Sam Baumel is a New York City based creative producer that has worked with corporate clients, non-profits, virtual reality and most recently, emojis. His corporate clients have included Facebook, Google, Pepsi, Nike, and more. His work has been showcased at festivals and galleries around the globe, and featured in publications like The New Yorker, Fast Company, and NPR. Sam is also a very active KitSplitter; he’s done over 60 rentals on KitSplit to date! 

So we were thrilled to be able to catch up with Baumel discuss his delightfully inventive approach to his narrative work and his gear!

Sam Baumel dressed as a key frame

Sam Baumel dressed as a key frame, obviously

Tell us a little about your work and background.

I produce, shoot and edit video & virtual reality.

My background is comprised of Mr. Rogers, cereal boxes, Encarta95, the 2000 recount in Palm Beach County, DIY green screens with my dad, VCR to VCR editing with my Mom, rollerblading the suburbs, producing my friends’ student films in New York, running a production company out of a soundstage in Brooklyn, biking to Queens, circumnavigating the globe, finding love, planting roots.

How would you describe your style?  

Visually, I’m definitely inspired by the 2009-2011 Canon 5D Mk II rack focus aesthetic 😉

Narratively, in my work with corporate clients, I strive to find the authentic voice of my interview subjects. Capitalism is as old as humanity. We spend a lot of our time being human in that system.

So, I’ll put a magnifying glass on my client hoping to discover something transcendental about the human condition – even, or perhaps especially when the client is a family-run small business operating a credit card payment processing company out of the sixth floor on 38th Street.  

Through the interviews and B-Roll we will surely communicate my client’s’ competitive advantage, but I also aim to reveal something that will resonate on a more personal level with their audience.

When creating dance films, music videos and gifs, I have a prediction for the bizarre.  I’m attracted to repetition, optical illusions and ambient music.

What have you been working on lately?  

I’ve been conducting experiments in VR/360 with a talented stop-motion animator. I appreciate the tactile quality of stop-motion and am excited to see more practical effects in 360 environments.

Tell us about a recent project you were excited about. What was your role in this project? (Include a link if possible!)

Ghostwriting about the evolution of emojis for a recent blog article. I love thinking about the etiquette for communication on all these platforms. Pictographs are being used with more frequency and sophistication now. Emojis communicate quickly, universally and with a distinct nuance – they’re also just fun. I’d link you to the article, but as a ghostwriter, I can’t 🤣

"The greatest gift you can give an artist is a limited palette. Innovation is the creative use of limited resources."Can you tell us a little about your process?

My process values attention (perhaps the most scarce commodity) by prioritizing editing. When composing a shot, what we frame out is more important than what we keep in because it directs the focus of our audience. I work with clients and collaborators to distill their ideas into concise, cohesive objectives. The greatest gift you can give an artist is a limited palette.

Innovation is the creative use of limited resources.

Tell us about your work in VR/360 video–how did you get started with that?

I got started shooting VR/360 creating a virtual tour of the Hudson River from the Statue of Liberty to the Erie Canal for Google Maps.

VR transports audiences and VR enables travel for work.   I’ve documented cockfights in Nicaragua, glacial mountains in Patagonia and choreographed dance in the dessert. Proficiency in 360 affords me the opportunity to get gigs with the likes of Sonos, Adidas, Marriott, Mini and Vice. Nonprofits also understand VR is an empathy machine. This has led to some meaningful collaboration.

We’re still pioneers in this medium – making the rules and breaking the rules. It’s exciting to be a part of that.

Can you give us a general overview of the gear you typically use for 360 video?

As of this moment, the Insta360 Pro 8K is my favorite camera. You can actually see what you’re shooting via wireless transmission in a headset while on set. This was not possible last year. The image is high quality and you can shoot stereoscopic, which is like 3D and 360 combined. The Samsung Gear 360 is great to have as a second camera for that inside-the-refrigerator shot.

Sam filming virtual tours for Google Maps

Sam filming virtual tours for Google Maps

What’s your favorite piece of gear?  

Oben Tripod straps. For $20 you’re hands-free.

Who are your favorite filmmakers?

4 people named Chris. Last names:

Cunningham, Marclay, Marker, Milk

What advice would you offer to other folks just starting out?

Show up and follow up.

You’ve done a lot of rentals on KitSplit as both a renter and an owner–have you made any long lasting professional connections that way? Any funny stories to share?

A renter came by on a Friday night to rent a 24-70 lens for a few bucks. We both lamented over how lame we are now that we’re in our thirties and have nothing going on…on a Friday night. The renter ended up hanging at my place for three hours. We shared drinks and stories – showed off our work. I taught him a bit about 360 cameras. He shared some tricks on DaVinci Resolve. Within a month we were working together on a shoot.

Closing thoughts?  

“Don’t hate the media, become the media.” ~Jello Biafra

Check out some of Sam’s gear on KitSplit! 

Check out all of Sam’s work on his website, or follow him on Vimeo and Instagram!

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