Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Guest Writing for McClatchy: 'Six Things I Wish I Knew Before I Shot My First 360 Video'

Last year, I had the awesome opportunity to write a guest post for McClatchy New Ventures Lab on Medium about my experience and lessons learned while shooting 360 video. I thought I would share it with you guys since it's been a while. Enjoy!


For the past two months, I’ve been working on-and-off shooting a 360 video piece to tell the story of one of the USO’s most popular programs: the care package program. Given the program’s wide geographical footprint, I thought it would be a great opportunity for the USO (and myself!) to dive into the world of immersive video production by taking viewers around the world.

Armed with advice and all the information I could find about shooting 360 video on the Internet, I created a storyboard, purchased a Nikon KeyMission 360 camera, produced a small-scale, practice project and headed into the field to film my first immersive video story. As a professional photographer and videographer, I felt pretty confident. I spent hours interviewing key characters, travelling to different locations and even overseas, which, I’ll admit, felt pretty cool.

I’m by no means an expert in 360 video, but after shooting this entire project, I thought I was doing everything right when it came to immersive video -- until I attended Google’s “Shooting a Virtual Reality Video” session at this year’s Adobe Max conference. That’s when I realized I still had a lot to learn.

That's me, on an adult trike, shooting 360 video.
Are you a creator thinking about embarking on your first 360 project? Here are the top six tips I gained from this session, so you can avoid some pitfalls I experienced:

1. Focus on the Story
Learning how to shoot immersive video can be a frustrating process that takes a lot of time and energy. However, panelist Gary Hustwit of Scenic cautions new immersive storytellers from focusing too much on the technical aspects of their project. Instead, he urges filmmakers to spend most of their energy developing a strong story arc that will capture the audience’s attention, regardless of technical flaws. No 360 camera on the market right now is perfect. They all have stitching, sound, quality and connectivity issues. You cannot control this! What you can control is crafting a strong narrative, capturing in-focus footage and collecting good, crisp audio.
2. Think Like a Theater Director, Not a Videographer
360 video cameras capture everything in a scene, so there’s no hiding anything from the frame like in traditional video storytelling. To help visualize and plan scenes, immersive filmmakers should try to approach their shots like a theater director, considering the audience’s perception of the performance from every seat in the house.

3. The Smaller the Production Team, the Better
When shooting an immersive video project, smaller production teams are much easier to manage, particularly when ensuring crew members aren’t in the backgrounds of shots. Session panelists Ben Ross and Brittany Neff of CoReality say they typically shoot in teams of 2-5 people, with a team of two being preferable because they are the easiest to manage and the smallest size a crew can realistically be to get the job done.

4. Let Your Characters Tell Their Stories
According to Ross and Neff, the most effective immersive videos are narrative-driven and feature a main character who shares their story with the audience by speaking directly into the camera, almost as if they were having a conversation. The intimate nature of immersive video, in Ross and Neff’s practice, allows for this type of  interview to work well.

However, for this approach to be successful, you must work very closely with your characters to make them comfortable in front of the camera. Unlike traditional video, you may not be with your characters to ask them questions, prompt their responses, coach their movements, etc., unless you want to be in the shot, too. So, you must make them feel confident in their actions without your help. Remember, you won’t be able to see what your characters are doing while recording, as many 360 cameras don’t allow for live video monitoring.



5. Don’t Move the Camera Too Much
While some well-executed camera movement can be effective, generally, moving a 360 video camera too much can be very jarring for a viewer. It can also make a headset-wearing viewer motion sick. Instead, challenge yourself to use movement of objects around the camera to create a sensation of motion or create the visual experience you are looking for.



6. Editing a 360 Video Isn’t Overwhelmingly Different
Once you get your bearings and get beyond stitching, the basics of creating a 360 video aren’t any different than creating a regular video. You’re still working in a timeline, cutting clips, editing sound, color correcting, etc. However, there are a few immersive video-specific tools, workflows and best practices that might help make your editing process better, including in the 2018 Adobe Creative Cloud.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember when you’re putting together your first immersive video piece is that nobody is an expert, according to panelist and filmmaker Hustwit. Even the experts in immersive video have only been working at it for a few years, so don’t worry about making mistakes. We’re all in the same boat.

By the way, my care package video is coming out soon, so keep your eyes peeled for its release in late 2017!

Winter 2018 Flashback: Yoga Heights DC Family Class + New Studio Snaps

There's something super special about having a client as awesome as Yoga Heights. Not only are the founders, Jess and Amy, amazing to work with, but every single shoot I do for them always seems to become my next favorite shoot.


This winter 2018 session, which combined a Baby + Me class and an All Levels Flow class all into one, certainly didn't disappoint, and is up there as a favorite shoot now!



