How to export XML from Davinci Resolve 17 linked to original media (for After Effects / Premiere etc.) no plugins super easy.

So you want to export a simple XML or EDL from Davinci Resolve that links to the original source media to edit in another program like Premiere or After Effects with no plugins in 5 easy steps? Here is how you do it.

In Davinci Resolve, in the Edit tab, mark your in and out points.

Go to File > Export > Timeline… (THIS IS THE STEP NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW)

From the drop down screen that opens choose FCP7 XML

In After Effects right click in the project window and choose “Pro Import”
Select your XML
Footage is linked to the original source media. Enjoy.

How to make (easy) money from selling stock video.

After years of shooting video, just last year I got into putting stock video online to try to make some money and earn a passive income. 2020 was a dumpster fire of a year for work, so it seemed like a good time to go through the Terabytes of footage I just had lying around and see if this stock footage business pans out. It turns out it does.

a sample of what I upload to stock sites.

HOW TO START.

Obviously, you need to shoot something. I shoot video mostly so that’s what I focus on. I do a lot of travel films, so I have videos from all over the world, including a ton of Drone footage. What you shoot is up to you, but for me it was already footage I shot so the only work I had to do was comb through it and upload it to a stock service. If you are looking to shoot something, it would be wise to see what is selling on stock sites (which is as easy as putting in a search term and organizing it by “popular”) or you can just go off your gut and see what is in the news that day and focus on that.

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR FOOTAGE

For me I made a dedicated drive that I would put all my stock footage on. Then I organised it at the folder level to make it easier to batch. For instance I would do most of it by city, so make a folder for New York, Rome, San Francisco and so on.

Next I would open Premiere (or your editing software of choice) and bring in that cities footage. I throw it all in one timeline and get to chopping it down into managable shots. This is where the real work comes in and there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  1. Length of shots. Most stock places have length requirements. For the one I use it must be longer than 5 seconds, and less then 1 minute. Usually I aim for shots that are somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds long.
  2. Quality of shots. Most stock places will reject footage that is not perfect. That means no jerky movements, no out of focus or poorly lit shots. They have to be clean, smooth and beautiful.
  3. Subjects of footage. Obviously this will ultimately determine if your footage attracts a buyer. Try to be dynamic with your footage, interesting angles, or of a location or with people that are unique. Remember if you are shooting a location or people you will have to have release forms to submit the footage legally. No way around that.

Once I’ve got a series of clips, I will go through and do a color correct on them. Most stock places will tell you to make them look beautiful, vibrant and stand out. No one wants flat images to work with it would seem, they all want some sort of treatment on them. So this can go beyond color correct, and be more of a color grade. Give your footage a feeling and it will do better online.

HOW TO UPLOAD YOUR FOOTAGE

First, export all your clips independently. You can do this manually, or, you can get help from a plugin like EZ Clip or something similar. For me I batch everything and let it all export overnight into folders with the city names. This makes it easy to keep track of what I’ve uploaded already and what needs to go up. With stock, its a numbers game; the more pieces you put on line, the more potential you have at making money. So organization is key.

Once everything is exported I batch name everything with the city. I’m not sure this helps the bots find it, but cant hurt. At this point you can upload to a stock service like Shutterstock or Getty Images. I however take a shortcut and use BlackBox.

WHAT IS BLACKBOX

BlackBox, simply put, is an aggrigate that puts your stock on multiple stites for you. So instead of uploading to Getty, Shutterstock, Adobe and so on, you throw it on BlackBox and they put it on those other sites. They take a percentage of the amount if your stock gets sold, but to me it’s worth it to save me the time of uploading it 5 times to 5 different sites.

Another cool feature about BlackBox is that they have a community set up that can help you with any step of selling your stock footage. For instance they have people that will edit down your videos, color grade it, even upload and tag it for you. The way it works is that you hire these people through the site, they do the work, and IF the footage sells those that helped gets a percentage. You set the amount before the work is agreed upon. I personally have never used this feature but I think it’s pretty cool.

TAGGING AND NAMING YOUR FOOTAGE

On BlackBox you can batch process your clips which makes it easy if you upload a series of similar footage. This is why I group my shots by city, because the tags will all be similar. One thing I do do is make a unique title for each clip. BlackBox recommends this as it does help place your footage in front of more people. Once they are all tagged and named, you submit your footage and sit back. BlackBox will review it, make sure it’s up to snuff, and then place it online for you.

HOW MUCH DO YOU MAKE?

Well, I’m not going to say exactly but I will say it is definitely worth the effort. Considering everything I have is already shot, and was shot for some other purpose, the amount of work to go through footage and export and upload is not much, and making a passive income no matter how small is a no brainer. Instead of spending an hour on TikTok Ill go through a city and upload and be done for the day, and that is a good feeling.

Anyway, I hope this helps anyone looking to do something with all that footage on their drives, it’s a great way to make a little extra money without really doing much work at all. If you want to see the kind of footage that I’m putting online hop over to www.nycdroner.com and take a peek.

Rs

How I Thrived as a Filmmaker During a Pandemic (by making really bad films).

Pandemics, they’re the worst, amirite? We’re rounding nearly a year of a “new normal” and while hope is in sight, it’s still pretty far off. As a commercial director and filmmaker, this year has been particularly “interesting” for my career, but with a little innovation, some clever marketing, and a very open mind, I was able to make the best of it, and even, dare I say, thrive, even if not how I expected.

Flashback a year ago and I was just starting to hit a stride in my career. I had been in SHOOT magazines Top 30 New Director’s Showcase, had my first rep, and was directing broadcast spots for Nike, Google and Honda. Finally, I thought, years of hard work and dedication were starting to pay off.

Then someone ate a bat bisque and my life, like everyone’s, was put on hold.

A month in, when everyone stopped calling and all active projects were shelved indefinitely, I realized I had to make some creative moves. The first thing I did was put together a little documentary that I shot with a friend about these funky, rare cookbooks called Italy In Bocca. It was just a passion project, something I could shoot single handedly about a subject I hold dear to my heart (my stomach), and it just made me feel good to make something heartwarming when the world was falling apart; call it the filmmaker’s equivalent to baking bread. I built a simple little website for it, attached the World Foodbank to the project, worked with Atlas Obscura in promoting it, and started doing interviews with celeb chefs that now, like all of us, had time on their hands to talk to random strangers. The project raised some money, helped out some people in need, and ended up bringing in some welcomed attention that ultimately attached itself to some small projects. Little did I realize that this would be the beginning of a new way of filmmaking for me.

Starting with something you are passionate about can bring welcomed attention to new work.

It was clear that everyone was looking for new media, so I started reaching out to brands that I really liked, and creating content just on spec for them; mostly in trade for product or a very (very) small budget. Like most modern filmmakers, I am fortunate enough to be able to do a bit of everything even if not very well. From shooting, to editing, to even some light After Effects, these days it’s easier then ever to have full production capabilities in your living room. I tried being as creative as possible, working with whatever limitations the quarantine brought. For example, for Aegis, a data security company, my friend worked for, I was able to pitch the following idea, using a simple camera trick and remotely directing an actor on his phone, allowing me to safely turn one actor into five.

Shot on a cellphone with me on speakerphone you can easily turn one actor into five.

When I had a handful of these self produced projects completed I launched www.onemanonecamera.com, which was my answer to “contactless content creation”, a search term I saw skyrocketing in Google Analytics. Before long I was getting calls from all types of brands looking to do a wide range of work; from simple instructional videos, to fully budgeted spots. While my goal as a director naturally been to focus solely on bigger and more complex work, I now found myself happily playing all the roles in production, using every asset around me to its fullest, and getting to work with new brands every week.

Recently I just finished doing spots for Dosist, an elevated cannabis company, and Dennis Buys Cars, a crazy, used car salesman. Brand-wise they couldn’t be more different, but because I was able to offer a one person production team and hand-crafted concepts, they were equally eager to have content created for them. I don’t think I would have ever had the opportunity to work with either one of these brands before the pandemic; I don’t even know if they would have been on my radar. Now however I realize the best thing to come out of this whole shut-down has been how it’s opened up my eyes to new possibilities by just putting yourself out there, and sometimes trying to make the worst film possible ends up being your best option.

Good, fast, cheap; pick two doesn’t apply when you are trying to make a bad commercial on purpose.

I know a lot of filmmakers are going through strange times like everyone is. It can be depressing, unmotivating, and devastating economically, which is why I wanted to share my story, and offer three key concepts that not only got me through this time, but have let me further my filmmaking career during this crazy slump.

  1. Take Inventory

Taking inventory of what you have to offer is probably the best place to start if you want to see immediate results in creative productivity. For many of us, we were on some sort of path in our career, but when the pandemic hit, the road forward seemed to end abruptly. Taking inventory of what you have available is a way to cut a new path forward. What kind of gear do you have, or can have access to? It doesn’t have to be a RED or Alexa that you are used to shooting with on set, it could be your phone, a GoPro or even VHS. Anything becomes a tool when you use it as such. Do you have access to other professionals or actors now with time on their hands? How about locations? Your living room, a garage, a nearby park. Just taking inventory and making a list will spur creativity.

2. Take Initiative

The second most important thing to do is create. Anything. Use everything at your disposal to make something. For me (because I like to eat) I found it easy to make something about cooking. It was something I knew I could shoot, edit, and distribute without having to rely on anyone else. If there was something I needed to do, like build a website, now was a perfect time to watch some tutorials and put new knowledge into action. Making something you know you can complete with what you have available to you is key in connecting with new clients and more work.

3. Take Chances

One beautiful about the world is falling down all around you is the ease in which you can take big chances. Normally if you are on some career path, you want to make “smart” choices. Work with the “right” brands, do the “right” work, so that you can move forward in a specific direction. For me this was an extremely liberating time, offering the opportunity to take wild chances not just on new brands and clients, but creatively as well. For Ooni Pizza Ovens I did an entire multi-tiered campaign from my kitchen and backyard, cloning multiple versions of myself to create a full cast of characters even, despite being very shy of the camera. Gulp.

It’s been a crazy, crazy year without questions. For me, that resulted in getting crazy with the work. I’ve been told before that if you want people to take you seriously, you need to focus on one direction and master it. It would seem that during this time, the opposite would prove true. Open up your horizons, lend your unique perspective to brands and subjects that you normally wouldn’t have considered. I feel extremely lucky to have made it through this rough time creatively, and done some unique work that opened up new doors to me, and what’s more, connect me with new people, especially when the world is set on keeping us distanced from one another.

Rs

Roberto Serrini is a filmmaker and editor based in Los Angeles and NYC. His work can be seen at www.robertoserrini.com or his new contactless content creation production hub www.onemanonecamera.com

UPDATED! The BEST cheapest PC for Editing Video on Premiere Pro. Period. (under $ 2,000)

You want to know what is the best PC/Computer for editing video? Specifically on Premiere Pro? You want to know what CPU, GPU, how much memory, what kind of drives you need and so on to have the absolute best computer build for video editing out there?

Yeah. I did too.

I don’t know why it was so hard to find an answer, no one, not even Adobe, had information that clearly said “this. you need… this.”

Well, here it is. You need this:

Abstract: Build the cheapest computer possible that can handle any type of footage you throw at it.

Procedure: For two weeks I deep dived into every possible bit of information available to me. I read papers, built spreadsheets, talked to computer scientists and editors, crunched numbers, and at the end of it all I had come up with what was the perfect working combination of components that could easily handle 8k footage.

There are 1001 ways to put a computer together, and yes, there are faster components out there, but they are also much more expensive. This build, as of today, maximizes the potential of each component without breaking the bank.

Overall I wanted a computer that would primerally be for editing, with the ability to do compositing in After Effects, along with using the rest of the Adobe Suite. Since Premiere tends to be CPU heavy and After Effects GPU heavy, there had to be a perfect marraige between the two, and all fit in a nice case with fast drives to handle 8k footage, withenough RAM to run both programs without choking.

So here is the list of parts I used to build this super-edit-rig. I compiled it on PCPartPicker.com which is super helpful in figuring out compatibility. I ordered everything from NewEgg.com which is where I ordered from the last time I built a PC literally 22 years ago.

NOTE: I have no affiliation to any of these brands whatsoever. I am an editor. I’ve been on a Mac for decades, and after they ditched FCP I moved over to Premiere. I’m sick of how slow Mac’s are with Adobe Products, and since they work better with nVidia GPUs, I decided to build this PC. Enter at your own risk.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X 3.8 GHz 12-Core Processor
Asus TUF GAMING X570-PLUS (WI-FI) ATX AM4 Motherboard
G.Skill Ripjaws V 64 GB (2 x 32 GB) DDR4-3600 CL18 Memory
Corsair MP600 Force Series Gen4 2 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive
Corsair MP600 Force Series Gen4 500 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER 8 GB Video Card
Fractal Design Meshify C ATX Mid Tower Case
Corsair TXM Gold 550 W 80+ Gold Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro OEM 64-bit
Acer ET322QK wmiipx 31.5″ 3840×2160 60 Hz Monitor
Creative Labs GigaWorks T20 Series II 28 W 2.0 Channel Speakers
Logitech K120 Wired Standard Keyboard

So, why these parts? We’ll, simply, for the money, this is the fastest you’re going to get. That CPU will tear through 8k footage, and can be overclocked. The next chip up is an additional 300 bucks, and you only get an increase of 1.7% render speed. Not worth it.

Same thing with the GPU. The nVidia GeForce 2060 Super uses and advanced chipset that makes raytracing super quick. It also has a dedicated driver that tunes it for video editing, vs. playing games. With this GPU I can playback 4K footage in After Effects at 24fps without breaking a sweat. A Mac could never do that (unless you buy a 20k trashcan. Suck it Apple.)

RAM … you could get 128 gigs, but even with both programs compiling I top out at 40gigs. Same with power. 550 is more then enough, more then I need without hitting the ceiling.

One thing that was expensive was the 2TB M.2 SSD drive. You don’t have to get this. You could work off regular SSDs or even spinning drives. But … the transfer speeds are lightning fast and if there is one thing that slows down an edit is a bottleneck off your drive. You could have the fastest processor out there, if you cant get the frames off your HD then it wont matter.

Result: Bliss. For the most part. Frankly I was a bit surprised how easy it was to put together. I hadn’t done this in years and it hadn’t really changed at all. Except maybe now everything has a damn LED light on it. Other then that everything fell into place and started up without much of a whimper. One issue I did run into was installing Windows (go figure). It turned out that the WiFi on the MOB was tripping up the instillation. The solution was to turn off the WiFi in the BIOS then install windows. Once installed I could install the drivers from the disk that came with the MOB (yes, I had to buy a 20 dollar USB optical drive, how archaic)

ONE WEEK LATER … I have not thrown the PC out the window and am very happy with the build. It’s doing exactly what it was meant to do; chew through footage. Working on a PC in Windows after 20 years of having the CTRL key at thumbs reach is a real pain in the ass, but, it’s good to learn a new habit for mental plasticity, or at least that’s what I tell myself every-time I hit the dam Window’s key. Premiere did have some interesting hiccups, like export errors with h264 which was alarming, but after a restart or two it seems to be stable. I will say this … Mac’s are very special. They are the Mercedes of PC’s. You turn them on and go. A Window’s machine can be like a hot rod. You need to take care of it, constantly adjust it, tune it up. It’s much more labor intensive that way, but, for the money, it will blow any Mac out of the water, and that’s what counts.

