Back in 2009 when GoPro was still a small upcoming company, recently graduated mechanical engineering student Abe Kislevitz got his hands on a GoPro for the first time. He used it to film the USC’s (University of Southern California) Ski and Snowboard team to promote the USC website he was running. The fact that Abe always had an eye for art and design showed in his edits and not long after he started making the USC edits, he was contacted by GoPro to help them film the first Ski Movie which was launched in 2010. Not much later GoPro’s CEO Nicholas Woodman offered Abe a job at GoPro as Production Artist which he took July 2010.
Now, well over 3 years later, GoPro has grown exponentially with Nicholas Woodman estimated to be worth 1.3 Billion US Dollars and Abe promoted to Sr. Production Artist. Over the past few years his editing skills improved and so has his following with over 30 thousand subscribers on his YouTube Channel, 3,360 people following him on twitter, 6061 followers on Facebook and over 35 thousand followers on Instagram, but does he feel like an icon and what makes him tick? I sat down with the man behind the GoPro edit to see what gets him out of bed in the morning.
“Icon is a very strong word. I’ve received enough messages of people saying ‘you’re my idol’ or ‘you’re my inspiration’ so I know there’s people that are looking to me for inspiration and are counting on me to release content.”
Since the GoPro office grew and grew the amount of editors grew along with it, dividing the amount of edit work to be done over the editors and making Abe, being a Senior Production Artist, the mentor over them all. A role that he has taken up outside of the GoPro office as well, turning his website into a blog, where he answers various questions about his edits and workflow and makes tutorials and how-to’s.
The fact that there are 40 people working in the media team now makes it even more important that all the edits have the GoPro vibe and that’s where Abe comes in. He admits there aren’t a lot of edits that came out recently that he fully edited after the HERO3+ reel, but somehow I seem to be able to figure out with which edits he was a bit more hands on in the making of it, and if you think about it that’s what it’s all about. With over 12.5 million search results on YouTube when you search for ‘GoPro’ what is it that makes a GoPro edit an Abe Kislevitz edit?
“I think my signature is that I’m very in tune with how cuts work with music, sound, and flow. I’ve made and watched enough edits to know right when a cut doesn’t work with my brain. When I’m sitting with an editor with a video in progress at GoPro I can feel a sense of ‘that cut right there, that one doesn’t work’. I keep massaging my videos until everything is completely flowing with the music; visuals match audio. Once I can watch it all the way through without being distracted in any way then I know it’s done.”
Wondering how long it takes to get it all quite right? Well for the edits on his own channel he works after work hours, that’s from 6 pm till 3 am and it’ll take him one week and two weekends. So the next time you wonder why those two full days didn’t make your edit shine the way you wanted to, it might be that you haven’t spend enough time on it yet.
Long hours in the office for Abe, but edits like the HERO3+ reel aren’t shot in the backyard of the GoPro office so he gets a chance to get out every once in a while as well. For those who follow Abe on Instagram, will know I’m being sarcastic since he posts pictures of beautiful places a little more than ‘every once in a while’, but besides from how many likes the places get on Instagram, what trip was his personal favorite and why?
“Chile this summer was an all time favorite trip. We stayed in a gorgeous cabin in the mountains. There was a hot tub outside that was heated by fire every morning – you just had to sit back and take it all in. We had an all-time crew with Travis Rice, John Jackson, Lynsey Dyer, Chris Davenport and Clark Fyans as our guide. The helicopter would land in the backyard and take us out to some of the most epic mountains I’ve ever seen (and skied!). Overall there’s been so many fun trips getting to know new athletes and amazing people around the world. I take a step back and feel very thankful every time I’m out and about. ”
Sounds pretty sweet to me and if you read the comments on Abe’s pictures on Instagram or edits on YouTube I feel I’m safe to say I’m not the only one slightly (understatement) jealous of the life Abe is living, but is he really living the dream, or isn’t it all rainbows and sunshine?
“It’s all relative I think. It’s easy to get in the habit of looking to the next person in your life that’s traveling more or doesn’t have the full-time job (Caleb!! haha). You get caught up in trivial things like how your email client is annoying or that you’d rather be in the mountains when it’s snowing. You definitely have to remind yourself when you’re sitting in the office or beginning to complain that nothing around you sucks even in the slightest. I’m super thankful that I have an amazing steady job that allows me to still have fun and hang out with my best friends every day.”
Abe has been there during GoPro’s rise and has worked his way up in the company the past years, but what has he learned from his time at GoPro so far?
“I didn’t know much about editing before I came here. The things that I remember being taught or learning from the web in the early days seem so trivial and silly to me now. I’ve also learned a lot about how companies work and how they’re run. I’ve seen GoPro go from 10-15 employees when I first started contract work to 29 people when I was hired full time to now close to 700 employees.”
Abe has learned a lot and has, what is considered by others, a dream job, but at age 27 what does the future hold for him? What would he like to achieve?
“I could see myself going myself into the engineering side of things a little more. I studied engineering and I have a passion for it. I can’t see myself being in video forever – I don’t think I’m ever going to go work on big budget Hollywood movies or working with a TV studio or anything like that. I’d like to work for a company where I’m influential in creating a product that people will be happy about. That’s the cool aspect with GoPro, I’ve been able to still voice my thoughts and meet with engineers on a weekly basis.”
So we might not be seeing Abe Kislevitz edits on GoPro’s channel someday in the future, but I did get a scoop that there’s Abe’s been working on an edit that he says will be “a really good one” and that it will be like a “Party in the Park 3″, so keep tuned on his social media outlets and especially his website.