The launch of our new multimedia division at Life & Style has prompted me to learn some interesting new skills.
As a former video director I became very proficient in the use of what was at the time state of the art video equipment. This was partly because I found it liberating and partly to prove a point. Camera operators were often set in their ways and to find new ways to create visual magic, sometimes rules had to be broken.
It was a maverick approach but one that often got results. We were the first production company in the country to shoot a commercial for cinema on digital video tape. This was the campaign to launch the Movie Club card for Ster Kinekor and Cinemark, the company responsible for advertising that made its way onto South African cinema screens at the time, was notoriously fussy when it came to quality. When the final result passed muster with flying colours, a new age of cinematography was born in this country.
I was the creator of the first checkout channel video entertainment in supermarkets across the country and directed the first live multi camera, multi venue business broadcast for the Standard Bank – the first in South African broadcast history.
A particularly innovative approach to a shoot for the launch of the Toyota Venture 1800 resulted in a Loerie Award – considered then, as indeed it is now, the highest recognition for excellence in this form of creative endeavour.
But time marches on and…fast forward a couple of years …here we are in Ballito.
Ballito is not the centre of the creative universe. In fact, it is kind of the polar opposite in many ways which makes it a lovely getaway for creatives unwinding from the stress of digital overload.
It does not, however, make it easy to recruit talent for a company like ours and we are constantly on the lookout for good people in almost every field from sales through to visual design, technical audio and video skills and on air presentation. If you fit the bill or know anyone who does, we’d love to hear from you.
But I digress.
Among the interesting new skills I was keen to acquire was mastery of the flying camera. Technology has come an awfully long way since I last operated a camera professionally. Back then state-of-the-art high definition professional camcorders cost more than the average family motorcar and were bulky too, requiring an array of ancillary equipment and operators to assist in their deployment.
But now you can get a range of pocket sized devices that are capable of delivering unbelievably good images from almost any vantage point. And they can fly!
I bought a comprehensive package online that arrived, ready to fly, in three days.
The fact that I didn’t bother to read the instructions should have had no bearing on the outcome of my maiden test flight – the drone people said it was ready to fly, so off we went to prove the point.
With automatic take-off and landing, what could go wrong? And I clung to this thought as my newly acquired flying camera disappeared from Townsend Park heading in the direction of Australia. I later discovered that I was flying it backwards which would explain why it failed to respond appropriately.
Luckily, true to their word, as soon as my drone lost contact with the controller, it shot up to a pre-designated height and, as if controlled by God himself, it returned to Townsend Park to gently land at my feet.
I have subsequently read the instructions and have become quite competent as an aerial cameraman. I look forward to introducing you to some very interesting views of Ballito and environs as we introduce you to the best of what the area has to offer through our website, Facebook and YouTube channels soon.
Tune in to Radio Life & Style 88.0fm for more details and watch this space!