Tag: workflow

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.

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.

Google Wave

I’m now on the wave…

Overall, i’m baffled at the amount of hype that Google’s Wave has received.  Enormous amounts of press spoke of the revolution of email.  This eventually led to mixed reviews from the tech blogs, though.  Bottom line, this is a step in the right direction.  It has a lot of kinks still, and a lot of features that have yet to be added.  But as a tool for small business, especially one’s with the need to a collaborate on creative ideas, this just might be the ticket.  It’s like email, an online forum, and IM all in one.  So far I like it.

Snow Leopard Upgrade

Well, my family and I have just ordered the family pack of OSX Snow Leopard. I’m very excited about the slight speed bump and extra HD space but will of course be holding off on any production machines at home or at work. Too many pieces of software are still unproven with it and it’s just smart to wait a few weeks for all developers to work out the kinks. Happy upgrading.

Update: All computers at the house have been upgraded to Snow Leopard. All apps passed the compatibility test and I’m good to go. Still need to investigate the changes to Quicktime and how to continue to use QT7pro efficiently.

Update 2: Okay so I’ve found a few bugs. One documented and one not so much.

First, I can’t turn on airport on my iMac. There’s a fix involving deleteing preferences, but that does some weird stuff with the way the computer shows up as a shared volume.

Second inside illustrator, when you high-light text, the high-light box flickers like crazy. Not sure what’s going on here, but that doesn’t affect any functionality. It just looks sketchy.

Formula D Media Coverage – No Cell Phone Cameras

The few times that I’ve attended Formula D events as part of the press, the officials there always stated that they want to see real deal cameras out there. This means no cell phone cameras or point-n-shoots. They have their reasons for saying that I guess. But I’m not clear on what they are and I’ve never tried to challenge them on this. I have always used prosumer/professional equipment at the events regardless. Well times are changing. Print media isn’t necessarily dying, but web media is definitely on the rise. With many of the automobile based magazines shutting down their operations, web media is the consumer’s only alternative to get the information that they crave. E-zines and blogs, like WreckedMagazine.com and Speedhunters.com are fast becoming the go-to outlet for drifting and other motorsports coverage.

So, how does this relate to Formula D’s media rules?

The Internet generation wants their information fast, really fast. To me, this means that technology to get that information published quickly, needs to be utilized to its fullest potential. But this doesn’t mean the coverage can lack quality. Typical equipment for shooting a Formula D event could be a digital video camera (at least something from the prosumer class) and/or DSLR. Turn around time can be quick if done correctly. Usually media, whether it be video or stills, can be posted that night, after the event. But the current trend across the Internet is moving towards real time. People want streams of video, status updates of their friends, and instant news coverage reported live, as it happens. So how do you accomplish that? New technologies/services such as Twitter, allow websites to publish short 140 character headlines and other facts in real time, as they happen. A blog can be set to import this Twitter feed along with anyone else using certain key words, such as #FD or #FormulaD. This not only allows the authors of the website/blog to contribute, but also allows anyone with a cellphone or laptop attending the event to collaborate via text, images, or URL links, current happenings from their point of view as they occur.

The future also holds a number of great things for real-time streaming media. The revolutionary Apple iPhone is set to enter its 3rd generation this summer and it promises to be quite a leap forward. Rumored specifics as to the devices capabilities include shooting video as well as an industry first, basic video editing within the device. Imagine the possibilities that this kind of tech could open up for journalists alone.

Another potential packed technology is the Eye-fi SD card. This card can auto upload photos from a digital camera via Wifi hotspot connections. Combine this with Verizon’s new Mifi 3G portable wifi router and an amazing point-n-shoot like the Canon G10 Powershot, and you can produce fantastic images and have the ability to upload those high quality photos in near real time.

On my last trip to LA for FD Irwindale, I was toting around a Canon GL2, Nikon D90, and my blackberry curve. I shot video of drift runs first, waiting for something to report on, then shot high quality stills, and then a secondary shot with my curve to post to Wrecked Magazines Twitter feed. All very important to the success of the story. A reminder though, technology is useless without the knowledge of how and when to utilize it. It is merely a tool though, you still need to be able to tell a story. That is the root of all journalism. And by no means should this new technology replace tried and true approaches and outlets. The need for a solid flow of well written articles, quality edited video and sharp photographs published or broadcast in a timely manner, will never run dry. But with the additional need to be the first on the scene with current events, it is definitely worth it to invest in another hand or person to report via these new tools.

Formula D is going to have to change the way they look at media coverage as a whole if they plan on getting the most out of it. Cell phones, as well as point-n-shoots are becoming perfectly capable for the production of the futures web-based media.

No Firewire On New Macbooks

This was the latest buzz last week after Apple’s Oct. 14th laptop event. Apple has opted to leave out firewire from it’s consumer level Macbook laptop, allowing it to only be present on the higher-end Macbook Pro variant.

I had to post something regarding this topic, as this doesn’t just hit close to home…this smacks home upside the face with a dumbstick. Apparently apple’s stance is apple creatith, thus apple can taketh away. Though I pray the sole reason behind’s apple’s latest disappointing odd product release feature set is to better differentiate the two computer models. Regardless, I think this is a very bad move on apple’s side. The Macbook has been for the most part, a smaller computer physically yet always very capable. It has been a go to computer for users that require a smaller footprint for either travel or otherwise. I mean, have you ever tried to open up a 15″ let alone a 17″ Apple laptop on a plane in coach, not happenin’.

The lack of firewire directly effects people that utilize many of the current devices in multimedia fields. External hard drives, DV decks/camcorders, HDV decks/camcorders are all useless now when paired with the new Macbook. The only element that I can think of that can save some people is many of Lacie’s hard drives have a triple or even quad interface consisting of USB 2.0, Firewire 400 & 800, and SATA. So what are professionals, whose HDV cameras and decks use only firewire to export their footage digitally supposed to do? Well apple doesn’t have an answer it seems. They’ve reportedly deleted any thread on their support page regarding the subject and their only response is that firewire is gone and most of the new devices all use USB now. How are video editors using a Macbook supposed to daisy chain a USB drive to another without a hub…and then add on a camera to that to capture footage. They can’t, and are left to flutter in the wind. There is even an online petition asking Apple to think again and fix the issue, giving Macbooks back a firewire port.

I think apple’s only option and it would be a very good option, is to re-release a new smaller 12″ or 13″ Macbook Pro. Similar to the 12″ Powerbook of the past, this would help address the price difference between the two model lines and would give users that need a more portable computing solution somewhere to look. We’ll just have to wait and see, and I’m no rumor guru. I have yet to read anything regarding such a speculation…and in fact it seems very unlikely considering the unsuccessful sales of the previous 12″ Powerbook. But whatever, in my opinion it’s Apple’s only way to fix the current situation it’s caused.

P.S. I love apple, and probably always will…but sometimes and more often lately, they’ve really shocked me.