Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Mario Kart Love Song - Written by Teamsupertramp's Seth Jone

Mario Kart Love Song has been a passion project that Devin had been wanting to do for years. Shoot I think he has been wanting to do this video since before I even started working with him around 4 years ago. Mario Kart in Real Life videos have always been a popular subject on YouTube ever since Remi Gaillard did his over 8 years ago.

For us at DevinSuperTramp this project started around 2 years ago when we did a Go Kart project for the new Mad Max video game. Check it out here:

We bought and built all the Go Karts for Mad Max.  After the project was finished Devin decided that instead of selling or scrapping the Go Karts, he wanted to hold onto them and use them as his Mario Kart in Real Life Karts.  Well about a year goes by and it’s finally time to get the Karts out of storage (aka Devin’s backyard) and transform them from dumpy looking Mad Max Karts to the cleaner looking Mario Karts.

Devin put me in charge of making the transformations since myself and a good friend named Andy Sims had been the ones to make the Mad Max Karts in the first place.  After doing a little research on some of the different Mario Kart designs, I decided which karts would be the best ones to transform and then got to work. For the most part a lot of the karts only required a few cosmetic changes to get them how we wanted them to look but some of the other karts took a decent amount of time to build out.

Check out our video on how the karts were made here:

   A lot of the kart’s engines needed some work to be done and so I took a few into a local small engine shop to get worked on. We ran into a little snag as it was taking longer for the kart engines to be worked on than we were hoping, so Devin and I asked for help on Facebook. That’s when we met our new friend Levi. He responded to a post that Devin made and so I reached out to him and we found out that he had done small engine work for several years and had been involved with building props in the past as well. Levi ended up being the perfect man for the job and even ended up playing the Donkey Kong character for us as well.

The next thing that Devin really wanted for this project were some real life turtle shells as Devin knew that would be something that could set this Mario Kart in Real Life video apart from other ones that have been made by other channels. One of Levi’s friends is a wiz with fiber glass and so we contracted him out to make a few real life turtle shells that we could put on top of Traxxis remote control cars.

Check out the video of how he made them here:

Next we needed to find a location to film and we reached out to a local professional dirt bike racer named Bracken Hall to see if we could film on the track that he uses to practice on for his races. Since these karts aren’t quite powerful enough to go off his dirt bike jumps, Bracken decided it would be best if he moved some dirt around and build us out a track to use for the Go Karts. His father Sean owns the property and was generous enough to allow us to stay in his guest house while we filmed on their track for a few days. The Halls are some of the kindest and most generous people that we have come across in all my time working with Devinsupertramp.

Devin and I decided that it would be best if we stuck with most of the usual supertramp crew to do the stunt driving and acting for this video and so we ended up casting Bubba Quintana as Mario, Chris Romrell as Luigi, Christian Busath as Wario, Levi Ellis as Donkey Kong, Strat Streetman as Bowser, Lee Liston as Toad, Bri Straus as Daisy and Rachel Jones (my little sister) as Princess Peach and of course Creighton Baird as Waluigi.

When it came time to film, we were blessed with a few cold mornings but nice days in late fall of 2016. Everyone came together and worked hard to make this project happen; needless to say it was a total team effort! And the rest is history. I hope every toad finds his princess and every princess finds a loving toad! As Devin always says.. “Over and Out”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Shooting in 360 with the Google Odyssey

 Written by TeamSuperTramp's Zane O'Gwin:
   In Team SuperTramp whatever opportunities you want you get. Devin was awesome and let me completely be in charge of our latest 360 video “Murder Mansion”. To be honest it was a little difficult and I had kind of a bad taste with 360 videos. I thought they were clunky and not ever going to successfully be a tool in the narrative world. But I like a challenge and after this experience I learned that I was wrong and happy to be wrong too.

   I watched dozens of 360 videos to see what works well and what does not. I found that some of the highest performing videos were immersive videos, the kind of videos where they just stick the camera in with a tiger or a family of gorillas. The other top performing 360 videos were all CGI, so they could move the camera wherever they wanted and stick the viewer into an amazing world.(I didn't have this option) But, what I didn't find a lot of was 360 narratives. Where there is an entire story with a beginning middle and end. So the challenge was real.

   As I began to think of stories to tell that would allow the viewer to participate in the story and not just be a fly on the wall, I came up with a list of things I did and didn't want to happen:

I didn't want the camera to cut and change positions: Every video I saw this happen it felt a bit jarring as the viewer and took me out of the experience.

I didn't want my actors to have to memorize an entire 5 min video with lines and blocking
    The reason is, if they did everything right until the very end where they mess up, we would have to start completely over, which would eat up a lot of space on the cameras and a lot of battery power. So, I needed something to happen in the story where it might appear that it is all continuous but would allow for the actors to only have to focus on one scene at a time. I was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Rope”.

   He wanted the movie to feel like one continuous shot so he would move the camera into someones back to black out the camera and then pull out from the same actor. Many films have done similar things but the challenge I had is I have a 360 degree camera and I can't move the camera SO I thought of a lightning storm. I could over expose the shot for a moment and allow a cut. I honestly didn't know if it would work but I took a chance and I think it did and it turned out to be a lot of fun.

I knew I needed to cast an actor who was entertaining enough to carry the viewer through the whole story Christian Busath was a no brainer. He is an amazingly talented actor and is very charismatic. Once he was onboard I knew that I didn't have to worry.

I wanted the viewer to stay engaged the entire time
   I didn't want the viewer to just be a fly on the wall. I wanted them to feel like they were participating. So I came up with the idea to make the camera a character. I knew that making the camera a woman that Christian’s character was in love with would add a fun element of humor to it as well. It also makes you feel nervous when you are left a lone in the room with the killer. It makes you feel vulnerable and threatened as opposed to just watching it happen to other people.

I felt like one arm was tied behind my back
   I love film making. You can express emotion and feelings by camera movements and with no words. Its called Cinematic Story Telling. You can’t do that with 360. So I went back to my beginnings. I studied theater all through Jr. High and High School and beyond because I knew that I always wanted to be a director and I knew some of the best directors were ones that understand how actors think.

