Monthly Archives: February 2014


Why Watch?

Jamie Mitchell leading the Tahoe race

Jamie Mitchell leading the Tahoe race

I was on one of my favorite sites for stand up videos , SUPRACER and was watching a new video out of France when I started to ask myself, “why am I watching this?”

Sure, I make videos for a living so that is one obvious reason, I like to watch videos. Plus, to be really honest, it gives me a glimpse into what other producers are doing :)

This latest piece was a 14 minute mega video of a race in Europe. The intro threw me off because they had the audio mixed to one speaker – cut quickly to someone giving instructions (but it was just music over them no actual audio of the instructions, but then again, I would have never understood them anyways – it’s in French!) and then a quick snippet of the guy talking and POP the audio mix came into both speakers about blowing my ears out. Cut again to windy audio of a beach side interview – in french so I had no idea what was being said, then into a wonderful song and montage of, I guess, the long “elite” race.

I have no idea who any of the paddlers are, what the race course is or anything else about the event – so as I am about 11 minutes into watching people I don’t know or care about cross the finish line – I ask myself – why am I watching this? Which of course started me down another rabbit hole – why does any watch a video from any SUP event? Really, most event videos follow a very common path – some type of set up shots, some type of race montage set to some upbeat music and of course, the awards. And if the company has budget – stick in some drone shots for good measure.

Stand Up World Tour has a different model, they do a narrated highlight reel after each day of competition… they skip straight to action of athletes who are team riders for event sponsors. I recall seeing one of their edits and wondered if any other board company besides Rogue was even at the event!

I watch these videos for entertainment, to stay informed about the sport on a global level – and yes, to see people I know in them. It is pretty neat to turn on a video and see someone I know half a world away competing. Kind of cool how technology can be used to bridge vast distances.

I began wondering about my own work…many say that I am skilled at connecting to emotions at the events. But what’s interesting is that most of the time I really don’t know who I am shooting and rarely go into any situation with any sort of game plan. Sometimes I will make a video that is 10 minutes long, sometimes it will be 3 minutes long. It all depends on what really happens that day. But more on that later…

I know that probably about 1 of every 10 people will actually click on a video link that I post. I tend to believe that most just get through the first minute and move on. I know I have done the same with some videos. I will give it my “minute test” – if in the first minute I don’t see something that grabs me – a shot, a sound bite, even a song – I am out.

Yesterday I watched a surf video that was over ten minutes long. Ok, let me be honest- I skimmed a surf video. It was BEAUTIFULLY shot. I mean GORGEOUS. But in all that time, they never said one word. I was dying to know “why did he use that board?” – the guy was on a HUGE long board that looked like it has so much history and I wanted to know about it. He drove from remote woods into San Fran, what was it like to go from woods to the big city? What was his experience? Videos, for me, HAVE TO BE more then just a collection of pretty images. I want to share in your experiences. If your pictures don’t tell a story, don’t have a sense of being, of being their own little personalities, then what is the point?

So ..why do you watch SUP Videos? Or any paddling videos? What is your one minute test?

And if you are working on something ask yourself – what is this piece’s personality? How does it talk? Walk?? breath? it sounds so odd – but the music can drive those things only so much – is it sad? it is lonely? is it happy? Is there a serious undertone of reflective peace? I am not sure that I think about these things aloud; but the interviews I gather, the look of the day, the feeling of the air while shooting will give me these indications. And that will, in turn, drive the entire project. So ask yourself these things next time ¬†you are sitting down to edit.





Behind the Scenes…QB’s Trifecta

Recently for Quickblade Paddles, I got to make a very cool video for their new, innovative paddle – the Trifecta. It’s a really special paddle that needed a really special video.

Most of our work with QB has taken place in their paddle flume, a gym designed for training water athletes. We have used this for our backdrop for most instructional and other types of content. But for this video, I wanted to show the process of the paddle – showcase its unique features and make something a bit different then usual.

One of the neat things about QB is that the place is a manufacturing center. The paddles are made and assembled on site – and in the owner Jim Terrell’s suite are actual presses used for molds. They are stainless steel, beautiful and are labeled with the QB logo. In addition, there are workspaces with carbon fiber dust, foam dust and all kinds of other things that go into making the paddles. This is the very room where prototypes are born.


To give the look of a car commercial I opted to keep everything very dark and moody. One challenge of the room though are skylights and I was shooting the middle of the day. The nice thing about the Panasonic GH3 is how flexible the camera is and through a combination of manual settings, I was able to make the room dark enough to look like it was pitch black. The next ingredient was a single LED light.

I put the paddle in various positions and going handheld with the camera in one hand and the LED light in the other I created light pans across the paddle. I shoot most things handheld, it is pretty rare that I use a steady cam or tripod these days, it takes practice, but once you get it down it’s simple. The LED light created very cool shadows and the fades in the video itself are not post production fades – they are literally the light coming up and backing down across the paddle and work areas.

As luck would have it, Jim walked in while I was shooting and needed to sand a paddle blade. It was actually an outrigger paddle with a Trifeca blade – a sort of test. But I saw the opportunity to get some moody shots of the master at work. I used the single LED to shoot Jimmy sanding a paddle out and this impromptu shoot created one of the best collection of moments in the video. It shows that you need to be open to what could happen next to get good footage. Jimmy working was not even in my storyboard.

We got lucky that one of our Hawaiian dealers was going to see Travis Grant, one of the co-producers of the paddle – so we had him conduct an interview with Travis and send to us. It all fit together perfectly and created a very dynamic, contrast filled video. All shot with a Panasonic GH3 and one LED light.