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Top Christmas Gifts for the Gentlemen in your Life 2017

Top Christmas Gifts for the Gentlemen in your Life 2017

Posted on 05 December 2017 by Chris Ford

There’s not long to go now but if like us you have left things to the last minute then heres our pick of the awesome products we have seen over the last 12 months that most guys would love in their Christmas stocking this year…

Booze

The spirit of choice in the GG’s office is whiskey, and here are two of our faves from this year:

Woodford Reserve

first introduced to the market in 1996 its a relatively new player on the scene but still a firm favourite in our office and with whiskey lovers alike, you will seriously impress if you select Woodford for your loved one this Christmas.  £20.99 here

Loch Lomond Gift Pack

Gift a journey through Loch Lomond with this specially created Loch Lomond Highland Single Malt Taster Pack.

Whisky lovers can discover a selection of Loch Lomond whiskies with this collection of 3 x 5cl miniature bottles of Loch Lomond Original, Loch Lomond 12 Year Old and Loch Lomond 18 Year Old, presented in an eye-catching gift box.

This gift pack showcases some of Loch Lomond’s very best single malt whiskies from the Scottish Highlands region.  £22.99  here

 

Grooming

The Bluebeards Revenge Beard grooming kit

Untangle knots and transform your beard into a masculine masterpiece with The Bluebeards Revenge Beard Grooming Kit.

The kit consists of a pocket-friendly travel beard grooming kit comprising of a travel beard brush and travel beard oil, perfect for those weekend breaks you are already planning for 2018!  £23.99 from  www.shaving-shack.com

 

Tech

Nokia Steel HR

With classic watch stylings and all the health related options you would expect from most smart watches now (including a heart rate monitor) the Nokia HR has been a real winner for me for the week I’ve had it so far. The best thing about it for me though is its packing a whopping 20 day battery so there isn’t the need to add another device to the pile you end up sticking on charge each night.

The software is easy to use and links up with the My Fitness Pal app which I was already using to calculate calories burned and match up with food entered etc.  A more extensive review will follow but I had to include this, consider me impressed.  £169.95  from Amazon

Propel Star Wars Drones

We went to the launch of these a few months ago see the post here.  These are true big boys toys for the Star Wars fan in your life, with organised meetups alleady going on to battle with strangers you don’t even need to know someone else with one. Imagine piloting your own xwing and battling with a tie fighter?  Well now you can get yours for £139.99 now.

Threads

Turnbull & Asser – I’m not fashion icon, but I’ve always been drawn to good quality and Turnbull & Asser are certainly that.  Specializing in formal mens shirts of outstanding quality that are built to last,  and while you may end up spending upwards of £90 on a shirt you will have that shirt for a long time.  I’ve still got some of my Turnbull & Asser shirts I bought near 15 years ago and once washed and pressed they look as good as they day I bought them … Invest in quality.  turnbullandasser.co.uk

 

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V-MODA: Crossfade 2 Wireless – Review

V-MODA: Crossfade 2 Wireless – Review

Posted on 07 November 2017 by Chris Ford

 

Recently V-Moda sent over their new flag ship Bluetooth headphones the Crossfade 2 Wireless for us to take a look at, and my hour long commute each day I took them on a two week trial run. Here’s my thoughts on how they stack up to my current headphones the Bose QC35’s.

Sound Quality

I’ve used a variety of Bluetooth headphones over the years (most recently the direct competitor to to these Vmodas the Bose QC35) and I was instantly struck by the sound, both power, clarity of bass all very strong, these quite frankly make my Bose headphones sound muddy! And I was totally happy with them beforehand.

Noise Cancelling

So the V-Modas do not have active noise cancelling instead they use what they call passive noise isolation. The ear cups are extremely well insulted meaning a natural barrier to outside noise without the need for powered assistance, and yes it does work quite well. Is the noise cancelling as good as something like the Bose QC 35? Well no not quite but it’s not far off. On a packed train to work I could hear my music crisply and clearly without the distraction of the rumbling train, again on a short flight to Belgium the noise cancelling was just as affective  without the power draining ANC on something like the Bose.

Battery Life

On battery life they beat competitors hands down,  with a 15% Longer Battery than than the original Crossfade this bigger battery provides up to 14+ hours of music with no ANC and they can also be used with the cable even when the juice dies which was a massive plus to me when testing.

Comfort

The Vmoda crossfade 2 are extremely comfortable, Id go as far to say they are a pleasure to put on my ears, with some over ear headphones I find they pinch my ears but the Vmoda’s comfortably surround my ears with the memory foam cushions blocking the outside world wonderfully

Looks & Design

The Vmoda Crossfades 2 come in a striking and a tad unusal design compared to a lot of cans but that’s no bad thing, there’s also the ability to change the side plates for different colours or even custom engravings if you really want that bespoke feel.

Using Vmodas ‘CliqFold Hinge’ the headphones fold into an impossibly small exoskeleton case perfect for on the go and traveling.

Conclusion

I have been really impressed by the Vmoda Crossfade 2. The sound quality , battery life and comfort are all on point, there is a slight compromise on noise cancelling abilities compared to some active noise cancelling models out there but the foam cups in our  testing did a excellent job blocking the outside world.

Vmoda Crossfade 2 Wiresless are out now and currently £279.99 on Amazon.co.uk

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Christmas at the Casino? You bet!

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Christmas at the Casino? You bet!

Posted on 02 October 2017 by Chris Ford

Confession. I’m not much of a gambler. In fact even fruit machines confuse me! Which is why when Grosvenor Casinos asked if I fancied popping down to experience some of their Christmas casino offerings I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Thankfully, the moment we walked in staff were welcoming and only too happy to guide us where to go and the dos and don’ts of the casino, so even a beginner like me couldn’t get lost. I went from a little scared to completely at ease in a matter of seconds, a great first impression.

The casino itself is a buzzing hive of activity, flashing lights surround you, with sections for slots, roulette and black jack tables scattered around as well as several bars to either celebrate your win (or drown your sorrows!)

Food and Drink

I think what surprised me the most having never been to a casino was that  Grosvenor have a fully-fledged restaurant menu as well as several bars in their casinos I’m not sure if people come to the casino just to have a steak and a cocktail but you can certainly do just that! For Christmas Grosvenor Casinos have a special party menu which will  be launched from November, which includes starters such as Prawn Cocktail With Marie Rose Sauce, On Crisp Iceberg Lettuce, Topped With Smoked Salmon And Chives, or mains such as Roast Turkey Breast Served With A Cranberry Thyme And Smoked Bacon Stuffing And Pigs In Blankets. Also on offer are a selection of desserts including Raspberry And Hazelnut Meringue Roulade On Raspberry Sauce. You can pick from the set menu or create your own package with options including Festive Fork Buffets or Vegetarian Festive Sharing Platters.

 

How To gamble?

The main reason we came here was of course to learn how to gamble and Grosvenor are obviously keen for you to do just that. They have come up with the great idea of holding some gaming how-to sessions, where as a group – such as an office Christmas party or a group of friends – can learn with the help of one of their experienced croupiers the art of black jack or roulette.

Using practice chips but on a real table we had the ability to grasp the basics of the games while the croupier would give us pointers and tips along the way. I did this with a small group of people I’d never met before and it really was a real fun friendly environment we had a great time getting to know each other and laughing at each other’s bad bets. I could imagine this being a fantastic team building event – don’t chat to Roger in accounts much?  Well after 30 mins learning blackjack maybe he could be your new best mate!

The Real Deal

Once we had learnt the basics we were given £10 in real chips to go and try our luck on the main tables. I chose to give roulette a go. My first observation was in a real game situation its very fast-paced, lots of serious players laying down bets, despite this the croupier managed to find time to advise me on the bet I had placed and help with a few minor queries I had during my time at the table. I will be honest I have no idea how she was able to multitask with all that was going on but the atmosphere even on the real table remained friendly and fun.  I certainly enjoyed myself and managed to walk away with £60 in winnings! Not bad at all for a beginner I thought.

I will definitely recommend giving the casino experience a go as a Christmas gift or for a team night out, casinos don’t have to be scary places and I left Grosvenor vowing to return very soon.

 

Experience packages start at £20 per person.  More information can be found here: http://www.grosvenorcasinoslondon.com/experience-packages/

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Propel Launch Star Wars Battle Drones

Propel Launch Star Wars Battle Drones

Posted on 31 August 2017 by Chris Ford

Recently I received a rather exciting email, “would you like to come to Brussels for a Start Wars product launch it “ it said , well rather excitedly I of course said yes!

The launch was for a Propels new Star Wars drones, yes you read that right STAR WARS DRONES! These aren’t what you would usually think of drones as, they don’t have cameras these drones are made to battle! The drones come in the familiar shape of a X-Wing Star fighter, Darth Vaders Tie Advanced fighter, and a Speeder bike.

The idea is you get two of these together and battle each other shooting the built in laser blaster to score points and eventually down your opponent.

 

 

Tech

I think the first thing that struck me is the great deal of thought and detail that has gone into designing these drones, for a start there is  the Li Fi technology use in the drones laser scoring system (li-fi is a system similar to wifi except it uses light instead of radio waves to send and receive data).

We then have things like when your x-wing or Tie Fighter takes a hit, not only do you hear it through authentic star wars sound affects you also see the drone physically react to the hit.

 

The Propel Star Wars drones also feature integrated flight control algorithms for various types of high-precision multiplayer air battles, including a new T Mode (Training Mode) for first-time flyers, which creates an invisible aura around you and makes the drone easier to control. Special manoeuvres like corkscrew rolls in forward flight and innovative reverse propulsion drone technology enable the craft to reproduce the famous flight action in Star Wars , imagine spinning your drone in mid air just like in the movies?  Well the Propel can do it!

Packaging

This first quadrocopter edition comes in a presentation box with a wax seal and a three-dimensional scale model of the craft on the front. When the top of the box is opened, the box lights up and various soundbites as well as the Star Wars theme are played through speakers which are integrated in the box. Each box and drone has a unique serial number making these drones Im sure highly collectable as well as being seriously impressive I mean who does this with their packaging?

Learning To Fly

The App

 

Propel have also produced a App for both Iphone and Android to help you get the most out of your drone. The initial release will be a flight simulator with 34 training modes to train you from cadet to admiral status, the app syncs your remote controlleryour phone via Bluetooth and movement mimics the actual live flight experience allowing you to perfect your piloting before taking on your mates in battle!

 

 

Durability

Obviously a concern with anything like this especially when its designed to battle is durability so its good to know that Propel are offering a comprehensive parts replacement service and even include a 12 months unlimited parts replacement service so if you do get into a scrape you are covered.

Battles

 

A big appeal of the Propel drones is of course the ability to battle others,  Propel plan to organise battle arena events like the ones in our videos around the country as well as the ability to arrange your own battles via social networks  and the Propel app there should be no shortage of people to battle.

 

Our Verdict

 

I think it’s clear from this review we are pretty impressed with what Propel have done with their Star Wars Battle drones the attention to detail is insane and Im sure anyone from the casual fan to the serious obsessive will be impressed with what they have done, my only gripe would be the battery last for 8mins which isn’t long but you do get two batteries and can buy more via Propels parts service so all is not lost there either.

The Propel Star Wars Battle Drones are available in the UK from 1st September 2017 with the individually numbered Collector’s Edition available exclusively from John Lewis at a price of £199.

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The San Miguel Experience – London

The San Miguel Experience – London

Posted on 31 July 2017 by Chris Ford

 

Last week San Miguel invited me to San Miguel – The Experience in London.

Now this may sound like a chance to drink some of Spain’s favourite beer and it was but there was a lot more to it than that.

San Miguel have teamed up with some pretty inspiring people who we joined for an evening of inspirational talks, creative workshops and immersive experiences celebrating people from around the world who live life differently.

I’ve picked out a couple of my favourites here, the most noticeable one I guess was  the Virtual Reality simulator Birdly which makes you feel like you are soaring above streets of New York city, pretty dizzying realistic stuff!

 

Then there was Mike Kus, a British designer and photographer as well as pretty amazing Instagrammer.  Mike guided us through how he takes a photo for Instagram and generally how to take better snaps. It was the simple things like use interesting / different angles and the settings to use to enhance your image. Mike mainly uses the brightness, contrast and structure tools right in the Instagram app itself for his processing.  He also just uses a regular iPhone. I left feeling impressed and inspired that I can up my Instagram game (watch this space on that one!)

The other stand out session I attended was more interactive. We joined Belgian pastry chef and chocolatier Willem Verlooy for a really enjoyable class where we made our very own chocolate treats. I filmed most of the session in the video below, (sorry for the poor sound on this one my mic wasn’t working properly!)

