Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Zorb King of the Island! - Written by Sam Jones

Lake Powell is a place where dreams come true and bone-crushing body blows happen. The natural surroundings it provides should be on anyone and everyone’s to go bucket list. When in Lake Powell there is a never-ending possibility to what could be next. As seen in many of Devin Supertramp’s videos.

Then the idea of King of the Hill with Zorb balls was presented. Exciting, right? That’s what I thought when I willingly said I would take part in this shoot.


There is one thing about Lake Powell that presents interesting challenges. For this shoot we would need to find a good-sized island that would provide easy accessibility and full 360 footage for the cameramen. This was a challenge; every spot we would find was either to big, to hard to climb up to or simply just not what we were looking for. Until, we found this gem of an island on the last day of our weeklong escapade, a couple miles from camp.

The excited crew nominated a few lucky friends to begin the king of the hill battle. As we got to the top with our zorb balls inflated an equipped. We had no plan except it was a free for all and that we had to pummel our friends into the watery depths below. The count down begins, three, two, one! We all charge planting our feet into the rocky surface hoping our leverage and force was better than our opponents. BOOM! Someone flies into the air and knocks the person across onto the ground. People scatter brained franticly get up trying to brace for another impact, but soon find they are to late and end up in the water.


I was apart of the Zorb Soccer video a couple years ago, and I quickly learned how much more forgiving grass is than sandstone. Zorb balls aren’t as protective when it came one on one with sandstone and all of it’s sediments breaking and cutting almost all of us that came in contact with it. Punctured zorbs, cut up feet and knees where the result of playing games here, but this was a battle that just seemed not to end. There was no end because we were all too competitive to even consider this a game. It was a full on exhausting battle against people I consider friends.  


After each round more injuries would surface, heavy breathing accompanied everyone as we struggled out of the water. Slipping on wet rock and falling back into the water was common. But as friends do we would help each other out with hopes of putting them back to where they belong, in the water!

Despite the injuries, this was a fun video! Being able to go back to playground with my friends is something I missed from childhood. But this provided a little reminiscent reminder that it’s never too late to be a kid.  So get outside play games and maybe hurt your friends in the name of childhood fun.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

JETPACK! Rocketeer in REAL LIFE!

When we first showed up to film this JetPack we had no idea what we were in for. We heard about it and watched a few YouTube clips about it but seeing it in person is a whole other experience. It is as loud as a jet airplane and super fast. We knew this was going to be huge because it's something that has never been done before. As far as filming a JetPack professionally. There are phone video's but this is the first professionally produced video of a JetPack and we are super proud of it. 

Our biggest dilemma was how do we shoot this and make it look cool because he was literally flying back and forth over the same lake over and over. So we knew we needed to bring out all the cameras to add as many different angles to the JetPack as possible. We brought the RED Weapon, the Phantom Miro, the DJI Phantom 4, the Inspire 1, Canon 5D Mark 4, and GoPro Hero 4's. We had two days to shoot this so we decided to make the first day our trial and error day (which is how we typically approach this kind of video) and use every camera then at the end of the day we would review our footage and decide we like best and do as much as that as possible on the second day. We found that obviously getting as close to David (the JetPack pilot) as possible while he's flying looked by far the best, but we were basically dealing with a Jet, which can be dangerous. So the best answer to that was using the drones. We would map out a course for David to fly so there was no way of him getting confused with us and crashing into the drone. We would then fly that course and David would get as close as possible to us without hitting the drone.

Inline image 2

Another dilemma we had to work around was the flight time and the amount of flights the JetPack could do in those two days. The JetPack can only fly about 4 minutes before it runs out of gas and then we had enough gas to give us about 15 total flights (7 to 8 per day). So we had to know exactly what shots we wanted for each flight so we could make the best of them. How we did that is we would tell David what we were shooting for each flight then we would tell him what we wanted him to do for that flight. 

For Example: I would have the boat drop me off on one of the islands with the RED and Glidecam then Carter would be on the Phantom. So I would tell David I want you to fly to the island, fly around it twice then fly to Carter and fly by him for his shot. We would then tell him to do something different each time he passed whether that was fly high or fly low, fly fast or fly slow. It was all mapped out before he went up so there was no confusion while he was in air.

Inline image 3

As far as the Intro for the video goes it is just a little different then most of our intros. Other than it was shot during golden hour. I didn't want camera moves to distract from how amazing this JetPack is. So my thought was I just want a static shot with the JetPack centered and then it just takes off without any camera moves. I wanted the JetPack to be everything it is visually and let that be the show. I think it turned out really cool and everything I was imagining and then just to top that shot off I added a subtle digital zoom as he is taking off. Which added a cool feel without taking anything from the JetPack taking off.

Inline image 4

Me and Carter are super proud of this video because like I said at the beginning we weren't sure how we were going to make this video cool when all he is doing is flying back and forth over the same lake for two days. Plus only having a total of 16 flights. We got every shot we wanted and even more. It was so much fun also working with the JetPack Aviation crew. They were so helpful and so willing to do whatever it took to help us make the best video possible. Super excited to see what the future holds for this thing as they make more and more advances. Maybe one day we will all have our very own JetPack that we can strap on and fly to work.

Check out the Main Video here:

Check out the Behind the Scenes Here:  

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: