Some are content with an aviation dream
…others must live the dream.
5 years ago I upgraded my camera to a new full frame digital camera. I previously owned a cheap entry level DSLR and camcorder and had been dabbling with photos and video for a few years. I had become obsessed with aviation photography and was looking for a chance to make higher quality images. The photo qualities of this camera were amazing but when I read about its video capabilities I was very enthused. I loved photography, but the video opportunities intrigued me.
I had no idea what I would become involved with as I started to use the camera and I imagined creating a video couldn’t be all that hard. It’s good to be naïve sometimes, otherwise I would probably have never started making videos, but I got some training, did a couple little projects and had some fun.
I had this idea of creating aviation video biographies and started looking for a project to do. The search didn’t really turn out to be a search at all because I already knew who I wanted for the video. All I would need to do would be to convince Mel to agree to stand in front of the camera. He’s not a guy who would normally want to be in the spotlight, But I knew he had a story and I thought he wanted to tell it. He just didn’t know it yet. When I talked to him, he quickly agreed to the idea and we set up a day to do the filming. I had never done any audio on my videos except for laying music tracks and this would be my first attempt to include a narrative. My friend Steve and I worked together to do the flying and filming. He was also very helpful in doing the interviews and other creative ideas. We were shooting from the hip hoping to do something we could be satisfied with.
I thought it would be nice to do some of the shoot at a nearby dirt strip where we could be undisturbed and not be worried about the busy background of a typical airport. The landing strip is called Black Mountain and is located about 50 miles north of Salt Lake City on the shoreline of the lake. I love this place because it is so isolated and I periodically go there to get away for a couple hours.
I was excited about the video because Mel owned a beautiful Cessna 180 and I knew he had a great story about his aviation dream. We did two flights and an interview session in his hangar and then I went to work on the computer beginning to edit the footage. I worked and worked with the data I had and learned why video professionals shoot a lot of video. The audio files were something new to me and I struggled to make them usable. I learned why so much effort is put into good audio on a video shoot. There was so much I learned later I wished I would have known to begin with, but I persisted through the editing until I had the basic video done. Then I searched for music that would enhance the story and fit a style Mel had told me he liked. Most of the music came from the movie “Legends of the Fall” and felt perfect for the project.
It was a stormy late fall day when Steve and I marched over to Mel’s hangar with my laptop to show the finished video to him. Over his desk hung a big print that Steve had made for him on one our flights. It was a beautiful aerial photo of Mel flying over the lake in his 180.
As the video played I felt self-conscious at times being critical of little things I felt were not as good as they should have been. It seems like the desire to do good work often leads to a sense of dissatisfaction with the end result, always feeling like you could have done better. But I stood behind Mel as he watched and I noticed emotional stirrings within him. He cleared his throat several times and secretly brushed away a tear or two when he scratched his forehead, not wanting anyone to notice.
The little video, with all its imperfections, has been something satisfying for me. I still get a little emotional myself, watching Mel tell his story. I relate to it and understand his love affair with the airplane and career. Its also rewarding to me because I know the video has been shared with his family and friends all over and has had an impact on them. I have probably made 50 copies of the DVD so he could pass it on to his friends.
Mel is a perfect example of a Disciple of Flight and I’m glad I had a chance to tell a small part of his story.