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Sunday Rewind: Shiny helmets and pre-snap smack

A videographer's perspective of Week 15 from Digital Media Producer Austin Gaines.

Most would think Sunday's weather was less than perfect. From my perspective, it was as close to perfect as I could ask for. A cloudy day with hints of sunlight every few minutes. Every part of a uniform shines on days like that. The whites pop with the blacks and blues, the metallic coating of the helmets sparkles under the stadium lights, visors offer great reflections of light, and things seem to be just more crisp. 

While filming this first clip, I laughed to myself because this is a shot I've been hunting since I started filming for the Panthers. There is an unknown dramatic about the act of a player picking up their helmet and putting it on. It's like the helmet transforms the person into a finely tuned engine ready to take on anything. 

The lighting I described earlier makes this shot better than I thought it would be at first. The reflection of Daryl Worley's glove on the face mask, glitter of the helmet, the stadium light reflecting on the panther logo as he picks it up; the sharp contrast and shine of the design on his Nike gloves that incorporates white lines and metallic coated accents. Worley is picking up his armor, preparing for "battle," and as a juxtaposition, it's one of the most beautiful shots I had from Sunday's game.

Anyone who was at Sunday's game or watched it knows what this is. Greg Olsen's reaction after scoring his first touchdown since he broke his foot. 

In my short time working around Olsen, he appears to be a great dad with an honest sense of humor. As Cam Newton has said, Olsen's the "chaperone" of the offense, a fatherly figure. The on-going joke is that he and Christian McCaffrey are a father-son duo. I think it speaks to their relationship that McCaffrey greets Olsen with a congratulatory handshake for his touchdown effort. 

Then comes Newton. 

Olsen approaches him for a high five, but Newton wants no part of it, so they share a jumping hug. Newton got his "dawg" back, and boy is he happy to have him. 

Even though Newton scored on the other side of the hashes, I'm lucky all the reaction happened on my side of the field. 

This next clip is of a moment that went viral – when Newton called out Packers linebacker Clay Mathews before throwing a touchdown to McCaffrey.

Even though you can't hear it, you can see Newton point at Matthews before Newton says, "Well, watch this."

To capture something like that is incredibly lucky. When players are that close to the goal line, I want to get close-ups of their faces because that is really the only time I have the opportunity. A split second before all that went down, I had an extremely tight shot on Olsen's face and I panned pan back over to Newton for the pre-snap routine. Incredibly lucky. 

During my previous job at Clemson, I had the opportunity to see wideouts like Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Williams and Martavious Bryant make incredible catches. But they're all over 6-foot. 

Damiere Byrd is 5-foot-9. But he did something on this play that most people would say he shouldn't be able to do. But he had something better than physicality. He had focus. 

If you watch the slo-mo part of the clip, you can see that Byrd never takes his eyes off the ball. His eyes are laser-focused on the ball throughout the whole catch. 

As I filmed this, I honestly thought it was a legal catch. From my angle, you imagine Byrd's body fell inbounds just enough to count as a touchdown. The other field judge comes out of nowhere from the back side saying Byrd was out, but there's no way he could have had a great view. The back judge on my side had an obstructed view. But after review, officials gave Byrd his first career touchdown. 

It's another example of luck on my end.  

What if Byrd's route was a soft out to the corner or if the back judge was four feet to the left? So often it really is about being in the right place at the right time. 

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