A Sporting Life: Getting the Viewer to Wow

A Sporting Life: Getting the Viewer to Wow

April 6, 2013 By Joe Morahan

The following blog post originally appeared on A Sporting Life.

Getting the Viewer to Wow | Joe Morahan

Joe is a sports filmmaker and photographer from Colorado. His award-winning work has garnered him a reputation as one of the most creative and passionate image-makers in print, motion and effects.

“Normal” just isn’t in my nature. I’m constantly pushing my imagination and techniques to create something new, different and mind-blowing. If the viewer isn’t saying, “WOW!” then I haven’t done my job.

I began my career shooting high-speed, time-lapse and highly technical still photography projects, which led to a successful career as a sports photographer for advertising and editorial clients. Recently, I’ve integrated more motion work into my portfolio. Whether it’s stills or motion, inspiration can come from many different sources — backpacking trips, YouTube, or just focusing on my “dream clients” and what videos they need.

For this recent series of time-lapse films, I was inspired by an artist who poured layers of paint over a box, creating these amazing patterns which would then dry and be sold as art. This triggered something in my brain and I began visualizing a product being revealed from beneath paint, using a reverse time-lapse technique. For each video, I included a surprise, whether it’s revealing a hidden logo, or a set element that starts moving. Three of these projects have been released on my blog, each of which were made possible by my extremely talented team!

Reveal (the video above) was shot as a spec ad spot for Nike’s Mercurial Victory II FG Football Boot. The preproduction on this shoot was insane! Because it was one of the first times I’d poured gallons of paint over my set, I did this as a personal project. This allowed me time to thoroughly test the components and techniques and get all the stupid mistakes out of the way. I used five Canon digital cameras on this shoot, one of which was mounted to the ceiling, and used three shoes in varying colors and designs. I did shoot motion for this project, but the final edit contains only time-lapses from still photography cameras. The two main camera angles were captured by my EOS 1Ds Mark III and a 5D Mark II, which gave me a super high resolution that gave me plenty of editing headroom. The still frames from this shoot can actually be used for print campaigns! Over the course of several hours, I shot about 30,000 images. In post-production, I organized and corrected the images, which were sent off to the editor-magicians over at OTHER films.

The second video in the series, One World, One Ball features the Nike Total 90 Tracer soccer ball. I wanted to show the unity embodied by this one ball, used by people from around the world to play the most popular sport on earth. During the time-lapse, the paint gradually reveals the ball, which spins around and transforms into a map of the world. Again, we used a five camera setup with one camera mounted to the ceiling, all of which were firing every few seconds. To get all the cameras to sync with the least amount of running around and tripping over tripod legs, I used a single intervalometer and a Pocketwizard transmitter on the main camera angle, which triggered the other cameras via Pocketwizard receivers. There were a lot of moving parts to juggle on this shoot — the set, the paint, the ball, the lights, the artist painting the ball. Once the paint starts flowing on set, there’s no stopping. If anything got bumped, it’s game over! Luckily, no red cards were pulled…

Born to Roll is the third video in the time-lapse series, and showcases the craftsmanship behind Vans shoes. I pushed the time-lapse techniques I’d been perfecting in the previous videos to a whole new level here. This shoot took 36 hours over two days, as we methodically deconstructed these shoes on-camera, stitch by stitch. It took a lot of patience, but the final video is worth the effort! An added challenge was making the video into a looping file, allowing us to use just a few shoes to create the impression of a never-ending assembly line. The pieces of the puzzle came together and I created some cool GIF files, too, which have some major applications for the future.

I love every second of these shoots! To be able to wake up in the morning and have a day of creative problem-solving with a great team, is pure awesome. I love filmmaking, though still photography will always be an important part of my work. I love putting stills together in Photoshop and creating something that might only exist inside my mind — a wild mashup of sports, landscapes, reality, imagination, creativity and a touch of visual effects. Something magical happens when I’m able to translate my visions into reality, when everything coming together and I’m able to see the excitement on people’s faces when they see my work.

Via A Sporting Life.

Joe Morahan