Category: Inspiration

Producing Journey To Moab

We’ve been on the road for a little over 3 hours today as we’ve made our way up 24 from Capitol Reef National Park with a quick stop at Goblin Valley—our final destination for the day is a campsite near Rainbow Terrace Trail just north of Canyonlands. I haven’t truly showered in 3 days, unless you call wet wipes a viable alternative—I do not. All I can hear is the gravel grinding beneath my all-terrain’s and the squeaks of my dirt packed bushings as I weave in and out of the leading vehicle’s dust trails. Ahead of me is Steven, Patrick, and Dan in their 4runner’s. I’ve turned down my CB as the chatter is just a little too much while i’m trying to focus on shooting. Rainbow Terrace will be our first rated trail of the trip and we’re all looking forward to it. The sun is setting and igniting the plume of dust as we roll down Ruby Ranch road. It is exactly as I had imagined it being when I was jotting down rough shot lists for the trip during planning. We’re all tired, a little sun burnt, and it’s taking some will power to balance my need to get the shot versus take in this amazing moment.

Moments, like the one above, when all of your senses are stirring and you know you’re getting some good stuff on camera, are what made this trip special for me.

Please checkout the complete 3-part docu-series “Journey To Moab” 

When Steven, Patrick, Dan, and I originally decided to take on this journey, Peach State Overland hadn’t even been formally created. We were, and technically still are, just a group of guys that like to travel off-road, be prepared, self-sufficient, etc. (We’re just a little bit more organized and motivated now.) As the trip planning continued, it became evident that this was an opportunity of a lifetime if we could capture this and turn it into something. At the time I didn’t know what, simply that we must film it. This kind of documentary coverage, in the field, running and gunning, is exactly what I love doing.

Journey To Moab was a lot of firsts for me; first project of this scope, first time taking a road trip of this size and duration, and first time truly editing a project on Final Cut Pro X (I now prefer it over Premiere for cutting stories). Honestly, I came into the project a little wary when we initially looked at the scope of it. I typically cut smaller web featurettes roughly 2 to 3 minutes in length, but this was a different beast from every angle. The load was shared with the team’s other producer/camera operator, Patrick Metzger. He’s assisted on finding footage, guiding the story, sourcing music, and has come into his own on shooting—always experimenting, always learning.

file_0003

We knew there would be a lot of footage and new challenges, so we tried to account for them early on in planning. Patrick and I needed to look at equipment, charging batteries without access to power, backing up memory cards, as well as what we planned to shoot. We started by figuring out what equipment we needed based on a rough shot list for the trip. We both ended up bringing the standard affair, a DSLR and a GoPro, a 3ft slider, and other various but lightweight camera support. Steven also chimed in with his two Sony ActionCams that would provide various dash footage throughout the journey. We thought through what we’d be shooting day to day and analyzed how much footage would fit on a memory card of a given size. I like to shoot on smaller cards, 32GB, so if one fails you don’t lose as much. I ended up bringing two WD Passport Wireless drives to offload and backup my SD cards as the trip progressed; these are an invaluable tool in my kit now. Other concerns were batteries and charging. I ended up adding an inverter to my Xterra as well as USB chargers for the Canon and GoPro batteries. The biggest challenge though wasn’t the equipment or even knowing what to shoot, it was how we were going to shoot it. I’m not referring to shot composition here, but how we were physically going to shoot it with both Patrick and I serving dual roles as camera operators and drivers. This predicament is precisely why Expedition Overland has a production arm and an expedition arm on their trips. It’s just wasn’t possible to fully execute the kind of production quality I wanted to have and still drive my truck. So admittedly this is a sacrifice that we had to make on this production.

file_0002

The trip took 11 days for Steven and Patrick and 10 days for myself and Dan. Steven and Patrick leaving earlier so they could have some down time in Vegas with their wives. Patrick was the responsible for filming on their trip out and I was for our journey, prior to us meeting up in Las Vegas. We travelled through 17 states and roughly 4500 miles overall and ended up with somewhere around 20-24 hours of footage—the project as it sits is about 1.65TB of media. The footage we captured was from three separate shoots; the prep trip we took at the end of February 2016 as well as the trip itself during the first week of April. Over the summer we began planning the interview shoot which took place in July. This shoot would be integral to set the pace and move the story along. Ryan Basler was also a tremendous help as he ran camera for the interviews while both Patrick and I were sitting in the hot seat (Side note: I don’t know how anyone gets used to being on camera. Having to listen to myself talk was truly unpleasant, my only saving grace was the fact that I was recovering from losing my voice the day of the interview shoot so I didn’t sound like myself). From there editing began, starting with the syncing of the interview VO with camera audio and then getting all the media ingested into the computer, logged, and sifting through it to get familiar with the footage that not only I shot, but also all of Patrick’s and Steven’s additional b-roll.

IMG_6972

The trip was a blast and we saw things that we’d only seen online and people’s trip reports on Expedition Portal. That site was one of the main sources of inspiration for how I wanted to tell the story of the trip. Everyone describing their own perspective of the trip, set to video, creating a visual account as the events played out. During editing I made it a point to not watch anyone else’s videos that have been coming out from other groups this year. There were so many…I did not want to get influenced by anyone’s production or editing style. I wanted this project to be my own, how I edit, and how I wanted to tell the story. The trip was what it is was, nothing added in. We simply didn’t have any break downs or big mishaps, so no drama. Call it boring or call it being prepared, that’s your call. I don’t think any of those that went would change a thing, and I can guarantee we would all do it again.

Sad Paw Paw Will Make You Think

By Kevin Keegan

CNN’s lead says it best, “The Internet adopted a grandpa this week…”

The internet’s latest viral tweet has struck a cord with many, or should I say, plucked a heart string.

Photo by Kelsey Harmon, as posted on Twitter under the handle @kelssseyharmon.

The tweeted photo has nearly 174k retweets and 284k likes at the time this post was written. It is of Kelsey Harmon’s Grandpa, looking very sad while eating one of 12 hamburgers that he made for his six grandchildren, of which only one showed up for dinner.

This is a story that really touched people on the internet and has spread like wildfire, even being picked up by major news outlets.  

But it’s not just the fact that the post has gone viral, it’s the conversation that has sparked because of it. A powerful one and one that started by something as simple as a Tweet.

Family is important, and while we’re all busy with life we need to put it in park and spend time with those important to you and let them know you care. This was echoed in the responses around the internet. They ranged from those who were moved by the tweet to those that expressed real emotion because of it. There was even some contemplative reflection in many responses, like the one below. 

Everyone loves a good cat video, but the reality is that most of the things we find interesting on the internet have little effect or at least positive effect on our lives. In this case though, Sad Paw Paw has gotten people to think about others, something that the internet could use more of.

Since the original Tweet spread across the nation. Paw Paw has decided to throw a picnic for anyone who wants to come. They’re going to be selling hamburgers and selling t-shirts that say, “I had a burger with Paw Paw.” See info here: http://www.foxla.com/news/share-this/110555952-story

Original article: http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/18/us/sad-burger-grandpa-viral-pic-irpt/index.html

Inspiration, on my way to work…

So this morning I saw an odd thing. Odd to me at least, as I’ve never seen this done before during this particular activity. Well I drove past a guy stopped at a light in his car…pretty normal right…well the man just happened to be going to town playing his recorder. Yes, a recorder, as in an english flute.

Well as weird as it was, it got me thinking. We all need to do our own thing sometimes. It’s good to ignore what people think and just enjoy what you like to do. So more power to you trucking driving recorder playing man.

Design Elements !@#$%^&*(){}[]\|;:’",<.>/?~`

Sometimes all you need to make your design more interesting, is to use some kind of element or symbol to help draw the composition together. A resource is right at your finger tips. Your keyboard. Let’s take a business card for example. Maybe it’s something relevant to your email address like an “@”. An “@” that is oversized (it’s vector-based, so it won’t pixelate), maybe a contrasting color, can all help set off a certain part of your design that you want to emphasize.

It may be that you are just short on resources or it might be that you don’t have access to photoshop and you have to resort to your trusty backup, Pixlr.

A graphical element can be a very simple and powerful asset to a design. It’s something that catches the eye and can be very relevant and literal to the point you’re trying to get across or it can be a little something that ties it all together visually, or both. So, if you’re missing just a little something, don’t forget to look down.

Dream The Impossible

Just caught this while watching last week’s episode of Lost on ABC. Honda has put together a series of short documentary films about the Honda’s own inspiration and future of cars and their effect on the environment, called Dream The Impossible.

These films are brilliantly put together by @radical.media and directed by Derek Cianfance.
So far 3 films have been made and more will follow. The dramatic lighting, offset interview shots, and soundtrack all come together to make these truly superb films.

Check them out at http://dreams.honda.com

Nikon D90 18-105mm + Canon Wide Angle = !!!

Hello, it’s been a while…I’ve been busy with the Holidays. Hope everyone has had some good times and good fortune.
So I’ve kinda put this off for a while and haven’t thought much of it ’til recently…
I’ve been checking out lenses for the D90 lately and have actually ordered the renown Tokina 11-16mm Ultrawide today. It should be here by 7PM new year’s eve!!! But that’s another post all together. I’ve also been looking at Lens Baby’s. These little lenses give the image a central point of focus with a gradient blur emanating from it. A very cool and artistic effect (if that’s what you like).
By accident, I stumbled across a way to create this effect or at least a similar effect. Out in LA in October, I was primarily shooting video. The camera I was using was a Canon GL2 with a wide angle bayonet adapter on it. Specifically the Canon WD-58H wide angle adapter.

Now what I ended up experimenting with was placing this wideangle lens backwards up against the lens hood of the D90’s kit 18-105mm DX lens. Actually the outside of the 18-105mm lens hood fit perfectly around those two little plastic lips on the top and bottom of the glass inside the lens hood in this image.

All I had to do was keep the lens zoomed out to 105mm and keep the canon wide angle from falling off. All the camera settings and focus settings stayed the same. Well anyways, I ended up with images like these.

Now what you’re not seeing is the serious vignetting that was going on. But with a bit of a crop and some thought into framing the subject, all is well. Here’s one without a crop…

So while this isn’t necessarily a cheaper way or better way to do what a lens baby can do, it’s still cheaper than a tilt/shift lens and produces a pretty good result. I think the hardest part was trying to pan with the cars with while holding that added weight at the end of the lens. So enjoy, and maybe if you’re like me…a videographer with access to odd lens and adapters, feel free to mess around. Maybe you’ll come up with something that hasn’t been done before or just looks cool.