BETA VLOG – EP 07 – “KEEP SEARCHING”

The final video in the BETA VLOGS was one of the hardest to complete. Our ship had run its ground and we had diverted from the main mission which was to make it to the NAB Show to watch our video being used in a promotion for the ATOMOS field recorder.

 

Very Large Array at sunset

Capturing the Very Large Array at sunset. A beautiful site to see at this time of day.

NAB Show to watch our video being used in a promotion for the ATOMOS field recorder. NAB was going to wrap up in 2 days and we were still sightseeing in New Mexico. It was clear to us that when we saw how much of a drive, to Las Vegas that we still had ahead of us… it was looking bleak. We were running on precious time, we had to leave now if we wanted to see NAB.

We had felt defeated in everything that we had shot. We felt the footage was lacking and there was only snippets of good stuff here and there. We had put our confidence through the grind and started doubting everything. That’s the problem when you want to be creative; you always think everything you do is shit. In our case; it probably is shit, but you go off and loll in a state of bitter hate for a few days cursing yourself and doubting your meager existence. It’s normal; it’s a good cleansing.

Eventually you could find yourself all alone, wallowing in a dark corner of your shitty, shanty, outdated, 1960’s ‘Jetsons’ style, retro-roadside motel pounding back bottles of the most unforgiving and vile Scorpion Piss the desert had to offer. Thankfully, a thin beam of light sears through the yellow nicotine stained curtains resurrecting you from your pathetic, self-pitiful slumber only to realize you’ve pissed yourself rotten. You belch out a scream… “WHHHHHY?!” It’s after that moment – after all this self-inflicted punishment – you feel like a complete moron for putting yourself through this all for a fucking – vloooog. Like seriously, did you actually think Francis Coppola was gonna call ya?

The above paragraph might sound like an extreme case but luckily that didn’t happen. Well, there was a time I didn’t backup footage for a shoot and I mentally went into ‘Defcon 1’. In all seriousness aside, I think with the limited time and resources, we did a decent job of structuring something out that would give us direction to where we wanted to go with the series. We had to keep our head up and set our sights on at least doing what we had set out to accomplish in the first place – getting to NAB Show.

Google Maps had calculated 10 h 53 min (709 miles) drive from Alamogordo, New Mexico to Las Vegas, Nevada. We had spent a better part of the the previous night bitching moaning on how the footage sucks and there wasn’t going to be anything to work with besides a road trip filmed out the window of a moving car (we were right on most of those points) but it still didn’t give us the right to feel sorry for ourselves. We should’ve stayed the course and been happy with at least getting what we got but as always – it’s never good enough for us. It’s better to be hungry for more. The moment you feel satisfied in your work – you’re done for.

We were just being too hard on ourselves. So, we finally left Alamogordo around 1pm and due to our greedy tendency stop, film and photograph the landscape – we ended up tacking on more time to the 10+ hr drive. We wanted and planned to stop off and spend time at the NRAO ‘The Very Large Array’ one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories, consisting of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico

We we’re just being too hard on ourselves. So, we had left Alamogordo around 1pm and due to our greedy tendency stop, film and photograph the landscape – we ended up tacking on more time to the 10+ hr drive. We knew we wanted to stop off and spend time at the NRAO ‘The Very Large Array’ one of the world’s premier astronomical radio observatories, consisting of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. This was a place that many people I know of could give a shit about – which made it all the more interesting for us!

Heading west of Socorro on HWY 60 for the fifty miles that laid ahead of us felt as if it was taking forever. We had left Alamogordo at around 1pm and with all our stopping along the way we didn’t get to the NRAO until 5:20pm. The sun was just beginning to set and we knew we only had just over an hour left of sunlight to frame, photograph and compose any shots that we needed for the vlog. Johnny had to make an executive decision to priorities; either spend more time taking photo’s or lean more towards getting footage.

