They are often over-looked by the factory drivers in their speeches. They are yelled at by race officials and race promotors (Well this might just be Cory). They are treated like criminals smuggling high explosives at airports around the world. They spend hours editing thousands upon thousands of photos and videos for the sport they love!
For several years now, a trip to “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” has been on my bucket list. GBU for short. This is the name the Ice Climbers have given it at least; for us in the off-roading community it’s known simply as “Ghost Falls”. Life always got in the way, and I never made the trip out.
I convinced a group of perfect strangers to join my good friend Markus and I on an adventure. We had a range of vehicles: JKs, JLs, XJs, WJS…and a RAM 1500…with Running Boards…and all season tires. This is the story of our trip to the Ghost Falls.
Special thanks to Markus & Sharla for just a bit of extra footage!
With the COVID-19 pandemic systematically shutting our entire way of life down, more and more events are getting cancelled. Our original schedule included shooting B-Roll and the Big Barn Shootout & Silver State, with a trip to San Francisco to catch up with an RC Legend, shoot a full episodes at the Chili Bowl & the Quebec Classic then finish up the season in Brazil.
Chilly Bowl was cancelled by myself due to personal affairs that came up and didn’t allow me to take the time to travel to Oklahoma. Big Barn on the other hand was the first COVID cancelled race; followed shortly thereafter by Silver State. Today IFMAR announced that it would be postponing the entire 2020 season. This really just leaves the Quebec classic as part of CDWU’20 and this lone event just doesn’t justify putting together a season.
It’s not something I want to see happen but Come Drive With Us will be on hiatus until 2021.
It’s not all bad news. We have two more full episodes coming out:
Come Drive With Us – The Ice Breaker Come Drive With Us – The Trenčín Worlds
Both episodes will not disappoint anyone. I’m also going to try to do some Live broadcasts with special guests. Look for more news on this in the coming weeks.
Everyone stay safe and I guess we’ll see you on the other side? Who knows what the future holds for 5150 in 2020. I have media certification now so I can leave my house even in a full lock-down situation; maybe there will be a cool end of the world documentary coming out?
Pro-line Racing & 5150 Media Productions are proud to present the latest installment of the “Come Drive With Us” Series: DNC II.
5 years ago 5150 filmed the first DNC; it was the 2014 edition and it was an event that was mainly dominated by Ty Tessmann. That was a good year for Ty; he doubled up at DNC and would go on to win the words that year. But he has since struggled; and Ryan Maifield has basically owned the DNC since then.
Phoenix was the home to the DNC for 12 years; and the DNC was synonymous with Arizona; but building code issues forced the Fear Farm track to lose this prestigious event; and it moved back to the state where it all began: California.
The move was not a smooth one.
Record breaking rain-fall leading up to, and during the track build nearly cause promoter Joey Christensen to cancel the 20th running of the DNC. While DNC is famous for the perfect storm rolling in just in time for the event, this would have been the first time in it’s history that the event would have been cancelled. Joey and his crew over-came this, and put on a DNC that will long be remembered.
This episode is once again Narrated by Mike Garrison and features appearances by Ty Tessmann, Joe Bornhost, CJ Jelin, Elliott Boots, Ryan Maifield, Jared Tebo, Ryan Cavalieri, David Ronnefalk and the current 1/8 IFMAR Off-Road Champion Davide Ongaro.
Pro-Line Racing & 5150 Media Productions are proud to present the latest installment of the “Come Drive With Us” Series: The Perth Worlds!
Every year, IFMAR hosts a world championship race in one of the 4 blocks that make up the sanctioning body. For the 2018 worlds the “who’s who” of the R/C World were in Perth for the 1/8 Nitro World Championships.
The facility was nothing short of amazing; the track, with it’s high speed and massive jumps, was equally impressive. This would be Australia’s first 1/8 worlds; how would this event compare to other championship races held over the past few years?
Karting; Joes vs. Pros; watergate 2.0; rumors of gyros; Drivers getting fired; Coors; a last chance saloon; this worlds had it all!
