My first ever commissioned film was released today and stands as a landmark for Basho films. I have learned more about Sony Vegas, filmmaking and special effects from this project than I could have ever imagined. The background to the film is what is known as “milsim” or “Military Simulation”.

Here is the YouTube description for the film:

At TIER 1 we are totally and entirely dedicated to providing you the player with a 100% “as real as it gets outside the military” experience.
There follows a declassified film about our SUB OPERATION – BLADERUNNER.

These events encompass the highest level of Military Simulation and Attendees were tested to a level unprecedented in airsoft, sustaining — hardship, duress, a lack of sleep and a lack of food for 36hours.
Attendees received initial orders prior to the operation and were required to begin the event outside of an airsoft environment. Tasks included professional training in surveillance, followed by going to a designated place and identifying a group of Targets. Surveillance of those Targets then commenced using covert communication equipment and vehicles, following on foot when required.

But then something they didn’t expect happened!

Late at night the Target’s turned the tables and captured two of the Attendees in a well-planned road stop. They were taken to the Target’s compound and tested for resistance to interrogation. Upon the discovery of this the Attendees then planned, practiced and executed a rescue operation in the early hours of the morning calling on all they had learned in the training and previous day’s play. Could they rescue their teammates alive and capture the Target leader?

TIER 1 MILITARY SIMULATION Ltd is a military simulation training company owned and managed by former-Royal Marine Commando Non-Commissioned Officers and a former UKSF 22 SAS Regiment Operator with over 57 years regular service between them.

Tier 1 partnered with the well known airsoft filmmaker and blogger, Basho (, in making this film. Basho followed the day’s events as a silent observer capturing the main events of the event on camera.

When Ed from Tier 1 asked me to attend the event as a filmmaker I was not ready for what I was about to witness. Tier 1 is about as far from a normal airsoft skirmish that you could get and the “Sub Operations” take this even further. The entire event had a story through which the clients were playing. The idea was that a “terrorist” cell had been discovered and that their leader was coming in to Heathrow. The clients mission was to follow these targets and intercept them in the morning. However, unknown to them Ed had other ideas and one of the squads vehicles was stopped and the clients captured, which involved me hiding in a bush with a load of masked gunmen waiting for the right car to pass! There followed a couple of hours of interrogation followed by a rescue by the other, remaining, players.

It all felt so real, so very real. Nothing was forgotten, nothing was not part of the story unfolding.

It was very clever.

It did have challenges for the filmmaker however. I was not “in” on the story so I was forced to film everything and ended up with 60Gb of footage! I had to improvise filming ideas at short notice and tag along with the teams as they played out their different missions. I also had to go without much sleep for 36 hours! the tired faces you see in the film are really tired. It was incredible how everyone was able to keep going through the event at all.

After the filming the long process began of making the film. I had the idea of a voice over “interview” with Ed as a sort of debrief, which we would use to pull the sections of the film together. eventually the film went up to the limit (on YouTube) of 15 minutes and I realised we had no chance of fitting this in. So I replaced that idea with a “text” over”. Building this so it looked typed was quite a challenge. I achieved it in the following way:

  1. Have one 3 second clip of a Green Bar on the far left side of the screen.
  2. Use the “Push” transition to move the green line from left to right.
  3. This reveals the text clip next in line.
  4. Use a “digital typing” noise to make it sound like it is being typed.

text shot

All in all the film has the following effects:

  • Split screen: vertically, horizontally and “3 screen”.

3waysplit horizontal verteical

  • Digital matting.
  • Pixilation of certain faces.
  • Digital stabilisation.
  • Slow motion.
  • Professional Colour balancing software applied (which almost killed my computer!)


And the following special effect shots:

  • The “wake them up” scene where I had to build the idea that the GCHQ was searching out and waking up the players via text message.


  • The “matching” shot where the “terrorist” was “face mapped” and identified (during the briefing).


  • The Flashbang, which didn’t go off so I had to create it.


Taking number 3, this one I was very happy with. I doubled the scene layer and matted out a grenade  exploding. I then filled that layer with an explosion and set the transition to be a “Sony Flash”. In order to make it sound convincing I went and found a sound of a real US Military Grenade going off and a sound of “ringing in the ears” to simulate the tinnitus one gets when around explosions.

That leads us to sound and music.

For sounds I raided for suitable sounds and ended up using something like 20 in places such as the tires screeching during “The Grab” scene (they did screech but my camera mike didn’t make enough of it) and “clanking” noises during “The Question” interrogation scene. I can’t recommend this site enough. Good sound effects makes a huge difference. For music I went to my friends at They are truly fantastic, enabling the small filmmaker to use music created by seriously high-end orchestra for a mere pittance. Wonderful.

It has been a very long road to get this film finished, but it feels great to have been involved with the Tier 1 team who are all consummate professionals. Their product is a little different from what people may be used to, but it is excellently run and great fun to watch.


Here is the film:


**WARNING** This film is rated 15 and NOT SAFE FOR WORK due to swearing and violence


If you are on an iPad or iPhone try the Vimeo version:

Tier 1 Military Simulation – Operation BladeRunner from Basho Matsuo on Vimeo.