   In theater you lose the element of the camera shots to help the viewer experience what you want them to. In film, as the director, its my job to also help guide the eye of the viewer to specific things I want them to look at. This is a big challenge with 360 video because the viewer is free to look around anywhere they want. So I played with blocking my action and characters much like a theatrical play. I had everyone use big movements and also bigger facial expressions so the viewer would know exactly what is going on and naturally be guided to look a certain direction according to what the actors are doing.

Lessons Learned
This project was a fun challenge and I think it turned out to be a lot of fun. At the end of the day I am always reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Steven Spielberg.

“When I was a kid, there was no collaboration; it's you with a camera bossing your friends around. But as an adult, filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself.”

I hope its enjoyable and I’m excited to work on more 360 videos in the future!

Watch the behind the scenes here to see the production process of working with a 360 camera:

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Human Dragon! DON'T DO THIS AT HOME - Fire and Ice!

Our YouTube channel was created with the idea of showing the world things they've never seen before, in ways they have never seen it. It's what got our names out there, and that has always been a major focus of what we try and create. A couple weeks ago we got to work with someone who does exactly that, we got to work with Bryan Blaze, a fire breather.

With any project we take on, we try and take it to amazing locations, so figuring out a location that would show drastic contrast was actually fairly easy, the Ice Castles in Midway Utah we knew would be the perfect location for this. My uncles brother, Brent Christensen is actually the creator of them, and we've been filming at his ice castles for a very long time, since it's such an incredible location. The first video I shot there was actually a music video for Lindsey Stirling, the video currently at this time has 165 million views :) Here's the video:

This video was shot in early 2012, when no one had really been exposed to the ice castles, as far as a mass audience goes.

The Ice Castles have always drawn me back for multiple projects for the fact that they are such a unique location. Last year after the Ice Castles had closed down for the year, we did two other projects there. We didn't have to worry about destroying the ice castles since the season was already over with, it had been almost a month. Here is what we created last year with them:

Paintball Warfare 2.0

World's Best Slackliners

From my experience last year of filming the ice castles at night with fire, I fell in love with how the ice lit up from the fire, so we thought this location would be the perfect backdrop for a fire breathing video, and that's how it all came about.

Levi, a new recent friend (since the Mario Kart videos), had met Bryan Blaze, the fire breather the week prior, at the ice castles, and had got his phone number contact, and gave it to me, suggesting he would be the perfect talent to film at the Ice Castles. When I got his contact I was going to be moving soon to Hawaii, so we had to act fast, a few days from contacting Bryan, we had already shot the video at the Ice Castles.

We filmed it on the Red Weapon and the Phantom 4 Pro for a few aerial shots to break things up. We filmed after hours. We started filming the moment it was closed, all the way until 5AMish, when we got home. It was all done with all natural light, with the Ice Castle lighting as well, LED lights built into the Ice. We did have control to light the ice different colors because of the LED, but I wanted it to be a more realistic look, so we kept it white.

Filming fire at night is a nightmare, first off. Trying to figure out the right camera settings is a constant struggle because once the fire lights up things, it over exposes the background. Yet if you want the background exposed correctly, then you won't have the fire exposed correctly.
I focused on having the fire exposed correctly.

Since we filmed this on the Red Weapon, the video image was Raw so we had a lot more flexibility in post, where I could shoot it at an ISO of 800, and lower it to ISO 200 without loosing any quality, and that's exactly what I ended up doing.

I also realized when we started filming, that fire breathing actually happens super fast, within a second usually, so I decided to film it at super slow motion, to make sure we would have a video longer then a few seconds. Fire breathing does look amazing, but in order to make the most visually appealing video we would need to break things up. So we brainstormed things we could do in slow motion besides just breathing the fire out. So Bryan breathed fire on the ice, different structures, and my favorite shot actually ended up being one where Bryan slid down the slides blowing fire up towards the camera, often dousing me in the flame. It's all about the shot though, so we had to put the camera closer then it probably should have been.

Having the drone ended up being very useful, despite not using it for more then a few minutes, it made it so we could cut to it and break up the edit, show a new perspective, and keep the pace/story moving.

To film a video like this, it was just Bryan (the athlete) and I, with Brandon shooting behind the scenes. Kept things minimal since we didn't need a full team for something like this. And then Tyson on our team took the edit and made it to what it is now, which you can see below:

Hawaii - My stomping grounds

Oahu Hawaii is one of my favorite places on earth! I lived there for a year in 2010-2011 working on a documentary on an amazing surf photographer, Jon Mozo. While working on that project I had a lot of free time to do projects that seemed fun to me, and that's when I would film with all the local college kids, and some of our biggest videos, especially for that time happened then. Here's a few of them:

World's Largest Slip And Slide

Waimea Cliff Jump

Kauai - The Lost World

Those are a few examples of what I was shooting in 2010, with a Canon 5D Mark II, and my trusty glidecam. Hawaii became my favorite place to shoot, not for the obvious reasons of beautiful scenery, but because it was the place I discovered my own voice. How to become independent, confidence in myself, and how to lead others and make things happen. Before 2010/Hawaii days, I knew little about that, but I had yet to discover my voice until then.

Fast forward 7 years later, I just released another video I filmed in Hawaii. This one was another important one for me for the fact that I had come back to Hawaii to premiere the film I had spent 7 years working on (off and on). It had gotten accepted as one of the main films for the Hawaii International Film Festival.

While I was here for the film festival, I decided I would add some extra days to the trip, since it would be 5 days premiering the film, I would focus on filming Hawaii again, the place I had discovered my voice. This time was also different for the fact that I was now married, so I got to bring my wife on the trip as well. We were on the island for 8 days total, including traveling, so we didn't have a ton of time to show off an entire island. Megan and I went right to work, never missing a sunrise or sunset, no matter how late we worked the night before.

