Since everybody is all pumped up and excited about the Glass Blown Open this week, I thought I’d let loose another media interview. Bringing you another round with, by most estimates, the most popular disc golf motion picture group on the planet, Ian and Ben of Central Coast Disc Golf. Like the other interviews in this series, I’ve attempted to get a little more detail on their history and the unseen aspects in the life of filming our beloved sport.
It may seem a little truncated compared to the length of the last one that CCDG did, but I’m sure the other members of CCDG have a life outside filming disc golf and just didn’t have the time to participate in this one. That’s perfectly OK, as I’ve been dealing with some crazy family life, crazy work problems, and just stuff other than disc golf myself. It’s been so wacky that I haven’t been able to spend as much time on the course or throwing stuff as I did last year around this time.
However, all that TMI takes backseat to the following. Enjoy!
Thanks for doing another interview with me. CCDG has a large following, and many hold your videos as the standard for disc golf videos on Youtube. What you do today for the sport is appreciated by myself and many others.
Ian – Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for having us back on!
Ben – Thanks!
I pulled up the CCDG Youtube channel and looked at the oldest videos there. The first tournament footage was from the Santa Maria Open in 2011. Who filmed that tournament and what did you use to film it with? That may be mostly for Ian, so read on!
That was filmed by me (Ian). I used my wife’s Canon Rebel (a digital camera).
Looking back on those early CCDG videos, were you as pumped about the videos as you are today? Did you have zoom limitations or any other issues that you think prevented the video from being any better? Mind you, the videos aren’t bad, but when you zoom in, there is some pixelation in the older videos.
Ian – Definitely more pumped on what we’re putting out today. Definitely had zoom limitations on that Santa Maria vid. That camera had maybe a 3x optical zoom? After that it was all digital zoom, which is garbage.
What was the first tournament that each member of the CCDG crew filmed? What camera was used and do you still have it?
Ian – Santa Maria Open
Alex Olguin – 2014 Worlds – Panasonic 900 series
Peter Mares – Something at La Mirada – Canon DSLR
Cory Murrell – SF Safari – Panasonic 900 series
Derek Kurtti – Wintertime Open – Panasonic 700 Series
Ben Baker – The first tournament I filmed was the 2010 Faultline Classic in Santa Cruz, and I used a camera loaned to me by the public access TV station I was working for at the time. (The video was made for that channel and can still be seen on their YouTube account.) Don’t remember the model, but it was a Panasonic with a built-in shoulder mount.
The first tournament I filmed for CCDG was Master’s Cup in either 2013 or ’14… Not sure what camera I used at that time.
Matt Mangini – Swards Ranch – Panasonic 900 series
Stu Dunn – Tx States – Some kind of camcorder
How many tournaments did you film before you felt comfortable filming a tournament? Did you have any negative player interaction early in your filming experience? Who was the first player you were giddy about filming in one of those first few filming gigs?
Ian – Probably 5 or so? The very first one I was super embarrassed to be filming. I was hanging super far back on the teepad getting terrible angles. I was super stoked to be filming Will Schusterick and Eric McCabe. Watching Will throw 550 ft hyzers was mind blowing. I decided then and there I’d never be that good, so I might as well just try to get better at making videos.
Ben – The answer to the first question could probably be always or never… I always feel like I should be there, knowing that lots of people will enjoy the video and that it will benefit the players, their sponsors, the tournament directors, and many others. But I’m not the over-confident type… I hope I’m always able to acknowledge that there is room for improvement.
As far as negative player interaction, not really over-the-top negative. I’ve had players be standoffish, rude, act like prima donnas, but… player interactions have been really good for the most part.
I wouldn’t say giddy… but I was definitely excited to film Gregg Barsby at the first tournament I filmed. I had watched him win Master’s Cup the year before, and was (and still am) a big fan.
Jumping forward in time, what was the first really good camera that you used to film a tournament with? What about that camera had you anticipating how much better the video would be?
Ian – I don’t know if I’d count my 2nd camera as really good, but it sure felt like it at the time! I picked up a panasonic HDC-TM700. It shot 1080 60p, and has a 12x optical zoom. I was pretty happy with it, and most of our early stuff (and still some stuff) was/is filmed with that camera. We finally jumped up again when I bought a Sony PXW-X70. It’s got XLR audio inputs, a rocker zoom, 10 bit 4.2.2 color codec. Love it sooo much. We just bought a 2nd one too.
Hitting the cutting room floor, what software did you first use to create your videos with?
Ian – I started with Windows Live Movie Maker, but I had this one Coyote Classic vid that failed to render every time, so I got pissed off and got Adobe Premiere. Never looked back. The Adobe suite is amazing.
Ben – I’m not sure if I made the switch from Final Cut Pro 7 to FCP X before or after joining CCDG. I’ve just recently switched to Adobe Premiere. Before I ever edited disc golf, I used to use iMovie, a much older version of Premiere, and a few others.
Speaking of editing, what sort of computer were you using to edit those early videos? Mac or PC? Was it frustrating to edit during that time due to the computer’s performance? Any other early aggravations when editing?
Ian – Always PC. I lowkey hate working on a Mac. PC’s are just what I know and am comfortable with. They work. Biggest problems were how hot my laptops got, and the long render times (6 hours plus). My laptop now can render a vid in like 40 minutes.
Ben – I’ve done most of my editing since the beginning of CCDG on an iMac, and pretty much have nothing but good things to say about it’s performance. If something went wrong, it was probably my own fault, or shall we say… a learning experience. I still have so much to learn about computers. The biggest frustration was (and often still is) probably file management.
Overstable Studios is setting a lofty bar in terms of graphics for the disc golf video. When did CCDG as a channel start getting more interested in having more than just text as the player info? Who was the go-to person for those first graphic additions?
