Two years ago MotoSport's Creative Team needed someone with talent, a passion for making videos and a love of Motocross. The search ended in the heartland of dirt bike riding when they found a young man from the Midwest who fit that bill exactly.
Dayton Daft is responsible for delivering the latest MotoSport.com 2-Stroke commercial that was received very well throughout the industry and he had his hands in the production of the "JS7th Wonder of the World" video that almost blew up our website. Dayton is on the road so much many of us back at the office wonder if he still works for MotoSport!
Indeed he is and in fact is gearing up, literally, to head out to Kevin Windham's place to cover the annual "Party in the Pasture." Then he's going to hang out with the Supercross champ to film a 2-stroke video starring Windham and Brett Cue.
Speaking of Brett Cue, the two in many respects are glued at the hip. Prior to MotoSport, Dayton met up with Brett, and just as a hobby, a video series emerged tracking Brett's quest to get invited to the X Games. It was that series that got MotoSport's attention landing both jobs and just this year Brett's "Road to X Games" finally ended in Austin.
Dayton recently had some downtime and was actually in the office! So, we got to sit down and talk with him about, what else, making videos.
Job: Video Production Manager at MotoSport.com
Education: I went to the University of Colorado where I got a Studio Arts degree with a focus in Digital Media & Photography; as well as a minor in Technology, Arts & Media (TAM)
Cameras used: Variety of Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Red, and GoPros Cameras
Other equipment: DJI aerial equipment, DJI Ronin, Glidecam, rode mics, all kinds of lighting equipment, Kessler sliders and cranes, plenty of sketchy DIY setups with ropes, bungee, pipes or whatever is around us at the time.
Software editing programs: FCPX is my program of choice; I learned on FCP7 and have used Adobe Premiere a couple times.
Favorite Videos Made (or involved with production):
- MotoSport.com Supercross Commercial 2014 - Brett Cue
- AIRTIME EP1 - Coop's Place ft Noren, Hahn, Nichols & Cue
- JS7th Wonder of the World
- MotoSport.com 2-Stroke Commercial 2015
- Brett Cue ALL IN - My 3 Year Journey to XGAMES 2015
- Rory Sullivan's Dirt Bike Adventures - SOLO
- Brett Cue ALL IN - 2-Stroke at Washougal MX
1. How did you get started making videos?
I borrowed, without asking I'm pretty sure, some sort of Sony XDCAM from my stepdad who owns a digital agency and took it out to film my little brother wakeboarding. Probably the last thing my stepdad would have wanted, this expensive camera his company owns being taken out on a boat by a 20 year old. After that I think he got the hint that I really liked this stuff and was eager to learn more and let me borrow it a few more times until I was able to get a Canon 60d for Christmas later that year. Haven't stopped since then.
2. Are you a Motocross guy who got into making videos or a video guy who got into Motocross?
I grew up riding and racing motocross with my Dad, I couldn't get enough of it and it's all I wanted to do. I've always been into the creative side of things and enjoyed photography. Throughout college I started trying to mix the two (moto and photo/video) and at one point something just clicked - This is what I want to do. I want to surround myself with dirt bikes for my job and although I'm not riding I'm still around the things I love. There were a lot of things that fell into place and my family pushed me in the right direction so many times.
Brett Cue and I crossed paths at the right time and were able to make a web series that really caught on and caught the attention of the right people and ultimately got us both jobs. Honestly, right up until the day I got a call to come work at MotoSport.com I thought that Motocross would just be something I filmed for fun on the side, which I was fine with. I was doing freelance filming for some high school sporting events and some wedding jobs. It was my first day working for this wedding company and I came home somewhat bummed out just knowing this wasn't fully the direction I wanted to go with things and then MotoSport called me that night. Within two weeks I moved from Colorado to Oregon and started full time with MotoSport.
3. You've been making Motocross videos for a while now, you must enjoy it. Other than your love of making videos what is about the industry that keeps you in it?
I think anybody that rides shares that same feeling and emotion, it's just something we all love and keep coming back for more. As I've grown up it's been so cool to see people's different paths into the sport of racing or just riding for fun. Everybody has a rad story of how they've gotten to this point whether it's racing their whole life or just getting into it for the first time later in life.
I sold my bikes in college so that I could buy camera equipment, and now that has come full circle and that camera equipment has allowed me to get back into the sport and start riding again. The passion, heart, drive that is overflowing from the industry and people's love for it is what makes me feel at home.
Something else I've started enjoying more and more since starting with MotoSport is working and collaborating with other filmers and editors. When I first started I was a one-man band and that's just how it was, that was the structure I was given to work with during the start of the content team at MotoSport. I was able to bring in Bryson Steele full time to MotoSport and I can't say enough good things about that dude. Having each other to bounce stuff off of or even call each other out on mistakes has elevated our work. I learn from him every day and it's been cool to see his growth and progression.
Jimmy Bowron is another one. He's our Southern California based contracted MotoSport filmer/editor. Jimmy helped me when I was first getting started in this industry so it's awesome to be able to work with him and learn from him on a consistent basis now. Jimmy is a badass with a camera. Working with other talented people is definitely something that keeps me coming back for more in the industry.
