were saying to each other how we were pleased that it was a one-way trip as none of us fancied reversing the route we had just come though. Eventually with time running out and not knowing really where we were in the cave, and with the way on looking like an almost impossible traverse across very narrow ledges with a very deep vadose trench below, we decided the only thing to do was to turn back. This led to the race against time and the ladder incident which occurred almost exactly as portrayed in Keith's Cavers. Fans of my videos may remember my five part mini-series, The Dudley, Caving and Cakes where we managed to lose Brendan. I thought we could use the search for Brendan as the basis for the Angel's mission.

Jess is passed the f***ing ladder
It was decided to film this second option, review the footage and then decide if it was going to work or whether it would be better to revert to the first idea. So we set off to South Wales for a day's filming. Definitely the best shot of the day was Kay falling into the 'little puddle'. I'd done this twice before and knew that it was very difficult when coming through the slot head first to stay out of the water which isn't just a little puddle by the way. So I went through feet first with my camera box to get ready for the shot. Kay had watched what I did and started to follow my lead. "No, no, no," I shouted. "You must come through head first!" Obviously there was no guarantee that she would fall into the water quite so spectacularly but sometimes luck is just on yer side, and a moment of pure comedy gold was created. This also got the biggest laugh when the video was premiered at Hidden Earth 2018.
Kay lands in the little puddle
I made an edit of the footage we had taken and sent it off for comment. The overwhelming reaction was that it was okay but nowhere near good enough. Jess made a number of suggestions - cutting bits out that didn't work and re-sequencing the rest. The resulting edit was much better but left us with continuity gaps which would require another visit to South Wales.

We had also got to film the Angels being briefed. This was done one Thursday evening in the windmill. In Charlie's Angels, Bosley hands the Angels a box of chocolates with a large bow on top. I decided that as the video starred Mark this would have to be a cake - a large pink cake. Ian turned up for his role as Boseley, Margo donned on the wig, we set up the room with all of the props (desk, speaker, projector, screen) but when I was ready to begin filming Ian had disappeared. "Where is Ian," I asked.
"He's gone to the toilet," came the reply.
Minutes passed.
"What's he doing in there?"
"Don't know. The usual I expect, but he's taking his time."
Then Ian emerged wearing his best suit and tie. Not only did this make the scene, it also shows just how much support I can count on from my caving colleagues.

Bosley and the cake
I had only got one problem left to solve and that was how to end the video. We discussed this many times at Club meetings and various suggestions were made, some of which would have made much better endings, but would have led to another issue - the video would have been too long. Eventually we decided to use the telephone ending as it was quite short and if the Angel's could pull the right facial expressions then it would make an excellent freeze frame for the closing credits.

The Angels get a call from Brendan
With the opening titles and briefing sequences complete we set off for South Wales again to film the ending and the other scenes that were necessary for continuity. However try as I might there is still one continuity error in the final video. Has anyone spotted it?

I have to thank Mark for scripting and acting the final scene and all three Angels for wallowing in mud. It was exactly what was needed for the scene to work.

In the concluding part of this post I will write about the technical and other aspects of making the video.

Monday 24 September 2018

Keith's Cavers in The Search for the Missing Potholer - Part One

In 2017 at Hidden Earth I won the video salon competition with the opening video.

Hidden Earth 2017 Opening Video
Winning the salon meant that I was asked to produce this year's opening video and this is where my troubles began. The opening videos, or AVs as they are usually called, have been of a consistently and very high standard over all of the years that I have attended Hidden Earth, so I'd got to make something of an equally high quality. No pressure there then. I also set a self-imposed goal - I wanted to try something different, something really different from anything that had gone before. Last year I achieved this by producing a video set to two songs for which I had re-written the lyrics, but what to do this year? I had no idea. After weeks of racking my brain out of the depths of my warped imagination came the idea of creating a homage to Charlie's Angels, the TV series which was broadcast between 1973 and 1981. I liked the idea because the opening credits with the instantly recognisable theme tune and strong voice-over would be immediately recognisable to anyone over a certain age, and let's face it most of the Hidden Earth audience are over that certain age.

The opening credits to the TV show ran for just over a minute and as Hidden Earth opening videos should ideally be between 6 and 8 minutes long it would give me another 5 to 7 minutes to play with. I decided to go ahead with this idea even if I never went on to create a complete video as just creating the credit sequence would be a fun challenge and would require me to learn new video editing skills.

The three Angels were introduced individually by them appearing first as a silhouette on a vividly coloured background which was repeated in various colours and sizes. The largest silhouette then became transparent and grew in size to reveal shots of the character. Finally the iconic silhouette of the three Angels holding guns with a flame background was used for the show's title - CHARLIE'S ANGELS. I pitched my crazy idea to the Dudley members who have been my most loyal supporters and they agreed to indulge me. Also Brendan, whose graphic skills are amazing, agreed to produce the silhouettes.

Charlie's Angels
The next problem to overcome was casting. I needed three angels as well as Bosley of course. Casting two of the Angels was easy as two of my most faithful supporters were Kay and Jess, but would they be up of it? Thankfully they were!  Bosley was easy too. There was only one person for the job - Ian our chairman and fortunately he was also up for it. That only left one Angel to find. It also left me with yet another large dilemma. There was no role for my biggest (get it?) star, Mark, but the problem was quickly solved using a wig and Farah Fawcett-Majors became Margo Chunky-Burkey. Game on.

The opening sequence would only work if I could get the silhouettes produced to a very high standard. Also what could we use to replace the guns. Mark came up with the suggestion of a camera for himself (obviously) and a ladder climb for Kay who would take up the central position. He also came up with the idea of the drill for Jess to hold. Mark took the photos of the Angels one Thursday evening a the Dudley windmill using a massive tripod mounted 30kg camera and about half a dozen radio controlled flashes. He was obviously taking his role as photographer in chief very seriously and was taking the same sort of care and effort that he puts into his professional award winning cave piccies. Nevertheless try as he might he could not eliminate all of the shadows. The pictures were emailed off to Brendan and back came the brilliant silhouettes that appear in the final video as both positives, with the silhouette as a transparent layer, and negatives with the background as the transparent layer. I then looked again at the Charlie's Angels sequence and sod it, I had forgotten to get a photo of Ian. Mark was off jet-setting around the world taking wonderful pictures of caves so I took the picture using my phone and using just the ambient lighting. It turned out to be a great picture with absolutely no shadows - result! Take that Mark Burkey.

Keith's Cavers
Producing the graphic sequences and timing them to the music took several hours but I felt it was worth getting it right. Attention to detail was becoming a bit of an obsession so I also wanted to use the same font for the titles that was used in the original series. I researched via the internet and found it was LesterBold which I downloaded from a font site. I also added my voice-over at this stage. I tried a number of microphones but just couldn't get it to sound right. Eventually I recorded it on my iPhone. At the same time I added the flame effects which I bought online from Pixel Studios. While I was doing all of this we visited Cwmorthin Slate Mine in North Wales and filmed the sequence of Margo not using two cows tails. I will publish the outtakes one day which are hilarious in their own right. Obviously the rock face was not vertical so I had to angle the camera to give the impression of it being vertical and being a complete numpty it took several attempts to get it right. On the first attempt Mark flies off frame left horizontally.

The opening sequence was slowly coming together but I still needed the video clips to add in. I used a number of placeholders and archive clips but the hugging and essential cake sequence weren't filmed until much later.

I sent the partially finished film to Ian, Mark, Jess, Kay and Brendan (my critical friends) for their reactions and it was universally given the green light. I was now confident of completing the opening sequence on time, but that was all I'd got. I now needed a video to go with it, or to make the decision to not use it for the Hidden Earth video and resume head-scratching for another idea, and time was running out.

Saturday 8 September 2018

Hidden Earth 2018 Opening Video

Once again this year I am privileged to have been asked to produce the opening video for Hidden Earth, the UKs National Caving Conference, which will take place at Churchill Academy and Sixth Form, Churchill Green, Churchill, North Somerset, BS25 5QN between 21st and 23rd September.

Here's a short promotional video to get everyone in the mood.

Thursday 2 August 2018

The Wild Wookey Experience

Back in June a team from Dudley Caving Club was invited to try out the adventure caving experience in Wookey Hole, Somerset, England. It was brilliant and we thoroughly enjoyed every minute. It is easily the best show cave adventure in the country. My sincere thanks go to Becca and Chris who expertly guided us around. Have a look at the video and see if you agree.

Saturday 21 July 2018

Sun, Sea, Shale & Even A Bit Of Caving On The Isle Of Portland

By pure luck and chance, we managed to pick one of the finest weekends of the year to arrange our club meet in Portland. 
Jess and I managed to get away early on the Friday and even had time to for a spot of sight-seeing around the Bill before the others arrived and the weekend begun proper with an evening in the pub.

With no sore heads we began the day in glorious sunshine and headed for breakfast by the sea and so lost our first casualty of the weekend. Chris had a bit of an upset tummy and decided that a morning underground wasn’t going to suit him and so then there were nine! 
Not only is nine quite a lot to be heading underground but our guide for the weekend, Les Williams, didn’t know what he was letting himself in for as we had no less than 3 photographers in the group! Ha ha lol
After parking up outside the prison, we hopped the wall and headed along the cliff face. At Allotment Dig, Les announced only the slim should head that way and the rest should follow him to Guano rift. We re-grouped at link rift and Bartek and I headed though the Letterbox to go and have an explore. Satisfied there were no prisoners breaking in to our bit of cave we regrouped at concrete corner and photography began!
Paulina was the only one to do the horrid looking rift through to Skittle Alley and whilst a few of us played with the cameras Les went off to find an easier route to her. At some point Ian, Paulina, Bartek and Dino decided enough was enough and then there were five.
Kay and Tash finished playing with her new camera and Les headed in to the sun leaving just Jess and myself.
For some inexplicable reason I had a complete brain miss-fire and decided as I hadn’t had a cake in more than an hour I would most likely have lost enough weight to have a go at exiting allotment dig. 
At the crux contortion around the corner I began to remember that I am actually still pretty chunky and peered around the cosy dog-leg up at the small rift passage beyond, wondering if it would get any smaller. 
I heard Les at the entrance and called him to find out if I was at the tightest bit. After a bit of coaxing he eventually ventured in to the passage without a helmet or light, and nearly fell down a big hole in the dark!
Fortunately for me he confirmed it didn’t get any tighter and after pushing my manly marshmallow physique through we re-joined to offer Les a little light for his exit.

Although not many could spend a whopping 3 ½ hours in the Grove Cliff Caves, for the members of The Dudley this was a welcome short day, so to celebrate we headed up to Portland Bill for ice-cream and swimming in the sea.

A fine meal at The Cove, followed by a couple more hours in the bar and a good night’s sleep and we were soon meeting up for breakfast and to plan Sundays adventures. Chris was still nowhere to be found, Kay and Tash decided on a romantic break away to Wookey, Ian very sensibly decided his marriage would benefit from spending at least one day on the island with his lovely wife and so then there were 6 for our adventures in to Blacknor Hole.
We quickly rigged and descended to the cave entrance to get out of the horrid warm sunny weather in to the much more pleasant musty guano smelling crawling passage. I headed off to stretch out in C&A rift whilst the others descended and entered the cave and the regrouped to take a look at Queen’s Entrance before continuing the round trip. We even found some formations this time, which would give Les time to have a little nap whilst the cameras came out again!
Les appeared behind me just as I was sticking my head in to Wriggle Push and lead us back along Ariel Tunnel to complete the round trip. 
All that was left was to play with some photos of the entrance before exiting in to the glorious afternoon sun and take in one last sea view and ice-cream before heading our separate ways.