As far as equipment goes, we were filming on the Red Weapon 6K camera and the Phantom 4. Right when we got there the Red camera was having issues and the camera couldn't hold a battery charge. So I had to focus on the Phantom 4 for most of our shots. I was forced to learn the drone/camera. Every night I would come back and watch YouTube videos on how to get the footage looking better, and learning how to fly it better. It was trial and error learning at it's best :)  We met a lot of amazing people on the shoot, and I got to have my wife with me for the whole adventure, doesn't get better than that.

As I began editing the video, I wanted to explore something I had never done before, or at least not very many times, having a voice over/narration through the video. I love watching TED talks, so I thought it would be powerful to have an inspiring voice over while showing footage that would be inspiring as well, so that is where the voice over came from. We have a lot of people contacting us, saying we can use their music, and one of those people had sent us a library of motivational speeches, and that's what you will hear in the video. But the thought process behind it was to try something new outside our typical "nature" style videos, and see if it could bring in a new audience as well.

You can see below the video we created, with the behind the scenes right below that (and just for the record, there's 3 behind the scene videos:

Main Video:

Behind The Scenes:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Dealing with Death and Loss in the Extreme Sports Community

Our videos always try and show the greatest moments in life. Taking on the world. Living your dreams and working hard to achieve them. With that being said, we very rarely talk about the opposite side of the spectrum. Showing and dealing with loss.I feel it's very important to talk about loss, because there must be opposition in all things. Going through adversity makes the triumphs and the little simple moments have so much more meaning.
This week two of our favorite people we've ever worked with passed away, both of them being totally unexpected. :(

Our video with Mandy:

We do extreme sport videos for a living, so it exposes us to a lot of these people who put their lives on the line. Because of that, we often hear about these deaths in the extreme sports world, and since it is such a tight knit community, there is often a chance it will be connected to us. Everyone of them hits hard, but especially this one since it was so close to home with people we have just filmed with.
Last month we did a video for Christmas time where we found someone in great need, we had our fans suggest someone, and they had suggested a woman we had never met, Mandy. We were able to play a small part in her life, and she had played a major part in our lives. She was a single mother fighting a battle against cancer, had two children, and she had a chance of coming out okay, however that sadly was not the part of God's plan for her. Mandy passed a way a few nights ago, and hearing the news broke our hearts because of the experiences we had and the love we have for her.
This morning when I woke up I had several emails from friends letting me know that one of my favorite people we had filmed with a year ago, Kelly McGarry had also passed away. He had collapsed while mountain biking in his home country of New Zealand. When we filmed with Kelly last year, he was one of the most talented, hard working and positive people I've ever worked with. We had only planned on filming one day with Kelly, but once we started working together we realized how well we worked together, so we ended up spending three days working together. He was all about doing whatever it took to get the right stunts/shots. Kelly hands down was one of the most genuine down to earth professional athletes I've ever worked with, and it makes me sick to my heart that he isn't with us any more, but despite the circumstance, I'm glad he was able to pass away doing what he loved.

Main Video with Kelly:

Behind The Scenes:

Life never goes as expected, we are often time thrown for loops and surprises. I'm super thankful for the time I had with both Mandy and Kelly, they have forever changed my life. Take advantage of every moment you have with family and friends. Life is precious, you never know when it will end, so take every moment to seize the day and make the most out of every moment you have.  God has a plan for all of us and I am so grateful that His plans for Mandy and Kelly included me in them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Division - The Ultimate Colab!

Ubisoft is hands down one of my favorite companies we have worked with. They get social media, they give us opprotunities we could never have without a brand backing it up and they trust us with our audience, which is key and doesn't happen with every brand we work with.

We have been working with Ubisoft for over 4 years now.  In fact some of our most watched videos we have made with them. Here's a few:

Assassin's Creed Meets Parkour  - 52 Million views and rising.

Assassin's Creed Unity  - 32 Million views and rising

Watch Dogs Parkour in Real Life   -    8 Million

Far Cry 3 in Real Life

With that being said, we have an awesome relationship with Ubisoft. It has been a company I've always genuinely loved, even before I had the opportunity to work with them. This brings me to our most recent colab we did with Ubisoft. The preproduction for our latest colab started roughly 2 years ago. Two of my all time favorite YouTube channel's would be involved as well, Corridor Digital and Rocket Jump/FreddieW. Even when I first got involved with YouTube, it was these two channel's that got me loving the space. They were people I greatly looked up to. So I was stoked when I found out we would all be working together on this project.

Corridor Digital and Ubisoft came up with the idea that each of the three youtube channel's would show off a different agent from the videogame world of "The Division" and it would show how each agent was called to action. Then on Ubisoft's YouTube channel, there would be a 4th video that would show all three agents from each of our episodes coming together. This would make each video stand on it's own, yet it would also give you full reason to watch each episode, which in turn would not only promote each YouTube involved but give everyone a reason to go to Ubisoft's YouTube channel. It was a win win for everyone involved.

Sam and Niko at Corridor Digital were the ones that produced all 4 episodes. Adrian Picardi would direct the three episodes that would go on the other YouTube channel's, and I would direct the one that would go on our channel. By having Sam and Niko produce all 4 episodes it would ensure all 4 videos would stay consistent and flow smoothly. We would also film in the same city in Minesota as well, each episode back to back to make sure we could be cost effective. This whole process of the behind the scenes can be seen with this video that Sam and Niko created on the making of The Division series. Watch that below:

We filmed all these videos in February of 2015, over 11 months ago. The videos were going to come out sooner than a year later, but because the video game that our videos would be promoting got pushed back, our videos did as well.

The stories for all four videos were written by the Corridor Digital team, with the mindset of the channel they would be living on. Corridor Digital and I had gotten together before the writing process to discuss what would work for my channel. We try to stay away from too much violence, but we love action sports and we love showing the good in the world. So with that mind set, Corridor Digital took the world that The Division is set in, and wrote a story that would fit really well with our channel/audience. By staying true to who we are, everyone would win. The same was done for Rocket Jump, where their channel is based on the humor and their video set in the Division World has exactly that, more so then any other of the 4 episodes. Creating content that represents you, while working with a brand is crucial, and Ubisoft understands the value in that.

It really was an awesome experience working with so many YouTube powerhouses that I've looked up to for so long. I had worked with FreddieW before on a couple colab videos, but never with Corriodor Digital. It was great working/learning from all of them on a project we are all very proud of.

With that being said, here's all 4 episodes from this project, starting with my episode first.

Devinsupertramp Channel

Corridor Digital Channel

Rocket Jump Channel

Ubisoft Channel

Here's also the behind the scenes for the making of our video.

Monday, January 18, 2016

My Life Sucks! The truth is out there.

Last week our channel got attacked hard. It got attacked in a way we have never experienced and we had no way of defending ourselves.
Every year we release a video that represents our entire year of work. Filmed in half the countries of the world. More time, money and energy goes into this because it represents who we are and everything we have worked so hard for.
We use this video as our reel to get jobs for the rest of the year.
The first week of a videos release is always the most important and it determines the success of the videos life span.

When we released our best of video this year, we wanted to title it what we thought it represented, we titled it "People Are Awesome 2015 - ULTIMATE DevinSuperTramp Edition in 4K".
On the day of releasing our video it had become our most "liked" video in 24 hours of all time. It had gotten 28,000 likes and over 400,000 views in the first 36 hours.....
On the second day of waking up our video on our channel was gone. I had gotten several phone calls from companies we had sent the video out to saying "Where had the video gone?" We had no idea. When we looked at our videos that only our channel could see we saw this:

Usually on YouTube you have the option to edit a title or description.  This was the first time in the 200 videos we have uploaded over the last 5 years that we had no option to edit it. It just said: "Video Removed: Trademark Issue". We had no idea why it had been removed. We owned 100 percent of the video content, we had release forms for the people in it and the locations. The music that we featured in it was by Boyce Avenue, who has an amazing YouTube Channel that we have always wanted to collaboration with, and they had given us full permission to use the song with the video on YouTube, with ads. Since we had full permission on every front, we had no idea where this was coming from.

We contacted YouTube and FullScreen, who is our MCN, aka Multi Channel Network (they represent YouTubers and help with a lot of things). We asked FullScreen to look into this problem for us, to see what had happened. They were shocked because they had never seen a video shut down like this without a single warning. They were able to find out the strike had been given to us by a company called Jukin. They had copyrighted/trademarked the phrase "People Are Awesome". Because of this, they have the power to shut down a video channel with what seems like a push of a button, without any warning. FullScreen was shocked that they had been so aggressive with instantly taking down our video. They had a good relationship with the company, so that's why this was such a surprise. When they reached out to Jukin, there was no comprise with the video, since we had titled it a phrase which they owned, which we had no idea. It was simple in the title, never appearing on screen in any way.

So where did this leave us? After spending the rest of the week to try and get an appeal, their legal team wouldn't give us any leeway. We asked if we could change the name to "People are amazing - Devinsupertramp edition", we then asked if we could keep the word awesome and change the word people, and even then they said it was too similar, so we couldn't do anything with the video. We couldn't even take it down to remove the copyright strike on our channel. After a full 7 days of going back and forth Jukin agreed to remove the copyright strike as long as we removed the video.... Even if we changed the name of the video completely, we still had to take down the video.... And at this point, truth of the matter is the video had gotten taken down right as it went out to all of our 3.8 million subscribers, and because it was blocked anyways, even if we were able to make it public we would already lose on all the momentum we had worked so hard with.

As we looked into this whole situation with the company that had shut down our video, Jukin, we found out that several other MCN's have had the same problem, Jukin coming at them and shutting down entire video's without warning as well, so this isn't just our problem with Jukin, it is across the board with other YouTuber's/MCN's as well.

We just now finally reuploaded the video, with a totally different phase, "My Life Sucks - Devinsupertramp Edition". We actually had to look into the phrase "My Life Sucks" to make sure no one had trademarked that phrase so this video didn't get taken down either.

The saddest thing about everything with this experience is Jukin/People Are Awesome have uploaded so many videos featuring our content on Youtube and other social media, where they never once asked for our permission and we never once had them take down the video... Yet they had no problem with taking down a video on our channel because of a title we had used.

This has been an awful experience and truthfully the worst experience I have had on the YouTube and as a content creator. In my opinion this is what needs to happen in the future.

- The creator must be warned and have a chance to fight back when someone else try's to take down their video. YouTube has this in place to an extent, but something like this we didn't have the chance to even voice an opinion.

- Phrases being trademarked is lame...ha. Not sure how you can trademark a phrase used so often by so many people. There needs to be a website that says every phrase that is trademarked, so we are not surprised later that you can't have something as a title. Sony last week tried to trademark the phrase "Let's Play" which would mean anyone who put a video with that as a title, they could take down and claim it as their own... Luckily they got turned down for that phrase, but word on the street is they just tried to appeal it.

- I understand YouTube has to stick with "what's legal" but I wish they had something to help defend their content creators that have invested their lives into the platform to help it grow. I did feel I got a little help from them, but I still felt abandoned and had no way of fighting back.

With everything said and done now, here is where we are headed. Our video is now re-upload (which is the same exact video we had to take down), it will never get the same exposure our first video did. The damage has already been done, which is sad when it was our most important video of the year. When people see a re-uploaded video very rarely to they click on it.

I hate confrontation more then anything, so writing this blog has not been easy for me in the slightest. I do feel it needed to be done though to let people know what truly happened and to warn others of the potential problems they will face. To give a voice to the voiceless or the people that have already been effected by this, but not had a voice to do so. The best is yet to come, Carpe Diem.


For more info on what went down, here's a video/vlog that explains it in even more details:

Here's also the reuploaded video that went live again today after it was taken down because of it's title being trademarked without any warning.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Failing To Succeed - Fighting For Your Passion

Success comes from passion and a lot of experience- and by experience I mean a lot of failure.  I just watched this video, and it is right on par with everything I STRONGLY believe in, fighting for your passion.

I feel that most people who follow me and watch my videos see me strictly as "devinsupertramp", and don't see all the discouragement, failure, let down, and everything else that happened to get to that point. I want people to see that this is something we all go through, and if you don't, I would love to know your inside secrets on how to avoid it ;)

Even for me, I failed countless times to get to where I'm at now with my career, and when I stop and look at the bigger picture, I myself haven't even started to scratch my goals and dreams. I want everyone to know that it is okay to fail, to be discourage.  It's all part of reaching your full potential :)

Let me paint a picture of "key" discouraging moments in my life.  By doing so, I hope that it will give others hope that you can reach your goals, and your full potential no matter how many hardships are thrown your way.

These aren't all of my hardships in life  My intention by sharing these experiences with you is to list a few key pivotal moments in my life that put me in the position that I am currently at.  Perhaps even more importantly, they will help me to get where I really want to be.

My Key Hardships:

1.  I was the shyest kid in school. I got picked on constantly.  In fact, I was so shy my teacher thought I was a mute, and couldn't talk at all.
2.  My Junior year in high school, I was involved in a very serious snowboarding accident. I broke my back. I was bed ridden for 3 months straight (my entire summer break).  I had to wear a back brace for a very long time to help me recover. Almost exactly a year later I broke my leg snowboarding,  a compound fracture. They had to put a metal rod in my leg. During this whole time I was pursuing  running with the hopes of getting a running scholarship for college.... that game plan had to change.
3.  I decided to make my first movie a couple years after high school, and released it in theaters. That film was called "Tallawah". I wrote, filmed, edited, and directed it. I was so proud of my accomplishment. I showed it in a local theater where 200 people showed up to watch it.  What I intended to be a comedy film, didn't get any laughs and left the audience totally silent. Everyone walked out of the theater without even offering a sympathetic "good job".  It was that bad!  I went home that night crying - telling myself I would never make a film again.  I redeemed myself a year later when I released another film to a packed theater of over 400 people.  It made up for my failures in the first film and was a huge success!  That film was called "Passion". Here's a couple pictures from the premiere :)

4.  After the film I attended Brigham Young University. I knew I wanted to study film in school, but when I applied to be admitted into the film program I got rejected!  It was heart breaking because I had gone to that college with one goal in mind - to get into the film program.  I had worked so hard for it and failed! You could only apply twice before being denied forever. I succeeded in getting in on my final attempt.
5.  For the final senior film project at BYU, you have to pitch it to the entire faculty.  That semester I was the only one that got rejected!
6.  I had two other YouTube channels before "devinsupertramp", and one "Vimeo" channel as well.  All of them "failed" miserably.
7.  Once I decided to pursue YouTube, and after working really hard to save money for a camera and lenses to improve my quality, I had all of my equipment stolen on an airplane.  I had no money left and no camera equipment to pursue my dreams.

So why am I listing all my failures? As depressing as it is (haha), I just wanted to remind you that every one of us has to face hardships in order to reach our true potential. I've learned through my experiences that once you've reached a milestone in your life, you have to constantly fight to hang onto it.

We get so many emails from filmmakers, passion pursuers, and people trying to learn how to film with the Glidecam.  There are a lot of people that have a hard time learning to use it.  My best advice is simple, and while it might sound too simple, it really does come down to never giving up with the things that matter most to you!

With enough persistence, eventually you will succeed!

And here's my final two cents, on fighting for your passion :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What camera to buy!

The most common question I get asked is, "How do I film with the Glidecam? "  Today I will address the second most common question I get asked, "What camera should I buy?"

I am going to answer this question for everyone! PLEASE keep in mind that this is only MY OPINION. It isn't fact, but it is based on everything I learned from film school.  From actually filming with LOTS of cameras and doing everything I can to be educated on all the options out there.

Camera technology is ALWAYS evolving, so what is hot this year, might be outdated by next year. Most cameras in our generation have a functional duration of around 3 years.

The first and most important thing to keep in mind when filming (even more important than the camera itself) is the story that you are trying to share. Content is KING! Just because you have a really expensive camera, doesn't mean you will be successful. Some of the most watched films on the internet are from people filming on $100 cameras, with no training or experience. It goes to show that the story you tell with the camera is far more important than the camera itself. Once you can learn how to tell stories that connect people, then you can use a camera to capture the story the best way that you can.

So now that we have all that out of the way, let's get started :)

Look at cameras like different tools. You use different tools for different jobs. The same thing happens with cameras. Team Supertramp doesn't use the same camera all the time.  Sometimes we will use a GoPro over the 5D because we can't tell the story any other way. When people ask what camera they should buy, it's always difficult to address that question because I don't know what story they are trying to tell, and I may suggest different cameras and lenses for different stories.  For example, an action movie will be totally different from a drama. So my recommendation is for the most all-encompassing basic setup.

Every camera/lens we have ever bought, has been purchased on amazon.com. You can buy everything we own there, EXCEPT for the high end cameras (Canon 1D-C, and Red cameras (those you'll need to buy off their websites)). I will discuss my recommendations for the "basic" cameras below.  You can click on the camera link and it will take you straight to the camera that I would suggest buying.  It comes directly from amazon, it is the cheapest place to buy them that I personally trust.  Clicking on these links, rather than directing your browser straight to Amazon will help support Team Supertramp.  If you follow the link Amazon will throw a few bucks our way off the sale!  You don't get charged ANYTHING extra for that, it's just a way to help us out. I just wanted to make sure I was transparent on that. :)

Price Range:

$0 Budget:
Borrow a camera from a friend, just be careful :)
I'm sure someone you know owns a smart phone. Now days, phones have amazing capabilities.  They work great as a beginner's camera to start/learn from.  I personally would suggest using the latest iPhone.
Here's a video Freddiew (a very successful Youtube filmmaker) made, using a cell phone. Here's the behind the scenes and main video:

Behind The Scenes:

Main Video:

$500 Budget:
GoPro 4

- They can film in 4K.
- Film in slow motion.

-You can't put lenses on them.
-Most don't have a screen on them to view, but you can use a smart phone to view the image.

