It is the size of a mobile phone, can record in HD (well, 720p) and costs around £150. It is so discreet people don’t identify it as a video camera at all. Its true potential came when we were shooting a short film at a cast iron foundry in NE Derbyshire. On one of the hottest days of the year we found ourselves within feet of huge vats of molten metal and in spaces that it was simply impossible to get a conventional video camera anywhere near (let alone the risk of subjecting the camera to such high temperatures). So we filmed with the Flip Ultra and having done an initial rough cut, I find it difficult to see the joins between a £5000 High Definition camera and its £150 cousin. Cameras like this will open up a whole new world to filmmakers.
As someone who sailed in the the 2007 Fastnet Race, I’ve been very keen to track the progress of this year’s race. The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s website has a fantastic race tracker that picks up the position of each yacht in the race. What a great use of satellite and wireless technology. Judging by tonight’s display they seem practically becalmed off Portland Bill, although the forecast is for stronger winds. By this time in 2007 our yacht was 30 miles off The Lizard triple-reefed in the teeth of a Force 10. Dropping off thirty foot walls of water, I had reached the second stage of sea-sickness, where you’re afraid you aren’t going to die.
And yet what we endured that night was nothing to what the teams faced in the 1979 Fastnet. On the morning of the 2007 race, our yacht was moored opposite the tiny yacht Grimalkin. Our crew couldn’t agree whether that was a good or a bad omen! Grimalkin survived the 1979 Fastnet – despite the loss of her skipper and a crew member. We finally retired to Plymouth when our main sail was ripped by the storm in the early hours of the morning (the wind was gusting at 60-65kts). I’ve never been so exhausted in my life and when we moored at Queen Anne’s battery, despite all the hard won training and offshore racing practice, I finally realised that this level of off-shore racing was way beyond my reach. The Fastnet is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Thankfully the weather conditions are much kinder to the crews in this year’s race. What I saw and experienced that night regularly wakes me up in a cold sweat, two years later on. Some great footage of the 2007 Fastnet here, filmed onboard Nightlife: