Get High With Mike – Mike Mac Donald

Hey guys! My name is Mike Mac Donald, also known as Get High with Mike. You may have seen one of my YouTube videos. In any case, I’ve been invited to share a little piece of my career as a kite vlogger with you. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with you. Big air kiting has become my life. I coach, run a kite shop (bigairkite.com), I’m the founder of the Big Air Kite League (BAKL) and I’m a competing rider. I have a small team that helps me keep building on this career, but today’s feature is focused on vlogging. So without further ado, let me tell you about my vlogging story.

Kitesurfing Magazine: How did you get into kite vlogging? 

Mike Mac Donald:  I’m on a mission to be the best big air kiter I can be. So over the past few years I’ve found myself doing these things that I could only ever have dreamt of, like traveling to exotic destinations looking for strong wind, such as Oman, or buying an old van to live out of whilst kiting in the US. I felt that this journey in life is too incredible to not share. So I started making YouTube videos. My first vlog was about my van trip in the US, followed soon after by my How to Darkslide video which kind of blew up. The success from that video was really motivating and put me on the trajectory I’m on today. Thank you to everyone who watched it. And thank you to Core for supporting me on this journey. 

Photo courtesy Core kites.

Kitesurfing Magazine: What have been your most popular videos or topics that you covered? 

How to darkslide, how to take off like a pro, how to heli loop and my Woo record videos. The ones that do best seem to be topics that are relevant to a large audience and haven’t been well-covered yet. 

Kitesurfing Magazine: Are you ever surprised by what goes viral? 

Yes for sure. My first how to video did relatively well despite it being on a fresh YouTube channel and being pretty average in terms of production quality. That was a shocker! I re-watched it the other day with fresh eyes and I’m proud to say I found it pretty informative. But the audio is terrible. 

Kyle Cabano photo

Kitesurfing Magazine: Do you have a love or a hate relationship with the YouTube algorithm? 

Haha, I wouldn’t say so. My bro Michal and I do our best to make great videos and get them to blow up, but we have no control over what happens once we go live and we’re finished promoting them. So we just hope for the best and move on to the next project. 

Kitesurfing Magazine: Tell us about your filming set up. How often does it change? 

Well my cameraman/video editor has a pretty badass setup, with a Sony A7, A7 IIIS, Gimbal, FPV drone etc. You can see my camera gear below. It’s constantly growing as we figure out what we need to get the content we want. Next on the list is a 360 camera. I recently used my bud’s during a coaching session and it was awesome. 

Kitesurfing Magazine: What is your ratio of minutes filmed to minutes in the final project? 

Probably 1:10 filming to all the rest! The editing, back and forth, script-writing, marketing etc all adds up to quite a mass of work. But thankfully Michal and I make a great team. 

Michal Jagniaktowski photo

Kitesurfing Magazine: Do you have things planned out with a storyboard in advance, or is it more organic, chaos, or a bit of both? 

We used to be a bit more chaotic, but now I write out a script with an accompanying storyboard beforehand. The planning goes a long way in reducing time input and creating a better video at the end of the day.

Kitesurfing Magazine: How do you manage your workflow? Get it edited right away, or file it andwork on later?

We typically film and get into the editing right away. We catalog all the footage from every session using Google Sheets. That way we have notes on which clips were sick, which were crashes, which were B roll etc. We mainly work in Google Drive and Google Sheets for all the collaboration. 

Mike Mac Donald not only competes in, but also organizes events. Thomas Burblies photo

Kitesurfing Magazine: What was the best advice you heard that helped make your videos better?

The camera may add ten pounds but it takes away all your energy so you’ve got to be more-than-psyched to keep your audience engaged.

Kitesurfing Magazine: What program do you use for editing? Any Editing tips?

I use DaVinci Resolve, but Michal uses Premiere Pro with After Effects. Best tip for editing is to make rough drafts and show them to friends early on so you can get feedback and reiterate. Don’t invest too much time into the small details before you’re sure you’re not going in the wrong direction.

Michal Jagniaktowski photo

Kitesurfing Magazine: Where is your favourite local beachfor riding and filming?

Dolphin Beach (Cape Town, South Africa) is my favourite for riding, as we get the best big air conditions in the world there when it’s on! Balneario (Tarifa, Spain) is the best for filming! You’re surrounded by rocks, beach and a road so there are so many angles to film from. We’re going to be live streaming Full Power Tarifa (big air comp) so you can see what I mean for yourself.

Thomas Burblies photo

Kitesurfing Magazine: What have been your favourite destinations to film?

Brazil, Oman, Leucate, Tarifa, Cape Town and more. The list goes on!

Kitesurfing Magazine: Any big projects in the works for 2021/22?

Yeah I’ve started a new project called Just The Tip Tuesday. In each episode I give you just the tip! I’m making simpler videos and putting them out every week, as opposed to only doing bigger projects which typically take a month to launch from start to finish.

Mike Mac Donald editing.

Mike Mac Donald’s SETUP 

Cameras: 

-Sony A6400 w/ 16-50mm or 55mm 

-GoPro hero 8 Black 

-Google Pixel 5 

-DJI Mavic 2 pro 

-DJI OM 4 Gimbal 

Mic: 

Rode wireless Go (finally got my audio levels fixed so no more crappy audio) 

Hard drives: 

Internal SSDs 

Samsung T5 SSD 

Seagate 5tb for the mass storage 

Google Drive is essential! 

Editing software: 

Davinci Resolve 16 

Computer hardware: 

Dell XPS 15 7590, i7-9750H 

32GB RAM 

NVIDIA GTX 1650 

Visit Mike’s Youtube Channel

youtube.com/GetHighwithMikeAdvancedKitesurfCoaching