My name is Austin Gaines, and I am the new Digital Media Producer for the Carolina Panthers. Essentially, my job is to create the videos that you see on social media and on the team website. Film, edit, direct, produce - the whole process is what I undertake. I've only been with the Panthers for roughly two months now, but I have been around sports for a long time – working in college football for a number of years. This job is different however because I'm now filming people who are at work, not 18- to 23-year-olds coming in from class. The stakes are higher, and everything means more.
This past Sunday, the Panthers traveled to New Orleans to take on the Saints in a game that had huge implications in NFC South. On the field, I could see and feel a different vibe, different emotion coming from all of the players. I'll now take you through a few of my clips from pregame warm-ups, which is when I am able to really capture individual emotions, up close and personal.
This first clip is of wide receiver Dameire Byrd, who was back for his first game since breaking his arm. I knew as soon as I knelt down next to him this would be one of my favorite clips. The lighting in the Superdome might be my favorite lighting yet from a cinematic standpoint. It doesn't make players look yellow, it's even all around, and you get what's called "lens flare" very often, which many videographers drool over. It was incredibly lucky that I could get Byrd placing his hand on his helmet in the manner he did. Just that shot alone could be used in countless ways. Then, panning up to his face and capturing the single bead of sweat rolling down his face, seeing him focused as he gazed around the field. It is such a simple shot to capture but one that is so often missed.
Kurt Coleman is a passionate man, about everything in his life from my experience with him. His passion translates to the field and to his teammates even if they play on the other side of the ball. In this clip, Coleman is going around to players of both sides of the ball screaming "YOU GOTTA TAKE IT, THEY AIN'T GONNA GIVE IT TO YOU!" This is something he usually does every game in some fashion, so I always try to be on the lookout. I would say the veteran safety was most passionate this week. Punching players, grabbing them, spit flying out of his mouth; this is quintessential football passion. It reminds me of college, where Saturdays are the biggest days of the year for those kids. Coleman makes sure to get in every guy's way to impose his mentality on them. This is the other side of the spectrum that videographers live for. Unlike Byrd's quiet and cinematic glimpse, Coleman gives us an energetic feel for what is at stake.
From a fan's perspective – whether you are 8,000 rows up or on the field for pregame – you never get to look into the eyes of players. I believe the old saying that "the eyes are the gateway to the soul" holds true. Capturing emotion for me also means getting extreme close up of faces, so you can see what they are feeling. This by far was my favorite shot all day. These guys never, ever stand still long enough for something like this, so when defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. stood staring at the field, this was a chance I've been waiting for. In this shot, I'm maybe standing two or three feet from Cox. I'm shooting this in a high frame rate so I have the option to make it "slo-mo" once editing it. My job is to film what no one else ever sees – show things from a new perspective. Sweat on his face, marks and spit on his visor, then the clinched fist to end it all. No one sees this from the stands. No one sees this from the sideline. I only see it if I choose to see it. This will probably be my favorite shot for a long, long time. In real time, this shot was only 13 seconds.
Finally, the man himself: QB1, Superman, Cam Newton. Every single away game, Cam travels to the other end of the field to watch his awaiting opponents come out of their tunnel. He bends over with hands on knees, paces back and forth, and stares into them. From my perspective, Newton has many sides to him, which we all do. The Cam during this portion of the game is not one I want to mess with, but I don't think he even knows there are six camera men around him because of his focus at the moment. In this clip, Newton is watching Drew Brees make his entrance. The fire blazes in the background, creating an extreme array of colors in this shot with black, silver, blue and orange. You see Newton slowly turn his head as Brees runs out, and it's then that you can see the eye and face profile close up. Again, I strive to get shots that touch your emotions, and I believe these tight face shots offer a striking perspective that people rarely see.