After a few great talks we then had to of course check out the beer and food selections, being hosted by San Miguel there was course an array of their beer range on offer. I really enjoyed some of the less common offerings particularly like the 1516 which is made to conform to Germany’s strict purity laws and result in a fresh slightly smoky tasting spin which went down really well.  The other winner for me was the San Miguel Selecta 3 toasted malts and 3 specially selected hops creating a really smooth beer with a lovely slight hoppy finish. I really really liked this one!

I can’t wait for the San Miguel Experience to return to London next year, it was such a fun inspiring night.

For more info on San Miguel head over to https://www.sanmiguel.com/en , Mike Kus is on Instagram at @mikekus  and Willem Verlooy is at @willemverlooy

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The Regal Rogue boozy brunch

The Regal Rogue boozy brunch

Posted on 18 July 2017 by Chris Ford

Last month I received a curious invitation to join a brand called Regal Rogue for a bit of a boozy brunch on a Saturday morning to kick off London Wine Week.

Regal Rogue was developed by Brit-born Mark Ward. Mark realised, while living in Australia, that they produce some of the best wine in the world so why no vermouths?  Hence Regal Rogue was born.

I don’t think I have ever had vermouth before, so this was a bit of an education of me. We learnt that Regal Rogue was being used a base ingredient for an array of cocktails on offer and with the blazing sunny weather we were experiencing, they were perfectly refreshing while not too boozy for the early morning start.

On arrival we started off with a ‘Lively Spritzer’ consisting of Regal Rogue Lively White, fresh grapefruit, lemon, sparkling wine and a sprig of rosemary.  The grapefruit shone through on this one and really woke me up!

 

The brunch was served family style and to start we had a selection of five starters to try. I went for the Granola with Honey oaks, roasted buckwheat, quinoa and rosella yoghurt which was amazing, I would never ever normally order this for breakfast but it really was tasty, a game-changer for me breakfast-wise.

Then we went onto the main breakfast items, I particularly enjoyed the crispy haloumi as well as the smoked haddock and sea beet kedgeree. Again not things I would normally order for breakfast but this all felt like a real treat. To accompany our meal we had a choice of Regal Rogue cocktails.  My favourite was a mix featuring ‘Daring Dry’ with apple, celery, spinach and cucumber which complemented the strong flavours of the kedgeree perfectly.

The interesting thing about Regal Rogue to me is its actually quite low in alcohol making it an ideal mixer for summer cocktails. You can enjoy them and not worry about getting too tipsy in the heat. But as the brunch drew to a close we did up the alcohol game a bit and enjoyed a ‘Australian Rogroni’ which had Regal Rogue Bold Red mixed with gin, Italian bitter and a large slice of orange, and wow this really packed a punch! But so good on this roaring hot day.

I guess the take home from the Rogues brunch though wasn’t the food. It was that Vermouth can be used as an excellent and light replacement for spirits in things like gin and tonics or negroni with surprisingly fresh and delightful results. Give it a go especially as we continue to enjoy this glorious weather!

 

for more info on Regal Rogue head over to www.regalrogue.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Silver Lining Service – Marriott County Hall

Silver Lining Service – Marriott County Hall

Posted on 27 June 2017 by Chris Ford

Last week we were invited to the launch of the London Marriott County Hall’s new Silver Lining Service, enlisting a Meteorologist the hotel now offers a weather reactive service at their 5* hotel by Westminster bridge.

 

So what does all this mean?

Marriott have enlisted the help of Senior Meteorologist Kirsty McCabe, who currently presents on Sky News. Kirsty will be presiding over local weather matters, helping hotel guests get the most out of their stay— come rain or shine.

With Kirsty’s help the hotel has launched its Silver Lining Package – a weather reactive service for guests staying in their 12 premier suites, meaning that the rooms will respond, in real time, to the conditions outside.  A little cloudy? A light therapy lamp will be on the bedside table. Things turn a bit windy? A hair stylist will be on hand to make sure you look your best for the evening ahead. A downpour? Wellies and raincoats will be at the suite door. Sun’s blazing? Find a selection of luxury skincare already in the bathroom.  So you get the idea, you don’t have to worry about the weather the hotel anticipates your needs to help you enjoy your stay in London no matter what the weather. And as a Londoner myself I know full well that our weather is far from predictable so good to have the professionals on board to help out!

