Monday, September 12, 2016

Interview with a Moto-Vlogger: Indian48

After a summer of watching talented Moto-Vloggers and admiring them for making such great videos on youTube I reached out to a few to put together this series. Some were kind enough to take the time to let me pick their brains and force them to ‘write’ in order to bring to you an inside glimpse of who they are and why they do what they do.  

So without further ado lets get to know the person behind the video camera....   

Rider Name: Indian48 (But let’s call him Hawkeye :) 

Real Name:  Eric       
Location:  Detroit, Michigan (Previously: Scottsdale Arizona)

View from behind the handlebars of the
Indian Chief Vintage,
headed North in Arizona to Winslow
TFC: When did you start riding & why?

Eric: First, I’ll say it’s an honor just to be asked these questions, because frankly, I’m a newbie.  I started out doing this because I thought it would be fun for people to see someone with 0 long-distance experience try to go around 48 states and film it. 

 Somewhere along the way, I actually got some experience under my belt, and here I am!  So, I hope this doesn’t come across as an experienced guy talking to newer folks – really it’s a newer guy who still has a lot to learn, passing along what I can tell you so far.  So here goes.

I got my first bike, a Honda CBR600 F4i, when I was 21.  I always wanted a motorcycle, and that was the first time in my life where I had a job and I could afford one!  It was one of my first post-college purchases.  I’d just graduated from Michigan State, and instead of using my salary from my first job to pay off debt or to get an apartment, I moved right back in with my parents and bought a bike.  Looking back, I suppose you could say I had some pretty patient parents.  I liked the CBR, and it really helped me to learn more about motorcycling to practice on that bike, but I found that I didn’t have a lot of friends to ride with, and sport bikes tend to have a way of making you want to go try dumb things…so when I eventually sold it, I was actually happy to watch it go, while I still had all of my limbs in the right places.

TFC: How did you come by your rider name? 

Eric: I don’t know if I really have a rider name – just a name for my website.  I went with “Indian48” because I really love the Indian motorcycle I ended up getting, and I decided to go to all 48 states in the continental U.S. on it.  So, it’s not the most creative name.  It just explains what I did.  

If I did have a rider name, I think it would be something really cool like Hawkeye or Gryphon or something.  My friend’s young son thought I looked like Hawkeye from the Avengers movies, and that was probably the best compliment I’ve ever received.  So, if everyone wants to start calling me Hawkeye I’m totally good with that.  But otherwise I just go by “Eric,” or “that guy with all the tassels on his bike.” 

Beautiful day in Arizona –
one of my favorite places to ride.
This one is just South of Winslow.
TFC: What do you ride now?

Eric: I ride a red 2014 Indian Chief Vintage, loaded up with every leather bag and set of tassels you can buy for it, with the exception of the tassels that get in the way when you’re trying to open the saddle bags.  It’s by far the favorite of all bikes I’ve owned.  

My first cruiser was a Harley 100th anniversary Fat Boy.  I loved that bike too, but it didn’t have bags, and the previous owner had lowered it, so it would bottom out if I had a passenger and hit a manhole cover or a bump.  After that I had a Harley Road Glide.  That bike was nice, but at the time I still didn’t feel experienced enough to go long distances, and so I didn’t really get the most out of it or appreciate it.  It felt too heavy to use to just cruise around town on my own without going big distances, and so I sold that one.

TFC: Does your bike have a name?

Eric: A couple of times I’ve referred to her as “Falcor,” like that dragon dog from the Never Ending Story movie, but I really don’t call it that.  After going across most of Montana one day I did get a little loopy and start patting her on the tank as I rode, letting “her” know she was doing great and having a small conversation with her.  So, though Falcor didn’t stick, the anthropomorphism did, and she’s now taken on a nameless female persona.  

On a recent trip across New Mexico, an inebriated man at a gas station insisted for about 10 minutes that I was like Roy Rogers and needed to call her “Trigger,” but that didn’t stick.  When I was a kid, I had one of those plastic horses mounted to a metal frame with springs, and it’s name was Trigger.  I don’t think you’re supposed to have two Triggers in one lifetime, so that wouldn’t work.

