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.

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