My recent conversation with Terry McGee (RC Trailblazr) was not only a great opportunity to get to know an amazing hobbyist, but it also brought to light some great information for those of us that want to share our love for radio-controlled vehicles through photos and video. Terry shared a number of details around the effort that he pours into his videos. For example, sharing the amount of raw footage needed for a “standard” YouTube video, giving insight into the plans and preparation work that he puts into a shoot, and what equipment he uses are just a few of the bits of wisdom that Terry shared. To get the complete scope of the conversation, give a listen to episode 35 of the RC Newb Podcast.
Outside of these great details, Terry is a hobbyist, with a deep love and appreciation for all things R/C. He has assembled some well-built machines during his time in the hobby and shows no sign of slowing down. His latest video has him thinking outside the box with both camera angles, scene setup, and effects. I am happy to shine the R/C Hobbyist Spotlight on Terry and a selection of his custom radio-controlled rigs.
Tim Gluth (TG): How did you get into RC?
Terry McGee (TM): I first got into the sport from watching YouTube videos and was just blown away at the improvements made over the years in Off-Road RC. Seeing a rig run through water in a capable four wheel drive RC truck just fired me up. I had spent 7 years trying to get my foot in the door with 1:1 rally racing spending tons of time from volunteering, marshalling stages and even organizing a Canadian championship. I had started racing autocross through a sponsor with their car but the costs of running it and event fees was just too much. RC was a way to revitalize that dream of rally racing, from there my RC experience became a relationship with film along with the possibilities of creation through YouTube.
TG: What was your first RC?
TM: I first started out with a rally car funny enough, I looked up the closet hobby store called Model Land and went there with a wad of cash and bought the Team associated 18R Peugeot 307. While holding the RTR box in my hand I remember saying to the kid behind the counter “are there any upgrades here at the store for this car” He said “ Yes a few” so i bought them all. I then went to the two other stores in the city and bought out all of their stock too lol. This was an insight in my future purchase patterns in RC.
I learned quickly that it wasn’t easy to find a place to run these low and fast type cars here in Calgary, Alberta. I would go to a parking lot and burn around, but ended up just doing high speed cartwheels from nailing rocks and pebbles in the lot from winter gravel trucks.
This was what made me go buy a truck, I ended up talking my girlfriend into RC and bought 2 RTR wraiths. I remember asking the same thing at the store at the time “What do you got for upgrades”? and after buying everything they had I quickly adopted the world or online purchasing. I started buying everything that was aluminum, back then I honestly didn’t even know what i was buying or what i was doing to my rig I just wanted it for my truck. My wraith ended up being a massive part of my RC experience, from all the years of trailing I’ve almost learnt everything from running that rig. It’s been fully rebuilt 7 times and ran over 6 different motor/ESC combos and at least 8 servos. I should say that most of those busted power systems have been from me running through creeks, rivers and snow and that learning process of waterproofing and truck maintenance. Not only did working with this rig teach me about RC trailing and crawling, but it also taught me a ton about film & video production.
TG: Talk to me about your YouTube Channel! What is it that interests you about making videos? How many subscribers and videos do you have? What makes your channel different?
TM: The YouTube side of RC for me is a large part of the love & passion. I have always been attracted to film, photography and creating music from a young age; but had never seen the type of creation & sharing that YouTube can offer. My channel has allowed me to take a life long passion of cars, racing, driving and the love of the engineering & physics to create entertainment in RC videos.
I started off filming myself and my girlfriends wraiths and ended up making over 150 videos with a first Gen GoPro and a very slow used laptop with some free editing program. I’ve kept all my old clips on my channel to show my viewers the journey I’ve taken in video production. I believe there is a large difference in the improvements in my videos looking professionally edited, and I’m glad the channel is started to reflect that progression.
As for my subscribers I’m still a small channel, but hopefully not for too much longer. I believe I’m close to 5000 subscribers currently. And in my repertoire of videos I have around 250 clips, which I usually produce 1 – 2 videos per week, sometimes more.