4. Your videos look seamless but the truth is there's a lot of work that goes into making just a five minute video. What's involved from setup to finished product?
That's something that's constantly evolving and constantly changing from shoot to shoot. We typically run in smaller groups as far as production with one to three bodies or filmers so each person is fully responsible for prep and function of all the camera gear that is brought. On some of the bigger shoots we do a fair amount of pre-production with storyboards or shot-lists, locations, scheduling, specific times this has to be shot, bouncing ideas or concepts back and forth with the riders, the list goes on and on.
You have to act as a producer, director, camera operator, gear mule, assistant, driver, spotter, water boy, friend or whatever the situation needs. It's pretty cool because we learn how to be extremely efficient with who and what we have at the time. Honestly people don't realize the amount of prep that really goes into this stuff.
When we shoot races or events we don't have as much prep beforehand because it's more run and gun, documentary type shooting. You can't go tell a rider to turn around and hit that corner again because you missed the shot, you also can't spend an entire race setting up or preparing for that one shot if you're trying to cover the race as a whole. Once we get all the filming done, whether it's a 1-day shoot or a weeklong shoot after each day we get the footage backed up in two places. From there it goes to post with your edit, color correction, audio checks and exported to whatever format it needs to be delivered in.
5. Do you have a "plot" already in mind or do you get shots and then figure out how the final product should look during editing?
Totally depends on the project. With commercials or premium content we absolutely have a plot, storyboard and shot list. If its event or race based coverage generally we have an idea in our head of what we want the feel or layout of the edit to be but then you just improvise the situation in order to get the best possible material out of the subjects or event. On top of that you're always going to shoot your establishing shots and more b-roll (supplemental footage) than you think you could possibly ever use.
6. In many respects you're also a director. Are you telling people what to do, where to ride or do you just get your shots and/or interviews and put it together later?
This is something that constantly has to be balanced correctly, yes of course we have a vision of exactly how we want this to look and turn out, but it's not that simple. When on a shoot, especially with professional athletes you need to respect their skill and ability. Some of them don't respond well to being told what to in terms of their riding, after all they're the professionals and you're just a camera dude why would they listen to you?
I've been super fortunate with riders I've gotten to work with and most make a conscious effort to make sure I'm getting what I need or if I have any input on what to do to make it better. It really comes down to finding that balance between the filmer and the rider so that both have a mutual understanding of each others perspective and vision. If you can find that balance you're going to be successful on these projects and I truly believe it shows in the final product.
7. OK, what's with the slow-mo effects? Everyone uses it. Is it supposed to convey anything other than "I'm a bad-ass"?
(Laughs) At this point, yes everyone uses it and it's becoming so accessible with the equipment available on a consumer level. For me though, it makes me appreciate a properly set up, framed, layered real time shot with kick ass audio that much more desirable. I'm not knocking slow-mo at all, I love it but it has to be used either in line with the story or in moderation to compliment real time footage. There is a time and place.
8. You must be giddy with the development of camera drones. How has this technology changed the way videos are produced?
It's just another tool in the tool box! A pretty big and influential tool when used right. That technology has exploited lately and it's been awesome to start implementing that into some of our work. I think handheld gimbals and stabilizers have had just as much of an impact if not more for content within our industry.
9. When surveying a scene do you walk around with your hands and fingers shaped into a video screen?
Not quite, maybe I should start! I do normally always want to take a walk around tracks or locations we are shooting at to get my brain rolling. I think this is where it's beneficial to be a rider myself, then I can look at a track and can envision lines and the rider simply because it's something I have done and enjoy doing myself. I'm always interested in seeing the work non-moto people produce, often times it's a completely different perspective than what I or anybody else that rides would envision. This can sometimes be a great thing and sometimes be a bad thing.
10. Making videos 101: Give us amateurs some quick pointers we can employ next time we whip out our cell phone or buy a digital video camera at Costco.
Just go out and shoot, shoot anything with whatever equipment you have. Ask questions, meet people, ask them more questions and never stop asking questions. After each time you'll come home and look at the footage and learn something, you'll think hey maybe I should do this like this to get this result. Then go try it again and again, basically see how many times you can screw up and fail. Over and over. Whatever equipment you are using, try to learn the ins and outs of that thing like the back of your hand. Learn the fundamentals, specs and the setup of your gear; otherwise you're wasting time and money by not getting the most out of your equipment.
11. Do you ever find yourself tinkering with an edit so much you finally have to just stop and call it complete?
Yes, and yes. That's when it's great to have a second or third set of eyeballs to take a look and give a different opinion or perspective.
12. Where do you go from here? You want to do movies? You have any dreams you're striving for?
I would love to make a movie, I can't speak much on it because I haven't done it before and I'm not sure how it will impact me or what I will take from it. But I would love to, and I would love to do it very soon. I want to keep learning, growing and constantly evolving my work and experiences. I strive off of building up and creating something meaningful and so far MotoSport has been a great vessel for just that. I don't want to fall flat and feel like I'm making work just to make work, and sometimes that's a tough thing to do with the volume of work we put out. I think every person within the creative and content realm face that at one point; falling flat and floating along mindlessly down the river. I'd say turn your ass around and start swimming the other way.