So while we were there Marriott kindly let us stay in one of their rooms for the night so we can experience a bit of what the hotel has to offer and the Silver Lining Package. Last Monday was a scorcher so the room should reflect that right?  Well when we entered the room we were greeted with a weather care package including some sun cream and moisturiser for the sunny day ahead oh and an umbrella because its London and you never know right? To top it off ice, gin and tonic was left on the desk  – a perfect sunny day drink and a lovely greeting as we entered the room.

The whole hotel was recently refurbished late last year and they have really gone to town on instilling the London theme throughout the room and the hotel itself.

From the artwork on the walls subtly themed on areas of London to the wallpaper in the room featuring a lovely map of the whole city. Even the TV cabinet had the shape of the River Thames running through it.  A lot of effort has been made to make your stay special and I’m sure tourists would love these little touches.  Even as a Londoner I couldn’t help but smile – even the hallway had bowler hat wallpaper!

The Hotel itself is located just by Westminster Bridge so as you can imagine the views from the window were pretty spectacular. I’m not sure my photo does it justice but waking up to Big Ben outside your window is pretty special indeed.

View from our room, amazing!

One thing we noticed was the friendliness of the staff and I mean all the staff. Everything happens with a smile and nothing is too much trouble.

Check out this video of the barmen – I ordered an Old Fashioned and the barman infused the drink with smoke. I have never seen this before and drunk many Old Fashioneds in many a bar and hotel, I was really impressed.

We went through the menu and also had the most amazing gin and tonic and my girlfriend loved one called the Mary Poppins. It tasted like chocolate and that was good enough for her.

 

After a few drinks we decided to head back to the room and order some room service – when you have an amazing room and view like that, why go out for dinner?

The room service comes from the hotels restaurant Gillray’s Steakhouse so the obvious move for me was to try the steak which was amazing, my girlfriend went for the fish and chips which was really good too but I could see a bit of steak envy in her eyes.

Staying in our Big Ben view room we also had access to the newly renovated M-Club Lounge – a bit like a airport lounge in the hotel with snacks, drinks and computer access along with another stunning view of Westminster and Big Ben, pretty cool to say the least.

We had a lovely stay at the Mariott County Hall and felt thoroughly looked after throughout. Consider us impressed.

Full details of the Sliver Lining service and the hotel in general can be found on their website  www.marriottcountyhall.com

 

 

 

 

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Top Ten Winston Churchill motivational quotes

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Top Ten Winston Churchill motivational quotes

Posted on 14 June 2017 by Chris Ford

This week sees the release of ‘CHURCHILL’ starring Brain Cox as Britain’s iconic Prime Minister Winston Churchill, covering the days before the infamous D-Day landings in June 1944.  As allied forces stand on the south coast of Britain, poised to invade Nazi-occupied Europe, they await Churchill’s decision on whether the invasion will actually move ahead.

With the release of Churchill we thought we would compile our top ten Winston Churchill motivational quotes to inspire you through the week :

  • “There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.”
  • “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”
  • “One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.”
  • “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
  • “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
  • “There is only one duty, only one safe course, and that is to try to be right and not to fear to do or say what you believe to be right.”
  • “This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
  • “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”
  • “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-a tremendous whack.”
  • “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

 

Churchill is released in UK cinemas this Friday, 16th June

 

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Interview – Film Weapons Master Tim Wildgoose

Interview – Film Weapons Master Tim Wildgoose

Posted on 15 May 2017 by Chris Ford

Tim Wildgoose (left)  photo from @AccessTheAnimus

Last week I had the opportunity to chat with Tim Wildgoose who has built a career as  Weapons Master for a number of amazing film and tv shows including Band of Brothers , Transformers, Edge of Tomorrow and now the new Assassin’s Creed movie which is out on DVD and Bluray today, here’s what he had to say

 

How did you get into the weaponry side of movie making in the first place?

I am a huge film-fanatic and wanted to work on films from as early as I can remember – I always wanted to work for Industrial Light and Magic and make props on a Star Wars movie.  I ended up doing a degree in sculpting and model making at the university of Hertfordshire aimed towards prop making.  I landed some work experience in my second year on a HBO/Dreamworks TV show that was shooting nearby called Band of Brothers and ended up doing the entire shoot of the series with the Armoury department dealing with the weapons and firearms on set and it turned into a career making weapons for movies that has lasted around 20 years so far.

