2020 in Review
...well that didn't go as planned 🙄
Like everyone else, 2020 started off much the same as every other year. "The roaring 20's are coming back!", mentioned many people in their New Year's Eve posts. I'm guessing a world full of lockdowns, N95 masks, rioting on the streets, toilet paper hoarding, wild conspiracy theories, covid snitch lines, and some of the best apocalyptic memes was not what the Instagram influencers had in mind.
Our Pre-Covid Plan for 2020
We had a very successful year in 2019, and if you remember from my previous blog post, I predicted that it would be difficult to surpass the success we had experienced. Our plan for 2020 was mostly to follow in our 2019 footsteps - CSRA events, some TMR events, sled drags, maybe some mug bogs in North Agusta, hit up a MX event with our friend Shelby, maybe make an ATV video for RCATV, and finish off with a gathering at the Toronto Powersports Show to wrap up the year.
All our future winter gigs were cancelled, and as we rolled into the summer, one by one, those events were scuttled as well.
Enter lockdown mode...
Like everyone else, covid19 took everyone by surprise and threw the entire world into momentary panic and chaos. After a very successful CSRA event in Ottawa capturing photos and videos with our pals from Mainville ATV, the world went upside down. All our future winter gigs were cancelled, and as we rolled into the summer, one by one, those events were scuttled as well. As disappointing as it was, the break from events turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We had become so busy and pushed so hard at events for so long, we didn't realized how burnt-out we had become until we were forced to take a break. It was nice to have some weekends to ourselves once again!
Our list of events for 2020 are as follows:
SDRO sled drags in Merrickville
Bonnechere Cup sled races in Eganville
CSRA Snowcross races in Ottawa
SDRO grass drags in Merrickville
Rockstar Triple Crown MX races in Stitsville
SDRO grass drags in Merrickville
SDRO Veterans grass drags in Merrickville
The '74 Challenger Restoration - AKA The Money Pit
With all winter events cancelled, I was finally able to kick the dust off our very popular '74 Challenger Restoration video series! Aside from photo and video, my other hobby and passion is metal fabrication, and the Challenger is something I anxiously want to see finished! I was able to crank out 4 new episodes in the YouTube series and put a serious dent in the body restoration. After many years of hard work, the rear section on the car is FINALLY back together! Two new rear quarter panels, new tubs, new trunk pan, and restored frame rails and sills.
I used these to experiment with new color grading techniques I was learning, as well as cinematic camera movements.
Along with the new videos, I created some short 'commercials' to announce the release date of the next video. I used these to experiment with new color grading techniques I was learning, as well as cinematic camera movements. We also launched a merch line on Teespring with Challenger t-shirts and posters in an attempt to generate some extra income to help purchase parts for the car. Any support is greatly appreciated!
YouTube Numbers and Excuses to Make Myself Feel Better
Whatever the case, the numbers are down. Does it bother us? A little bit, but it's nothing we lose sleep over.
We were really hopeful that the new '74 Challenger videos would help spark more views and subscribers, however, it seems like we've fallen out of favor with the YouTube algorithms since 2017 and there's no coming back! Like 2019, if you look at the YouTube numbers and compare with previous years, 2020 would be considered a failure - everything is down across the board, including (the one I really care about!) revenue. I have a number of theories why this is the case:
fewer videos posted
platform saturation with other high-quality content
competition from other platforms and streaming services, such as IGTV & Netflix
Whatever the case, the numbers are down. Does it bother us? A little bit, but it's nothing we lose sleep over. What matters to us is the quality of our videos, which is continually improving as we upgrade gear, learn new cinematography techniques, and improve our editing and color-grading skills. We cranked out some of the most amazing videos this year, which I'll talk about later.
Two Big Video Contracts - OFATV and TMR Purchase Videos!
It's always SUCH a great feeling when people recognize your hard work and skill and then ask you to create a video to represent their organization. It's even better when they offer you some money! This year, our long hard work in the ATV and Off-Road community paid off when OFATV and TMR Customs reached out to us asking for video content.