To give you an idea, I just cut a spot with 8K RED footage, some 4K Sony footage, GoPro, and 360 Video all mixed together. The 30 second spot which was full of Lumetri color, AE composites, repo’s and effects took 1 minute 3 seconds to render out to H264 4k.

On the 2017 iMac it took 17 minutes.

Just saying.

Rs
www.robertoserrini.com

UPDATE 1/28/21

Well it’s been a couple of months, plenty of time to learn to love or hate this new rig, and wanted to give an update to those who were asking.

Overall I couldn’t be happier with the computer. I ended up ditching the second monitor because I found that it would trip up Premiere from time to time, not sure why, but thinking it was because one was D-Link and the other HDMI. Regardless I dont miss it as this monitor is a beast.

I did just throw in another 64gb of RAM which was an option I planned for in the future. To be fair, I dont really need it, but I took on a music video for Chris Sullivan’s band Joseph the Spouse that I was doing an insane amount of mograph for, and AE was using all my memory. This isn’t a typical job, so I still stand by the original build, I just felt like flexing with 128gb total ram and not having to worry about AE ever.

Windows sucks. Sorry, it does. It’s not that I’ve used Mac OS for 10 years, it just sucks. The fact that you cant see the size of the programs in the explorer window is insane to me. It’s stupid little functionality that really trips me up. Also the fact that the CTRL and ALT keys are reversed makes everything in Premiere a two hand operation. I know there are keymappers and such, and I’ve tried them, but they ended up causing more grief then grace. It’s hot garbage and that’s all there is too it.

I have now overclocked my machine to 4.4 mhz without breaking a sweat. It can go faster but this is a big improvement while maintaining stability. I cant say enough about this chip, and the bios has been great.

One thing I’ve been very very very conscious of is using this machine solely as an workbox. I still have my trusty iMac next to her and use it for all the daily office stuff like emails, youtube and watching porn. The PC is strictly a workhorse, and the reason is I have a feeling that if I start using it for all sorts of extra credit activity it will be prone to slow downs and malware. I don’t use any antivirus software on it (I know, raw dog) but I also abstinent from doing anything other then working on it.

So, I hope this helped anyone interested in an editing computer, I can say with complete confidence that it’s been working like a dream for very little investment … to give you an idea I launched www.onemanonecamera.com after building this machine that most of the work was done on, it has paid for itself many times over already.

Thanks For an Epic Year!

It’s that time again for a classic Year End Review … amazing how you can fit 365 days in 3 minutes;)

You can watch it on YouTube, or on Vimeo, or on my website (just scroll down).

Thanks to everyone who made this year one of the best yet. I’m so blessed to have done so much with so many magnificent people.

2019insta
2019insta

Looking forward to making more magic with you this year!

Rs

 

 

3am Tattoo in Shanghai.

So, China is in the news oh so much lately, with the Wuhan Coronavirus flu pandemic and what not, so I thought it be nice to share another needle based story that ends a bit happier.

A couple of years ago I found myself in Shanghai, one of my favorite cities on a shoot, and after we wrapped I found myself out with some of the crew enjoying the finer delights this jewel of a city provides. As a bit of a running joke while finishing what should have been the last drink of the night around 3am I said “let’s get tattoos!” to which our local producer quickly said “Sure! I know a place. Above a bar!”

Intrigued isn’t really the word … as a die hard traveller I was obligated to check this place out, warmly named “Tattoo Family“. So very glad I did, as I not only found a tattoo parlor, literally above a bar (as in above the actual bar, not in a studio on an upper floor) but also to a “drink” I’m not sure I will need to try again.

I have had snake whiskey in Cambodia, and fermented goat blood in Turkey, but this, which I’m not really sure has a name, was the daddy of them all. Basically grain alcohol preserving a snake, a starfish, perhaps a plumb, and a bag of ants. Not sure why these animals were chosen, perhaps for their beautiful floral notes, but it was rough, and probably both gave and cured me of all sorts of ailments.

In any-case, I was very primed for the main event, so, with a moderate bit of discussion, and a quick jump onto Chinese Photoshop (used so often I remember where the tools are in the menu system) I was ready to have a dark cloaked wide brimmed chapeau’d man throw some ink in me.

All in all one of my favorite nights out with some of my dearest friends, now bonded in time with this shared moment, as permanent to the heart as ink in the skin. While deciding to get a tattoo sauced can lead to some regrettable decisions, this is one of my favorites by far, and have to say the line work is delicate and precise, which, for 3am anywhere, is a grand feat. Bravo.

