Meet the duo behind Bearcat film

Published 3:07 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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Most weekday mornings this summer, the Bearcat football team could be found in the Bainbridge High School field house studying film. The players split up into position groups, and coaches guided them through highlights and lowlights of team activities from the day before. This is how the team usually started their summer practice sessions.
While the football players were watching the film, the people who shot it were busy training in long-distance running. Senior cross-country runners Jahlae Sapp and Eric Lewis are the Bearcats’ videographers this season. They spent time after morning cross country practices at the football field taking video of the team.
“As soon as we get done running, we stretch out, and we come back here,” Sapp said, sitting with Lewis in a shaded nook of the field house during a football practice.
Sapp and Lewis shoot film for the football team using a drone. The drone, a DJI Phantom X, has a camera attached to the underside of its body, allowing Sapp and Lewis to shoot birds-eye footage of the team. They position the drone 30-40 feet above the field and shoot video from behind the offense, facing downfield toward the defense.
“The main thing is, you always film from the side where the offense is,” Sapp said.
The guys fly the drone back every so often to change the battery. Sapp said the battery life is 30 minutes, but he brings the drone back before that to avoid possible overheating of the battery. “When the battery overheats, it can mess up the drone,” Sapp said. “We had two [drones], but the other one, it overheated. The screen just shut off, and it dropped.”
The drone dropped while Sapp was bringing it back, and the impact rendered it unusable. He said he once had a drone drop onto the field.
“It fell in the middle of a play,” Sapp said. “It was like thirty, forty feet in the air, and all you saw was it drop. I was scared for myself.”
Sapp still has the job today, so everything ended up fine for him. After practices are over, Sapp and Lewis extract the video from the drone and send it to the coaches to watch and prepare for the team.

The best ability is availability

This is Sapp’s second year and Lewis’s first piloting the drone. The two said they got the job out of coincidence. They carpooled from practices with running back Kennan Thompson last season. They said they would wait at the football field and watch practice if cross country ended before football.
One day, the previous videographer didn’t show up, and they were asked to fly the drone for that session. They agreed, it stuck, and Sapp continued to help out under the previous videographer. Lewis said he couldn’t commit to helping last year due to the responsibilities of being in the band. He is not in the band this season. Sapp and Lewis shoot game footage for the Bearcats as well.

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Runner first

Sapp is looking forward to a big year on the cross-country team this season. He said his goals for the season are to finish top ten at states and break Bainbridge’s 5k record. Sapp shaved two minutes off his 5k time last season, running a 17:30, and is a little more than two minutes shy of the school record of 15:22.
“In the past years, I didn’t have the right training,” Sapp said. “But now I’ve got the right training. I feel like I can get to it. I’ve just got the mindset of, like, if I can break two minutes last year, I can do two minutes again and break the school record.”
Sapp also runs track and said he has similar goals to break the 3200 and 800-meter school records this year.
The Bearcat cross country team has its first meet on Aug. 19 at Sherwood Christian Academy in Albany.