The Monument to the Four Corners
riders in Madawaska, Maine,
the far Northeast corner of the U.S.
TFC: What made you decide to start Moto-Vlogging?

Eric: It actually was kind of an accident.  I didn’t know anything about “vlogging” or “YouTubers” when I got started.  My plan was actually to make more of a documentary-style film when I began my 48 state, 4-corner trip.  I had been in touch with a professional documentarian about that, and I was geared up to create that kind of a film.  I just didn’t have a “story.”  After the first trip was done, and the 48 states and 4 corners were behind me, I started to label the footage and just post short clips to share the beautiful scenery.  

That’s when I got interested in other YouTubers like Casey Neistat.  I started watching Casey’s VLOG and I thought: That’s what I need to be doing – not creating one big story – but creating a ton of small stories to share about my riding experiences.  Once I understood that there was a genre like that that “fit” the types of stories and footage I had collected, I started publishing them in that way.  I’ve had a blast with it and that’s what I’m still doing.  I really enjoy the idea of releasing a lot of small, single-serving films, instead of one long one.  I also think the world has much more of an appetite for that now than they do for long-form documentaries with one big message. 

Wide open road in Montana
TFC: What type of equipment do you use to produce your videos? 

Eric: I use a Canon 80D DSLR with a Rode shotgun mic and a 10-18mm Canon lens to shoot most of my footage while off the bike.  That setup is really incredible.  I started with a Canon T5i and quickly realized how bad it was at image stabilization and auto-focus for movies.  That was a mistake to buy.  I’d been taking advice from YouTubers who had a fixed set and never moved while filming.  

The T5i is great for that, but as soon as you’re moving around, it loses any ability to perform as an auto-focusing video camera.  I use a GoPro Hero 4 Silver for all of my on-motorcycle footage.  Sometimes it’s mounted onto the front of my helmet (I rigged it up using a ton of tape), and sometimes I just have it in my hand and shoot freely, just moving it around with my arm.  

I have a cheap lapel mic mounted with double-sided mounting tape to the inside of my helmet so I can talk when I ride, but as you’ll see in my movies, I usually don’t do that.  I narrate a story afterward, or while I’m stopped, and then I use that audio overtop of the footage from the road.  That style seems to fit me best.  I also recently picked up a DJI Phantom 4 drone which is the most fun thing I’ve ever purchased as an adult.  That can add some real context to the movies, but it also can be dangerous and illegal, so I’m careful with it.

The Newbugh-Beacon Bridge
 spanning the Hudson river
in New York
TFC: What is the most challenging part of putting together your videos?

Eric: For me it’s thinking of a compelling story that will draw people in, and not just posting a bunch of footage.  I think it’s great that some people want to just sit and watch beautiful scenery!  But, I also want to capture people who want to hear about what happened during the trip.  To do that best, I really need to be thinking as I ride about what I should be narrating, what the “story” is behind the day, and how that will all come together in the end. 

 Unfortunately, I’m just brand new to that and only starting to do it at a level I think will interest viewers.  So most of my early films were just riding with music behind me, and my later stuff has been me doing narration way after the end of the ride, trying to make a story out of something that happened a month ago.

“Standin’ on the Corner”
monument in
Winslow, Arizona
TFC: Any advice for someone wanting to get into Moto-Vlogging?

Eric: Sure!  Here’s a bulleted list:

·         First, get really comfortable riding.  Practice.  Get into a parking lot and do fast-stops.  Go through cones or coke cans you set up.  Ride miles on open roads.  Get to be a motorcyclist – know how to ride and operate within your comfort zone.  I just saw a new moto-vlogger with a brand new bike, go out and dump his bike on its side on his first motovlog ride.  He should take a few years to ride and get comfortable before he starts worrying about filming himself.  I had been a rider for over 16 years before I started trying to film it.

·         Get really good at editing.  To me (after having a good story), editing makes 99% of the difference between something viewable and something people click away from.  Editing can make poor footage work, and it can make great footage even better.

