Category: Life

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Headshots

An opportunity came up from my friend and photographer, Bill Manning. Bill had recently gained access to some studio space in Downtown Atlanta and wanted to experiment with new lighting techniques. I put a bug in his ear that if there were ever some time he needed to mess around with gear or lighting, etc. to give me a call cause I would love to get some nice headshots done. The time had arrived.

Despite some complications in the scheduling of the studio, we made it work. All in all, we spent 3 or so hours with setup and takedown and came out with some really nice digital and film shots. Bill is a Nikon guy, which I tend to hold against him, but I know they make just as good of a camera as the competition. He has also ran through some film on his Mamiya medium format camera. We bounced lighting ideas back and forth and played around with different light reflectors and diffusers. It was a really good experience.

If you need portraits done, give him a call! http://www.billmanningphotography.com

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Snowboarder Chased By Bear – Authenticity Online

By Kevin Keegan

I was sent a video yesterday with footage that was beyond belief. Footage that was so crazy, there was no doubt to why this video was in the news. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing or the fact that it was captured. As of this writing, the video has garnered over 2.2 million views on YouTube. (Update: The views are up 150k in a span of just 45min while I wrote this post.)

The original video, seen below, was posted by an account name Kelly Murphy.

This account has only three videos so far, all of which are of snow boarding and no videos older than April 6, 2016, a mere 6 days ago.

So the question has been asked, is this snow boarding video video real or fake? There have been many videos that have either been digitally altered or simply staged and have fooled just about everyone while becoming viral. From my class notes on viral videos:

Theme– Most “viral videos” fit into one of 4 thematic categories:

1) Parody of something popular and timely or just plain silly

2) Sex

3) Cute as hell, and

4) Did that just happen? (It usually didn’t.)

In this case, it’s “did that just happen?”

For some context here are some examples of viral videos that were not authentic. One of the greatest staged videos that I can recall was put on by ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel show in which a young woman was attempting to “twerk” on camera, but ultimately fell, knocked over a candle and caught herself on fire. After gaining traction and views, Jimmy Kimmel released the reveal video admitting that is was fake and subsequently making all the people and legitimate news sites that reported on it feel like complete morons. At the same time forcing us to assess what is real or fake online, an important learning lesson in today’s social media culture.

Another digitally faked video ultimately turned out to be a car ad after the dust settled. Nissans Airplane Landing gear save video gained a lot of attention along with some of their other videos which the FTC eventually got involved with citing false product representation.

If you’re curious about the making of the video, here’s a quick video showcasing some of the VFX work that went into it…

Back to the snow boarding video. The video is certainly convincing, but I’m leaning towards fake. On the first view, I was simply blown away that this happened to this girl. I was literally in awe and my heart began to race as glimpses of a bear came into view as the camera panned and moved with the snowboarder. This was another cause for the video to go viral. But on the second view, I started to look more closely at the each snippet where the bear was present in the video. Things that I saw fell in line with things I look for in my job as a video production manager. Motion blur is present on the bear when other objects near it contained no motion blur. The shading/lightness of the bear didn’t quite match either, but was still very similar to the other elements in the video. The deal was sealed when I looked at the shot where the bear ultimately gives up and stops chasing the rider. The bear simply fades away very quickly, almost like a genie. The editor/compositor of the video likely wanted people to think that the dusting stirred up by the snow caused this effect, but it’s just too quick to look real. These observations combined with the newness of the account seem a little too convinient and add to my opinion of the video being fake.

Like the Jimmy Kimmel video, as funny and unbelieveable or as awe inspiring the video is, we need to remain media literate and still question the information we’re being given. I have no issue with having fun and letting go in the moment and enjoying something that is beyond belief for the sake of entertainment. But we all need to keep a good grasp on reality and the fact that not everything out there is what it seems.

http://www.viralnova.com/snowboarding-bear-attack/

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

Kanye Perusing Pirate Bay

By Kevin Keegan

So some interesting news this week arrived via a post by none other than the hip-hop artist, Kanye West. Never short of headlines, his latest blip on social media is especially ironic considering the industry from which he claims his fame is also the one he appears to be cheating.

This image was pulled directly from the publicly visible @kanyewest Twitter Account. 

An image that West posted on his twitter feed (@kanyewest) shows what appears to be himself listening to Sufjan Steven’s song, “Death With Dignity,” on YouTube. But it wasn’t the subject of the photo that made headlines, it was the other tabs that were open on the web browser in the image. They consisted of…

  • Xfer Records Serum t…
  • Pirate Bay Torrent Xf…
  • The 50 Best VST/AU p…
  • MediaDownloader
  • MacKeeper

 

This may not mean much to anyone outside of the music or audio engineering industry, but let me summarize. A VST/AU plugin or Virtual Studio Technology is essentially synthesizer or effect that works within digital audio editing software. Xfer Records Serum is an audio effect plugin that retails for about $200. Pirate Bay is an infamous website that is used for the distribution of pirated copies of music, movies, and software. And the last tab of interest is MacKeeper, a piece of software for Apple computers that allows users to control the internet traffic in and out of their computer, including software activation and verification traffic. This essentially allows users to thwart pirated software from activating.

