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“Wired Hikers” [Video]



Video about Hawaii hiking bloggers for Hawaiian Airlines. Oahu, Hawaii.

My friend Brad Watanabe (owner of Berad Studio) and I teamed up again to produce another video for Hawaiian Skies, the video magazine of Hawaiian Airlines.

Starting today, and for the next four months, it will be shown on Hawaiian Airlines flights to and from the mainland. You can also press play in the video above and watch it online via the Hawaiian Skies YouTube channel.

The video features the three Hawaii hiking bloggers that have had the greatest influence on me. Kaleo Lancaster’s blog Island Trails opened my eyes to what hiking in Hawaii could be. Shortly after discovering Island Trails, I stumbled across Nate Yuen’s blog Hawaiian Forest and Joshua Serrano’s blog 808 Goonies. For some time I used those three blogs as my main resource for discovering new trails.

It was a pleasure to interview those guys and get to know them a little bit better by making this video. I have also, by the way, shamelessly featured myself in the video. And, the trail we are on is the Poamoho Trail.

I hope you enjoy it. Read on to learn a bit more about the making of this piece. It was a pretty long process.

This project started way back in early February. Brad and I were chatting in the hallway at work (we used to work together at an advertising agency downtown) and I mentioned I was interested in making a video about hiking in Hawaii. We had learned a lot through our first video project together (the rock climbing video called “Hawaii Bouldering”) and figured we could apply that experience to a new project. We tossed around several ideas and the concept of hiking bloggers was the one that stuck.

This is the synopsis Brad wrote up and submitted to Hawaiian Skies to get the project green-lighted:

Hawaii is known around the world for it’s beautiful blue waters and glorious golden sand, but often overlooked are it’s magnificent mountain ranges.  Over the last few years, a growing community of hikers have gone digital with their explorations.  Combining still and video photography, they blog about the panoramas and uncharted terrains (typically unseen and unknown to mainstream hikers).  This new digital generation of hikers are not only exploring Hawaii for themselves, but with the purpose of sharing their journeys with the world wide web.  This Hawaiian Skies segment will feature four hikers who actively blog about their experiences and explorations as they hike in Hawaii.

The first step to get the project started was to see if the bloggers would be up for it. And that’s how we ended up here (at the house pictured above) in Wahiawa at Kaleo’s house.

I hadn’t seen Kaleo and Brian since our backpacking trip to Waimanu Valley. We caught up over beers, steak and poke and then discussed the video. He was down. I was stoked.

From there I gave Nate and Josh a call and was happy to hear they were up for it as well.

Over the course of the month, Brad and I brainstormed and planned the video. We would meet during lunch or right after work to brainstorm. We set up the first shoot at the end of February. We were shooting this video in a style totally unfamiliar to us. For me especially, since this would be my second video production ever. This shoot in my apartment would be sort of a practice run so we could work out the kinks before interviewing the other guys.

Brad produces TV commercials (in fact his latest commercial for Pearlridge Center is currently airing on TV) so he owns a lot of the gear necessary to turn my apartment into a mini set. If I look awkward here, that’s just because being in front of the camera is still very awkward for me.

About a month later, at the very end of March, we scheduled a shoot with Josh. Since Josh is currently a student at UH Manoa, he suggested we shoot his interview there. Brad and I loved the idea so we met him there and instructed him to walk aimlessly throughout different parts of campus while we recorded him.

Luckily it was Spring Break and there were very few people on campus. We found this quiet area with some tables to conduct the interview.

The very next day, after Josh’s interview, Brad and I drove out to Kaleo’s house again. Joel Campos, owner of Studio:Red (an amazing wedding video production company in Hawaii) came out to shoot this segment with us.

Then the very next day after that, we shot the hike. Brad organized the entire thing. He brought out Joel again and Chris and Jon Rhoades to grab video from all different angles and distances. Noah Tom and Rae Huo (a professional photographer in Hawaii) came out as well to take still photos. Brad also contacted the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to discuss our project and their trail specialist, Aaron Lowe, came out to guide us on the trail.

Aaron is the Oahu Trail and Access Specialist for the Na Ala Hele Hawaii Trail System. It was a very nice of him to take the time to accompany us on his day off.

When Brad and I first started talking about this project, he immediately mentioned that we should get Joel involved. See, Joel is sort of an expert with the Steadicam. With the vest mounted stabilizer, Joel was able to and capture steady video while walking on the trail. The effect makes it seem like the camera is hovering on air.

As we hiked up to the summit, Aaron pointed out some notable plants and vistas for us to capture on film.

At the Poamoho summit we took a group photo of the crew.

Back row: Joel Campos, Joshua Serrano, David Chatsuthiphan, Kaleo Lancaster, Rae Huo, Ryan Chang, Nate Yuen, Aaron Lowe. Front row: Mel Rhoades, Chris Rhoades, Jon Rhoades, Brad Watanabe, Noah Tom.

After those three consecutive days of hiking, we still had one more shoot left. About a month later, at the end of April, Brad and I drove out to Kaneohe to shoot Nate’s interview. After this shoot I wrote up a blog post about Nate’s photography gallery at the Tagami and Powell Gallery.

From that point on, it was mostly up to Brad to take all that footage, catalog it, synch the video and audio and cut the piece together.

This process happened in phases. First Brad put together an edit of just Josh’s segment. We took that edit and tweaked the shots and music options until we nailed down the style we wanted for this piece.

Then Brad put together an edit for the rest of the interviews and the hike. At that point we basically had 5 separate vignettes. 4 interviews and a hike. From there we spent an entire day at Brad’s house in front of the computer figuring out how to blend the 5 pieces together into one cohesive video. It was like a puzzle. A puzzle that takes a long long time to complete.

Once we were happy with the sequence of shots and voice over, I went home and Brad spent another couple days polishing up the video. He adjusted the color in every video clip, cleaned up the audio and added in the titles. All this work for a 12 minute piece. What I’ve learned is that video production (even run and gun projects like this one) take a lot of time and effort if you want it to look professional.

Our video was actually completed and shipped to Hawaiian Airlines two months ago. That was our deadline to make the August air date. Now that the video is up on YouTube, we’re happy to present to you, “Wired Hikers.”


Special Thanks to:

This story was last modified on May 18, 2013. (Originally published in August 2012.)

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