Updated: Dec 19, 2018

"We are not here to show people what they can already see. We are here to give them experiences they would otherwise never have experienced. We are here to preserve the moments that would have otherwise been forgotten." -author unknown

Hunter Cone is a student from Savannah, Georgia. A childhood friend of mine, we shared an interest in photography and videography. When I moved away, I dropped the hobby, began pursuing music, and we lost touch for several years. Hunter started his own media company, Tornado Cone, and found success with many different organizations. Eventually, through the powers of Social Media, I caught up with him and noticed his posts about DCI.  I learned that our very different journeys growing up led us to the same activity. However, while I have spent my time lugging around a bass drum, he'd found his way into a position on the BD360 team (a media outlet of the Blue Devils, a highly successful group from California). Through our rekindled friendship, I've had the amazing opportunity of learning about the behind-the-scenes world of the Media Teams of DCI, and Hunter has opened the door to share with Notes for Thought.

When a girl from his high school's marching band invited him to a DCI Atlanta Regional, Hunter grabbed his camera and decided to tag along. He found his way to the front of the stands and took pictures of the groups. He captured some great shots of the Blue Devils and posted them on Facebook. One day, after seeing his work, the independent media team that produces BD360 reached out to him, offering to fly him to California to tour the country with the group, spending the summer working with the crew. While his family was hesitant about such a big summer endeavor, he eventually convinced them to let him go. 

Tour was anything but easy. The days were long; the bus rides through the middle of the night never seemed long enough for sleep. Hunter's team, the video team, was comprised of 3 interns. Hunter explains their day-to-day experiences:

"Once we got to the housing site, we’d find the media room (and we usually slept there if there was extra time after the bus ride). At 7am, we'd set up an entire production booth. Computers, chargers, cameras, an entire production studio worth of equipment in whatever small classroom we were given."

Each day, they'd meet and divide jobs of the episode they were working on. Each person had a chunk of an episode, so parts would be completely shot and edited by an individual intern. Then one person put the pieces together and added graphics, creating the cohesiveness.  

"We’d get the member schedule, plan, and after lunch would send [video] shooters to get member interviews. For example, if the episode was about the color guard feature, we’d pull guard members at lunch and interview them about the individual topics included in that. They'd have some pull in the direction of the episode. We’d use those interviews to find what to get coverage of on both the practice field and during shows."

"On show days, everyone is a shooter. We split into two sideline shooters and a high cam. There are 2 additional members from the Blue Devils team. They aren’t paid because they’re Blue Devils interns, and but they can send us their extra videography to be featured whenever they choose to (To avoid confusion, I should remind you that technically our crew is a 3rd party company that partners with BD, but there are also media interns inside of most corps)" 

This fluid interaction between the team, interns, and members allowed them to capture what was going on in the members' lives in that moment, rather than being strictly scripted or trying to fit a mold of what they wanted to showcase for the group. In this way, they take pride in highlighting the heart of DCI, and specifically the heart of what it means to be a Blue Devil.

Going weeks without seeing his family combined with the fast-paced stress of the DCI activity was not an easy task, but Hunter loved his summer. He got to experience a unique combination of member life on the buses, crew life on the field, and the education in his pursued career. He encourages anyone serious about media arts to explore the numerous media internships and opportunities in DCI.

In addition to his words, his media really speaks for itself. Be sure to check out Hunter's work! 

BD360 on Youtube : https://youtu.be/8Mv7zVEqGHA

Personal : http://photos.tornadocone.com/browse

Notes for Thought would like to send a huge thank you to Hunter not only for this exclusive interview, but also for being a major contributor of photos used on this page.