$500 - $1000 Budget:
Canon 60D or Canon T5i
I haven't actually used the Canon 60D personally, but from what I've read, it seems like an awesome camera for this budget. When we started out, we were using the Canon T2i as our secondary camera.  It is now the Canon T5i, so it's much nicer than the one we used.

$1000 - $2000 Budget:
Canon 7D Mark II
We used the Canon 7D Mark I in our early days on Youtube.  It worked awesome!  It's great for photography as well.  However, it doesn't have a "full-frame".

Panasonic GH4
This camera is not Canon, so we haven't used it very much.  It is 4K capable, and can produce amazing images. Keep in mind however, it is not amazing in low light. My friends filmed a video with it.  Here is a reference of what it can do. This video was shot mostly in slow motion (another capability of this camera) and in 1080P.

$3000 - $4000 Budget:
Canon 5D Mark III
Love this camera! Our entire careers have been built utilizing this camera, and it's older brother, the Canon 5D Mark II. It is a full frame camera. Amazing in low light!

$30,000 - $70,000 Budget:

Red Dragon
I would definitely not suggest starting out with this one! :)  It's something to work towards. This is currently our main camera.  It has become a Hollywood standard for many of the movies you see on the big screen. The camera is much bigger, the small batteries only last 30 minutes.  It ideally takes two people to run it.  Examples of Hollywood movies that were mostly shot on this camera are:
The Hobbit
Jurassic World
Transformers 4
The Amazing Spiderman

The list goes on...

Click here to see a list of a lot of films shot on the Red.

Here's our first Assassin's Creed video we filmed with the Red. The biggest downfall, in my opinion to this camera, is it's much heavier, the batteries last half an hour, compared to DSLR cameras that will last most the day, and the camera stands out a lot more.

Here's another example as well, shot with the Dragon. This one is much more "cinematic".

Even though these movies were shot on the Red. The lenses they used were just as crucial as the camera.  The Hollywood films produced today are shot with lenses that cost around $20K-$100K per lens. We use Canon lenses which are much cheaper and may not look as clean as these super expensive lenses, but keep in mind that it's not just the camera that plays a role.

Our last main camera that we own, and use a lot is the Phantom Miro.

This camera is a very specialty camera. You would never use it to film an entire movie, etc. It can film 1540 frames per second at 1200P, which is a little higher resolution then 1080P.

This camera package runs around 70K. Which is by far the most expensive camera we own. The reason WHY we bought it was for several reasons.

1. It would allow us to get shots no one has seen before. We are all about "getting the shot no one else can get", so it fit in line with that.
2. We wanted to evolve as film makers and this camera would push us.
3. We film a ton of action sports, and this camera is perfect for that.

We actually just launched a brand new Youtube Channel called Chrono. We put up super slow motion videos shot exclusively on the Phantom Miro Monday through Friday. Here' are a couple videos from that channel, so make sure to subscribe :) We haven't launched the channel publicly yet, so you'll be one of the first subscribers :)

Here's a couple videos from the channel:

We also incorporate super slow motion shots into our main videos. Here's an example of that, with Red Dragon footage mixed with Phantom Miro footage.

Buying the Phantom Miro was a big risk on our end. I wouldn't suggest anyone doing it, haha. Unless you wanted to get in a very niche market.

I think something that I would love to communicate to everyone. We do a lot of "brand deals" on Youtube. The reason we do that is because it allows us to grow as filmmakers, as storytellers. With anything that we make, we have it go right back into our Youtube channel so that evolution can happen. So THANK YOU for supporting us. I remember going to film school, thinking how amazing it would be to film with a Red camera, now we own two reds. I started out just borrowing my friends small cameras though. So don't get discouraged about what you don't have. As you work for it, you'll be amazing at the opportunities that will come your way.

So to condense it all down. If your just starting out, and budget isn't an issue. These are the cameras I personally would suggest, in order:

1. Canon 5D Mark III
2. Panasonic GH4
3. GoPro 4


Now that I've shared my personal recommendations for cameras, I want to let you know our story.  I will share with you how we have evolved as filmmakers with our equipment and the reasons why we changed cameras.  Hopefully this will help you understand why I made the above camera suggestions.

When we began our Youtube channel in 2010 we had ZERO dollars to make movies.  The first five videos we shot were all filmed with cameras I borrowed from friends. I did not own a camera when I started my Youtube channel. So what does that mean for you? I hope the same thing :) You don't need to own a camera to succeed as a film maker.  It does help, but it is not a requirement.

Currently our our main channel has 143 videos. Below is a rough breakdown of the number of videos we shot on each camera, starting with the first cameras we used, the Canon 5D Mark II and Canon T2i.

143 Total Videos Filmed:

First 50 Videos:
Filmed on the Canon 5D Mark II (films in 1080P, no slow motion)
(3 of them we used the Canon T2i and the original GoPro1)
(6 used the Canon 7D as a 2nd camera)

37 Videos:
Canon 5D Mark III (films in 1080P and can film slow motion at 60FPS in 1080P)

30 Videos:
Canon 1D-C (films in 4K)

26 Videos:
RED Dragon camera (films in 6K)

So that's a break down on all the cameras we have used. We have always used a GoPro or a Contour as our action camera. We have used the best action camera possible (small camera). Currently right now, the GoPro 4, is our go to small action camera, as it is the only one we know of that can shoot 4K.

When I started my channel, I was filming with the Canon 5D Mark II. It was one of the first DSLR cameras that could film 1080P, and it was the cheapest camera that could produce the results that it did.  You could put lenses on it, which was a huge deal to make things look visually "cinematic". I borrowed the camera from the company I worked with. I was the one who suggested they buy it originally.

I had found out about the 5D Mark II while in film school. I was learning how to film on the Hollywood standard movie cameras. While at film school, an amazing cinematographer came out with the first video to show off the Canon 5D Mark II. When I saw the video he captured I was blown away. It was the FIRST video to be so cinematic, while on a very cheap budget. The 5D when first released could only film in 30 frames per second, or 30FPS.  When I finally got the camera, it could do 24FPS, which is what most hollywood movies film at. Here's the film by Vincent Laforet that inspired me, and showed me what the DSLR camera was capable of.  This film is what influenced me in the direction I took.