Mike Garrison is back as the voice of the series as is our usual cast of characters including Ty Tessmann, Joe Bornhorst, Elliott Boots, Adam Drake, Bruno Coelho, Adam Drake, CJ Jelin, Ryan Maifield. We also welcomed some new faces to the series, so be sure to watch this amazing episode!
It’s finally here! Pro-Line Racing & 5150 Media Productions are very happy to present Come Drive With Us – Silver State II.
It’s been a rough few years in this industry; Companies being sold, others going into financial restructuring or disappearing all together! Tracks closing all across the United States, including RC Tracks of Las Vegas. This one hit us hard because of all the time we spent there in 2016; it was a hard blow. No one will ever really know what happened, and it was hard to make heads or tales of the ‘he said / he said’ around it’s closure…but it was a blow for the industry. Then there was the social media fiasco caused by he who shall not be named…It was just blow after blow for the sport loved by so many.
With RCToLV closing, most of the industry just assumed the Silver State Race was dead too. So when the news hit that Joey Wolters Christensen was taking it over again, it started a buzz throughout the industry. We were really looking forward to this race and he knew it would be more like a really big high-school house party right out of the 80s (hence the sound-track I used). This race did not disappoint, and it was exactly what the industry needed.
Join Charlie Suangka as he tells the story of this amazing event.
Pro-Line Racing & 5150 Media Productions are proud to present the latest installment of the “Come Drive With Us” Series: The 2017 IFMAR Worlds! These 1/10 scale worlds were held in Xiamen, which is on the South Eastern Coast of China, and the event was absolutely amazing.
Unless you don’t really follow the sport of Profissional R/C Racing, you likely already know that Ryan Maifield won both the 2WD & the 4WD events at these worlds. But it was no easy path for him. In-fact, after the first practice day, many thought he just might rage-quit. This race had it all: man-made rain, Mad Max, the worst spec tires ever created by man, crazy conditions, and of course, a double world champ for only the 4th time in IFMAR history!
This was also a very special race, not only because we witnessed Ryan winning his first world Championship, but because we were able to see Dallas Mathiesen in his element for one last race. This would be his final off-road world championship. Dallas would pass away only a few short months after the worlds.
Rest in Peace Dallas. You will be missed!
This episode is once again Narrated by Mike Garrison and features appearances by Ty Tessmann, Kyle McBride, Bruno Coelho, Dustin Evans, Zeke Ballinger, Lee Martin, Ryan Maifield, Scotty Ernst, Jared Tebo, Ryan Cavalieri, David Ronnefalk and the winningest driver in R/C History…Masami Hirosaka.
We hope you enjoy this episode; it was an epic edit!
Someone recently asked me if I film in 4K. My answer was “nyes“. That’s right. “Nyes“.
First of all, I feel that if you have the media available to you (both on location and back at your home base), you should shoot as much of your production on 4K as possible (if not all of it). For my client work, unless they specify otherwise, I shoot exclusively in 4K. I usually go a step even further and shoot in RAW. If I could shoot beyond 4K I would; but I currently I film on the SONY FS7 & FS700 and I just don’t have the budget to shoot on RED. Yet.
As many of you know, I do a lot of run-and-gun work on my various Documentary projects. And yes, I shoot parts of my various series in 4K; but the bulk of the footage is still 2K. As the name would suggest, Run-and-gun usually means that I pack as light as I can. A 256GB XQD Card for my FS7 will only hold about 45 minutes of 4K footage. 4K Raw will require approximately 1TB for roughly 18-20 minutes of footage. Shooting exclusively in these resolutions means I would have to bring a stack of removable Hard-Drives with me. Not overly appealing.
According to my metrics, over half of my traffic coming to my YouTube Channel is from Mobile devices. In-fact, only 24% of the views are actually watched on a TV, and I rather doubt anyone watching one of my films on an iPhone or a computer screen will notice if it’s presented in 2K or 4K. Thus, I deliver it in 2K, so filming in 4K doesn’t really get me anything in the here and now. With each shoot I am shooting more and more in 4K.
