MadLab The Visuals of MadLab

The Visuals of MadLab

Posted by Tamarisk Kay, over 6 years ago

When the shutters are up MadLab looks more welcoming and the spacious halls upstairs and downstairs are good spaces for working and meeting for various visual arts groups. Bokeh_yeah and Spectacular Shots Club are both about experimenting with equipment – looking into what can be done with DSLR cameras and trying to create film special effects with low budgets. The live drawing event DrSketchys is probably one of the most entertaining regular events in MadLab. In addition to hosting these groups MadLab often functions as a gallery space and organizes film nights – besides doing here is quite a lot to see


DSLR cameras are becoming increasingly popular among professional and hobby users. It seems as though there are plenty of photo and video courses available, helping users to get over the ‘fear’ of making the most of their equipment, what is lacking is a joint course dealing with both aspects of the DSLRs – Bokeh-yeah! aims to bridge that gap. There seems to be an enlarging demand for information, so on the first Thursday of every month DSLR video-makers meet-up in Madlab to discuss and share camera knowledge, demonstrate kit and techniques, showcase and critique films made using this technology.

The group is open and forms by the needs and interests of the participants. So far the group has watched a film, looked into how to use the cameras in acting context and tried to figure out what would be the best rigs to invest in. There has been discussions about the problems of the DSLR cameras such as overheating and intimidating things to many new users as installing software on your camera. A longer insight is made to different types of lenses in near future. Basically this is a group of knowledge exchange – so every participant is welcome to demonstrate their area of expertise, it really is all about sharing ideas. So if you are a photographer who wants to make films or a video maker struggling with the idea of interchangeable lenses, or you have all the skills to make a great video, but don’t own a decent microphone for recording sound – this is the place you might find people who can help you. Even though the meet-up has turned out to be for quite an advanced level, new users needing advice with the basics are just as welcome.

Bokeh_Yeah! from Madlab on Vimeo.

Spectacular shots club

Spectacular shots club initiated by a filmmaker Ben Edmundson started in the beginning of 2011, as part of a networking group for artist called Future Artist Live Creative Cooperative. The group aims to create visual and special effects and stunts with minimum budgets and use them for about minute long short films. So far they have done jumping off a building (so learning to use a green screens for example), explosions and fight scenes.

The group is characterized by the spirit for experimenting – they usually start off from knowing nothing and end up learning as they go. It brings together film-makers as well as artists wanting to be in ‘recreating Matrix’. The meetings are different every time, but start off from a production meeting, experimenting and choreographing scenes, to end up with the shoots.

The videos are uploaded on a vimeo page the group also has a quite active Facebook page. The projects made so far have also been presented on workshops in Future Artists Cooperation. The group is thinking of expanding soon and if anybody needs help in creating a stunt for the film look them up.

Spectacular shots club from Madlab on Vimeo.


The anti-art school DrSketcy is a worldwide phenomenon – there are hundreds of branches all over the world and it seems to be gaining more and more popularity. Drawing in informal atmosphere is fun and the idea of no pressure attracts many secret sketchbook owners, but also professional artists who like the atmosphere. It was started in 2005 by a 22 year old art school dropout Molly Crabapple and the Manchester branch is run by two enthusiasts Faye and Ruari who have managed to keep the events exiting and always offer something new and thrilling.

But what differentiates DrSketchys from a regular live drawing class? To make it simple DrSkechy is a real life cabaret show and a live drawing event which brings together people from beginners in drawing to professional artists. The event is livened with some music and drinks and aims to create an open and creative atmosphere. The evening starts with a show put up by the models and continues with multiple drawing tasks. That includes fast sketches done with a minute, but also more detailed drawings and sketches made in cooperation with different participants. The drawing is made exiting by different competitions where models can pick the winner with the best drawing – it is about imagination just as much as about the skills.

What really makes DrSketchys attractive is the variety of people coming together exited and inspired by the idea of anti-art school. The beginners can get inspired by professionals and professionals can get out of their regular environment. Definitely a good night out.

The groups categorised as visual bring together variety of people those who are interested in being behind and those interested in being in front of the camera, on stage or off stage with the pencil, those with experience and knowledge willing to share and beginners needing advice. There seems to be a good balance between the two poles.