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Top 3 Tips to Making Better Videos

I was a photographer before I was a film maker. I was a film maker before I was a paraglider pilot. I was a paraglider pilot before I tried to succesfully merge all three together. Over the last 6 or 7 years I have made way too many videos related to paragliding (just ask my wife). Most of those videos are equally as terrible (again, just ask my wife). Through it all, I have learned many valuable lessons, mostly on how not to do it. Whether skiing, paragliding, climbing or backpacking, I have picked up a few tricks that will often lead to more memorable adventure videos.

In an effort to share, I thought I would offer my Top 3 simple tricks that will help make your next adventure video more meaningful.

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Unique shot angles make any video more interesting. It is always fun when people ask “how on earth did you get THAT shot?”

 

#1 – GET THAT CAMERA OFF YOUR HEAD
This is by far the number one thing that can make or break your video. The advent of GoPro and other personal cameras has caused everyone, by default, to unfortunately put a camera on their heads. Yes,I am as guilty as the next adventure sports guy. It was a cool idea at first, but we should all realize from a filming standpoint, a helmet cam is terrible idea. Over the years I realized that viewers don’t care about what you are looking at, they care about what you are experiencing. Therefore, make it a point to show them the experience, not just the view from your head. So, if you want to do just one thing to make your videos exponentially better, get that camera off your head!

Who is this Jerry with his camera in his toggles? Yeah, I admit, that's me. Just another good reason to get that camera off you head.
Who is this ‘Jerry’ with his camera caught in his toggles? Yeah, that’s me 6 years ago in Austria. Just another good reason to get that camera off you head.

As a side note: If you are into the “flying” sports like BASE jumping, skydiving, speed wings, and/or paragliding then a camera on your head can actually be a very dangerous proposition as getting your lines caught on your helmet can quickly become a safety concern.

 

#2 – MAKE THOSE CLIPS SHORTER
The attention span of most people is pretty short, especially when it comes to internet videos. Why else do so many videos these days have to say…”wait for it” in their captions? If you want to make you films more interesting and less…well…boring, then change the duration of your clips to no more than 5-7 seconds. You should be switching views to different angles or vantage points often. Yes, that means that for a 2:00 minute video, you will need 15 to 25 different shot changes. That may sound like a lot, but trust me, it is worth it.

 

#3 – SYNC TO THE MUSIC
No matter what you are filming, the audio track you chose will define the mood of your video. When choosing a track, be sure to first define the “beat” and then sync your clips to change with that beat. Some songs are fast, so you need to change shots every 3-4 seconds, others are slower and only require a shot change every 6-7 seconds. No matter what track you choose, be sure to sync your shots to the music.

 

Those may sound too simple and not that earth shattering, but you would be surprised how many videos violate not just one, but all three. Best of luck in your next video project. If you make a video you are proud of, feel free to send it my way or post in the comments as I would love to check it out. Happy Shooting.

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Top 5 Inspiring Videos 2016

As I look back over the last 12 months I am reminded that life passes quickly, especially the older one gets. Through the many challenges and aspects of our lives, we are surrounded today by many forms of inspiration.  As a photographer I am always combing through various videos that address and inspire different portions of my life.  At the end of the year I try and compile my favorite five.  Okay, maybe these aren’t the best five films of the year, but I have found some form of inspiration in each of them.  So crank up those speakers, find a quiet place and hopefully these short films will offer a little inspiration in your own life.

Parenting
I wear many different hats in my life, but first and foremost is that of being a Dad.  I love my kids and the individual dynamic that they provide to my life. I enjoy being a Dad and the opportunities it presents to teach, listen, and hopefully inspire my kids to find their own true self.  I know this video is just a commercial for granola bars, but if you are a Dad with a daughter, or a daughter with a loving Dad, I think you will understand.

 

Photography / Film Making
I am an adventurer/photographer by trade and a wanna be film maker on the side.  The challenges associated with making a film are enourmous, especially when trying to synchronize shots alongside audio.  This may just look like another music video, but the technical complexity and creativity showcased in these short 4 minutes is astounding.

 

Paragliding
Just a warning that this is a long feature and the pilots have a few “potty mouth” moments (understandable). This film and adventure was an inspiration to me.  Not just what Will and Gavin accomplished, nor because I am looking to repeat their quest, but rather an inspiration to what can be accomplished on a paraglider when you stay focused. It rekindled in me the reasons why I decided to paraglide in the first place, and encouraged me on how I want to continue to approach my craft.

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National Parks
It is no secret that I love to visit and photograph our National Parks. Time lapse photography is also something that consumes much of my photography these days, and I enjoy it immensely. The Pattiz brothers are doing some great things related to both pursuits. Therefore at least one of their excellent videos easily finds it’s way onto my list this year.  I encourage you to check out more of their great work.

 

Life Experience
I have posted this video in the past, but I still love it.  Gnarly Bay always delivers a meaningful film with meaningful life lessons. Over the last several months as I have been dealing with some health challenges in my life this video has been a great inspiration to me. It has helped me deal with the concept of making the most of the cards I am dealt. As you look forward to a new year, perhaps this short film will provide a little inspiration in your life as well.

 

Have you found any videos that inspire you? If so, leave a comment and a link below.  Here is to another excellent year, and may you continue to find your needed inspiration along the way.

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Walk in the Winds

Each year my brother and I set aside several days in late summer to spend with our sons amidst an area of wilderness.  Each year we find someplace different, somewhere we have never been, and then discover it together. These are cherished memories, and ones that both Father’s and Son’s look back on with fondness.  They are often difficult trips, riddled with challenges along the way.  There are often tears, sore muscles, starvation, dehydration, and what feels like endless miles.  However, through each of the immediate challenges, is the emergence of life long joys.  The sunrise on a mountain morning, the view from the high places, trout on the end of your line, and the solitude that can only be found amidst the trees.  Through the years we learn many lessons together, we teach our son’s the importance of trials, and let them learn for themselves that they are capable of succeeding in difficult things.  We teach them not only the basics of outdoor survival, but help them find the peace and solitude that only wilderness can provide.  They in turn teach us that it is okay to be a kid again.  Yes, these are wonderful times, wonderful memories.

ewinds2016This year we settled on a forty mile loop through the Wind River Range in central Wyoming. The trip encompassed two crossings of the continental divide and 5 days meandering through some of the most beautiful scenery that the lower 48 states can offer. When it comes to the Wind River Range we generally spend our time on the quiet eastern slopes, away from the people and “popular” spots.  This year was the first time we chose to enter through the Big Sandy area and quite honestly, we were shocked at the amount of people.  The parking lot was packed, and the trail was busy…well, until the turn off to Cirque of the Towers.  After the junction, the people dispersed, and once over the continental divide we finally found ourselves alone.

ms2124The mornings in the Wind River range are the most special times of the day. The solitude, glassy water, clean air, and quiet stillness is refreshing to the soul.  It is amazing how tattered and torn ones soul can become from the daily onslaught that society demands.  It is often not noticeable until one comes out into pure wilderness, where the wounds are realized, and a place where they can actually be healed.

Each day we marched on, from Big Sandy to Skull Lake; over Haley Pass and down to Grave Lake; up the Washakie Basin and once again over the divide into the Big Sandy Valley. I always take my camera gear on these trips, but this year I thought I would take along my video equipment as well in an effort to try and capture not only the images, but perhaps the reasons why we do these trips with our sons.  The following short film is what emerged.

I am already looking forward to next summer.