On the first couple of shoots for videos on my Youtube channel, I used the Canon 5D Mark II, and my other friend, Jace LeRoy,brought along his Canon T2i, which the image wasn't as clean as the 5D, but it could still edit together really well.

Here's an example of one of our first videos we filmed that has a mix of Canon 5D Mark II footage, Canon T2i footage, and the original GoPro being used. When you cut different cameras together, even though the quality isn't the same, it usually isn't a distraction at all.  Going back to what I mentioned earlier, the story, or content is always most important.

The biggest limitation with the Canon 5D Mark II is that it couldn't film slow motion, or 60FPS, so we would use the Canon T2i, and GoPro to do our slow motion.

Once the Canon 7D came out, it allowed us to do slow motion at 720P at 60FPS.

Here was the second video I ever uploaded to our channel. Filmed with the 5D Mark II, with all the slow motion being done at 720P, at 60FPS.

Once the Canon 5D Mark III came out a couple years later, it had several big improvements that have helped us. Here were the biggest selling points for me.
1. It could film slow motion, at 720P at 60FPS.
2. It had amazing low light abilities. I could film in 6400 ISO and still use it. The Canon 5D Mark II I could only use it best at 1600 ISO.
3. The camera could record longer than 12 minutes (which was only what the 5D Mark II could do.)

Our Assassin's Creed Parkour video, our first one, was actually one of the first cameras I used the Canon 5D Mark III on.  I actually waited for it to come out to film this, because I knew we were going to be filming with natural lighting, in very low light. I ended up filming a lot of it at ISO 6400, without any "grain" noticed.

To this day we still use the camera. We record almost every behind the scenes video with the Canon 5 5D Mark III.

As a filmmaker, we always have to evolve, and grow.  As we have had the opprotunity to work with brands/companies, we began to save some money, and that's when we bought the Canon 1D-C.

This camera was a huge step for us financially. The main reason we went with this was because it was the only DSLR camera that could film 4K. We thought about getting bigger more "Hollywood style" cameras, but decided to go with the 1D-C because it fit better with the style of how we film.  It allows us to keep a low profile and try to not grab too many people's attention. Here were the main reasons we went with this camera.

1. It filmed in 4K
2. It could film slow motion at 720P at 60FPS
3. It had amazing low light, could film around 12800 ISO, and still be able to use it
4. It's menus were almost identical to the Canon DSLR cameras that we were used to
5. Used the same lenses as Canon

Here's our first video we filmed with the Canon 1D-C, and in 4K as well, and it just happened to be another Assassin's Creed video.

Even though this isn't our primary 4K camera anymore, we still use it as a secondary 4K camera.  We use it when bigger cameras are not allowed. For example:
When we were in Jerusalem, and a lot of places in the Middle East, bigger cameras were not allowed (such as a Red camera), but we could bring in the 1D-C because it looked like just another still camera. So to this day, we factor that into what we film. If it's super "undercover", this is our best option for 4K.

The biggest downside though is the codec the camera records in. It does film 4K, but it isn't "raw". A big part of how we make a living and how we buy equipment is based on us selling "stock video footage". Companies would want to buy 4K footage, we would send them the footage from our 1D-C in 4K, and they said the image codec wasn't good enough. It was good enough sometimes, but not enough to keep on using the camera as our main 4K camera. So once that started to become a regular thing, we decided we would have to start saving our money for the Red Dragon, which could shoot 6K.

The Red Dragon is now our main camera that we film with. We film with it on almost everything we do, in 6K. We then use the Canon 1D-C, or Canon 5D Mark III to film the behind the scene videos. We use the GoPro 4 as our action camera, when we can't get the shot with the Red.

Now that we have gone over cameras, let's talk about lenses :)
Once again, this is based off of my opinion. These are the lenses that fit best for my style. Generally speaking though, here are the two lenses I ALWAYS bring everywhere I go, in order of preference.

1. Canon 16-35mm F/2.8 L
2. Canon 70-200mm F/2.8L

If you have a small budget for lenses, the go to lens I recommend to EVERYONE is the Canon 50mm F/1.4, which I'll talk about more in detail below.

Canon 50mm F/1.4

I'll go into more details of some of the lenses we use and why. I will post a couple still pictures that I took with that lens to give you an idea of what the image looks like.

Also, just a little tip about Canon lenses, if the lenses are white (only telephoto lenses), or if the lens has a red ring near the front, they are a L series lens. That means they are the best "glass" that Canon makes in that series/line up of lens. So if you are looking to compete with the top dogs, having a L series lens always helps.

However, on the opposite side of that, what's most important in getting the best picture/image is not on the lens, but on the person taking the picture, their artistic ability, and how they know how to push that lens to it's maximum potential.

Canon 16-35mm F/2.8 L series Lens

This is by far my favorite lens. I use it 90 percent of the time. A big part of film making/photography for me is about the location you use. So for me, a wide angle lens captures that better than anything else. Any other lens smaller than 16mm distorts the image and makes it become a "Fish Eye" lens. I like things to feel "real", so that's why I generally don't shoot with anything smaller than that.

I am constantly shooting on a glidecam/steadycam.  Wide angle lenses like this lens are the only really options with a glidecam, otherwise the image will get too shaky.

Another reason is that with wide angle lenses, the wider the lens, the more that is in focus. So with a lens like this, it makes it very easy to have everything in focus.

Canon 70-200mm F/2.8 L series Lens

I love this lens for capturing people. You will need a tripod for sure if you are shooting video, or it will get way too shaky. Before I shot video with Canon DSLR's I used this lens for every picture I took of people. I love the shallow depth of field and its "professional" look. This lens is always my first choice for photographing people :)

Canon 2X III Extender

This isn't a lens.  All it does is double the lens focal lengths. It only works on my Canon 70-200mm.  So when I attach it to that lens, it makes it a 140-400mm lens.  This is perfect for taking pictures of wild life and surfers from a far distance. Adding an attachment to a lens makes pictures not as sharp, but I haven't noticed a difference with video.

Canon 50mm 1.4mm

This lens is awesome for low light.  Generally that is the only time I pull it out.

The Canon 50mm 1.8mm is the BEST lens out there that ANYONE can buy for the money/payoff. It's awesome for taking pictures and filming people! It was the first lens I ever bought, besides the kit lens, when I first got into photography.

Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM

A macro lens allows you to get super close shots where you normally wouldn't be able to go with any other lens. In all reality though, I haven't used this lens for any of my Youtube videos.  I've only used it for a couple product shots where I had to take pictures for commercial companies where they wanted super close shots to show details in their product. It's a good option to have for showing super close detail, but generally one I very rarely use.

So that's it! Those are the lenses I use and why :)

On my wish list, I have these on it.
Canon 85mm F/1.2
Canon 15mm F/2.8

The last thing I will cover is filters, since I get asked a lot what I use. I do not use any ND filters at all.  I do however use a Circular Polarizer.

This makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE on the outcome of your pictures. It brings out the blues and greens SIGNIFICANTLY! Especially the sky and water! Not all circular polarizers are created equally though... I did a TON of research on my own to find out the best brand.  After my own personal research I found the best brand was B+W.  It had the highest quality and brought out the colors the most.  It also happens to be the most expensive as well, imagine that, haha. But really it is worth it. There is no reason to go cheap on your filters if you're gonna be shooting with a nice camera and lenses. Here is a link to the one I own. I own two, one that fits my 70-200 mm lens, and one that fits my 16-35mm lens.

Circular Polarizer

Excuse my typos and grammatical errors.  Keep in mind that I am a videographer and not a writer.   :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Guatemala - Land of Eternal Spring!

Every so often TeamSupertramp takes on a project knowing very little about the destination or the people involved.  The WEAVESLEEVE project in Guatemala was one of those projects...  We (Parker and Carter) met up with Andy Thunel (Founder of Weavsleeve) in the airport terminal and it was there that he shared with us the story of his friends in Guatemala and his desire to help them out.  That 5 minute conversation as we boarded the plane changed EVERYTHING.  What started out as just another film trip turned into a passion-driven project that we all had our hearts invested into.  We realized that the idea of WeaveSleeve was SO much bigger than just helping Andy start a wallet business, and that we were going to provide a lifetime of opportunities for the Guatemalan families involved.  

As we mentioned earlier neither of us had any idea what to expect from "The Land of Eternal Spring" before we arrived.  The people, culture, and sights that Guatemala has to offer left us completely amazed every day that we were there.  The trip started off with a bang as we loaded up in a doorless helicopter to film the Mayan ruins in Northern Guatemala.  We decided to film with Defy's G2 Gimbal from the helicopter as we thought it would give us more stable shots in that situation.  Andy and Carter would hold the two sides of the DEFY while Parker would adjust the RED camera settings and control focus and zoom.  The only problem that we ran into was that the occasional G-Forces of the helicopter would cause the DEFY to wig out a little as we'd make sharp turns, but for the most part the shots turned out amazing. 

The camera attached to the gimbal was our trusty RED Dragon and Canon 14mm 2.8/f and Canon 16-35mm 2.8/f as are two main lenses.  We shot everything at 6k resolution, frame rates ranging from 24fps, 60fps, and 82fps, and shutter speeds relatively high to allow us to pull clearer stills from the video afterwards.

After an intense day of filming from the ground and the air, we started the flight back to our hotel only to run into the daily rainstorm. (It poured every day around 4 in the afternoon into the night...)   After unsuccessfully trying to cross the lake our pilot, Carlos, was forced to land in the closest place that he could find; a soccer field in a small village of San Carlos.  As you can imagine the whole village came out to see the spectacle of a helicopter landing in the center of their town.  

We wasted no time in making friends and joining in on the local soccer game.  The two hours we spent playing soccer in the rain with "Los Chapines" were by far the highlight of the trip and a moment that neither of us will ever forget.   There is something special about immersing yourself, unplanned and unscripted into a culture and and capturing real moments of enjoyment.  It is moments like this that we live for as film makers.  All of the shots from the rainy soccer game scene was shot using a Canon 70-200mm 2.8/f and the ground as the tripod :)

The next part of the trip was dedicated to the families and artisans that are a part of the WeaveSleave project.  We spent the next two days with them filming the WeaveSleave process from start to finish.  Everything from buying fabric from a local vendor in the next village over, to seeing some of their final projects for sale in their personal tienda (store).  

Andy had been planning a way to "give back" to all of the artisans and families for helping him and decided that he wanted them to experience something that they could not do on their own.  He came up with the idea to take his friends to Xetulul, a theme park near the southern coast of Guatemala.  The bus fare to the park is too expensive for these families, let alone the entrance fee to the theme park.  Andy rented a micro bus and we fit as many people as we could in it.  Every seat had multiple people in it not to mention lots of kids sitting on their parents laps, and one gentleman standing on the back bumper...  To be a part of and capture the excitement, fear, and pure joy of these people as they experienced a theme park for the first time was really humbling.  It was an experience that they thought only existed in television.  After a couple of hours with them at the theme park we decided to leave and let them be together as family and friends without the distraction of us and our cameras.  

After our time spent with the amazing people of Guatemala, We walked away with a new appreciation for the purity in the simplicity and happiness in the lives that these people live.  They have next to no earthly possessions, yet they are content, because they are grateful for what they do have.  They inspired us to have more positive attitudes and to love and life life to the fullest.  Their examples of humility have given us a new perspective on life and we left that country as better people.
Our goal with this video was to portray that valuable lessons that we learned and to deliver a positive uplifting video that would inspire our viewers the way we were inspired, to be happy, positive, grateful, and seek out the good and beauty in life.

If you would like to support to the cause of this film and WeaveSleeve who made it possible, pleases support them in their kickstarter campaign to help give these wonderful Guatemalan families full time jobs :)