Rs

PS. If you are wondering what the script is below, it’s Da Vinci’s “Once tasted flight, forever your eyes skyward.” Backwards, of course;)

20 ’20s phrases we should use in the ’20s

It’s the roaring 20’s and I’m all for it … so here’s 20 phrases from the 1920’s I’m looking forward to bringing back in style in 2020… so here is what I did over the weekend:

I took a jorum of skee before ankling to my hayburner cause Im no wurp, and headed to the sockdollager totes zozzled. I peeped this bearcat rocking a handcuff and being a cake-eater ankled over to her and demanded a gasper in hopes of getting some cash. She turned out to be a real bluenose cancelled stamp who thought me a dewdropper when really Im quite an egg and oliver twist. Getting the icy mit I jumped ship to the petting pantry grabbing a sinker so I didn’t pull a daniel boone on the way. What a night!

1. Ankle: to walk

2. Sockdollager: an event or action of great importance

3. Bearcat: a lively, spirited woman, possibly with a fiery streak

4. Bluenose: term for a prude or individual deemed to be a killjoy

5.. Cancelled stamp: a shy, lonely female, the type one would describe as a “wallflower”

6. Cash: a smooch

7. Cake-eater: in the 1920’s refers to a “ladies’ man”; later, slang for homosexual

8. Dewdropper: like lollygagger, a slacker who sits around all day and does nothing, often unemployed

9. Egg: a person who leads an absurdly wealthy, extravagant lifestyle (see: Gatsby’s “West Egg”)

10. Gasper: cigarette, “fag” (also of the 1920s)

11. Handcuff: engagement ring

12. Hayburner: a car with poor gas-mileage, a guzzler

13. Icy mitt: rejection from the object of one’s affection, as in: “He got the icy mitt.”

14. Sinker: a doughnut

15. Jorum of skee: a swig of alcohol, particularly hard liquor

16. Oliver Twist: an extremely good dancer.

17. Petting pantry: a cinema or movie theatre

18. Pull a Daniel Boone: to upchuck

19. Wurp: wet blanket or person seen as a buzzkill (see: Debbie Downer)

20. Zozzled: shitfaced

52. Sockdollager: an event or action of great importance

How to Travel like a Travel Writer (and not kill what you love).

The world is being destroyed by tourism and I am the cause. There are currently 1.4 billion tourists out there and that number is only growing at an alarming rate. The world is addicted to travelling and I am one of the many pushers out there on the streets giving them their fix.

I have been travelling seriously since I was 15. An only son of two Airline parents I would hop a companion pass and take off with a few dollars in my pocket. Back then there was no internet, not smartphones, and the only information you had about a destination was what you brought in with you, usually in the form of a bent and beaten Globe Trekker guide that had 4 year old outdated information in it. It was an adventure to survive a city with every street a new possibility to have your mind blown. Not knowing what to expect was the greatest gift to travel.

arctic wide
Not sure what I’m laughing about here … I’m lost in the Arctic Circle and near death.

I have watched the world, travel, and tourists change drastically over the last 20 years slowly building an acute awareness that we are destroying something that is not only a multi-billion dollar industry, but a true pure passion for most. Travel used to mean going someplace new, and more importantly, unknown. It meant discovery. It meant frequent bad meals, and quasi-dangerous hostels between getting lost, and very lost in places that simply had no use for another random person. However that environment yielded something that most travelers never even experience these days; discovery.

serrini_cambodia-101

Cambodian children seeing a drone fly for the first time.

For most travelers they have already taken the trip before leaving their laptop or cellphone. They have had a full blown case of FOMO from seeing it on instagram, they know what the best restaurants are and even what the food tastes like, they know all the cool spots, secret menu items, and wifi passwords before stepping out the door. At best they will be walking through a memory yet had, expecting everything, being let down often, and seldomly being surprised. They will fake excitement to everyone not watching them eat something online, and they will return unfortunately with all the satisfaction of finishing a series on Netflix. Paint by numbers travel is the status quo, and I have been doling out these colors for years. No more.

RS_Camaiore
Only getting lost let’s you find Il Matterello and the best tordelli you’ll ever eat.

I have extreme regret for what I did to destroy the world. Worse then what bankers did to our trust in economics, because I killed something living and breathing. There are so many voices out there forcing people to do this, see those, and eat that that we just seem to be running in circles of each other. Dreaded “top 10” lists are unnaturally formed, since most travellers only consider the most rated items on sites like Expedia, Kayak and Trip Advisor, which I have contributed nearly 1,000 reviews. I am the Baba Yaga of travel, and need to repent.

RS_Peru
Insert mandatory shot of Machu Picchu here.

Last year I experienced something that shook me to my core, how much I disliked Reykjavik, or rather, how much Reykjavik disliked me. A friend and I had won a contest to make travel films for the famed WOW airlines (which we single handedly took down) and part of the “prize” to work for them was living in Reykjavik for a few months. The experience was unlike any other, in so much as I have never felt more unwelcome in my life.

RS_wow_s
In the lobby of WOW HQ. Still not sure if this was meant to be ironic.

