Starting his career at the early age of 14, 21-year-old Blake has worked with some best-known names in the industry while building his portfolio. From creating the video content for famous ex Block contestants Kyal and Kara or following Australian surfers Tyler Wright, Bethany Hamilton, and Adrian Buchan, Blake has created a niche for himself in the industry.
The rise of tech-savvy creatives has illustrated the need to deliver innovative, immersive, and engaging content through video to stand out amongst competitors and strengthen connections. Blake shares his own self-taught experiences to educate and empower creativity for all.
Australian Videocamera sat down with Blake for a chat.
AV: You say you started creating content when you were a teenager and it was a hobby, what sort of content we’re creating and what was the intended market / demographic?
BW: When I started off around the age of 14, I took stills and slowly progressed into video. The content was all surf-related. Mainly for up-and-coming surfers to broadcast on social media platforms such as Instagram, which was in its infancy. I found that sponsors were looking for surfers who constantly posted content and had a good presence on such platforms. I jumped in at the right time, took advantage of this and found myself in a pretty sweet spot, working hand in hand with surfers, and surf media outlets.
AV: What video editor did you start with? What do you use now?
BW: I started editing on iMovie in my very, very early days, as everyone does. I used to watch popular surf movies and try to copy how they were cut together. Free apps were good to practice on, but they were limited in what they offered. I found myself transitioning over to Adobe Premiere Pro, once I realised I could build a career from it. When I started working with more prominent companies using something as advanced as Adobe Premiere Pro was a must. Nothing can beat it
AV: What camera did use to shoot and what do you use now?
BW: The very first camera I used was my mother’s Nikon from ancient times. I transitioned over to a Canon 1100d, then to a Canon 7d. At this point, I realised that I wanted to pursue video, rather than stills. I moved over to mirrorless in 2016 with the trusty Lumix gh4, and now I am shooting on the gh5. It is an absolute workhorse and for ROI, it is an excellent piece of equipment. I’ve shot my best work on this camera and even a TV series with it.
AV: How is audio gathered? What equipment is used?
BW: I’m a big audio geek. If the audio isn’t good, it’s all over. I use a range of audio equipment, mainly Sennheiser AVX lapels, mixed with a Sennheiser MKE600 boomed/onboarded. All recorded to a Zoom h5 which is strapped to my chest. Not a separate audio guy. I’m running two lapels to two different talents, an onboard directional, and shooting and producing. It’s fun!
AV: What is your workflow? Do you write scripts for example, or is it all off the cuff?
BW: My workflow is always changing depending on the clients and the direction of the content needed. Working with a talent for a sponsor always works best with a rough script so that everyone is aligned. However, when I’m working with Kyal and Kara, on a building site for nine months, you can’t script what’s going to happen, people shooting themselves with nail guns, walls collapsing, and so forth. The best content is unexpected.
AV: Is your shooting done in a studio setting, or do you get out and about? For either, what lighting do you use?
BW: I’ve only been in a studio twice in my life. I’m a huge fan of natural light! I’ve grown up in such a beautiful coastal area that it would be a shame if I didn’t make the most of it. However, I use lighting when it’s needed, such as for interviews. I have a 300d and a softbox. I just added a big 2m scrim to my set. It’s a game-changer because usually, I have too much light.
AV: Do you have any favourite special effects plug-ins?
BW: I’ve never really been a big effects user. I think they defiantly have their place for certain projects, though most of my work calls for reality rather than over-the-top effects. The story is the backbone.
AV: Is After Effects part of your toolkit?
BW: I use Adobe After Effects for simple title transitions and content-aware fixups. Other than that, I’m still a novice in Adobe After Effects. It’s something I really want to expand my knowledge on.
AV: What other software do you use to create your content?
BW: All video content I create is created using either Adobe Premier Pro or Adobe Rush on iPhone. I find myself needing to cut fast content on the go from my phone so it’s a real game-changer. Speed is the game. Adobe Rush makes that easy.
AV: What is your preferred destination – for example YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram et cetera?
BW: The platforms I’m creating for are starting to shift a little. I started off creating for Instagram and Facebook. Now, I’m mainly sharing across TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube for the longer-based landscape content. I don’t know when, but landscape content will be outdated eventually (for social). Even YouTube is shifting to vertical.
AV: How do you grow your audience?
BW: osting, posting, posting. My own platforms barely get posted on, as I am constantly working to help others with this problem. I think individually we see our day-to-day lives 24/7, that we think we aren’t interesting, but the truth is people are interested in what you do, and what you have to say Tap into a topic you’re interested in, and you’ll find other like-minded people along the way. Being authentic and creating as much content as possible is the best way to grow.
AV: Do you use any stock footage? If so, where is it sourced?
BW: I rarely work with stock footage. I like working with content I’ve created from scratch.
AV: Any other advice?
BW: Advice, this is a funny one. I find myself still so early in my career that I’m constantly learning and discovering new things. I think my best advice is for high schoolers or those beginning their journey, (as I was in their shoes not so long ago). If you have an interest in the creative space, pursue it. Put in the hours and get your name out there as much as possible. No one has any excuses anymore with the tools and platforms available. I had access to Adobe Creative Cloud at high school and made the most of those applications to enhance my learning. I attended local events, such as surfing competitions, and filmed a lot of content. At one of the competitions, I bumped into Jamie Ragen, Director Solutions Consulting at Adobe. He expressed interest in my work and invited me to attend an Adobe Make It event, where I got to meet the Adobe team and showcase my content. Since then, Adobe has brought me on board as one of their ambassadors, and in 2022, I got to speak about my journey at the Make It event. We live in a content-driven world, so anything is possible. If you love it, you won’t have a problem making a career from it.
Kyal and Kara x Taubmans – Advertisement:
Blue lagoon Build Episode 5 – Content Creation – YouTube: