2016 has been a pretty mental year for me. The majority of it has been spent on planes (54 of them, roughly) or editing content in my office. It's also been the hardest and most rewarding year of my life (career-wise).
January 22nd - DreamHack (Leipzig, Germany)
My first shoot of the year started with DreamHack Leipzig, Germany. I was commissioned by Monster Energy to document two of their sponsored StarCraft II players. This was the first time DreamHack had hosted an event in Leipzig.
I shot this piece of content with a Canon 6D, all of the content after this point improves drastically due to gear upgrades.
February 19th - My Sony FS5 arrives!
After 7 months of saving up and taking on every single possible job I could in 2015, I finally bought the FS5, a camera I had been eyeing up since release. My girlfriend was probably happier than me because she wouldn't have to listen to me moaning about how much I wanted the camera anymore!
But in all seriousness, this was a huge step-up from my Canon 6D. No more mushy DSLR footage or 720p slow-mo.
A few days after I received the camera, I went to a local skate park in Preston and shot a little test video. I massively underestimated the Slog3 exposure and ended up with grainy footage, a lesson learnt.
February 28th - MLG Major Qualifiers (Columbus, Ohio)
This was my second ever time flying to the US and it would also be my second time in Columbus, at an MLG event. I was hired by 1UP Studios to help shoot the qualifying event to the major (player reactions, interviews, general b-roll). It was an insanely fun week and I had the chance to eat amazing food and work with some very talented filmmakers.
One of the many hype videos produced at the qualifiers.
March 11th - EGL Open (Shoreditch, London)
A couple of weeks after flying back from the US, I jumped on the train to London to cover European Gaming League's Call of Duty open event. EGL and CoD was where my esports career began, so it naturally feels at home when working with the EGL crew. I was tasked with creating an 'after-movie' / event montage, covering the event.
March 18th - 'LIKE LUST' (Blackpool)
My first personal project with the FS5. Plus it was the first time in weeks that Blackpool had sun. Any excuse to go out and shoot, really. Not much to say about the video as a whole, I basically shot anything and everything in 240 & 400fps.
April 1st - MLG Major Finals (Columbus, Ohio)
My third time visiting the US, and again, my third time shooting in Columbus at an MLG event (not that I'm complaining). This was a pretty gruelling 7 days of shooting, early call times and super late finishes. It was definitely worth it in the end, I was able to watch my first CS:GO major at an incredible venue.
The content we produced ranged from hype videos, player portraits to event openers, all played on the stream's broadcast throughout the event.
The final video of the event, which opened up the Na'Vi vs Luminosity grand final
We finished off the event by running around with heavy camera gear at 10am, hungover, freezing to death, whilst being shot with paintballs. Can't say I'd do that part again.
April 8th - DreamHack Masters (Malmo, Sweden)
Another commission for Monster Energy, I was tasked with following Team EnVyus through the tournament and creating an after-movie, though, this time in Sweden.
Malmo became my favourite city that I had ever visited up to this point. Kind of felt like London in ways. I was here for 7 days in total, 5 days for shooting the DreamHack Masters event, 2 days being free time. In my free time I decided to explore and not waste away in the hotel, I ended up shooting one of my favourite videos I've ever made, 'Faces of Malmo'.
The DreamHack Masters video I produced for Monster, is also one of my favourite esport video I've ever produced. Although Team EnvyUs were knocked out early on, the production, venue and general atmosphere of the event was unrivalled at this point in the year
April 29th - Battleborn Showdown (London)
Shortly after Malmo, I travelled down to London to shoot two feature videos for 2K's Battleborn event, this was a promotional event for the newly released game, two teams of five players (YouTubers / twitch streamers) were playing vs each other on broadcast. We created 1 feature video per team.
May 1st - Creative Director (G2 Esports)
May 6th - 'Behind The Screen: Thijs' (Enschede, Netherlands)
My first week at G2 was spent planning future potential content. One of my ideas was to create a 'day in the life' series of videos, labelled 'Behind The Screen' - the staff really liked this idea so I was flown out to the Netherlands to shoot with Hearthstone pro, Thijs.
Thijs was super welcoming to me and even though I only spent a few hours with him, I felt I had made a new friend.
May 19th - 'Vacation Is Over' (Berlin, Germany)
After G2's League of Legends team failed to perform at MSI 2015, I was asked to come up with a video that would create a fair amount of traction and hype online, the video also had to introduce the two new players 'Zven' & 'mithy'. I flew to G2's team house in Berlin, spent 4 hours shooting/editing and uploaded to YouTube on the same day. The video ended up hitting 238k views, which was a success in our eyes.
June 3rd - 'We Ready' (Berlin, Germany)
With the LCS spring split approaching, we decided we needed a new hype video; we had a huge amount of momentum (in terms of social media presence) due to our last video. So how do you ride the meme wave? simple, Rick Ross, fake dollar bills and gold chains. I really did have fun creating this and it's still one of my favourite videos to date.
June 17th - E3 (Los Angeles & San Francisco)
Probably the most tiring trip of them all. I'm pretty sure I'm still to this day, recovering from the jet lag suffered throughout those 10 days. Regardless, this was still super fun; I finally had the chance to experience LA and the world famous gaming showcase event, E3.
I create 3 or 4 pieces throughout the trip, my favourite being the short hype video below:
July 1st - ECS Finals (London)
The ECS finals were actually the first event that one of the G2 teams had won and that I was present at. The CS:GO team nailed the event, beating Fnatic, NiP & LG, they took home roughly £100k.
Check out the after-movie I produced below:
The after party was pretty fun too, I don't quite remember taking the photos below, though.
July 8th - ESL One (Cologne, Germany)
After our ECS win, the team had high hopes coming into ESL One. Unfortunately, we were knocked out during the group stages, meaning the video content was kept to a minimum, with this short interview with ShoX.
August 5th - 'G2 is Everywhere' (Berlin, Germany)
Whilst at ESL One, I had the idea of re-creating Riot's 'EU is Everywhere' video, but with our League of Legends team (G2), to build hype for our first playoff game vs UOL.
This shoot could have been a total failure, the airline I flew with ended up losing 50% of my camera gear that I had brought for this specifically. I ended up losing my lights, gimbal, tripods and lav mics. We made the best out of a bad situation and delivered a video I'm still very proud of.
August 19th - Gamescom (Cologne, Germany)
With my luggage still being lost in the abyss of Amsterdam, I had minimal gear to shoot interviews with, so during Gamescom I tried to shoot as much as we could that did not need perfect audio. One of the pieces of content was a profile video with G2's D1ngo (Vainglory team).
August 26th - EULCS Finals (Krakow, Poland)
Going into the EU LCS playoff finals (G2 vs Splyce) we decided to start a documentary series, labelled 'Legacy'. I followed the team from Berlin > Poland and documented their two days at the event. We ended up winning 3-1 which was obviously a nice way to end the split.
September 21st - Worlds Bootcamp (Seoul, South Korea)
The G2 LoL team had been boot camping (practising) in Korea, in preparation for Worlds. I flew to Korea for the last 4 days of the boot camp to document their time playing.
In the end, 95% of this footage wasn't used and probably never will be due to our results at worlds. The small amount of footage used was placed as an introduction to the Worlds documentary we created.
I did however, test out my new gimbal which you can see below:
September 25th - Worlds (San Francisco)
I had been excited to attend this event for a while, it's one the most prestigious esport events in the world. I spent around 2 weeks in downtown San Francisco, documenting the team at either the hotel or whilst they were playing their group games. Unfortunately we had poor results, losing all but one of our matches. You can watch the full documentary below:
November 1st - Back to Freelancing
Shortly after worlds, I had a lot of time to think and ultimately decided that I wanted to return to freelancing. My main reason for this was that I had a lot of personal, passion projects that I wanted to pursue, which would be impossible to do whilst working a full-time position.
November 25th - BTS Shoot / Manchester United (Manchester)
My first freelance job came through shortly after creating my yearly show-reel. I would be shooting some behind the scenes content of the Manchester United football team for Swissquote. The content is currently in post-production.
December 8th - 'The Poet' (Blackpool)
One of the many passion projects I had been wanting to do is 'The Poet' - a short documentary with my Grandad and his poetry. I'm certain that this will be a video that I'll cherish for a very long-time and a great memory for future generations of my family.
So, to put my year into numbers:
I've hugely enjoyed this year and all the new people that I've been lucky enough to meet. There have definitely been ups & downs but for the most-part, 2016 has been special.
I'm now taking on bookings for video work in 2017, you can view the showreel of my year below:
Lewis Farley is a Blackpool, UK based filmmaker specialising in documentary work.