There are of course a few instances where always shoot in 4K. If you’re like me and are delivering in 2K here are some “best practice” I have adopted around shooting 4K:
I tend to shoot all my interviews in 4K. If you have limited media on your shoot you can shoot what I call a “Formal Interviews”. in 4K and the “Drive-By” interviews in 2K. If my terminology has you confused, I have two classifications of Interview:
Formal Interview: No, this does not require a tuxedo. This is a planned interview where the setting is completely controlled. Time is allocated for set decoration, blocking/framing, rehearsal, etc.
Drive-By Interview: This is a completely random interview that happens in the heat of the moment. These have virtually no setup time for blocking/framing of the shot etc. Basically, this style interview is the polar opposite of the Formal Interview.
A great Example of this was the opening interview with Howie in my “Pros & Cons” doc. When I shot it, I had Howie basically in the middle of the screen; but because it’s a 4K shot and I delivered in 2K, I was able to zoom and position Howie into an appropriate quadrant on the screen without any loss in quality.
Only the most astute film folk will know what “Bayhem” actually is. As far as big-budget Hollywood films go, it could very well be the worst thing that has ever existed. Here is a great YouTube Video describing exactly what it is:
For documentary work though; I think Michael Bay’s style is absolutely AWESOME! For the work I do on “Come Drive With Us” and a significant amount of my commercial work, I admit it…I truly love using the Circular Camera move There are three criteria to successfully pull off this shot.
The shot needs to be a bit telephoto. I don’t use anything less than a 50mm lens for this shot. Optimal would be a 105mm.
It needs to be smooooooooth.
High Frame-Rates are advantageous to sell the shot.
Given the first two criteria, I always try use my DJI Ronin for this shot. The Ronin, is essentially the poor-man’s Steadicam™. By using tilt sensors, and a 3-axis Gyroscope, the Ronin electronically stabilizes the camera. I can do pretty much anything, within reason, and my Camera will remain steady.
But sometimes, I see a perfect opportunity present itself and I don’t have time to run to the media center to grab my Ronin setup. What I do in these situations is I switch over to 4K and shoot it free-hand. I do my best to be smooth, but the footage inevitably comes out a bit rough. While criteria #1 indicates a zoom factor, I do back this off a bit. Remember, that this is only a usable technique if your source resolution is higher than your delivery resolution.
The next step is usually something that is frowned upon by the community, but because my source image is larger than my delivery target, 99% of the reasons NOT to use this technique get thrown out of the window. I use WARP STABILIZE!Gasp!
Warp Stabilize will digitally steady the shot. It does this by cropping and adjusting the XYZ axis of the shot to compensate for camera movement. Last year I traveled to Xiamen China to film at the World Championship of R/C. I decided to travel a bit lighter than usual (plus insurance was insane), so I left the Ronin at home. Here is an example the “Bayhem” circular shot I did completely free-hand:
Again, this shot was a free-hand performed with no mechanical stabilization at all. If I had the option to go grab my Odyssey 7Q+ equipped FS700 that is always attached to my Ronin, I will do so. Mechanical stabilization is infinitely superior every single time. But if I don’t have that opportunity, this is a perfectly acceptable alternative.
When I need a bigger lens
Sometimes I just need more zoom. In “Come Drive With Us” when I am filming a Nitro Powered Car from an elevated position, it’s nice to have the option of zooming in even more if I need to. This also lets me be a bit less aggressive with the zoom factor thus keeping the depth of field a bit wider. A good example of this is this short clip from “Come Drive With Us – SikCross”.
Following these little cars can be tricky, and with a high zoom factor, it’s pretty easy to loose track of the Buggy being followed. So I put a mild lens on the camera; no more than a 105 and I will do any required “Zooming” in post…with no loss in quality.
I have previously stated that I do have RED envy; I would love nothing more than to have the ability at shooting at 4K (or higher) with virtually any frame-rate at my disposal. But for right now, I’m a budget Filmmaker and I’m committed to the SONY platforms. These techniques have helped me increase the quality of my product. I hope that some of these techniques help other budget Filmmakers out there until they take the leap into more Cinematic quality cameras…like RED.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get whilst on a shoot is
How many hours of footage do you have to go through?