Band of Brothers prop gun, photo from Prop Store .com

Do the actors ever have input into the weapons you use in production? I have read for example Daniel Craig likes to be involved in the watches, weapons etc used in a film.

Occasionally actors will have input into the weapons but these will usually be in the form of the practicality of a particular weapon’s use when on set. For example, extending a sword handle so it is easier for them to use in a fight scene.  Sometimes an actor will request a certain weapon to use but generally it is down to myself, the director and production designer as to what they will carry and to design the look of them.

In films where the weaponry is from the future or a different world it seems the guns at least tend to have a base of an existing weapon what’s the reasoning generally for this?

Very often a weapon will be required to fire blank rounds on set in order to get a flash on the actors face and surrounding scenery/set as they fire to help the VFX department add and tie-in the actual projectile/laser/whatever that should be coming out of the end of the weapon later in post-production.  Also some actors like the feedback/noise etc that firing an actual firing gun gives them when acting.

The regular way to do this is to build the futuristic weapon around an existing blank firing gun or mechanism as this saves time and money as you already have a fully working mechanism ready-made and engineered to reliably fire blank rounds.

This then has a knock on effect of having the outer-shell of the weapon resembling in some way the blank firing gun inside it.

There are other methods to achieve this and more so now with the help of better VFX, so the requirement for a blank firing gun inside is not always necessary anymore.  I have worked on movies recently where the usual blank firing mechanism has been replaced with a super-bright LED in the barrel and a recoil mechanism – meaning the design/shape of the weapon does not have to stick to any particular design constraints.

Assassins Creed

You worked on things like Band of Brothers, is it hard to source period accurate weapons for something like that?

I worked for a well-known and long established armourer called Simon Atherton on that job who sourced all the weapons for Band of Brothers.  There are many armoury companies based all over the world that keep a stock of a selection of all period weapons so it is not too much of a problem for movies to get hold of what they require. Any particular items that do not exist or are difficult to source can also be built/reproduced.

Band of Brothers

You have just worked on Assassins Creed, how close to the video game did the characters weaponry have to be or were you given freedom to come up with something new for the movie?

It was a good mix of both. We knew we wanted to keep the fans happy so we tried to cram as many of the games weapons into the movie as possible. So many of the scenes and some minor characters have weapons faithfully reproduced from the games hidden in the background.  We considered these the ‘Easter Egg’ weapons.  As a fan myself it was a pleasure to reproduce some of these iconic weapons that I myself had played with in the game over the years.  We also had some of our actors playing actual characters out of the games so again we faithfully reproduced these as closely as possible.

Then we had our new characters and Assassins – Aguilar, Maria and so on – unique to this movie which made up the rest.  We spent a long time with director Justin Kertzel designing and making our own versions of the wristblades, mechanisms and other Assassin weapons and tried to come up with weapons that were interesting and new while still keeping within the realms of the established Ubisoft/AC universe.

Assassin’s Creed

 

Filming in the UK where the gun restrictions are a lot stricter than places like the US how does that affect the weapons you would like to use / source for a Particular film?

This has little/no effect, it is very hard to get a section 5 licence required by the government to hold certain firearms but licence holding armourers have no problem sourcing what they require when they do.

 

I’ve seen in the past actors use a combination of real guns and rubber prop guns, when we are watching at home when does the gun tend to be the rubber kind and what’s the purpose of them?

Generally rubber guns are used as a safety element to protect an actor doing a stunt, for example if an actor is jumping or falling we will use a rubber weapon in case they were to fall on it to prevent injury. The rubber weapon bends and in most cases is indistinguishable from the real thing unless close up. Real guns are heavy and there is a lot of weight behind them that could cause a lot of damage if it was to hit you.  We also use rubber weapons in a situation where a person might get hit/struck with a weapon as part of the story, for example clubbed round the back of the head with a pistol – A very soft rubber pistol might be used here.

How much training does an actor get with a weapon on say something like Assassins Creed?

This depends on the weapon. Generally, actors will do weeks if not months of training with the stunt teams/fight coordinator in most case using the weapons, or as close as possible, the weapon that they will be using in the movie. We want the actor to look like the sword or whatever they are carrying as a character is second nature to them.  In the case of firearms, actors will usually go through a safety training/profficiency course with the firearms they will be using beforehand.

 

Assassins Creed

Brandon Lee famously died due to live rounds being placed in a gun instead of blanks, since then has safety been stepped up a lot to ensure things like that never happen again?

