We all know that video is the most powerful way to tell the story of a person, organization, or community. For years, access to powerful video storytelling tools was beyond the reach of anyone who was not a professional willing to invest tens of thousands of dollars.
Over the years, the democratization of video production has increased. One of the last major game changers was the introduction of the DSLR video capabilities introduced in 2008. What was created as a “throw-away”
Today, the smartphones you have in your pocket can capture 4K video with a high frame rate at a quality level that makes the professional SD cameras in the early 2000s look like footage taken with primary school toys.
Everyone from home parents, to traveling YouTubers to middle school students, has easily accessible, powerful, easy-to-learn, accessible tools for telling their stories. And an organization that tells the story of these young storytellers is We make movies, based in Los Angeles, CA.
Plan it: eARTh
We Make Movies is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering commercials to tell stories: from shorts to features, narrative fiction to documents. They serve filmmakers, content creators and storytellers of all ages with free weekly workshops, reduced resources and services, educational industry events, showcases and film challenges.
Earlier this year, We Make Movies, Orphaned Starfish and We Uplift the World Foundation launched a project in which they collaborate with other technology providers (including OWC) to help human rights-free youth from across the country tell their stories in powerful ways. It’s all part of the eARTh project.
“The EARTh project tells the story of students using mobile film production as a means of creative entrepreneurship,Said Steve LaMorte, director and producer of We Make Movies and project manager for WMM at eARTh. “While our class was originally planned to be personal, we started with our students just before the city-wide quarantine began, and we quickly had to turn to virtual distance learning.”
Having to switch to distance learning at such short notice was a challenge. But LaMorte and the other WMM participants also saw it as a new opportunity for the students. LaMorte continued. “The partners of the eARTh Project equipped the students with mobile devices. This enabled them to document their experiences as high school students under the quarantine of an underrepresented community such as Compton, CA, which is often misrepresented in the media.”
With current eARTh teams in Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Louis, eARTh is just starting to create a nationwide campaign to transform youth today.
Telling a great story requires great stations
The We Make Movies team documents their time with the eARTh Project kids and puts it together in an unwritten docu-series. As you might imagine, the amount of footage required to create such a series requires a lot of storage and editing power to work quickly and flexibly. For this reason, WMM’s post-production team has turned to OWC’s ThunderBay Flex 8.
Matt Roscoe, one of the stock editors, commented, “Even in my relatively short six years of post-production, it’s insane to see how the hard drive world has grown from USB 2.0 and Firewire devices I used in college to the absolute juggernaut that is ThunderBay Flex 8. It can be frustrating to see so many projects with so many clients being split between a menagerie of different stations that pile up on my shelves. It gets even worse when the standard formats of ports and cables continue to change and evolve, and require me to constantly change cables and add adapters when I need to have multiple projects connected at the same time. So I love having a single tower that gets the house everything I work on at any given time, all in one place. “
Steve LaMorte, who does his fair share of editing on the eARTh project, fought back. “Because the docu-series quickly had to go from being shot traditionally to buying media remotely in more of a ‘found recording production’, it was an absolute must to have a solid storage solution.”
Working with teens who shoot with a variety of cameras, iPhones and iPads, as well as documentaries from the crew, resulted in a variety of formats the postal team had to work with.
“Switching to ThunderBay Flex 8 was a game changer for our production company,” says LeMorte. “It has allowed us to mix formats and combine multiple input devices into one device, which really helps in a work from home environment.”
Roscoe also found that the power and flexibility of the apt name “Flex 8” was an important part of the production process. With over a Terabyte value of interviews, assignments, and class recordings circulating across Google Drive and Dropbox, syncing the Cloud accounts to the MacBook Pro’s internal drive was not an option. So it was important to put the Google Drive and Dropbox accounts in sync with the SSD Stripe which consisted of the top 4 bays. Also with Flex 8’s bottom four wells configured as a RAID 5, as well as the ability to connect to external drives via the Dock, I have managed to back everything up to different locations. In fact, this RAID array was a lifesaver when a separate external hard drive I used completely failed during this production, just before an important deadline. ”
It only seems appropriate that a project that helps teenagers to become better stewards of their bodies (healthy food) and the planet (sustainable living) is served by a hardware set that in itself does its part in conservation. The 3-in-1 aspect of Flex 8 (docking station, PCIe slot, and drive wells) not only significantly reduces desktop footprints, but improves energy savings and material usage, since you physically need fewer enclosures.
The Flex 8 3-in-1 feature set is also a key aspect of the benefits during production on the eARTh project.
Future-proofing: from community teens to creative teams
After all is said and done, the eARTh project is “future-proof” these teens. WMM founder and CEO Sam Mestman had this to say. “These children usually do not have access to this type of equipment, software or education. The EARTh project helps them not only to be better storytellers, but also self-sufficient citizens and entrepreneurs who will be able to cope with any challenge life throws at them. ”
In the same way that the eARTh Project has prepared its teenagers for what the future holds, OWC’s ThunderBay Flex 8 flexible framework and layout have done the same for the production team that tells the stories of young people.
Roscoe confirms. “As new storage solutions emerge, I know we will be able to expand and continue to get the most out of this storage solution as all of our productions continue to grow and expand.”
LaMorte says, “Using Thunder Bay has dramatically changed our workflow and has been incredibly useful for a large-scale documentary like this. We have slowly phased out our second raid setup and have not yet found a limit to what we can do with Flex 8. “
Perhaps Rosco sums it up best. “The EARTh project is without a doubt the best work I have ever had the honor of being a part of, and the ThunderBay Flex 8 has been the key to its ambitious workflow.”