 

 

 

“We are drowning in tourists,” Guðmundur, one of the only locals that actually befriended me during my time there, passionately tells me over an 18 USD crap draft beer. “We can’t eat, we can’t drink, we can’t walk down the street. We are infested with tourists. And I hate you.” Harsh, perhaps a bit intoxicated words, but true nevertheless. Iceland opens its doors to over 2 million overnight visitors each year, which is 6 times the countries population if you can believe it. “The tourists are like locust. That are loud, and fat and only go to see the stupid waterfall or sit in a man made pool to take pictures.” Guðmundur clearly has had enough but his point is made. Iceland’s greatest export is tourism at over 40% of their GDP coming from travel. With the end of WOW air, the country faced yet another collapse in their economy, one that travel tried to save. It is wholly unsustainable however, and more gravely, destroys the exact thing people are coming there for, the culture. 

barcelona_web_B_R_201806011.jpg
See?! Culture!

Beer is 18 dollars a glass. A $5 foot long Subway sandwich is 25 dollars. Renting a car requires a down payment of 300k dollars. That last one isn’t true, but that’s the feeling you get. When I tell you it is easier to rent an apartment in NYC then go out to eat in Reykjavik I’m not kidding.

Worse of all the people don’t want us. They don’t like us. We make everything expensive for them, we crowd the streets, and we are consuming disposable culture. “We are only interested in the 5 year friend, not the 5 minute friend.” Guðmundur tells me is the reason why no one even wants to talk to me at a bar. They know I’m just passing through. 

13857
Making many new mates in Mindanao

In all my years of travel I have never felt so disgusting in all my life. Despite always trying to be a model tourist, there was no salvation here. It was a wake up call, that my love in life was threatening to implode on itself, and there is no way of stopping it.

There is, however, a way to avoid it. 

There is a way to bring back the discovery, a way to bring back that original, irreplaceable feeling of wonder that I have been trying to maintain for 20 years. It takes a little work, and definitely courage, but it for the most part will ease the pain of an over-touristed planet. People are going to be irresponsible. They are going to take the easy road and top-10 themselves to death never to know the true beauty of being a professional traveler. We can only lead by example, so here are my 5 commandments to being a good traveller.

1. Be nice.

I start with this as it is the most important tool in your arsenal. Niceness will always get you the most out of any situation, period. Flight oversold and you’re stuck? Don’t yell at the poor human that is in front of you. Be nice. They’ll help you out if they can, or they won’t, but yelling is never going to make the odds of that any better. Someone purposefully trying to be a dick to you because they don’t like your accent/shoes/man-bun? Be nice, because it’s an opportunity to open their world to a new perspective, or at the very least you’re less likely to get shived if that was their plan. Just be nice. In general everyone around the world will open up to you if you show genuine interest in who they are and their culture, and if you’re nice about it, they’ll want to share. Don’t be afraid, be nice.

2. Be different.

I love Instagram. I love Trip Advisor. I love AirBnB. They tell me exactly the places to avoid writing about at all cost. If a country, a city or an experience is part of a top 10 then there is no reason for me to write about it. It’s had its moment in the sun, and I guarantee you there is better amatriciana, a better little museum, or a better secret bar just waiting to be discovered, mainly, because it will be yours, and the people there will be so happy to see you. SPREAD TRAVEL AROUND. That is your job as a travel journalist, to find NEW experiences for people to have, not to regurgitate well tread garbage. Sure some things need to be seen like Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia or Machu Picchu, but don’t leave out Amsterdam’s Cat Museum or a visit to the oldest lightbulb in the world. 

3. Be honest.

No one fails at vacationing. Or do they? I think failing is one of the most important parts of travel, yet, you would be hard pressed to find some of the most popular instagram accounts with anything less then impossibly perfect travel shots. This is garbage. Travel is hard. Bags are heavy. Communication can be difficult. Jet lag is real. Be honest. Be honest with your travel, and you will get so much more out of the experience of sharing it. If everything is so damn fabulous then how do you know it’s actually fabulous? Share bad experiences, and more, just be real with your audience about what is happening. Do they really have to eat this donut? Will it really blow their minds? I hundreds of reviews on Trip advisor, you know how many I’ve given 5 stars to? only 3. It’s no secret people find bad reviews more telling then good reviews. 

4. Be ready.

If you like to make things to make things while you travel like me, you know that having the right gear is key. Too much and you’ll weigh yourself down, too little and you’ll be cursing yourself for not bringing “that lens”.  Be ready. While technology changes constantly, I have a pretty solid set of tools I like to bring with me on any job. Here’s a quick little film I put together before my last trip:

And here is a rundown of the gear. Mind you I’m not sponsored by any of these brands. This is just my honest opinion from my experience as a traveller.