This question always catches me a bit off-guard as I honestly have no clue how many hours of footage I actually take. I could tell you how many individual shots I have, I could even tell you how many shots are still outstanding on my check-list, but as far as duration, I always find this questions odd. Yet, it gets asked at every shoot I go on!
Because I didn’t go film-school nor have I taken any courses on how to film Documentaries I never really know if my methods are “Best Practices”. I constantly struggle with insecurities around my process; for all I know, I could be doing things completely wrong. Regardless, I’m going to take you on a trip with me to give insight as to how I plan, film and edit an episode of “Come Drive With Us“.
For every shoot I go on, there is a high degree of planning; and I’m not talking about logistics…even though that is something I have to do as well. No, I’m talking more about planning the shoot itself. Who I’m going to focus on; common interview questions to enhance the plot, trying to get the promoters to hook me up with the same quality of filming spots at the venue as LiveRC (I never do), etc. For me, this is no easy task as I am a one-person team so I definitely have to wear multiple hats.
While I tend to let each event tell it’s own story, more often than not, there are themes going into the shoot that I know will need to be covered. In some cases, there are shots that I want to take and I know exactly where they will appear in the production. The 2016 Worlds was a prime example of this. I knew that the opening shot would be the late Dallas Mathiesen handing the winner the IFMAR trophy. To build up suspense, my plan was to NOT reveal the winner but rather the focus would be on Dallas. Even though I had this shot planned out months before had I literally seconds to setup for it and execute it. Did it work? Beautifully! The opening sequence for “Come Drive With Us – The Vegas Worlds” was exactly how I envisioned it months before hand. I like to think that in a live setting this is no small feat.
The opening shots for my “Silver State II” movie coming out later this summer were also planned well in advance of the episode. I will leave you in suspense as to what that is going to look like though.
Because the location shoot is so physically demanding, I tend to prep interview questions as well as a comprehensive shot-list before the event. This way, I don’t have to worry about missing anything. This shot list does tend to change slightly leading up to the event with any new story lines that I hear about or when I hear about attendees cancelling, etc.
Lights, Camera…WAIT I’M NOT READY!!!
From front left: Nick McQuick, Howie Miller, Thaimu Turray & Cory Drachenberg
While I’ve had some shoots that are thoroughly enjoyable, like working on my “Pros & Cons” Documentary. For the most part, the actual shoot is the part I enjoy the least.
To me, the shoot is more like running a marathon than filming a movie. After the first day I tend to be running on pure Adrenaline. And most “Come Drive With Us” shoots are no less than 4 days long. The 2017 IFMAR Worlds in China was an excruciating 8 days of filming!!! Fortunately, I love the pressure and do my best work under these conditions. As I mentioned before, I tend to make relatively comprehensive check-list before the shoot. As the event progresses I make my way through this list ensuring I have each shot covered.
But a large portion of shooting an event documentary cannot be planned. I tend to follow the story-lines as the event unfolds. With each plot line that is revealed by the participants, I have to make sure I have accompanying B-Roll. But what exactly is this mythical B-Roll??
In film and television production, B-Roll is supplemental or alternative footage inter cut with the main shot. So what this means is that as I am shooting a doc, as participants in my film mention certain topics I need to make note and ensure that I have a shot that I can include related to this topic. B-Roll tends to make up well over half my total shots. It’s a never ending struggle to shoot these supplementary shots.
At the Silver State Race, one of my featured drivers, used to be a professional bull-rider. As luck would have it, there just happened to be a rodeo taking place in an adjacent building. So after putting my Producers hat back on to momentarily to sort through the logistics, and then my PA hat to make arrangements…my director hat to plan the shots and finally my cameraman hat to do the work…I found myself shooting back-stage among wild animals and “Cowfolk” at my first ever Rodeo!
Given that I’m a huge Steven Spielberg fan it doesn’t really surprise me that the Edit is my favorite part of the process; it is after all Mr. Spielberg’s favorite as well. For me, it’s when I finally get to see a return on all the time I have invested into a production.
The first thing I do is watch every single shot, catalog and add meta tags to each shot. This helps me get a really good idea as to what the story-lines are and with the tagging, it makes it very easy to find the shots I need once I start the actual edit.
This is where I think my process differs quite a bit from other documentaries. I say this because at this point, I still have no script; I won’t even have a high-level synopsis yet. In-fact, I think I break even more “rules” by starting to play around with the edit! I will place all my pre-planned sequences here, create the opening credit sequence and start working on the trailer(s).
After about a week or two of this I have a really strong sense as to the story I want to tell. At this point I stop editing and spend the next month writing a detailed synopsis which eventually turns into the script. The next time I open up Adobe Premiere, I will pretty much have the final script in my hands and I power through the edit. As the edit comes together, the script does have a tendency of changing. Usually it’s only minor but on one occasion I was so unhappy with how the cut flowed that nearly started completely over. AXIALFEST was the project in question; and stating over was a great decision as this is one of my absolute favorite episodes!
It’s at this point that I start to work on the score as well; for me the music is one of the most important pieces of the production. I tend to use as much music from AudioJungle.net, Shock-WaveSound.com & WarnerChapelle.com as their prices are within my reach for the budget I have to work with. Frequently I pick a piece of music that I have to seek out licensing for. This isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s a matter of e-mailing the artist directly; other times it’s a matter of working with their labels.
At this point in the process I spend a lot of time on something that I am sure most viewers of my films take completely for granted (Except maybe for Jeff Johnston).
Coloring. It’s not fun; but it is so crucial as the images coming off my camera are shot in what is called SLOG2 (For indoor shoots I use SLOG3) which makes the image look very flat and washed out (left). Footage shot using this method comes out amazing in post (right) and gives me a lot more options when I do the color grading. This really is a complex topic that really deserves it’s on series of posts; after-all, people spend years in school to learn how to do this. I could not even begin to do it justice in a solitary paragraph with the occasional run-on sentence.
Now that I have what is close to the final cut, I give my good friend Mike Garrison a call, and we record the Narration. This process is an absolute blast. Both Mike and I have a lot of fun with this part of the movie. Pretty much as soon as I’m off the phone with Garrison, I start plugging in his audio.
It’s at this point that I can sit back, and finally watch the end-to-end cut. Occasionally I make a few tweaks and call Mike up again for some pickups; but for the most part, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
After an average of 250 hours it’s time for the release. Because “Come Drive With Us” is a YouTube Series, the fan-fare around the releases are sorely lacking.
There’s no Red Carpet.
There’s no release party.
Screaming fans aren’t lined up.
There’s only a nerdy Star Wars super-freak posting links to said movie on various social media pages, sending out press releases to media outlets, responding to some of the comments, waiting to see how long the token 2 dislikes take this time and then moving onto the next episode.
…Nickelback bugs me more than just a little bit. I mean, since “The State” all their songs essentially sound exactly the same. That being said, they have one song that has has truly inspired me; it’s more the lyrics than the melody (Duh?)…and said lyrics to the song “If Today was Your Last Day” are absolutely beautiful. Here’s an excerpt:
Against the grain should be a way of life. What’s worth the prize is often worth the fight…
For a few years now this has been my professional motto; and it really helped in this crazy Month of May where I had 3 consecutive shoots for 5150 straddling a conference for my day-job (Which was awesome – I have the best Boss ever) and a trip to head office.
The Silver State Race
This event was the 3rd best event I’ve ever gone to. Period. In case anyone was wondering…first is the Messina words cause I’m patriotic and I consider the Tessmann’s to be friends. Plus Italians are nuts about racing and that post win Mob was absolutely amazing. Second place…AXIALFEST. I can’t explain why it’s awesomeness is so awesomely awesome, but it’s awesome! Silver State II, as I have dubbed it, has now joined “The Drach” elite!
When word got out that R/C Tracks of Las Vegas, premiere facility hosting the World Championships as well as many other Events was closing…I was gutted. One of the first things I thought was “What about the Silver State Race?” Enter Joey Christensen; famed Track builder and event Promoter to the rescue!
Joey had worked out a deal with the Southpoint Hotel & Casino to host Silver State indoors for the first time in that races history. Not only that, it was the first major indoor race on the west coast. The equestrian center made for the perfect venue; add to that the amenities that the casino had to offer and this was almost guaranteed to be a great race.
