Tag: freelance

Empowerment

Several months ago I set out to see if I could compose a short video telling the story of how Sarcraft came to be and what they’re trying to do as a company. They needed to establish themselves with a video that really digs into what they’re about will let people relate to them better, hopefully leading to more business. I blogged about some other production I did for them in cooperation with MTN Media Corp. back in September and shortly after that sent a proposal for my idea—they accepted.

For me, the video was to accomplish two main goals:

1) To assess the time and cost of this type of production for future reference,

2) to give JJ and Alex, the owners of Sarcraft, a jumping off point for their brand on Youtube.

The other goal was a personal one, to see if I could do this project on my own. Not out of selfishness, but I might call it pride. I wanted to see if I could do it.

Shelter Building Shoot 10/21/17

This project took some time to complete. The main reason for this was going in reverse of how someone would typically shoot a mini-doc; in this case shooting the interview that will guide the story next to last. Scheduling the interview with winter weather was a no-go and since Sarcraft’s classes would provide the bulk of the content that would eventually be laid on top of the interview, this meant each possible shoot date would depend on weather, class size, visual appeal in the films context, and whether it would be applicable to an interview that had yet to be shot. This caused the overall length of production to extend to roughly 6 months, wrapping a few days ago on Mar. 11, 2018 with a total of seven shoots, including the interview which was shot on February 3, with the assistance of my friend Bill Manning, a local photographer from Ballground, GA. There were also some small clips I captured while on other trips, like the rain shots of the road in the woods, the drone footage footage of the proving grounds, and the shots from the tree farm.

The Interview Shoot 2/3/18

Editing was done in Final Cut Pro X, which is slowly maturing into an amazing NLE again and I had zero issues on this project or concerns for future use. To assist in editing time later on, I cut in segments as I gathered content. For example, I shot the shelter building class back in October 2017 and had a rough edit of that sequence put together by that evening. That sequence would sit there until it was ready to be assembled in the main story and tweaked from there. As more classes were shot and Alex and JJ’s time would permit, additional segments would be shot and cut. The larger pushes happened post-interview and also after the fire craft and wild edible shoot that took place on Mar. 10, 2018.  After that, finishing assembly, tweaking color, trimming out unnecessary words, um’s, etc., adding SFX like water drips, grass footsteps, and some sound beds as a base. In the process watch every change I made several hundred times.

For music I typically use EpidemicSound.com, which was a great resource on some of the smaller Instagram videos I’ve done for Sarcraft and also the last big Peach State Overland project documenting the Red Clay Rally, but for this one I ended up sourcing music from SoundStripe.com. I won’t get into the details or compare the two, but I was able to find the right music for what I wanted on this project from them. I’m not really loyal to any music repository, finding the right track is daunting, usually taking hours of listening for each track. Once you’ve found it though, that’s when the edit comes together, giving pace and emotion to the footage.

With eight-ish shoots and many hours of editing and tweaking on my part, I do have a better gauge of how to price a project like this, so goal one met. I’ve handed off the final copy of the film to Alex and JJ, and their reactions tell their own story.

From JJ, “I’m so Honey Smack Diggin’ right now… Couple times I almost teared up…. two big thumbs up from us- YOU’RE AWESOME BROTHER.”

From Alex, “That was everything I expected and much more. That was so rich and so beautiful. A visual feast… and the narrative flowed perfectly. Wouldn’t change a thing. Gorgeous work –  THANK YOU!”

Goal 2 met.

Bill Manning – Shooting B-roll Post Interview

As for my personal goal—I guess I had to swallow my pride in certain regards. I did complete the project in a sense—it was one that I felt passionately about in both in production and aligning with Sarcraft’s goals as a company and am thrilled with how it turned out, but there’s no way I could have done it without help from others. The interview never would have happened without help from Bill, much of the story and editing would never have been as fluid without my wife, Ashley, coming up to the office to look things over at my frequent requests, and none of it would have been possible without the willingness of Alex and JJ and their students to work with me and allow themselves to be filmed. Making movies is collaborative, it’s takes everyone’s effort to make it great and the feeling of satisfaction should be shared just the same.

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.

Kalu Yala – Serenbe Shoot

This past May, I had the fortunate opportunity to assist in the taping of a promotional event for a self-sustaining planned community to be constructed in Panama, called Kalu Yala. I was hired my Michael Gough, a highschool friend of my boss at Millenia 3, Robert Owen.

We had a great time shooting and got to really take in some of the “green” topics that the speakers touched upon. This was also my first time visiting Serenbe, a self-sustaining community in south west Georgia. They were the gracious hosts of the event, and not only took care of their guests that weekend but also the crew.

We had three shooters, Michael, myself, and a third, Mark Refuss. We all shot in HD, I ran an HVR-Z1U, while the other guys ran PMW-EX3’s (impressive camera).

There’s some potential in the future, if the project continues on the right track, for some follow up shoots in Panama. Here’s hoping…

4touge.com Hoodie

My latest design for 4touge.com.  We had a little competition on our car forum to do some design work for our first hoodie.  Unfortunately, no one really entered anything, so we just went with my design.  The theme involves the fusion of certain key parts to the performance of a car; engine power, braking, and suspension.  All combine to give you the best performance while driving on twisty mountain roads.  Hope you like.

Wrecked Vol. 2 Issue 6 Is Out!!!

Wrecked Vol. 2 Issue 6 is out.  This issue was dubbed the “Champions” issue, to coincide with the 2 year anniversary of Wrecked Magazine.  We finished just in the nick of time before SEMA ’09.

Can’t think of anything too notable in the issue, but there was one goal that Joey mentioned he wanted completed this time around. He wanted the cover to look like a magazine cover, like something you would see on a rack at the news stand.  So apparently I’ve been doing something wrong…and I was aware that covers were not my strongest feature in past issues.  So I went down the the local Barnes and Noble and perused the magazine isle for inspiration.  I saw exactly what I expected to see, a central and purposeful photo surrounded by bold faced, easy to read headlines that were strategically placed in the negative space of the main photo.  So…

I think I did better this time around and with virtually no revisions from my editor…done.

Time to rest

The last four weeks have been a real test of my creative endurance. Each of the weeks has been a different project. And each one requiring a different slice of my skillset. Here’s a quick summary:

The first project was an unfortunate one. I was asked by some very dear people in my life to put together a memorial picture tape for their father’s impending funeral. I was truly honored to do it but this was just the first project of many.

After that I had to start on our video at Millenia 3. It was our first full blown promo piece that explained to clients exactly what it is that we can do for them. My boss wanted to go all out. We rented a doorway dolly and also hired voice talent Brian Dennehy (from “Tommy Boy”). I was able to pull it off with three days of shooting and 2 editing and finishing. That includes reshooting an entire scene. The video came together perfectly and truly showcased our talents as a company in both the trafficking business but also the video production business.

Immediately after that I had to begin the next issue of Wrecked Magazine. We had a week to finish it and I ended up going over another 3 days. But all is well, it came out great.

Now the focus has shifted back to school work. Working on our logo design project.

After this, it’s time to rest…