·         Make interesting stuff.  If you get bored watching your own stuff, someone else will get REALLY bored.  Leave them wanting more, not less.  If you watch masters at this like Casey Neistat, they completely understand how short people’s attention spans are, and they’ll flip to a new scene, segment, or topic every 8 seconds or so, at most.  Cut, cut, cut.  Leave only the most interesting stuff.  I spend a lot of time cutting out even the shortest pauses as I speak, so the videos don’t cause people to lose interest.

·         Test your equipment a lot before you use it.  Once you’re out there on the road, it really compromises your safety if you have to fuss with your equipment at all.  You need your stuff to be working and accessible.  If it’s not, get off the bike, get it working right, then start up again.  No fussing with the camera on the road.

·         Don’t worry about what anyone will think of your art.  Just create your stuff!  Enjoy that creative process!  If you get some bad comment, delete it and block the person.  This should be about creating for the sake of creation.  Don’t do something to get attention.  Do something because you loved creating it and you’re proud of it.  Then, if attention follows, great!  If it doesn’t…fine.  Make more stuff.  The fun in this is the journey (literally) on your motorcycle, and the art of creating these neat little films.

Riding up the coast on the Indian Chief Vintage,
Just after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge
in San Francisco, CA
TFC: I have a moto-bucket list of places I would love to ride my bike someday. If you could ride your bike anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Eric: I’m kind of strange in a couple of ways. One, I don’t have much of a “bucket list.”  If I get interested enough in something, I just find a way to do it as fast as possible.  So, if I started to get that kind of interest in a place to ride, I’d try to get there within a few months.  It would be neat to head up through Canada and into Alaska in the summer.  I’d enjoy that trip next.

Two, I’ve traveled to many countries, and I LOVE motorcycling and living in the USA to the extent I don’t have a lot of curiosity to travel overseas.  I could just ride up and down the Pacific Coast Highway all the way up through Oregon and Washington, and through Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Utah --- I’d be happy doing that for good.  There’s so much here in the U.S.  Someday if I had the chance I suppose I’d enjoy a trip around the coast of Australia, or a trip through some parts of Europe.

TFC: Any last words or advice for motorcyclists?

Eric: I’m new to this and still learning, and I hope I never lose that mindset.  I think it’s important that we all keep perspective and maintain that little bit of fear that keeps us from doing anything dumb.  Unfortunately, the stats show that this goes away and for a little while riders get overconfident, and get into accidents because of that.  So I’d say, read the Proficient Motorcycling book by David L. Hough, then read it again and again.  Never do anything that’s out of your comfort zone. 

Don’t ride with others who do things you don’t think are safe.  If that happens, don’t be scared to be the guy who just lets them move on ahead.  You can meet up with them at the hotel.  Also, follow your gut.  Sometimes you’ll get a feeling that a certain ride just isn’t right.  

I remember I was going to take a trip up to Prescott from here in Phoenix one time, and I was all packed up to do it.  Something had me thinking, this trip does not feel right, and so I just didn’t go.  I wish I could tell you some incredible story like, because I didn’t go, I avoided a head-on collision with a truck.  But the thing is, I didn’t go, and so I have no clue of whether or not I avoided anything.  I just think that safety is what’s most important, and so, you should follow your instincts, practice a lot, ride within your comfort zone, and (all the things you’ve heard before).  That stuff is real.  Every once in a while, take a look at a YouTube video of people’s body parts all over the highway to keep you humble.

Check Indian48 out for yourself! 
Subscribe, Like em, Leave him a comment!

Indian48 youTube channel

Places to connect with you:
Twitter @Indian48Eric


If you are a Moto-Vlogger and are interested in getting featured on my new series you can find me on Twitter and send a DM to @theFrozenCanuck or you can email with your youTube channel. I will review your channel and as long as you meet my discriminating values I will contact you. I have to set some standards :)

Cruising through Life & Enjoying the Ride...

1 comment:

  1. Do you have an idea where this guy went. I enjoyed his videos. Now his YouTube channel is empty? All his media seems to have disappeared.