Sony A7rIII – light, fast, proxies on the fly, dual slot, sees in the dark.
24-105 Sony lens – great zoom lens, one lens to rule them all.
Zeiss CP 50mm macro – for the fancy stuff. great for portrait and food.
Sony A6300 – small B cam – great for incognito, also underwater.
CCTV lens – slap this on the the A6300 and you get some rad art shots
Lowepro camera bag – the greatest low-fi, heavy duty camera bag out there.
Travelpro Carry On Bag – low profile, indestructible, cheap and good.
Mavic Pro Drone – I’ve shot over 30 films around the world with this little guy.
Rode VideoMicro – super compact on camera mic
Sony URX Wireless Mics (lav) – expensive, but necessary for good interview audio.
BEATS wireless headphones – don’t know how to fly without them.
Holdfast Buffalo camera straps – hipster lingerie for photogs.
Bungee Strap – this 3 dollar hack that will save your back and give you smooth pans.
iM Corona Old Boy Lighter – the ability to start a fire is what separates humans for beasts.
Manfrotto 930 tripod – light, easy, small, nuff said
BANDANAS!!! – see the film. they have 1000 uses.
Eceen bag – great portable bag that’s good for day trips
Global Entry – a must if you don’t want to spend half a day at customs
Alka Seltzer – a must if you want to not worry about what you’re eating.
Moleskine Notebook – portable, never fails, and batteries never run out.
Belkin USB Powerstrip – you got gear, you gotta charge it, you need this.
TSA locks – probably useless but good piece of mind.

5. Be lost.

Perhaps the most important tip is to get lost. Getting lost is the only way to really discover anything about a place, and about yourself. If you research everything before you go, your experience will be predetermined. It is what is plaguing the world right now, channeling millions of people to the same city to eat the same meal in the same restaurant. How very boring, and dangerous, to the travel industry. Instead, be lost. Put the phone away, turn off the internet, forget the top 10 places and explore. Try talking with people that live in the city. If you are going to use social media, then reach out to locals for their advice. That’s what we did when we made films for WOW airlines  and while TripAdvisor, Travel & Leisure and Culture Trip are great resources, we wanted what locals knew best about their city in hopes to give intrepid travellers a more authentic experience. If you are running into other tourists at places on trips, you may want to rethink your strategy.

solo signs italy
Stay lost my friends.

They are simple guidelines I like to follow that hopefully will not contribute to the pandemic travel malarkey that is shrouding our world. I have always believed that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness” but unfortunately it’s becoming less effective. Hopefully this is a growing pain of a world getting smaller, and people will become more savvy looking for real experiences other then just virtual instagram moments.  Finally, because I love “top 5” lists, I’ll answer the top 5 questions I get.

Q: Do you ever have any trouble with the TSA with all that gear?

A: Depends. There is no rhyme or reason when they will stop and search a bag of mine, despite literally packing it the same way for a decade. I do have TSA pre and Global Entry which helps a ton, but overall rule number one of “Be Nice” seems to be the only real salvation in a TSA situation.

Q: What phone carrier do you use? Is it not really expensive traveling as much as you do?

A: Google Fi on a Google Pixel. Before Google Fi I had AT&T for my iPhone, and yeah, it sucked. I did buy a cheap Samsung that I could pop a local SIM card in, but that was a pain too. Google Fi changed all that as I can literally go anywhere in the world and my phone works for the same data rate. It’s a game changer.

Q: Do you need a permit to fly a drone in all those countries?

A: Yes. You do. Legally. Drones are amazing tools that really take travel filmmaking to a new level. The key with them, as with anything, is be professional. I am FAA and IAA certified and licensed. I never fly in dangerous areas and don’t break laws. More importantly I don’t ever fly if I’m going to annoy someone or ruin their experience. Drones are loud, and people don’t like them, so be invisible, be quick, and be safe. 

Q: Are there any specific clothing brands you like?

A: Socks I like Stance. PrAna also makes great travel gear that looks swank, great jeans and pants and shirts that don’t wrinkle. Buck Mason makes great lightweight clothes that look good dressed up or down. Duluth makes great tactical underwear. Yes tactical underwear.

Q: Do you know any travel hacks?

A: Hmm… well one thing I do is always keep an old hotel key with me in my go bag. Reason being is that most modern hotels these days require you put a key in to get the outlets to work, and if you’re charging batteries, then you best leave a key in while you’re out. 

What is BlackBox and how do I get rich from selling Stock Footage.

So it occurred to me today as I cursed at the heavens after stubbing my toe on a stack of G-Tech drives that I have literally a crippling amount of footage lying around. As a travel content creator who has produced hundreds of videos around the world I have a robust collection of media to say the lease. It was there in the searing pain as my toe turned blue that I had a moment of clarity and thought to myself, yes, stock footage is the answer.

HOW CAN YOU SELL STOCK FOOTAGE

Frankly I never have given stock footage much thought which is odd considering how much I use stock on jobs creating mood films and pitch decks. I could be sitting on a gold mine (or perhaps a coal mine) of footage. Then came the glaring questions; how does one sell stock footage?

HOW DOES BLACKBOX WORK

There are a ton of sites I know, Getty, Shutterstock, Pond5, Adobe Stock etc … but man it seems like a lot of trouble to upload to each site. That’s exactly what BlackBox does. You upload your clips there, and they distribute it to the other stock agencies. That’s pretty simple. They take a 15% cut on each sale for doing that work for you and you keep ownership of your footage.

They also have a big community of users that can help do the crap work of setting up all your stock footage. Let’s say you have a ton of raw footage but don’t want to edit it down… you can upload it and basically hire someone to do the cutdown, the color, even the metadata and keywording for you. Everyone works off a percentage of the sales, so you are splitting the profit with those that helped get it online. If you want to do all that work yourself and keep as much revenue as possible, then that’s not problem either. That’s what I’ve done because I’m a masochist that likes to render out hundreds of files.

