YouTube’s favourite cinematographer has been quite busy over the years.
Ciaran OBrien has singlehandedly raised the production values of UK YouTube approximately 17% (we did the maths) since he started doing cinematography for videos while still in university. Over the years he’s worked with many directors and built up quite an impressive CV — let’s take a look at some Ciaran highlights.
Ciaran came onto the YouTube scene working with writer and director Khyan Mansley. They made many films together, but one stand-out was The Intern, a three-episode series about a down-on-his-luck man with a mysterious new job prospect.
Back in 2012, Benjamin Cook started the now-iconic documentary series Becoming YouTube. Ciaran was working behind the scenes from the beginning, his influence especially shining through on the scripted sketch content interspersed between interview clips.
Speaking of iconic projects, Tim Hautekiet‘s Project: Library in 2013 was one of the most ambitious and well-produced YouTube series we had ever seen. As usual, Ciaran was behind the scenes raising the bar as director of photography.
While Ciaran has done a lot of long-form content, he’s also worked on quite a few shorter sketches with Thomas “TomSka” Ridgewell. One of these sketches was The Orb in 2016, which Ciaran did cinematography and colour grading for.
Short films are still Ciaran’s bread and butter, however – like Hazel Hayes’s 2015 film Septem, for example. His cinematography keeps this one-room movie visually interesting while respecting the seriousness of the subject matter. Turns out, there’s quite a limited acceptable colour palette for a film centered around deciding on a death.
Ciaran’s worked with Hazel many times, most recently as a colourist on her Fullscreen television show PrankMe. The eight-episode thriller didn’t debut on YouTube, but its YouTube prankster-inspired storyline is maybe a little… too familiar?
Jack & Dean of All Trades
One of Ciaran’s most long-lasting partnerships is with Jack Howard and Dean Dobbs. He’s been doing cinematography for their sketches for years, continuing as director of photography on their Fullscreen series Jack & Dean of All Trades. The show brought Ciaran’s careful work on Jack and Dean’s comedy to a whole new level — that production quality, though!
Sick of Losing Soulmates
As if short films, sketches, and television series weren’t enough, Ciaran has now added music videos to his resume. He’s worked with dodie and Sammy Paul on several of dodie’s music videos, including Sick of Losing Soulmates. The muted colours and frames bathed in shadow work perfectly for dodie’s bittersweet ballad.
Honestly, Ciaran’s worked on so many Sammy Paul and Bertie Gilbert films that we’d be here all day if we talked about them all, so we’re just going to highlight one: Bertie’s 2017 film Playground, written and directed by Bertie and Sammy. Playground is smart, it’s creative, and it’s visually stunning — most of it takes place in a vibrant forest, so aesthetically bright and beautiful that it’s hard to believe it’s in the rainy United Kingdom at all.
So there you have it…
Nine projects Ciaran’s worked on over his years on YouTube. This is far, far from an exhaustive list — Ciaran’s position as the go-to director of photography over the years has thankfully given us hours of content to watch and rewatch. We can’t wait to see what he does next!
Want more? Check these out:
- Ciaran OBrien: Pulling Focus
- Buffer Festival 2017: Recap
- LGBTQ+ Advocates Making YouTube a More Accepting Place
- Ten Short Film Creators You Should Be Watching
- Seven Times YouTubers Hit the Silver Screen