Ian – I was always trying to make our graphics better, but that’s honestly probably my biggest weak point in the DG vid making process. Juan Luis Garcia from Overstable stepped in and did amazing things to our vids. Love that guy.
Ben – I mean I’ve always thought it would be cool to model ourselves after videos that had more advanced technology than we did, it’s more a matter of making those resources available.
From the beginning, CCDG has had commentary on the majority of the videos that have been published. How is that done? Is it during the editing process or recorded while watching the edited video and then added to it?
Ian – It’s added while watching an edited version. In person, we have a mixing board, or if not in person we use Skype and record the call.
Ben – The commentary is recorded from a Skype call after everything else has been edited and the video has been shared among the commentators.
What software did you first use to do the commentary with and what is used at present? What sort of setup do you use when you record the commentary? USB mic, standard XLR connected to a sound board, etc.
Ian – For a long time, I just used the audio recording app on my iPhone. I’d put it between Kevin Estrada and me, and we’d go to town. Now I use a Shure SM57 and the mixing board or the USB adapter if skyping.
How has that commentary setup changed from the early videos to what you presently use?
Ian – Just better audio equipment. Shout out to Andrew Gregos for hooking that stuff up cheap. 🙂
Many folks love when you have Nate Sexton as your co-commentator. I’ve seen the rig from the Champ vs Chumps video that was used on the course. What does that rig consist of?
Ian – That’s just my SM57 plugged into one of our Sony PXW-X70’s with an XLR cable. It has 2 XLR inputs, so one for the mic, and one for a shotgun mic.
When you do have a co-commentator, how do you usually get their audio? Skype or another video chat, phone call, or what? That always interests me in how you tend to get somebody who either played in the tournament, ran it, or a local that knows the course that was played to help with the commentary.
Ian – Skype + mp3skyperecorder. Local knowledge is great to have, especially when I don’t know the course.
Let’s move on to your current filming setup. Give us a rundown of the usual gear you have on the course when you film a tournament at present.
2 Sony PXW- X70’s or Panasonic 700 or 900 series (we have 6 cams total), but only use 2 per card
2 Shotgun Mics (Rode NTG-2s)
2 Neewer shoulder mounts
Mic extenders to get the mics out of the shots
DJI Mavic drone
And tons of batteries 🙂
When you’re on the course filming, how often do you have to change batteries during a round? Do any attachments you have connected affect battery life drastically?
Ian – 1 or two times, 3 tops, and nope not really. Mics draw a tiny amount of power.
The first time I filmed, I only had one small capacity battery. So I was faced with conserving the battery as much as possible. I ended up catching all the tee shots on the video camera and all the upshots and putting on my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone. How do you handle your clips when you’re filming? Do you start and stop with each player’s shot, or do you film an entire hole at a time?
Ian – Yup, start and stop for each throw. It makes editing SOOO much easier and faster.
Ben – Pretty much a new clip for each shot, I usually let one clip ride for all the short putts though.
Now, for the piece of the equation that makes all that magic on Youtube happen. Let’s hear the specs of the computers you are all using to edit with! Custom built? Upgraded big box (Dell)? What’s under the hood of those things?
Ian – My main workhorse is an MSI gaming laptop. 16 GB ram, 756 GB SSD, 1 TB HDD, i7 2.6 GHz something, 6 GB video card. It’s a GS70 if someone wants to look it up :). Too lazy at the moment.
Ben – iMac, and have also used a PC laptop.
Following that, what software are you using to edit the footage with? Did your software dictate any of the components in your computers?
Ian – Adobe Premiere, and no not really. It’ll run on PC or Mac.
I think I’ll ask this of everybody that I interview for this series. What do you do with your raw footage once the editing is finished and you have uploaded the video to Youtube? External hard drives, online backup, or just chuck it since you have the edited version?
Ian – Some of it is backed up on google drive, but most of it is on external hard drives. I save everything though.
Ben – I’ve always used external drives… sometimes I have to delete the project files because they’re too big, but hopefully that will change now that I have switched from Final Cut X to Adobe Premiere. The file size change is like night and day.
Say you’ve contracted to film a big NT or Major where they are requiring next day videos, what are you going to have premade and ready to go once you get back to your accommodations to put the video together? How far in advance do you have those premade items completed?
Ian – Literally everything except the scores, the footage, and the commentary. The more I get done ahead of time means more sleep. So I get as much done as I can before I get there.
Ben – Templates, those are ready to go before even loading the files in. Of course, you have to change the names, headshots, etc. The sooner you can have those things done, the better.
At those big events where you’re part of a media team, do you work on one central location? Or does everybody take some direction from the director then head to their respective hotel rooms to finish up for the night?
Ian – It really depends on the tourney, but we’re pretty autonomous once we’re on site. The TD’s (tournament directors) trust us to do our thing. As far as CCDG goes we usually all edit in one room so we can keep it as fun as possible, and help each other easily.
Ben – We’ve done the central location thing. This past year’s Worlds was like you alluded to, I went up to Peter & Cory’s hotel room for some things, and did others in my own room.
How do you think having a media team like we’ve seen at GBO or Worlds with several different crews working together will work as the years progress? Do you like having that type of media effort at the bigger tournaments?
Ian – It’s definitely great for the fans! It doesn’t really change things for us much other than what card we film. I’ll be interested to see how the collaborations go in the future. We just worked for SpinTV at GCC and it was a great experience. Hopefully we’ll be doing more of that. Love working with Jamie at Spin, and Jomez when it works out (like at GBO).
Ben – It’s tough to say what will happen, the future is hard to predict. It’s certainly “a good problem to have” that so many people are interested in covering these events, and they all have proven capable of doing a good job. It’s tough to keep everyone happy.
Thanks for having us on!
All the best,