The Large Array of dishes are a very cool and impressive site to see. It’s crazy to think that we were standing in a place that is currently observing the depths of space and time. That directly above us we will hopefully one day bring the answer home to whether or not we’re alone in the universe. After all the menial trials and tribulations that we encountered on this trip with bitching and complaining about the footage and not being happy with what we had… standing here made it really seem not all that important. In the grand scheme of things… what’s really more important, getting to the end of a journey or continually experiencing the journey.

I’m sure that last bit sounds nice and insightful… but give us a few day’s, one of us will be back on the Scorpion Piss.

What we do as individuals throughout our own life while searching for meaning is what defines and separates us from the rest. We all chose different paths in life and what leaves some people doubting their choices is the fear of judgement friends and peers can make and pass on. Judgement from others is what can cause us to decided early on to pull off the exit and not chase a dream or fulfil one’s life’s journey. People who threw in the towel early-on in life’s journey are the ones who worried too much about the opinions of others.

When we pulled off to the side of the road there was no ‘cliche intersection’, there were no ‘signs’ just a long stretch of road ahead and a long stretch of road behind us. We knew what lay behind if we wanted to go back but the road ahead of us was very long and uncharted; kinda like our lives up into this point. My brother and I have been through a lot and we have seen a lot of the world together. Apparently not enough. Maybe that’s part of the reason why we haven’t settled down, started a family or own a house; the way we see it we chose not to live the rest of our life competing with friends and neighbors. There just would be too many regrets if we settled and deep down we know it.

We were never ones to find comfort in a mind-numbing job that provided a nipple of security such as benefits and a pension to suckle on. We never got aroused or excited about retirement like some people do. I would actually be afraid to retire, I don’t even find it remotely interesting. It would make it feel like the end is near and I’m waiting out the final days for the Reaper to come knocking.

It was one of those night time drives where the paranoia of the darkness and the fear of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere gets the better of you.

Some people that are very content with just settling down in the suburbs to raise a family, put the kids through school and hold out while constantly reminding and chaffing co-workers, friends and the younglings on how many days to go until retirement. That’s not us. I think about the ones who hate their job and end up working in it for more than half their life, and dabble part-time in a hobby that aside from everything else around them is truly what sets them free from the reality around them. That is what we fear the most.

Before I ramble on I think it best we get back on track and save the ‘living a life of regrets’ rant for another blog post.

So we had pulled up to the main office / visitors building and were basically the only ones on the premises. There was absolutely nobody in sight. It was awkward, scary and felt like we were experiencing some weird scene in a science fiction movie. We scoped the area for someone to hopefully talk to and answer questions but ironically there were no signs of life.

Johnny decided to walk to one of the dishes and begin filming and I decided to investigate Karl G. Jansky visitor’s center. Inside it was also void of life, it was dark, a bit dingy and out of date… but there was a definite cool factor. The place is a self-guided tourist center with loads of displays and information regarding what NRAO does and how they have modernized the technology inside the dishes over time. The only thing that keeps you company on this tour is the sultry, female voice providing you with information over a speaker system accompanied by awkwardly, strange but cool ‘space noises’ such as quirks and screechy / popping sounds.

It was a bit upsetting that we couldn’t spend more time at the NRAO but it felt as though we could have aimlessly and as freely wandered the grounds as much as we wanted. We didn’t see one person the whole time we were there. I mean, if they are watching space… they have to be pretty confident that someone is watching the grounds. There were several enormous metal hangars that housed the dishes for repair. That was pretty cool but we didn’t really want to venture around too much on our own, considering there must’ve been several million+ dollars worth of technology lying around that we would have unintentionally played with. When I see button’s I want to just push them. Just like Austin Power’s in the ‘Molley… Molley…’ scene.

I was a bit upsetting that we couldn’t spend more time at the NRAO but it felt as though we could have aimlessly and as freely wandered the grounds as much as we wanted. We didn’t see one person the whole time we we’re there. I mean, if they are watching space… they have to be pretty confident that someone is watching the grounds. There were several enormous metal hangars that housed the dishes for repair. That was pretty cool but we didn’t really want to venture around too much on our own, considering there must’ve been several million+ dollars worth of technology lying around that we would have unintentionally played with. When I see button’s I want to just push them. Just like Austin Power’s in the ‘Molley… Molley… ” scene.

