Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wreaths Across America

The volunteers worked for several hours to unload and hand out wreathes.

I'm in the center of the action at Arlington National Cemetary. With over 50k people here to put wreaths on graves, it's easily  the biggest volunteer event of the year. 


Check out the video MC2 Darien Kenney and I produced here. The Pentagon wanted us to create time lapses of the crowds slowly covering the headstones. We decided to go with a slow, dissolve time lapse to preserve the sense of reverence.


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Monday, December 7, 2015

Tight Fit

She's hiding from the camera back there...

THIS GUYS'S A LEGEND: I'm in Texas hanging out with Sergeant First Class Allan Armstrong. He's one of the few Soldiers to ever fight his way back from an amputation to deployable status. (Meaning he can be dropped into combat zones.).

What you can't see is I'm crushing some poor woman trying to work next to me. Feels like I'm back on a ship.

I'll post the video here (and on the FB page) once it's released.


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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

High tech

He doesn't like to leave his artist's cave. (editing suite)

MC2 (select) Tim Haake is using a -- hold on lemme ask...a Wacom tablet. He says it allows great clean selects and digital matte painting.

If you understood any of that you may have a future in graphic design as a Navy MC!


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Friday, November 6, 2015

This guy's hundreds of years old!

I recorded the sound in their studio then synced it with the video shot outside.

I'm helping to produce a Veterans Day video that will feature one member of each military branch in performance mode. Staff Sergeant Jeff Brooks is an elite drummer in the Army's Fife and Drum Corps. 

This was a fun shoot but damn my ears hurt. Here's the video Sgt. Patrick Doran put together using this and other footage gathered by MCs. 

Photo by a fifer.

SURVIVAL TIP: If at all possible, scout your shoot location early. Background is very important, especially when shooting a static, single subject from head to toe. I got beat up by background on this shoot.



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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Don't lose it

Mike does not play.  I think he wrote a book about the proper way to place a mic back in its bag.

Want to know what the biggest downfall of MCs is? Keeping track of gear on a shoot. 

They can teach you in school until they're blue in the face but everything changes when you're out in the field and things are moving a mile a minute.

I'm turning gear in to our camera shop's gatekeeper Mike. If you lose something and don't pray to a god you better start.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Holding a teddy bear (a week in the life of an MC)

It's my future. It's very sunny.
No we don't hold teddy bears all week but I needed an interesting title.  Here's a few random photos of life as an MC!

The above shot was taken at Fort Gordon, Georgia.  I was working with their public affairs officers to produce a story on the new cyber school there.  It's important to have a good relationship with PAOs because they are the gatekeepers of their territory.

SURVIVAL TIP: Prepare to be flexible because each PAO is different.  Some are military while others are civilian. Some are super chill, like these two, while some are controlling and hover over every shot you take.

haha Someone left him an apple!

This is Senior Chief Jones. I served with him on USS Nimitz, back when he was a chief.  We happened to be stationed together now at Defense Media Activity.

He swears it's not because he missed me and had me sent here.  mmhmm

SURVIVAL TIP:  Don't burn bridges with your shipmates because you could be stationed with them again.

MC1 Bidwell, me, MC2 Church, MCCM Weatherspoon.

Our volunteer events at the Maryland SPCA continue but we had a new addition to the group today.  Master Chief Weatherspoon recently arrived to DMA and she helped us shovel turds like a champ.

When we first met she said she really liked my blog. The least I could do is give her a cameo. ;)

That's not my teddy bear.  It's for the dogs but I liked it.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

MC Perspective: So you were turned down for the rating?

MC3 Seth Coulter
Nobody wants this.  You decide to enlist but get told by the classifier at MEPS that there's no spots available.  You can pick another job and try to cross rate later or you can enlist as undesignated (no job) and strike to MC later.  

THERE'S HOPE!

Entering the fleet as an undesignated seaman/airman/fireman was surely not your first choice, but it's not the end of the world.  Let's talk to two MCs who have been through the process. 

For more information about what striking is check here.

----------


I Am Your Eyes: What were the steps you took to strike MC? 

Coulter: Make sure you go in with a high ASVAB score, this is one of the most single important things you can do. If you don't score high initially then re-take down the road. I was lucky enough to strike in while the rate was relatively open so I selected it, from the eligible list and once selected began working on my required portfolio. 

Brooks: First you have to be sure you meet the basic requirements to become an MC. Which means that you meet the required ASVAB scores to become and MC, you are not color blind, and you can get or already have a SECRET clearance level.

"You need to do some OJT (on the job training) with 
an MC shop so you can learn the job."

In order to do that you need your chain of command and the MC shop chain of command to approve you doing OJT with them. You'll more than likely have to do this outside of your normal working hours. 

Once you've worked with the shop and published plenty of work (photos, new story, etc.) you will then have to submit a 1306, along with a portfolio of your work (published and non-published), and get a letter of recommendation from a senior enlisted MC. Then submit all that to the MC community manager.


MC2 Brian Brooks

I Am Your Eyes: Did you go to A school after you passed the test?

Coulter: I don't know how many people go back to school after striking in but I sure wasn't one! Everything that Ive learned has either been taught to me from my peers or learned on my own. 

Brooks: I did not have to go to A school when I made it but that may be a decision that is made once you've make it. The thing you have to realize is that if you do go to A school the command that is gaining you will have to basically count you as a loss for about six months until you return. 

So in my opinion, they may not want to send you to A school due to being a person down and the cost of the school as well.    


 I Am Your Eyes: What's your final advice for strikers?
 
Coulter: The best advice I can give is to buy a DSLR, get a 35/50mm lens and leave it on manual. Go out and constantly shoot as much as possible. 

"Read more books and magazines on photography
 than you ever thought possible!"

Don't neglect the shooters of the film age either. Magnum, Time, Life and Nat. Geo. are good places to turn to for reference. Don't forget to practice good graphic design either, it can be something that sets you apart in the community.

Brooks: My advice is do as much learning as you can on your off time and take the initiative to do some MC work on your own to show them what you're capable of doing and that this is something that you really want to do with your Navy career. I can truly say that this is not a "hard" job in comparison to like Deck Dept. (trust me I know...they are some of the hardest working Sailors) but it can be a challenging job because you are always putting your personal work on the line. 

"Keep an open mind and be able to take criticism and learn from it. 

I hope that helps. If you need any specifics you can always talk to your career counselor at your command. Good luck.

----------

Gentlemen, thank you for taking the time to help us out with some great gouge! 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

This never happens

I'm doing a story on the Triple Nickels, or the 555th Parachute Infantry, the legendary African American paratroopers from WW2.

I show up and there's a documentary crew already working there. They were nice enough to hook me up with their setup for my interview. All I have to do is put my camera and tripod down!

The only downside is I feel like a total noob hanging out with these pros.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

MC Perspective: An aircraft carrier can do this?!


MC3 Alex Delgado just got out to the fleet and he's already making waves.  This guy's got some talent.  Check out this time lapse he just shot while aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.  It was even picked up by CNN!

Watch the video below and read on for more details about the shoot.


video


You can watch the video on the ship's Facebook page here.

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I AM YOUR EYES:  Where is this?

DELGADO:  This was shot in Portsmouth, Va when Ike broke suction from the pier at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and went out to the Atlantic. It was first time the ship went underway since 2013, so it was an important event to try and capture, so I went as high as I could to get a good vantage point. That ended up being the O-10 level.


"I should have brought more snacks and 
some extra memory cards."


I AM YOUR EYES:  What was it like?

DELGADO:  It was long!  I had to run down to our shop to procure some extra memory and food. The photos took up a little over 100GB at the end of the day! I had to batch edit all of the photos and save them to a new location. That process took about 10 hours.  Then I put it all into after effects, which automatically puts the sequence of photos in the framerate I needed. The rendering and exporting took about another 5 hours to complete.

All in all, it was great experience to be up there as the ship went underway for the first time in a long time.  Definitely want to thank D'Andre Roden, an MC on the Vinson, for giving me the inspiration. He did a sweet timelapse on the Vinson a while back and got my gears turning.


"The process was long, but extremely rewarding."


I AM YOUR EYES:  What kind of equipment did you use?

DELGADO:  Everything was shot on the Nikon D810 with a 14-24mm F/2.8 lens.  I also used an intervalometer that took 7,000 photos over the span of 6 hours. You can get a pretty good one at B and H for about $50.

I AM YOUR EYES:  Tell us about your camera settings.

DELGADO:  The challenge was trying to decide what interval to use between each shot. I started with 3 seconds, then decided 2 seconds would be better. To be honest, I came to that decision on a hunch.

As for the camera mode, I used aperture priority to help during the transition from dusk to daylight at the beginning of the video. That mode automatically meters for the light in the frame so you don't end up getting over exposed images.

The downside is that it causes flicker in the overall timelapse. Which means the camera shoots different exposed photos throughout your timelapse. To fix it, you need to use a deflicker software, which I didn't have on the ship!

As for the speed of the video, the frame rate is 60 frames/second, which worked well for the time limit.



Thank you for taking the time to share that with us Delgado!  We'll look forward to what you produce next.

Monday, August 31, 2015

It's not all romance


Okay I realize this isn't the sexiest post but it's a reality of life in the Navy. We're having a field day (massive cleaning) of defense media activity and MC3 Haake and I are charged with clearing out the refrigerator. Let's just say we are not popular today.


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Saturday, August 22, 2015

MC Perspective: I am a sling shot


MC2 Bent had been on Fort Bragg for three days, doing interviews, when this shot was taken.

DoD News was just down in North Carolina for a big deal Secretary of Defense visit.  It's one of those live shoots that I really don't like.  I become a robot, standing behind that massive camera, taking orders from the director in the satellite truck.

It's the dues I pay to go on the cool feature shoots.

While I was there, I watched one of our senior news anchors in action.  MC2 Lori Bent was out there killing it as usual.

I watched in horror and appreciation as she went from 
on-camera talent to camera operator, in 60 seconds.

STAGE ONE:  Talk to the audience about cool military hardware on display for the SECDEF.
STAGE TWO: Sprint to Camera Three and film the SECDEF as he arrives to the hangar bay.

I'm getting stressed out just reporting this.

Here's what she had to say about the experience.

----------


MC2 LORI BENT: Being a Mass Communication Specialist means being able to sling shot between different responsibilities.  We perform so many different functions that we have to be proficient in a little bit of everything.

I went from being an on-ground reporter, gathering information through interviews, to an on-air talent for a live show and then one of the camera operators for that live show.

A brief practice beforehand.  That's all you get MC2!

When I had to run over and get on that camera I was thinking 'OK now I have to switch roles.  It's something that I've never done and now I'm doing it.'

"You just have to stay calm and breathe. 
Breathing is important."

At the end of the day it was very successful.  The reviews we got were very positive.

----------

I AM YOUR EYES: Thank you for being such a badass, MC2!  (Even though you make me feel like a slacker.)

Hanging with SECDEF Ash Carter.  jk I was in line with two hundred people.

In case any of you were worried, my day was super easy.  I stood behind Camera One, zoomed in and out on SECDEF a bit, then shook his hand afterwards!


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Did you know this was in Key West?


A safety boat takes the students to the dropoff point for a navigation dive.

Wow I missed posting in June and ALMOST missed July!  In my defense, I've been posting straight to Facebook and I'm also studying for the E-6 exam.  O.M.G. there's so much to study.  Almost all of my free time is spent making flash cards for the Sept. 3 exam.  Yep, studying since the beginning of June.

I spent a week in June doing a story on an Army special forces dive school in Key West.  It's located on Naval Air Station Trumbo Point. I had no idea the Army had anything like that.

They don't have a website but you can check out more about them here. The video I produced hasn't released yet but I'll post it here when it does.

Our team was myself as video, MC3 Tim Haake as photo and Amaani Lyle as writer.

MC3 Tim Haake is ready for the arrival.

We spent a week following the students around.  They were mid level officers and enlisted personnel.  Seasoned operators getting their asses kicked in the water.

This was a pinpoint navigation exercise.  The students are dropped off further out in the water and must swim along the bottom, navigating to a target on the beach.

These two guys didn't know they hit the bulls eye until they surfaced.

 

Look real hard and you can see Green Berets kayaking.  They weren't relieving stress.  It was part of the training.  Yes, there are special forces kayaks.


 

Amaani Lyle interviews an instructor.  I told him we were like media special forces.



You know those cool shots where the SEALs come up out of the water in unison?  That's what these guys are training to do right now.  There's quite a bit of logistics that happens under the water before they come up.  It's all about shifting from travel mode to fight mode.

No I'm not pointing at my tattoo.  I'm signaling to Haake to take my photo.



This what two hours in the pool gets you.  It's also what I'll look like naturally in a few years.



Sunday, May 31, 2015

A week in the life of an MC

Victory in Europe day event.  Photo by Marvin Lynchard.

Okay ladies and gentlemen, here's a quick picture-filled post about what I did in the last week or so.  I've had many requests to show what a typical day looks like.  Well I can tell you this:

There is no typical day as a Navy MC.


Cover not required when shooting.  Photo by Marvin Lynchard.
 
This day I was standing on a media camera line, thankfully not fighting for a spot.  Here I'm getting ready to shoot World War II fighter planes land and take off for a Media Day leading up to the actual event. (See my last post.)

Yes I'm the only chump in a uniform...in the hot sun.  But before you call me a chump:

Being in uniform opens doors.


Preparing for the interview.  Tiffany is writing questions while I check my microphone. Photo by Marvin Lynchard.

At DoD News we shoot in teams.  Tiffany is a DoD social media specialist. Her and I, along with Marv the expert photographer, were called over to an area that had a super badass admiral.  There was no other media there so we had the perfect interview opportunity.

This happened because I was in uniform.


Photo by [you guessed it] Marvin Lynchard.


This is the admiral.  My humble apologies to my readers and him, but I don't remember his name.  He served on seven Navy warships during World War II.  This is the Sailor to look up to.  He's over 90 years old and still going very strong.


I'm not up for adoption either. Photo by MC1 James Stilipec.

Another day I volunteered at the Maryland SPCA.  It's a shelter for dogs and cats that saves lives every day.  About once every two months we show up to help clean cages.  It's a dirty job but very important to keep the animals healthy while they wait for adoption.


Photo by me.

 Sometimes a Sailor is there shooting a story for All Hands Magazine!


Carrying Sergeant Hossack's tripod for him. Photo by I don't remember.

Then I was given a last minute job that sent me to the Pentagon to assist a young Marine shooter.  His job was to cover an event there that showcased the latest advances in combat and medical technology.

So yes, I was the caddy.  I was the assistant cameraman.

I took a selfie after the event.  I wasn't brave enough to get a shot on the media riser.
The most stressful job that week was for Armed Forces Day.  The top enlisted leaders from every branch were at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to lay a ceremonial wreath.

If you've ever been there you know that silence is the rule.  Keep that in mind for this next part.

I show up 30 minutes before the event starts and there's already hundreds of civilians in the crowd, waiting for it to start.  There's also many many active duty military and many many veterans.

I had to push my way through this silent crowd while carrying heavy camera gear, then climb a tall media riser (think scaffolding) to get to my shooting spot.

Can you imagine how stressful it would be to climb a tower in front of a massive crowd in one of the most sacred places in the United States?


Can you imagine how awful it would be to fall off that tower while attempting to climb with three bags in your dress white uniform?


For the record, I didn't fall off.  I got the shots I needed.  You can breathe again.

--------------------

SURVIVAL TIP:

1. Show up to shoots at least an hour early!  You never know what obstacles will be thrown at you.
2. Know your gear!  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Your efficiency in setting up a tripod, camera and microphones can be the difference between a successful shoot and...not.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Victory in Europe Day

I'm at the World War 2 Memorial. Today is V-E Day and I'm here to cover the ceremony and flyover of WWII planes. When there's this much civilian press you have to arrive early for a good spot. 

My day started at 0400 and ends at who knows.


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Monday, May 4, 2015

Shooting a Martian

Sliders are really easy to use and give the video that pro look.

 Photos by Lois Slaughter (my mama)

COLONIZING MARS:  I recently traveled to Suffolk, Va. to do a video story on Lieutenant Commander Oscar Mathews.  He's one of the remaining 100 candidates for the Mars One project and is one of only two servicemembers still in the running.  Mars One wants to start a human colony on the Red Planet...and it's a one-way trip for the astronauts/colonists.  HARD CORE.

Check out the Mars 100 video!

Mathews is getting really close to becoming an official Mars One astronaut.  This is a years-long process and it began with over 200,000 interested applicants.



Mathews was getting his Deep Sea Fisher ready to travel from Suffolk to his new duty station in Maryland.  In a confined shooting space my GoPro is perfect.





I use a carbon fiber pole and powered stabilizer to turn the GoPro into my main camera.  With this setup it no longer needs to be attached to mounts but can be carried around for super smooth shots.




During your time as an MC you'll probably be faced with a decision many camera operators face.  Should you get involved in a scene or continue to stay separated and shoot?

"Should I help this boat not crash into the dock
 or should I capture it on video?"




This was the second time I've visited Mathews and his girlfriend Mina.  I showed them the rough outline of what I have so far to keep them involved in the process.  I don't always do this but I knew after the first shoot that they were excited about the video.



For interviews and any shots needing the best sound I use the Nikon D800 with the Sony wireless microphone.


Lois Slaughter

My assistant was allowed to touch the Nikon briefly.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Were you this motivated as a kid?

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Shannon is the writer of the group and asks the questions, making my job much easier.

I just finished shooting an event at the Ritz Carlton just outside the Pentagon.  It was run by the nonprofit Operation Homefront and was a celebration for the Military Child of the Year.  Each branch awards the honor to one child and let me tell you, they all deserved it.  Check out their bios below and realize that, like me, you didn't do half this much as a kid.

The event itself was one of the best I've shot in a while.  This was because three things happened that need to happen on a shoot.

1. ORGANIZATION:  The planners emailed us ahead of time with an hour-by-hour schedule telling our DoD team where we needed to be at what time. They also had a planned media availability which gave us access to the kids for interviews.

2. PLACEMENT:  Sometimes I show up to these events and have a terrible shooting position.  This place had a nice riser for the camera folks to stand on so we could shoot over the crowd while the awards happened on stage.

3. HELPFULNESS:  You'd think this would be automatic considering these groups request, and benefit from, our coverage.  It doesn't always happen though.  Our point of contact asked us several times if there was anything we needed.

It's the little things, you know?  Thanks to our photographer, EJ Hersom, for the photo!

Read the bios here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

MC perspective: Teachers get to play too!

MC 2 Don White

WARNING!  This is going to be another one of those posts that makes you want our job!

MC2 White is a photography instructor for the Basic Mass Communication Specialist Course at the Defense Information School.  He spends most of his time grading, not producing.  Every once in while he gets to pick up a camera and do some shooting.


NAVY LEAP FROGS


WHITE: I was fortunate enough to be offered a ride along with the Leap Frogs when they came to Baltimore to perform a jump during the Orioles/Yankees series. It was a great experience, just being able to get back out and shoot again. Especially the photos I was able to take from the back of the C-130. 


Preparing to fly.

 I love aerial photography, so I jump at any opportunity to fly.


Preparing to jump.

Being an instructor, you always want to show the students your work. However, after a few months, it becomes old. 


 "You need fresh material to let them know you still have it."


I like to take jobs outside of DINFOS to help keep my imagery fresh for my students.

SAFE!

 
I AM YOUR EYES: Thanks MC2! 

If you're not familiar with them, check out the Leap Frogs here

"The United States Navy Parachute Team, commonly known as the Leap Frogs, is the parachute demonstration team of the United States Navy. It consists of an all volunteer team of active-duty personnel drawn from Naval Special Warfare (NSW), including Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) and support personnel."


They better not be talking to Yankees fans.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hello from [hold on I need to adjust my mask I'm freezing] Alaska!

See that guy in the photo getting destroyed by a Chinook?  That's me. Photo by Seth Robson from Stars & Stripes.

The Chinook helicopter flew directly over us and landed, a deviation from the expected "fly near us and land".  That meant a -70F downdraft nailed me, the Army shooter and the Stars and Stripes photographer as it coasted over our heads on the way to deliver the top-level international and U.S. badasses that were in Black Rapids to share their knowledge.
 
"WHY AM I HERE?"

Because melting ice in the Arctic means new transportation alleys and new resource opportunities.  And also because we need to continuously talk to our allies, and we need to do it in person.
 

Never underestimate the power of showing a Mongolian officer how to blow it up after a fist bump.

--------------------

I just got back from Black Rapids, Alaska, the Army's premiere training site for cold weather survival and combat.  They just hosted a first of its kind international event that saw 12 countries flying in to share their knowledge of sub zero tactics.

I spent five years in South Florida before enlisting in the Navy.

No problem. I enlisted to serve...and sacrifice.



Back row from left to right: Finland, Japan, Norway, Germany and Mongolia.

Much of the event happened in a conference room at Black Rapids.  That was disappointing for a camera guy but it paid off eventually for the countries involved.  They bonded!




Here's one of my favorite parts of the mission.  Emily is from a local Alaska TV station.  She absolutely killed it with that camera.  I'm terrified of those things, so big ups to her!  Stand by for a link to the story she created from the event.


Zack interviews the Mongolian representative for NPR.

This is Zack from a local NPR affiliate.  This guy gets it.  He said to me, man as long as you're curious and humble, you'll get the story.

YES.



Survival tip:  Former MC Andrew Breese told me to route my wireless mic through a Zoom recorder to achieve less background noise.

LISTEN TO THIS ADVICE.




This is me using the latest technology!  It doesn't happen often but I'm pretty sure no one in the military is using the new Feiyu Tech G4 stabilizer.  It makes using the GoPro siiiiiiiiiiick!




This is my favorite photo.  This is a super high-ranking Japanese officer that loved my GoPro setup.  He was very cool considering he probably could've 1-inch death punched me at any time.