I try and feature the experience of Off-road trailing within scale RC and showcase places that not everyone can see in real time across the world. Here in Southern Alberta Canada we are very fortunate to have such an expansive level of terrains and trails which are perfect for Off-Road RC. I try to not hit the same trail within a 6 month span and I am always researching new areas or places to hike. Sometimes i’ll head down to an event and throw down a camera, but my preference is control on the scenes for a vision i’ll have for that current video. I currently try and not watch a lot of other RC videos just for the fact that I’m trying to create and not replicate.
I want to be able to feel confident that I’m making my own path in RC videos and too have my own style instead of adopting the look of another RC channel.
I’m currently working with two artists that allow me to use there music in my videos which I am so very grateful for, because my style of video depends so much on a beat or music track to make thing work or tie together. Transit Hip Hop from here in Calgary & Ryan Little from North Carolina have allowed me to mix there awesome tracks with my edits which i believe make my videos stand apart from others. On that note, I spend more time looking for usable music then i do editing my videos which to date is the hardest part of the production side of things, but of course I really love it.
TG: What about your sponsors? How did you get involved with them and what sort of things do you do for them currently.
TM: I’m working with a company called Asiatees out of Hong Kong, which has been such a total blast in the last two years. I ended up hearing about them from that kid at the local hobby shop about 8 years ago , this was when i was desperately upgrading my rally car, he told me about them. I ended up spending a ton of time buying everything I could for my wraith. My relationship as a customer & sponsor with them has been really great. They are really doing an amazing job at helping the RC community. I currently write Trailing/Crawling/RC basics articles for them, I feature them and their parts in my videos as well as a ton of other requests that I work on through them on a daily basis. I won’t lie becoming and working with a sponsor is not any easy task, E.S.P. (Extreme Scale Performance) made a video about sponsorship awhile back which explains all the ins and outs of working with a sponsor and he put it best that he said to “treat it like a real job” and that you will have to put some real effort into continuing that relationship. And as much as it’s awesome getting parts in the mail; there is a lot of time and effort to represent that company to be a good return on their investment. As that’s what you are, there not going to keep sending you stuff if they are not seeing the sales.
TG: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get a sponsorship?
TM: My best advise would be to not expect anything, this moment you start complaining or demanding anything you will lose the opportunity. Relationships are key, remember you work for them so make the work for them light, you are an investment so make sure they have a cash return though your promotions. Go slow and show effort, be organic, don’t start shoving the product down people’s necks, just give people want they want. Does the product work? why should they upgrade to such parts and what does it “upgrade” or improve? The big question for that person looking to get into a sponsorship is why should they sponsor you? After that it’s just the leg work which can be tough, expect a ton of companies to not message you back, I’m sure most companies get a lot of requests for sponsorship deals. If you really want it just don’t give up.
TG: Why get into RC Trailing/Crawling? What do you get out of it other then the film & edit side of things?
TM: Personally I love to encourage and inspire others, that this type of fun or entertainment is available for all and all ages. Its cheaper then trying to run a full size rig, you can go every weekend instead of just the odd run here and there, rally car racing was only a few times a year and RC can be every weekend. If you’re anything like me and want to run an RC a trail truck is great because with proper maintenance it can be very durable. If it’s too windy you can’t fly a plane and boats don’t do well on ice in the winter up here, trailing is year round and can be done in any weather.
TG: What advice would you give a “newbie” towards getting into trailing or crawling?
TM: There is so much to learn and a good community of RC enthusiasts is a massive help for the learning the ins-and-outs of the hobby, so get out there and meet some of the more veteran folks for advice. Support your local hobby store, these folks are putting in some real effort to bring in a great product for little margins so make sure your going down to that mom & pop place to spend your bucks. Don’t give up, a massive shock for most if the breakdown side of things, no part is invincible so expect to be fixing your rig after a day of truck torture. Go slow, don’t spend a ton of money on rigs to build an armada of rigs. like myself I just worked on keeping one rig running all the time. Lastly I would say just have fun, no matter what it takes, the fun side of things will motivate you to keep truckin’!
To view more of Terry’s work, you can follow him on a variety of social media sites and communities:
Image credit: Terry McGee (RC Trailblazr)