We've been involved in some capacity or another with the Renfrew County ATV Club since 2015. During that time, I earned the nickname 'GoPro Dave' as I always had my GoPro HERO action cam rolling at ATV rides. When OFATV was looking for promotional material for trade shows, the RCATV club president put our name forward and we ended up landing the contract to create a video to promote the new OFATV One Pass!
We picked up some new gear and learned how to use DaVinci Resolve 16 for superior color-grading and effect
TMR Customs is the premier supplier of Jeep and 4x4 parts in Canada, perhaps even North America. Before we even started creating videos of their events, I had purchased a number of their components when building my homebuilt SxS. Since 2018, we had been attending their Off-Road Racing Series in an unofficial capacity, taking photos and creating videos for YouTube. After two years of hard work, we finally caught the attention of Tim Rogers (the T in TMR) and we were contracted to create high energy action videos to promote the racing series. This was a HUGE break for us, with potential for high visibility in the social sphere. Wanting to really step up our game for these videos, we picked up some new gear and learned how to use DaVinci Resolve 16 for superior color-grading and effects. The result was absolutely mind blowing!
We Bought the Camera I Thought I'd Never Own
We bought a Canon EOS 1DX Mark II - if you know, you know!!!!!
I remember buying the 5D MK IV and thinking this would probably be the best camera I could ever afford.
I honestly thought I'd never see the day when I could hold a 1DX MK II and call it my own, yet here I am rocking one of the best cameras money can buy in the Canon ecosystem. I remember buying the 5D MK IV and thinking this would probably be the best camera I could ever afford. Don't get me wrong, the 5D MK IV is a superb camera and will be in our equipment arsenal for a long time. However, there were a number of things the 1DX MK II offered that I really wanted:
1080 120 fps video with full auto focus (the 5D MK IV was limited to 720 120 fps with no autofocus)
faster more accurate auto focus
better lowlight noise performance
better dynamic range
14fps highspeed shutter mode
With the introduction of the 1DX MK III and the R5, the price of used units took a noticeable drop. After finding a solid unit on kijiji with a very low shutter count, we finally pulled the trigger and dropped some serious coin on this beast of a camera - NO REGRETS!!!! And yes, the first photo is our actual unit covered in mud from a TMR race event. This camera is built for battle and I don't intend on treating it like a snowflake!
Taking Pics of my Hot Wife and Other Pretty Ladies
I've always found portrait photography difficult. Setting up the exposure with a flash is difficult. Trying to come up with attractive locations and unique poses is challenging. There's so many things going on at once that it's easy to mess up the shot. With motorsports cancelled for the summer, my wife and I challenged ourselves to become better portrait photographers. She studied poses and I focused on locations and the technical aspects of flash photography. While we still have much to learn, the results were very satisfying. It was a nice reason to get out of the house during the lockdown, and since most shoot locations were around water, it was a wonderful way to soak up nature and find some moments of calm.
Once we had accumulated a decent portfolio to showcase our work, we managed to attract some clients for sunset portrait sessions. The beach at Fitzroy Provincial Park offered a beautiful backdrop and golden sunsets, perfect for the type of portrait style we loved. Hopefully 2021 will bring more opportunities to expand our portrait work.
While we still have much to learn, the results were very satisfying
What's in Store for 2021?
Even as I write this, winter events for 2021 are already being cancelled. I suspect this trend will continue as we deal with the fallout of this global pandemic. We're hopeful that some events will run in 2021 - it's always nice to get out and see the friends we've made over the years.
Despite being locked down, we undoubtedly had one of the most memorable summers to date
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we need to slow down and become less 'busy' in life. One theme that I heard over and over talking with friends was that the break from life's normal busy routine was a welcome relief. Sometimes, we become so engulfed with busy activities that we forget to slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. This past summer, we had so many wonderful nights sitting around a campfire with our neighbors, cooking hotdogs and making smores for the kids. We camped in our own backyard, went on bike rides, and built an awesome tree fort for our kids which turned out to be a huge hit with the other kids on our street. Despite being locked down, we undoubtedly had one of the most memorable summers to date.
Looking forward to 2021, our plan is pretty simple - slow down more and enjoy the simple things!
Thanks for joining us on this crazy ride through 2020, and I hope this finds you well in 2021!