Don Roberts Regrets

I’m saddened that I have to share the news that Don Roberts passed away last Thursday. He was a long-time friend of mine. He succumbed to pneumonia complications at the age of 82. That’s too soon an age for a young minded man like Don to leave us.

Don was one of the first people that I made friends with when I moved to Phoenix in 1972. He was always quick to laugh at a joke and if he thought ill of anyone, he kept it to himself. As a couple, Don and Sharon were on everybody’s guest list, because their joy filled a room.

In the later part of the ’80s, I was fortunate to work with Don and other club members tasked to revitalize SCCA’s Arizona Region Solo program.  As president, his management style was refreshing. He would listen to and discuss any idea and if he thought they showed merit, he’d let you run with it. He gave encouragement and guidance as feedback and gave credit where credit was due.

Don was a racecar driver of eminence, but other people can tell that story better than me. As a competitor, he was never stingy with his help, but he always managed to do a little bit better than me. Sharon—Don’s better half—shared a link to an article that long-time motor sports journalist Bob Golfen wrote about Don in if you’d like to read more.

Queen Anne and I both offer Sharon our condolences and best wishes. We’re certain that Don’s already organizing an event for us at the great Malibu Grand Prix in the sky.

It was my honor, Don — jw

P.S. If you have a favorite Don story that you would like to share, you’re welcome to post it here.

Learning Video

Yesterday, I posted a new video on YouTube. In August 2015, I bought Adobe’s Premiere Pro, a video editing software, and since then, I’ve been trying to learn how to use it. A lot of photographers complain about how complex Adobe’s Photoshop is, but Premiere Pro is way more challenging.

This is my tenth post on YouTube and the first since April. All but one of them is about the amateur car racing that I do. It’s a natural subject for movies. Besides, I can rationalize making the films as a tool to improve my driving skills.

One of the cameras that I own, the Sony A7r, shoots video in ultra high-definition, that’s the format on newer TVs now. So, last season, Jeff (who was co-driving my car at the time) and I bolted it to the passenger side headrest. I made a clunky bracket out of wood that held the camera securely; although there’s still some vibration. We filmed several events with mixed results and gave up on the Sony because we couldn’t get the metering or microphone to work correctly. Instead, I picked up a used GoPro off eBay. It’s a small video camera made for shooting action videos. The focus is set, there are very little other adjustments, and at one tenth the weight of the Sony, the camera mount is now overkill.

Shooting in-car video is very common on YouTube. Mostly, they’re a record of the driver’s best run. They have a beginning title, and the film clip . . . that’s it. They’re of little interest to anyone except the small community of autocrossers.

Because I was learning film making techniques, I wanted to go beyond documenting a single run. I tried to make simple stories out of my videos. With each new video, I added new refinements. I learned how to do fade, cross fades, titles, end slides, and as hokey as it sounds, I worked on creating my brand . . . a simplified interpretation of the MGM lion, as it were.

For this video, I made off-screen commentaries to help make the story-line clearer. To do that, I wrote little scripts and then recorded them using an audio program. After editing the snippets, I inserted them into the video at the proper places. As a result, I see improvement although there is a lot more work to do. If you care to see my new video, here’s the link:

I welcome any comment you have . . . it is a learning experience after all.

Till later . . . jw