Tag: video production

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.

Journey To Moab Update

Last weekend, the members of Peach State Overland present for the Moab trip this past spring were able to get together so we could shoot the interview portion of our upcoming docu-series. It was a long 12hr day, not including setup and take down. Here’s a breakdown of what we did:

Lighting: I ended up doing a 2 light setup with a 500 watt Lowel Omni as the key light on the short side of the face and white bounce disk for the fill on the long camera side of the face. All lights needed a blue gel to try and get close to the fluorescents that lit the rig in the background. I used a Lowel Pro-light in the back for a hair light. All in all, it was probably a bit too dramatic of a look, but it still worked.

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Camera/Audio: My friend Ryan Basler ran camera for me, specifically my trusty 60D and newer SL1, while I interviewed and ran audio on the Zoom H4n. We used a Sennheiser wireless lavalier and Audio Technica shotgun mic on a boom for audio.

I think we ended up with roughly 5-6hrs of interview footage to tell the story of the trip. I don’t have a full story arc planned out yet, so I ended up getting everyone to walk me through the trip in their own words. During the edit I will use bits and chunks of various interviews to stitch together a more encompassing trip report. While a lot of the interviews are repetitious, there are unique perspectives and stories that standout. These, I hope, will give some ups and downs to the arc in order to keep people watching.

This is my first attempt at a production of this scale so I’m learning as I go. There is 10 days worth of various footage, candid self-interviews, driving b-roll, landscapes, time-lapses, etc. At least interviews are second nature to me. This fact both worries me and puts me at ease, as I wonder if I could be doing something better…er, different. Maybe asking different questions or doing something different with lighting or camera angles, while still knowing that I can at least knock them out with some proficiency. I’m still wondering how to format it all, 5-10min parts, maybe longer but fewer parts, maybe one long feature.

A moment in 60 seconds or less

Now that Instagram has finally increased their video length to 60, fun-filled, useable seconds, people are finally going to be able to make something interesting. 15-seconds was great for short clips and even made for some very funny moments when a video would auto-repeat. 60-seconds opens the door to where someone can be reached by the video, but not so wide that there’s not a challenge in editing for time—one of the larger challenges of visual story telling—but also not so long that the viewer loses interest when they’re in that “insta-” frame of mind and just want something quick and visually appealing. I welcome the compromise.

For Peach State Overland, we’ve had the ability to get in some good rides the last two weekends in Tennessee. One in the Cherokee State Forest and this past weekend in Prentice Cooper State Forest. I’ve tried to do my best in capturing some quick clips with the DJI Osmo while still enjoying the trip. With the footage, I’ve come up with some short edits that summarize the rides and play well on Instagram and Youtube. PSO has contact with a local band that we’ve been tapping for some great summer music for the videos, Jackson County Line.

Spinning back up…

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Here’s a few shots from our latest Georgia Prosthetics shoot. You can see Ed Overstreet on the 60D and Matthew Owen on the D800 (nice camera, but we definitely had to crank the ISO to match the 60D).

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It was a good shoot. This particular interviewee is building a truck for the owner of Georgia Prosthetics; A 1967 Chevrolet C10 Pickup. We had some excellent responses to our questions that will really help shape the image of Georgia Prosthetics that we want to convey. We’re going to be making another trip back to shoot broll of the truck when it is completed.

 

Canon Visit

We had a visitor today. Canon! Robert, my boss, just happens to be friends with Mark Karwisch, the Southeastern Broadcast Account Manager at Canon U.S.A. He made the trip down to our office and brought with him a few toys for us to look over. Let’s see here… the XA10, XF105, XF305, 5D Mark III, and the C300. The C300 is the one we’ve been waiting for and I hadn’t had a chance to go hands-on with one yet.

We’ve been looking for something that is a little easier on the workflow than the current HDSLR’s we’ve been shooting with. Ever since this camera was announced, it’s been gaining more and more of my interest, especially with all the positive reviews that have come down the pipe. I’m tired of syncing audio, i’m tired of the tiny LCD screen, and i’m tired of the limited record time. I’m not going to go into details as to the pro’s and con’s of this camera, all I can say is that this exactly what I need to solve the issues that I’m tired of dealing with. Time will tell if we end up getting one or justifying the cost of ownership vs just renting. But I definitely appreciate Mark taking the time to come out and show us the latest goodies that Canon is offering.