Not only was capturing all these cute kiddos and a lot of my friends who were in the All Levels Class incredibly memorable, but I was feeling particularly attached to yoga and the studio during this time last year, making for all the feels (as you may or may not remember, at the time I took these photos, I was deep in the midst of completing my own -- now complete! -- 200 hour teacher training).











Friday, October 26, 2018

Fall 2017 Flashback: Athleta DC Fashion Show

Sometimes my favorite shoots are just big, happy accidents. This one for Athleta DC in the fall of 2017 was one of those big, happy accidents.


Every fall, Athleta DC works with its local ambassadors to host a fall fashion show featuring local fit models, the new clothes, fancy makeup -- the whole sha-bang you'd expect from any fashion show, really.


Lucky for me, the talented makeup artist doing the model's makeup, Petra Cleary, had met me a few years ago at a Zumba event I was covering in Silver Spring. She remembered me and reached out to ask if I would be interested in capturing this fun event for Athleta DC. She put me in touch with the event Chandra Hampton and it all fell into place from there!



I think my favorite part about capturing events like this is the ability to showcase the beauty of the entire event's process -- from quiet, backstage moments to the joyous celebration at the end.




It also didn't hurt that the Athleta team and all the lovely models were so energetic, talented and easy to work with!









I hope the participants had as much fun in the event as I did capturing it! :)

Winter 2018 Flashback: Shooting Dog & Pony DC's "Peep Show"

Hello again! I'm back! I'm married! And I'm excited to tell you about all the wonderful creative things that I've been up to over the past several months. :)

To kick things off, I thought I would take a visit into the not-so recent past, and show you a few of my favorite shots from a early 2018 shoot I did for Dog & Pony DC for their show Peepshow.

I was invited to capture the event from the head of Peepshow, Rachel Grossman, who I met through my Yoga Teacher training at Yoga Heights DC. How cool, right?


To be perfectly honest, I've shot a lot of different events before in my life, but I've NEVER EVER shot anything as unique as Peepshow -- what a hoot! Not only was the play itself fantastic, but the experience of capturing it's unique elements is something I will never forget.


To give you a better idea of what the show is about, I borrowed a brief synopsis: 
"Peepshow takes-back objectification and sexism, and kicks the patriarchy where it counts. Over Peepshow’s five spectacles, performers will review the four waves of feminism in a wrestling ring, explore the complexities of the male gaze through Broadway show tunes, and expose the modern woman’s complicity in her own oppression through a synchronized-swimming-and Kpop-inspired-ballet."
To be perfectly honest, the synopsis doesn't do the show justice (in my opinion!) as to how awesome it really was. Take a look at my photos to get a better glimpse:







Don't you wish you saw it live now? 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Blog on Pause: Check Back in Late 2018!

Hi friends.

So exciting news -- I'm getting married! I've started travelling a ton for work! My freelance life has gotten crazy.

But... something's gotta give, right?

I'm going to put this blog on pause for several months while I focus on other aspects of my life. Be sure to check back in late 2018, when I hopefully have more time to blog.

Thank you for following!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Vacation Snaps: Hiking the Burgess Shale in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

Remember a few weeks when I posted about the lululemon Seawheeze half marathon I ran this summer?

Well, what I didn't mention is that right after I finished the race, Mr. Man and I hopped on a plane to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to spend some quality time visiting my family in the in Bow Valley.

While we, of course, spent a good portion of our week in the area being lazy and catching up with our loved ones at my family's home in Canmore, Alberta, Canada (near Banff national park), we also made a point to get outdoors and enjoy a few hikes in the area -- namely the Geoscience Foundation's epic 13-hour Burgess Shale hike to the Walcott Quarry.



See, several months prior, after hearing my parents rave about their time on the hike (there are fossils involved!), I convinced Mr. Man and a few of our friends to boldly sign up to accompany me on the mega day hike this past August.

Bless them all for dealing with my crazy ideas.



To prep for the Burgess Shale hike, a few days before our adventure, Mr. Man and I did a warm-up hike at Ha Ling near Canmore to get our lungs and legs acclimated to the higher altitude. To be honest, Ha Ling is a bit steeper than the Burgess Shale hike and sort of scared us into thinking we couldn't handle the longer hike to the Walcott Quarry. We were huffing and puffing the whole way!

Needless to say, the day of the actual long hike, we were both a bit nervous.


On the day of the hike, we woke up super early and headed to our meeting spot in Field, British Columbia (about 1.5 hours away from Canmore) to climb, climb, climb our way up to some fossils (you can read more about the hike details here)! Here's a few cell phone snaps of our journey:







It was a long, semi-steep hike and really, with a little training, I feel like anyone can do it with enough perseverance!

Although I brought my professional camera, I was so focused on the hike I didn't take too many photos, but here are a few I captured of the day:








Have you ever been on an amazingly epic hike before? Let me know in the comments below!