The NRAO is a great place to simply take in your surroundings and admire one of man’s achievements. Just stand there and stare upwards, sure you can do it anywhere in the world but it’s just cooler to be doing it there. The area is a flat desert wasteland and seems to go on forever. The silence is comforting but interrupted by the sporadic jack rabbits scurrying through the desert shrubs in your peripheral. It’s a perfect place to feel like you actually are out in the middle of nowhere… it’s quite fitting considering we’ve been searching for life and studying the stars for some time now that just maybe our planet in the universe is also in the middle of nowhere.

We had spent a better part of 2 to 3 hours at the NRAO and did enough bouncing between filming and recording that we probably had just enough footage to scrape by with. It was a good time to that we decided to leave because the Terrordactyl size moths had been fluttering in our ears and were getting attacked by those skinny, anorexic looking mosquitoes. The desert was coming to life and we were under attack. On the drive out to the HWY 60 there were no lights except our cars headlights; so you can imagine… driving through a desert, in the middle of nowhere and your only light source is from the car – a bit creepy.

That’s when…

MOOO-OVER…


John and Jamie Milkovich at the NRAO Very Large Array in New Mexico

John and Jamie Milkovich at the NRAO Very Large Array in New Mexico

 

For some reason driving into the VLA we didn’t notice any ‘Cow Crossing’ signs but when we were leaving we saw a couple. I thought it was funny until suddenly out of the blackness directly in front of our car a herd of cows come meandering about. Luckily, Johnny’s quick reaction to swerve the car out of the way around them and cutting past with no contact was amazing yet a bit heart pounding. These cows were huge. Had the front of the car connected it would have been totaled.

The remainder of the drive throughout the night with the amount of animals (rabbits, deer, cows) that had been lingering close to the shoulder of the road or even darting across was getting a little excessive. We started to frequently see more and more of our headlights reflecting back at us in the eyes of the animals as we passed them by. It was scary cause the last thing you wanted was a deer coming through the front windshield. We kept wondering why there were so many animals hanging out so close to the road.

It was one of those drives / nights where the paranoia of the darkness and the fear of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere has the better of you. There were no cars in front or behind us for the past hour or so and this is what made us a little worried. Also, there was this ‘burning smell’ inside the car which was driving us a little crazy. We kept looking around and checking the temperature to the engine but it didn’t appear to be the source. When I sniffed the vents on the dashboard there was certainly the smell of something burning and it was clearly the source of the smoke. We thought maybe something had crawled up into the engine and we started a little BBQ… but then we started to notice smoke lingering outside as we drove. We thought it was fog but it started to quickly get a whole lot denser as we continued on. Before we knew it… a lot more animals taking shelter by the side of the road. That’s when we started to put things together.

“Outside my window as far as we could see the dark landscape was illuminated with large pockets of fires.”

Out of nowhere we saw patches of what seemed to be campfires sporadically lit about 20/ 30 meters away from the road. These were actually brush fires; alright, seems normal we thought. We’ve heard about them before and yeah, it wasn’t until the smoke was so bad we reduced speed and took to cruising the car to 20/30 mph. Outside the passenger side car it was completely illuminated in a orange glow from a crazy amount of fire that had literally engulfed everything. A crazy fire had completely taken us by surprise, we now knew why there we’re so many animals by the side of the road.

The one thing I wish we would have done was to stop and have filmed the inferno that we were driving through. There was enough light from the fire that we could actually see details in the ground and about close to 30 meters of clear visibility. The crunching and crackling sound and heat waves whipping could be heard. We started getting worried that we hadn’t come across a gas station or a town for almost an hour and the flames were now itching to the side of the road. Eventually, we saw the glowing light pollution that lingered above the road from a small town. We felt somewhat relieved to know that we we’ren’t alone out there. When we finally came over the crest of the incline… there was no small town or city…. It’s was the raging inferno.

Outside my window as far as we could see the dark landscape was illuminated with large pockets of fires. A strong and present orange glow arched above the nighttime sky. It was dramatic and eerie to see and hear that crackling and popping of fire as chunks of reddish embers wildly ascend skywards. We wanted to stop and film the raging fire but being alone in the middle of nowhere and the smoke being very thick with limited visibility we kept on driving. There were times that the road twisted and turned appearing in the distance like it was going to take us directly into the heart of it; there were several times we almost considered turning around but after a long and stressful ‘eventually’ we managed to get out safely.

NAB SHOW – LAS VEGAS

 

Vegas Strip

The Vegas Strip in all its glory.

By the time we had arrived in Vegas NAB Show had only 2 hrs left before closing until next year. It was driving slowly in the previous night’s, unexpected inferno is what cost us from making it to see NAB Show on time. After we had driven safely through the fire from the night before we’d become extremely lethargic and ill from all the smoke, our eyes we’re dried and badly irritated; we got as far as Flagstaff, Arizona and spent the night there. We had slept in a truck-stop parking lot just outside of a Denny’s restaurant and it was probably one of the most uncomfortable sleeps I have ever had. With all the engine noise, lights and air brakes from 18 wheelers coming and going… we didn’t really sleep all that well but we were just happy and grateful to be safe.

NAB Show

We arrived at NAB just as the doors were being locked and everyone was gone. Nothing but an empty parking lot.

We knew we it wasn’t gonna be in our cards to make it to Vegas on time. For us to check into a hotel then store our gear, shower, rest up and rush down to the ATOMOS booth at NAB Show… didn’t seem like it was going to happen… and guess what…. It didn’t.

We weren’t upset or angry that we didn’t get to see our video – our visual creation, a story that we had filmed and edited to be unknowingly requested by a respected company for use on display in front of thousands of people for promotional purposes. We were just slightly disappointed but not defeated. To have our video even being considered was a boost to our self-esteem. It was cool, thank’s Atomos.

Looking back on all this it might sound silly but the greatest accomplishment that we learned from all this is – doing it yourself and not depending on other’s. Sure you will need to depend on people in life, and most certainly in the creative process itself but this video was something just my brother and I had our hands in. It may not be the ‘best’ and it certainly isn’t a ‘mind-blowing’ video but now as I sit here typing, the narrative of the video I had edited never really sank in this deeply in relation to right now at this very moment where my brother and I stand in life.

When I think about it in the context of this video and the present time in our lives I now believe we’ve made it… it kinda has come full circle. It has stuck with a vengeful epiphany that will sound brilliant to us… but but idiotic and oblivious to everyone else. In a way it now feels like the video was telling Johnny and I about crucial facts in understanding both of our dreams, our destiny, our passion and path in life.

It’s this:

Life is physical. Have mental strength. Be disciplined. Be ready for combat. That is life.

After everything we’ve been through… we never gave up no matter how many punches life has thrown at us; we stuck by each other. We may not have won every round, but we certainly took the hits and got knocked down as we were laughed at but we always got up. We never threw in throw in the towel, that’s not us. We took the risks and kept going back for more even though there was no one in our corner.

NAB Show

Went to Vegas and all we got was this picture of us Standing outside the NAB Show.

There are thousands of other videos out there filmed and directed by talented and seasoned videographers / cinematographers that would undoubtedly blow ours out of the water. But for two loyal and dedicated brother’s who learned everything about this game – fairly late in life and into their careers, without the help from anyone; the fight we have gone through to get here and the fact we are still here doing it and making a living at it… we came away the champs cause we didn’t give up. We just believed we could do it and we are doing so.

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My brother and I are the Co-Owners, Photographers and Creative Directors of Double Vision Photography. This website you’re visiting is the home of ‘DOUBLE VISION The RAW FILES’: A website and online series that chronicles the visual works and Vlogs my brother and I create.

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