Saturday, August 30, 2014

On call at the Pentagon

Training to control and switch between three remote cameras.

I'm at the Pentagon in the control room next to the Department of Defense press briefing room. I'm on call occasionally to show up if something major goes down and the Pentagon's press secretary, Rear Admiral Kirby, needs to release information outside of normal working hours. The joystick in front of me is used to control three cameras remotely.

Survival tip:  Get to the Pentagon early, because running backwards and blindfolded through a hedge maze is easier than figuring out where to park.

Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

Thursday, August 14, 2014

MC Perspective: Brand Yourself (with a drone)

MC2 A.J. Johnson shooting Monday Night Football, Eagles v Redskins 2013.

I'm going to be honest with you.  (We're in the trust tree right?)  Whenever I see an MC put out really good work, I feel:

1. happy for them (and my blog)
2. jealous, and afraid that my own stuff sucks

So um, yeah.  MC2 Andrew Johnson just did a really cool video using a DRONE.  Watch the piece, and read how he did it below.

Watch the video.

Why'd you make this video?

The video was an assignment for my PR master’s program at Full Sail. The program is very “brand you” centric. This particular assignment was meant to be a two-minute brand video under that same concept. Each student has a website that we fill with different projects from the program. My initial idea was to set up a two-camera interview and do a photo/video slideshow but I was inspired by MC2 David Cothran, who pushed me to make something of a higher quality. It’s tough balancing school with frequent work travel so most of my assignments have been about or aligned with whatever story I’ve been shooting. 

During this week’s assignment I was up in Massachusetts doing a story on the Constitution for a few days then we drove to Fall River and shot a piece at Battleship Cove. In true Sailor fashion I procrastinated until the last minute and put the entire thing together the day it was due. I decided to make the narration a simple dialogue of my story and how I’ve learned over the years. For my b-roll I wanted to go heavy on the visuals and mixed a highlight reel of footage I had available with a trick I tried on a previous magazine piece but got shot down. 

Drones!  Tell us about THAT.

Being in the D.C. area has put me in touch with some outstanding Military visual storytellers. I’ve attended the D.C. photo and video shoot off several times and was first introduced to aerial video there during the Propeller Heads ( Although, their first presentation literally scared the enthusiasm right out of me. But last year another student brought his Phantom and after seeing the footage he captured I knew I needed one. I’m like most MCs, I started slow got hooked and have been gradually acquiring my own gear. I recently purchased my first DSLR (Nikon 610) and only have one lens. But I’m constantly searching the internet for bargains. 

 "...their first presentation literally 
scared the enthusiasm right out of me."

Deal or not the lenses I want to purchase next cost nearly $2k. So when I first started really looking into the Phantom I found that I could purchase a complete kit for less than that one piece of glass. I already owned a GoPro and couldn’t think of a better mount. The possibilities with that setup are truly limitless. I’m still learning but my confidence grows with each flight. I should note that I spent countless hours on YouTube before ever taking off.

Dear mom and dad, just got done shooting F-35C aircraft. How was your day?

How did you do that cool 3d photo effect, oh and the time lapse Photoshop work? 

The 3D photo effect is an After Effects trick to simulate 3D. Using clean select and a few other Photoshop tools you can easily set up a solid clip. There are countless videos online and not enough time to watch all the great ones. 

The time-lapse graphic production shot was recorded using QuickTime and played at 1600% speed. Considering I was TAD and didn’t have access to most of my work I used the same QuickTime screen recording trick and played by clips on YouTube in 1080p then ingested those clips into Premiere. 

What advice would you give to a new MC, if they want to stand out from the crowd?

NEVER STOP BEING A STUDENT:  There are plenty of talented people out there and a lot of them are online trying to tell you how they just did whatever trick. Subscribe to a few YouTube channels and keep your eyes on sites line Video CoPilot and FStoppers, they are great for inspiration. 

KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN:  I constantly find myself watching TV or a movie intro thinking…how did they just do that or better yet, how could I do that. We are part of a unique rate that require more than just being dedicated as a Sailor.  

PASSION IS WHAT STANDS OUT:  It shows in your work and everything you do. With each job I start I try and incorporate at least one new trick. Then after a handful of jobs you’re throwing your multiple elements from your arsenal at each project. 

TRY TO FIND YOUR OWN PROJECTS:  Sure your LPO or Chief will find one for you but you're off to a great start if you can do the research and sell them on “your” idea.

Friday, August 8, 2014

MC Perspective: Keep your guard up

My buddy MC2 Alexander Ventura left his last post, USS Nimitz, and became a brig guard.

Whaaaaaa?  Yes, that's an option for us.  In a nutshell, he was having trouble getting approved to reenlist, so he went in this direction to be able to stay in the Navy.  He is an exemplary Sailor, but sometimes that doesn't matter.  It's all about what year you enlist.  Sometimes that "year group" is considered overmanned so many can't reenlist.  I know, that's probably confusing.  Things are getting better, so hopefully you newbies won't have to deal with it.

Read below to see how he still uses his MC skills.  And yes, he'll have the opportunity to go back to MC after this tour.


You're an MC.  How and why did you take a job as a brig guard?!

I took the job as a brig guard mostly because of my year group’s manning rate.  For the year group I am in, 2010, the manning level is at 140 percent.  Even with early promote evaluations and being dual-warfare qualified, I wasn’t Perform To Serve approved, which forced me to look at other jobs in order to stay Navy.  A big incentive for me to do brig duty was the location of the command which was in Hawaii and a chance to earn more qualifications outside my rate and become a well-rounded Sailor.  So far I have had no regrets in my decision to work outside my rate.

What's work like?

It's very interesting.  Usually the days are slow and all the prisoners are well-behaved, but some days get stressful with tons of paperwork from new confinements and disciplinary reports.  For the most part, if a guard knows the rules and regulations of the facility, prisoners will be less likely try to challenge his or her authority.

"Basically we are running a boot camp for prisoners."

My day starts out with guard mount, where we get the rundown on what's happened since we were last on post, what to look out for throughout the day and training from the Brig Duty Officer. After that we assume post in general population or special quarters, perform daily checks, perform vehicle inspections, set perimeter or serve as escorts for prisoners during library call, medication call, laundry call, chow formation or any other reason a prisoner might be out of the dormitory. At the end of the day we perform guard mount again for the oncoming duty section.

 I like being a corrections officer. It allows me to use my Mass Communication Specialist skills in a different environment. The biggest thing in corrections is the ability to communicate orders clearly with prisoners in a clear and concise manner to prevent confusion and disorder. The jobs hours are not bad either. We work 13-hour work days, but we work three days or four days in a week, with a three-day weekend every other week. Ultimately it means a lot of free time for college classes and days at the beach!