The combination of these items together is more than coincidence I would argue, and is quite suspect to say the least. Even fellow Tidal artist, Deadmau5, called Kayne out calling him a, “dick.” While there are certainly explanations for this particular history of internet browsing and no way to verify from the image that this is even his computer, this is a perfect example of why you have to be careful about what you put on the internet. Some images can be more than they seem, especially if you’re $53 Million in debt. As an artist that wants to limit how and where his fans can listen to his music in order for the artists to make the money they deserve, it certainly seems apt for that artist to do the same for the technologies that allow them to do what they do.

Original Article: http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/2/11145148/kanye-west-pirate-bay-torrent-twitter

The Ugly Side of Social Media

By Kevin Keegan

I wanted to discuss a recent issue or more accurately, another casualty due to the current state of social media. Stephen Fry, renowned British actor and comedian, as well twitter user that has garnered over 12 million followers, has quit the social media service after backlash from a comment he made in jest about “close friend,” Jenny Beavan during the BAFTA’s.

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This is a photo pulled from the film Freedom Fry — “Happy birthday to GNU”, by Matt Lee and is used under Wikimedia Commons license. 

The events began with an easily misinterpreted comment that Fry made about Beavan’s choice of clothing when she accepted her BAFTA for Best Costume Design for Mad Max: Fury Road.

“Only one of the great cinematic costume designers would come to the awards dressed like a bag lady,” Fry said.

Fry tweeted a picture of himself with Beavan at a BAFTA after-party. This was apparently too late or not enough as Twitter’s vicious mob mentality had already started to snowball. Many taking sides against Fry and a few, likely privy to Fry and Beavan’s relationship, standing up for the actor.

The result was a blog post on Fry’s website summarizing the reasons for his departure from Twitter.

Personally, I have never been a big fan of twitter. I originally used the social media service when I was helping to promote an online magazine that I was Art Director of. Any tweets in the years after that were to vent about XBOX live service outtages or something else, but almost always to express my disapproval of something. It’s this kind of negative propensity that casts a long and dark shadow behind Twitter as it continues to grow.

Cyberbullying, trolling, and abuse are more prevalent than ever in our technology-driven society. Companies will need to take an active role in finding solutions for this behavior and help mitigate it and guide users in a more positive direction. So what will that look like? An article from BBC.com gives a few tips and ideas:

What can be done to stop trolling?

Make it easier to flag abusive tweets – Twitter has tweaked its system and offers advice to users about how to use it here

Users could ignore the post – the troll’s goal is to get a reaction and some say by responding you are “feeding the troll”

Some have suggested a new system that allows those who are being trolled to choose not to be shown accounts that are less than 30 days old, as a lot of trolling is done from a new account

There are tips here for how people, particularly children, can deal with trolling and cyberbullying in this article.

Fry is not the only celebrity to ditch Twitter. Kanye West, Chris Brown, and Lena Dunham have also quit in past years, but have returned since. Maybe Fry will return as well.

Original Article:

http://www.out.com/popnography/2016/2/16/stephen-fry-quits-twitter-sums-why-social-media-sucks-today

 

Social Media Trumped

by Kevin Keegan

Social media has become a consistent platform that can make or break political campaigns. This trend was most apparent in the both the 2008 election and 2012 re-election of President Barrack Obama. But no candidate or politician has used social media with such frequency or reach as 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump.

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Photo by Gage Skidmore, used under Creative Commons License.

Let’s look at his reach. Trump’s twitter following has increased exponentially. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, in 2011, Trump had just 300,000 followers; at the time of this post he has just over 5.8 Million, according to SocialBakers.com statistics.

People are flocking to the candidate’s feed whether they support him or just want to see what he’ll say next. He’s the Howard Stern of politics in the United States. Like Howard Stern’s rise to shock-jock fame, Trumps message on social media is more often than not, controversial, riding the line between telling people ‘how it is,’ versus coming off as belligerent and offensive.

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So here’s what I am curious about; a topic that is brought up in the Sydney Morning Herald article that I’ve linked to. How calculated are Trump’s tweets. I believe that he is writing them himself, bad grammar and the like, but are his motivations behind the tweets his own or at the behest of his social media strategist, Justin McConney. I personally think it’s a little bit of both. Prior to his announcement that he will run for President in 2016, I imagine most of his tweets were wholly his own. Their impact notable and often newsworthy. But upon seeing this trend of success, his campaign strategy has latched onto the lingering effects of his abrasive tweets in order to dominate the 24 hour news cycle repeatedly. Fact or fiction, righteous or not, his reach in the social-media-sphere is palpable.

 

Stay In School

It’s been years since I’ve posted on my blog. I apologize for that. I actually have many new projects coming, including some logo design and what will hopefully be a very fruitful video project that I’m anxious to get underway. Currently I’m in school at Kennesaw State University finishing up my second degree in Communications. I’ve been there for three years and I still have a few more years to go as I’m working full time at Millenia 3.

One of my latest classes is Concepts in New Media, taught by the delightful and intelligent Professor, Dr. Faroog Kperogi. For this class I will be using this blog to adhere to various assignments for the class. We will be exploring social media, new media, and the ins and outs therein. These posts will be tangent from my usual subject matter, but I hope anyone reading finds them interesting at least.

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.