Arrghhh this question! sorry but I get asked this a lot.

In the Brandon Lee case my understanding was a series of unfortunate and avoidable events that occurred due to negligence and was not the case of having a live round making its way into a blank firing gun.  Any professional movie armourer would never have live rounds on a movie set for obvious reasons. Many checks are made to make sure this kind of thing cannot happen and blank firing guns cannot generally fire a live round due to the way they have to be altered to enable them to fire a blank round.

Other safety checks are in place as well, for example barrels are checked regularly/religiously for anything lodged inside. Where possible weapons will not be fired directly at an actor, as more often than not this can be achieved by ‘cheating’ the weapon a little to the side, so from the cameras perspective it looks like an actor is being shot when in reality the weapon is pointed elsewhere

What’s the most exciting project you have personally worked on and why?

Assassins Creed has been my favourite project to date, firstly because I am a gamer and was already a huge fan of the games before I even got on board the film. Assassins Creed as a universe and by the nature of its story spans many time periods in history. Usually on a movie you might get to make weapons from one or two time periods at the most. On this movie we must have made weapons from around fifteen different periods of history right up to modern day/futuristic and got to design weapons to suit

We also got to make many cool gadgets.  The AC universe is full of intricately designed ‘Da Vinci’ style mechanisms such as wristblades, wrist crossbows, dart-launchers, wrist grapples, smoke bombs and all sorts of other interesting contraptions and interesting weaponry.  The brief I worked to with my department of talented modelmakers, sculptors, painters and leatherworkers was that everything we created had to be beautiful, any mechanisms/gadgets had to work for real and it all needed to be museum-worthy. I think we achieved this and it was a pleasure to go through the whole process from start to finish. I honestly believe we created some of the most beautiful weaponry ever put on film.

 

Assassins Creed is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download.

 

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Review – St Barts – Smithfield

Review – St Barts – Smithfield

Posted on 19 April 2017 by Chris Ford

Last week I popped along to a dinner for bloggers at St Bart’s Brewery in Farringdon so they could showcase their new menu, as well as their drinks offerings.


Overlooking Smithfield’s famous meat market, St Bart’s is part of the Hush Heath Estate group (with another London location by Liverpool Street). Their new ‘barbecue soul food’ menu offers fresh and sustainably sourced British meat, fish and vegetables, smoked using apple wood from their Hush Heath Estate in Kent.


We began with a selection of small plates from the menu to share. The highlight for me was the most amazing Scotch Egg made with a duck’s egg. The yolk was rich and gooey and it was worlds away from the M&S picnic eggs I confess I’m used to eating. Sadly I had to share this with the table as I would have gladly eaten it all there and then!
For the main I decided to look beyond my go-to choice of steak (although the person sitting next to me had it and it looked amazing!) The ribs sounded like a tempting option and made the shortlist too. But in the end I had to go for the smoked brisket. And I’m so glad I did. It was absolutely melt-in-the-mouth and some of the best meat I have tasted in a long while. This is no doubt down to the care that has been taken to source good quality British beef, combined with the apple wood smoking.


Our host for the evening Laurence Bowes, operations director of the Hush Heath Estate group explained: ‘We’re not trying to reinvent the industry or even to be the very best in London. The industry is already altering people’s perceptions of quality meats and barbecued food – St Bart’s is coming along for the ride. What we are doing is offering real food, cooked well and served in a relaxed environment.’


So the food is good, very good, but what about the drink? First of all the award winning English wines from their Hush Heath Estate are front and a must try when you visit. Not much of a wine drinker myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the fruity sparkling Balfour Brut Rosé. The house IPA Jakes Orchard Session IPA was very drinkable too and while Hush Heath don’t make this themselves Laurence told me they were heavily involved in its development and the results are a great IPA which can stand up with the best of the big names out there (and in some cases beat them).

We finished our meal with a last bit of indulgence in the for of a knickerbocker glory, wow just wow!
One final note I’d like to mention the prices. Several of us noted that most of the plates were only £10 each which, considering the location and quality, is a very welcome surprise.

I would without hesitation recommend St Bart’s to anyone, in fact I already have so that says it all really.
St Barts ,66 West Smithfield, London EC1A 9DY
www.stbartsbrewery.com/
Nearest Tube – Farringdon or Barbican

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