Above is a reel consisting of our very best footage from the past two years working for the USTA. It is cut to a dubstep track because the music allows me as an editor to fit more content into the edit with quick cuts while still keeping the duration to 2min. I did also cut a 1min version for Facebook and made a square aspect ratio for Instagram.
At the US Open I am hired to cover match action during the second week in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The first week of the tournament was spent filming interviews of players doing promos for The Hopman Cup and The Australian Open for Tennis Australia. After the TA work was finished I transitioned over to the USTA.
This tournament is loud and very New York. Grand Slam tennis tournaments each have a different atmosphere. I like filming in Ashe. You can hear the train, the planes flying into LaGuardia. The patrons are rowdy/boisterous too. I like going up into the stands, getting tilt shift lenses out to make miniatures in the world’s largest tennis stadium. It’s fun to shoot Manhattan from Queens. The access is excellent. During a match I cover the entire stadium but mostly remain in the pit switching lenses depending on where we are in the match.
But almost every point is covered and the USTA uses that footage throughout the year in ticket package promos, in-stadium highlights, and during the Open in daily recaps. Their editors work almost all night after a match ends to turn the piece around before the grounds open the next day. I really like this job. It’s exciting. There’s a lot of adrenaline and pressure to capture the shot in the moment. At other tournaments the AELTC or FFT is not counting on me to get the Championship Point at Wimbledon or the French Open. The USTA by contrast will end up using my clip possibly for years to come.
I was really pleased that that USTA picked the above video as their year-end closer on social media.
By the end of the French Open I had completed all of the videos assigned by the FFT (French Federation of Tennis). For the Men’s and Women’s Finals I shot closeups from the pit very similarly to my role at the US Open. After the match I provided a rush of edited clips to my employers. The above video is a mix of cameras edited by the FFT after the tournament. But it is nice to see that my footage makes up the first 20 seconds, much of the middle and the championship point/trophy raise are all my camera. These clips were shot in 4K and scaled down to 1920X1080p for the highest picture fidelity at standard HD. Color grading was done by the FFT in post.
The title of this entry is La Decima because it was the tenth time Nadal had won Roland Garros. It was very exciting to be present for history being made.
Repeated motions conveying a specific emotion or idea are what we were going for here. Giffable content is what we were creating using our all-access time. Media outlets, including the tournament, get time with the top players to interview them, film them, play a game etc. We hedged that the best use of our time would be to do something with them no one else had done yet. Using props and goofy direction, they were put at ease, opened up and had fun. As the editor I looked for motions that could be repeated or looped in post. These video loops were uploaded natively to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where they correspondingly were released by the account administrators responding to real-time events. A well timed finger wag or victory dance at the end of a match going out on social media went over well with engaged fans.
Indian Wells was left with a trove of over 300 GIFs to use throughout the year. Is it a player birthday? Indian Wells can celebrate that with a video clip as specific as that player wildly throwing and trying to eat popcorn in slow motion. The video below is a supercut of some of the best “GIF” content we created. It’s a square cut piece instead of a 16:9 aspect ratio so that it suits Instagram and takes up a larger amount of real estate when viewing a phone feed vertically.
So while produced videos will likely always be our thing. Getting down to super short, meme-worthy reactions or moments is still a valuable use of social media video. We may have started a trend. The Miami Open lovingly copied this idea just a week later.
Rafael Nadal the golfer? With our PR director I took a small crew to the famed Indian Wells Golf Resort. The tournament had negotiated for a gaggle of photographers to tag along with Rafa while he played nine holes. Rafa was a good sport to let it happen. GoPros in holes, a GoPro mounted to the golf cart. It’s nice to get an opportunity to use the action cams. We shot in slow motion, used a 400mm lens, plus a 16-35mm on a MOVI M5 with an Easy Rig. The drone was out too. It was quite an operation scrambling from hole to hole and setting up gear while monitoring audio on Rafa the entire time. It stands out as probably the hardest shoot in 2016. Minimal time to plan and no PAs running around to carry gear. With that said I like the deliverable a lot. Matthew Hill did a great job second shooting with his Panasonic Varicam. Nadal shared it from his personal Facebook account too.