While there were a few things that could have been improved, like the Driver Stand (or lack of one), and the smoke coupled with an endless cloud of dust, this event went off smooth; without a single hitch actually. While there might have been a few “Driver Stand” shenanigans, there really wasn’t a lot of negative drama. After #WaldoGate this is exactly what the industry needed. A highly competitive race with an overwhelmingly positive vibe!
The track developed TONS of Character #bing and made for some absolutely intense racing. It started off with an epic Truggy final which saw Ty drive his XT8 harder than I’ve seen him drive a R/C vehicle ever. It was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen; it was almost as impressive as the rough track driving clinic that Jared Tebo put on. This was the perfect track for Jared and he won the Truggy event with what looked like relative ease. He wasn’t as fast as Ty, but he was nearly flawless over the course of the 45 minute Truggy Final.
Fortunately for Ty, he’s a quick study; he used the lessons learned in the Truggy main and applied what he saw Jared doing in the Truggy final. There was just one tiny obstacle…Ryan Maifield. Even though Maifield and Ty swapped the lead several times, Ryan led most of the race. Ty with much improved his consistency in the second half of the race pressured Ryan and took the lead for the final time on lap 68. Ryan would finish 2nd with Jared Tebo rounding out the Podium.
I’m absolutely stoked that I was there to capture the entire story of this inaugural indoor Silver State Race. Joey Christensen, you are the man! This was a Brilliant Event!!!
Look for “Come Drive With Us – Silver State II” to hit my YouTube Channel sometime in 2018 🙂
Service-Now Knowledge 18 Conference
When I tell some of my fans that I actually have a day-job outside of film production many of them are dumbfounded. But it’s true, I have an amazing job with an amazing company. I manage a software team for the Ledcor group of Companies. Between shoots, I attended the Knowledge 18 user group conference, it was awesome! The size of the conference blew me away; with over 18,000 attendees this was the biggest conference I’d ever gone to. My team learned a ton about this amazing platform and we’re excited about expanding our use of Service-Now.
JBRL Round #2 – Palm Desert RC Raceway
Immediately following Knowledge 18, I rented a C7 and zipped over to SoCal for another shoot.
JBRL is a series that runs 8 events in Southern California; and in so many ways, it’s exactly what the industry needs. To me it felt more like a club race that your typical SoCal event. The only pro drivers were my pal Adam Drake and Tekno RC’s Mason Eppley.
I’m trying something a bit different for “Come Drive With Us – JBRL“; the plan is to go to 3 JBRL races and edit them together into a single episode. I would liked to have made the season opener at Thunder Alley, but family responsibilities and an ailing father prevented it.; round 2 will be the firs of the three events I cover. Held at Palm Desert RC Raceway, this was the first JBRL I’d ever been to and it was also the first race I’d been to with such a low pro driver count. I expected this to make the event a bit more low-key. This was not the case. There were some very big personalities there!
The track was cool, the racing was exciting, but I didn’t really find a good story to tell yet. Looking forward to the next JBRL race; I believe it will be July 14th at Dialed In RC Raceway!
Pro-Line’s “By the Fire”
Yesssss! We’re slowing things down again….well on the rocks at least. Enterprise gave me a pretty dialed upgrade…now they call me KOWALSKI.#DidNOTMeasureTreadDepth #Hemi #SmokeShowX4 #24MPG
I absolutely love covering Rock-Crawling events. It’s one of the fastest growing segments in all of Radio Control; and with each manufacturers are showing off new innovations. This event had Pro-Line Release their new “Predator” compound as well as Hobbywing released their new “AXE” completely waterproof sensored brushless system specifically designed for Rock Crawling.
The location was amazing and the rocks made for some very challenging course that took over 4 hours to complete. Rock crawling was only a small part of this event though. Here’s a few things my Video will cover:
Show ‘n’ Shine
Comp Scale Crawl
Monster Truck Race
While this is a lot of content, the event was a bit too short to include it into the “Come Drive With Us” Series. This one will be a stand-alone video and we’re looking at releasing towards the beginning of July.
Now back to editing the 2017 Xiamen Worlds…it’s going to be something very very special.