Viral video maker goes from trick shots to slow-motion masterpieces

In slow motion, fresh fruit falls through the blades of a string trimmer. A raw egg splats an unfortunate face. A basketball is “shot” through a hoop from the rafters of an arena. Then from 50 yards away using a catapult. Then dropped from a helicopter.

Welcome to Legendary Shots, the viral video sensation started by 2015 marketing graduate Carson Stalnaker and his friends. Stalnaker started filming sports trick shots in seventh grade just for laughs, but by high school the videos were gaining eyeballs and providing revenue. After college they added slow-motion explosions and experiments to the repertoire, revealing the alien shape a water balloon makes when it meets a power drill, for example. With more than 824,000 Instagram followers and 769,000 YouTube subscribers, Stalnaker said that early on they “figured out what we thought was fun and what people would want to watch.”

Auburn Magazine: What was your first big trick?

Stalnaker: I’m from Birmingham, and we got to go to the Vulcan statue that overlooks downtown Birmingham. And we were able to throw a basketball off the observation deck and we made that shot. That led us to shooting at a theme park a week after that, and suddenly, we were on YouTube getting millions of views. So it just kind of became a job by accident.

What makes for a good slow-motion video?

We need it to be something that pops, so we like when there’s a lot of color. We need direct sunlight to basically be able to see things with high frame rate, so we can’t shoot inside. As far as what’s blowing up, we always like when you see something small, and it suddenly fills up the whole frame. And you want to keep the background simple. A brick wall works.

Tell us about doing your video with Bruce Pearl.

Bruce had just gotten hired at Auburn. In July of 2014, we drove to Auburn and shot with him in Auburn Arena. We had him throw me a ball and I hit it in with the trampoline. And then we had him throw from the stands and make it straight in. That was a very stressful shot because there were a lot of times where he’d go to throw it and he would pump fake, and our camera guy would always miss it. So the one he made he didn’t pump fake and the camera just followed it completely.

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