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 Mid-way through lift-off the drone cam captures the new Performing Arts Center in Potsdam along with- oops bottom right- the crew!  

Mid-way through lift-off the drone cam captures the new Performing Arts Center in Potsdam along with- oops bottom right- the crew!  

But on this beautiful afternoon in October everything fell into place.  I'd never worked with a drone before, there were a lot of moving parts, most of Potsdam's Crane Chorus, the Team NV dance troupe, and the sun was beginning to set and holy crap, a drone makes a lot of noise.  Looking at it now I sort of can't believe we were able to pull it off.  I thank Mindy at Potsdam's Public Affairs for having faith.  The folks at Railroad Productions did a great job manipulating the drone, and Jerod Sommerfeldt captured live sound so that I didn't have to worry about that either.

One surprise was how LOUD the drone is.  I had no idea.  We planned to capture sound - Team NV chanting as they dance "Potsdam," Crane Chorus echoing "Potsdam...."  But the only thing you could hear during rehearsals were the spinning blades of the drone.  So we got the take we needed - for picture- then, as the sun went down captured sound.  I was pretty amazed at how well we were able to fake sync.  What you see and hear were recorded about 20 minutes apart.  Thank you magic of filmmaking!  I'm such a goofball I had the rhythm way off while recording the sound- Jerod - and some members of the Chorus had to correct me... 

 Team NV was so great to work with.  They are a student group but are truly professionals.  Crane Chorus as well, under Dr. Francom, receptive, focused, determined to get it right.  That's yours truly center frame pretending not to worry about losing the sun in three minutes.

Team NV was so great to work with.  They are a student group but are truly professionals.  Crane Chorus as well, under Dr. Francom, receptive, focused, determined to get it right.  That's yours truly center frame pretending not to worry about losing the sun in three minutes.

 Corey Williams, of Railroad Productions, on left, manipulates the drone, Jerod Sommerfeldt, crouching, center, capturing sound.  And Molly, I think, taking this pic.

Corey Williams, of Railroad Productions, on left, manipulates the drone, Jerod Sommerfeldt, crouching, center, capturing sound.  And Molly, I think, taking this pic.

I pitched the idea in response to a request by Mindy Thompson of Potsdam's Public Affairs Dept., every year SUNY Central creates a video compilation featuring footage from each campus.  Mindy wanted to show off the PAC, I wanted to show - in a small way at least- the traditional married with the contemporary.  Potsdam is a lot of things to a lot of people.  One thing it is to me is expressed in this piece.  Mutual respect between these disciplines.  That's important.  The Chorus is a celebrated part of the Potsdam legacy.  Team NV is a viable and energetic dance group, relatively new, but still established as an artistic format for students here.  It's entirely possible for a student to be a member of both.  I teach an Audio Production course and three of my students are members of Team NV.    

As mentioned above, it's rare, for me anyway... that everything comes together this way.  I often shoot interviews, gather B-roll, run sound, create a soundtrack even, all by myself.  I don't have a clear pre-conceived notion of what I'll end up with.  Running on faith + experience I'm able- I hope - to be true to a project's mission and reflect the ideas accurately as told to me by my subjects.  So this one was a little different, we had a crew!  and it started with discussion and storyboards, ended up with a shoot day and the sun fading fast.  We had a little trouble coordinating the movement of the drone with the movements of the dancers and the chorus, but after a few takes we had it.  

They're getting a lot of views, a lot of shares.  I hope it cultivates and perpetuates the positive energy we put out there while making it.  I certainly had a blast.  I'm eager to do it again.  Well, maybe not THIS... or maybe this... in the snow!

 Storyboard 1

Storyboard 1

 Storyboard 2 

Storyboard 2 

My original idea had us procuring a golf cart in order to move the camera on a horizontal plane before takeoff, Corey and Molly assured me that this wouldn't be necessary- the drone was willing and able to make these moves...

 Storyboard 3

Storyboard 3

 I do make music but rarely do I need to communicate in THIS way.  Glad that Dr. Francom resisted making fun of my chicken scratch hack notation.

I do make music but rarely do I need to communicate in THIS way.  Glad that Dr. Francom resisted making fun of my chicken scratch hack notation.

 There's nothing wrong with orchestrating a little campus unity.  Sometimes all we need is a common cause.

There's nothing wrong with orchestrating a little campus unity.  Sometimes all we need is a common cause.