Blacknor Hole Main Entrance

Pretties In Blacknor Hole

Grand Canyon

Guano Rift

Flagpole Rift

Ammonite Fossil

A Perfect Way to Finish The Weekend

Trip report Mark

Present: Paulina, Bartek, Dino, Chris, Kay, Tash, Jess, Ian, Sue, Les & Wendy

Sunday 1 July 2018

Goatchurch cavern

Tash Brudenall 
Ian Millward
Kay wood

We meet at half 9 at pricey good farm shop for breakfast, and head to Burrington Combe to visit goatchurch. We set off up the hill a little tired cause of the heat and getting the entrance where we walk just inside and have a rest in the cool air.
After a short while we head to the Giants stairs we head down and head straight past Bloody tight to Midgit Steps and then head right towards boulder chamber and to the coffin lid.
I attach a rope to be used as a hand line for the coffin lid and down we go into water chamber which is where hellish tight is. But we bypass hellish tight and head towards the drain pipe. Unfortunately none of the other two I was with wanted to do the drain pipe so I couldn’t get a photo of it. And as people were getting tired and had enough we started to head out with Ian leading the way. Unfortunately he missed the turn for the Midgit steps but we back tracked and picked them up and headed out though the tradesman entrance. 
After getting changed we headed to the Burrington Inn for refreshments before heading home.
All in all a good weekend. Will have to return at some point to push the connection fairy to Hillier’s and get my photo in the drain pipe 

Signing off 
Kayleigh wood 

Saturday 30 June 2018

Fairy to Hilliers

Attending Dudley Members
Kayleigh wood
Liz  Leavesley
Tash Brudenall

We all met at the Priddy Good Farm shop for breakfast at half 9 after a quick breakfast and discussion we headed off to the car park for the fairy quarry caves we got changed all light hearted fun as we all sweated in the heat excited to get underground in the cool air.
So off we go and after getting the code right for the gate, we find what i thought was fairy cave on the right hand side of the quarry as you go through the gate, so i open the gate and poke my head in and start to descend and half way down I’m thinking if i cant fit through the connection we are gonna have to climb out this way, which in the book the climb didn’t seem as bad as it was, so i decided i would go and fetch the rope out the car and rig a hand line just in case.
So all three of us are in the cave and I’m reading the description and looking at the survey and decide we should be heading left so off we go down this crawl that starts getting really tight. So with me being the biggest I’m leading. And I’m starting to struggle to get through so i asTah who is behind me to see if she can get through and see whats the other side, she looks at it but wont go through. 
So we decide to turn back and head right which I’m sure is the wrongs way but off we go and it opens up and takes us through to bigger passage was and into a chamber so we stop and I have another look at the survey and description, and to my horror I realise we are in Tar Hall.................. I’ve took us into the wrong cave!! No wonder the description doesn’t match the cave system we are in. And for a few seconds I am tempted not to tell the others and pretend I knew exactly where we were.
So I told Liz and Tash and we have a laugh about it after all we went far from where I thought we were we are in Hillier’s rather than Fairy. But they join and we were going to end up in Hillier’s anyway so we carry on. 
Now I no where we are I can lead us through with relative ease so of we go we pass the connection for Fairy and climb the mud slope and slot through the 90 degree bend and head towards the red room. We wanted to be out for 4 and it’s about half 1 when we have passed the second boulder choke just before the Cambridge Grotto, which is a bit tight for me so we decide to come back another day and I take a photo of Tash in a crawl here, and we start heading back.
I pop me head up and look at the connection to Fairy and we carry on back I take a photo of Liz in Tar Hall and we head out. When we get back to the climb out I’m glad I put in a hand line to aid us climbing out as I think we may have struggled with out it.
Afterwards Liz has to shot off but me and Tash are spending the night and so we head of to the Wessex to set up camp and have a BBQ with a few drinks and some well deserved sleep.

Tuesday 19 June 2018

A Weekend in Wookey

Back in February Mark and I were invited by Chris Binding to spend a weekend in Wookey Hole to take photos and video. With Mark and Chris jet-setting around the world it wasn't until last weekend that we could find a mutually convenient date.
Chris said that we could take our own team from Dudley so we were accompanied by Mel, Kay, Liz and Rach.
We met Chris at the Priddy Good Farm Shop Cafe before driving the short distance to Wookey Hole where, in the Bat Cave, the plans for the weekend were revealed. Saturday was to be a trip into Wookey 20 which consists of around 2000 feet of mainly phreatic passage, nicely decorated in places, leading in the direction of Wookey 24.
Liz, Rach and Mel were only day-tripping and were disappointed that they were not going to get to do the adventure caving route. Work and partners meant that Liz and Mel were forced to return home but Rach couldn't resist the temptation and decided to stay over.
We met up with Kermit in the evening for a curry in Cheddar.
We stayed at the Shepton Hut and after another brekkie in Priddy where we were met by Kermit we returned to Wookey. We were joined by Wild Wookey instructor Becca and Monica which made a team of 8 for the Wild Wookey adventure which was ace!

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Caver Keith Videos Four Million Views

21st May 2018 and Caver Keith is celebrating clocking up 4,000,000 caving video views on YouTube, as awell as 20,000 likes 👍, 2,000 dislikes 👎, 13,000 shares and 3,000 subscribers.
A huge thanks to all my viewers and an enormous thanks to Brendan, Jess, Kay and Mark. I couldn't have done it without you. 😋

Here's my celebratory video

Background Music:
Rocker by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Caving for Andrew

We lost our son Andrew James Millward on 27thApril 2017 aged 33 when he took his own life. He had suffered bouts of depression brought on we think from his time serving with the Warwickshire Fusiliers in Iraq in 2007.  He was a serving Police Officer with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary working at Harwell in Oxfordshire commuting there daily from his home in Birmingham.
His colleagues from Harwell and in particular those from his unit have been of tremendous help and support over the last year to both his wife and two daughters and ourselves. His sister also ran the Birmingham Marathon in his place and memory last year.
l wanted to do something special to say ‘thank You’ to his close friends on his unit, rather like cavers they have to rely on each other in difficult moments. As a proud member of Dudley Caving Club, yes us lot, what better way than to organise an ‘Adventure Fund Day’ caving in south Wales.
Our guide for the day 6thMay would be non-other than ‘Caver Keith Edwards’ himself, ably assisted by Jessica Burkey and Kayleigh Wood.
We met in Abergavenny at our usual breakfast haunt of Luigi’s before moving on to South Wales Caving Club to allocate caving gear, change and make our way up the hill to OFD2. The five from Harwell had become four as one could not face his gremlins of going underground, but to be fair he did travel with his colleagues in order to support them and saw them off from nearly the entrance.
There was much nervous laughter and banter from our visitors as we made our way in and to their surprise it was, as we know, much larger in that entrance area than they had imagined. We pointed out land marks on the way such as Gnome Passage and the Wedding Cake and the Corkscrew certainly racked up the excitement. We made our way down to Salubrious and crossed the steamway and headed for the Columns where Clark Friend was able to give our visitors an interesting talk on how this part of the system had evolved.
Time was pressing now so we took the quickest route back which involved an interesting slide down a rift, exiting to the left part way aided by a safety line to avoid the continuing drop. We emerged to brilliant sunshine, amid exhilaration and relief to pose for pictures before making our way back to SWCC where my wife and other family members had prepared a BBQ.
Viewing the survey on wall in the long common room our visitors were amazed at the size of the OFD system and thrilled to plot their route in and out.
Following our meal and a short speech the final cherry on the cake was the presentation as a memento of the day of ‘UK Caving .com’ mugs to our visitors kindly and generously supplied by Jane Allen. All in all a great day out full of happy memories and possibly a couple of new members for D.C.C.
My sincere thanks to everyone who helped out that day. 
Ian Millward, Dudley Caving Club.