WHAT’S THE PROCESS LIKE

The process is long and formulaic, but sometimes I really like work like that. Loading up all my drone footage from one trip, breaking it out into locations, then cutting it up into clips between 8 – 60 seconds. Grading, then exporting each clip into a folder. Then batch uploading via FTP to BlackBox, batch tagging them, and that’s it. The computer and internet does most of the heavy lifting, and once it’s done, it’s done.

PROS

  1. One stop shopping. Uploads your clips to multiple stock sites for maximized revenue with little work.
  2. A community that will assist with the more tedious aspects of stock creation giving you more time to watch Frasier.
  3. Free to sign up, pretty easy interface to upload and you get paid directly to PayPal.

CONS

  1. They take an additional 15% of sales from you, and if you collaborate with others then you will see even less of a return.
  2. Footage has to be “submitted and reviewed” and it takes anywhere between 3 days and a few weeks to have that done. It also may be rejected.
  3. May see bigger returns uploading to individual sites, but then again, it would take 4 times as long to do so and you’re making zero bucks using them as a footstool.

THREE TIPS I’VE ALREADY LEARNED

  • You need a lot of footage. It’s a numbers game and more is better. It also has to be quality footage because no one is going to pay for garbage. From one drone flight I can usually get out 20-30 unique clips to upload. I have about 30 flights from different cities around the world, so we’re talking about 1k clips more or less, which is a good number to have. Generally you’re going to want to start with at least 100 clips to see any activity at all from what I’ve read.
  • Sequences are good to have. In my case I have drone and camera footage that matches. As an editor I’m always looking for multiple clips of the same subject to create stories. Selling them as a “series” helps make them valuable.
  • It is time consuming and patient work. Lots of cutting, lots of exporting, lots of tagging. Pour a long drink and sit down to knock the work out. Be very organized so if something doesn’t upload or you need to make a correction you can easily do so.

CONCLUSION

Im looking forward to see what comes out of this. More than anything I’m just happy that all this footage has the chance to live out in the world somewhere, as part of some new project. That and the millions of dollars I’m going to make from droning sunsets. All in all I just started yesterday, so I will be updating this post as I go. Stay tuned and happy shooting!

Sept 26th, 2019

Anthony Bourdain, a piece of cake, and a tattoo in Berlin. A modern fable.

I’ve been traveling seriously since I was 15, the son of two airline workers, way back when companion passes actually meant something. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to visit every continent and many cities, and on occasion, when the trip is beyond special, I tend to get some ink put in me locally, so I can see where I’ve been in the mirror. This was one of those times.

My best friend Brad Stuart and I had just won a contest with the (now) infamous WOW Air; they were sending us around the world for 2 months to make travel films for them, many of them you are watching now. We were literally living our dream, becoming our own personal Anthony Bourdain’s, who we tried to model our lives after. Then, all of the sudden, our guru of travel took his own life, right in the middle of our trip, and sent us in a strange, dark spiral.

Nothing seemed to make sense those days following his death. We simply couldn’t understand how someone we looked up to, who we thought lived the life perfected, was so tormented that he would end his own life. It really, truly destroyed us, and making daily videos about how great travel is seemed to take on a strange burden and sour tone.

Then, as if in a dream, I remembered the one time I met my idol at a mixer in NYC. It was in a restaurant downtown, I was invited through a chef friend of mine, and honestly didn’t even know Bourdain was going to be there. I was at a window with a beautiful piece of cake, plated perfectly, that seemed to glow in the street light through the window. I placed it on the bank, and took out my phone, and started to take pictures of it, trying to capture how very perfect it was, feeling the need to share it immediately on social media. I must have been doing it for a pretty long time, because I felt this wall of a human standing next to me just staring. It was Anthony Bourdain, holding a similar piece of half eaten cake, staring at me. Half smiling, half disgusted, in a way he could only pull off, he opened his mouth.

“Hey.” he said in a velvet tone, “just eat the cake.” and walked away. 

I laughed at myself. Just eat the cake. Here I was so absorbed in this pastry I didn’t even realize my idol was in the room a foot away from me. I was so absorbed by this ridiculous pastry that I forgot to be in the moment. Just eat the cake. It struck me like lighting and immediately reminded me to enjoy life, to not overthink it, to just, well, eat the damn cake.

I stopped being perplexed by Bourdain’s suicide and decided to take his advice and just eat the cake.

It was in Berlin that I reached out to Michelle Nicole who was doing a residency at a cool little ink parlor in the ReuterKiez called Toe Loop. I had seen her work on Insta and felt an immediate connection. I explained what I was after and she made time for me. There, in the back of the parlor, I laid down and let her throw ink into my right bicep, a pretty little slice of cake, that now always catches my eye when my arm swings down the street. A happy little reminder to not overthink the world, to not put too much importance in what you find sacred, and to always just enjoy the moment because at the end of the day it’s just cake. Just fucking eat it.

Thanks Anthony, thanks Michelle, thanks buddy Brad, and thanks for reading.