When Mike Gray quit university just six months into his Visual Effects degree, he wasn't sure what his next step would be. He opted to combine his talent for video creation with his passion for travel, and has circled the globe producing cinematic-style travel vlogs and photography tutorials. These have won him legions of fans and turned him into one of the UK's most successful social media stars. Today, the 22-year-old influencer known as MikeVisuals has over 200,000 followers on Instagram and almost 100,000 YouTube subscribers, and his videos have been watched more than 5.5 million times.
"Consistency and uploading good quality work every day are key to building a following," Mike says. "But do it because you enjoy it, not because of the numbers or the potential gains."
Thousands of people have achieved fame and fortune through social media, and Mike's story is not a unique one. However, his blend of youthful enthusiasm and professionalism far beyond his years helps him stand out from the crowd. He films epic shots of exotic landscapes, often captured at sunrise or sunset, using a mix of handheld and drone videography. Mike's fondness for slow-motion and fast-motion effects, recorded in vivid detail, results in edited visuals so cinematically slick you'd be forgiven for thinking they were intended for the silver screen.
Mike mixes his shots of awe-inspiring scenery with informative cutaways, in which he shares technical and practical advice. "I like to share what I'm working on, as well as my camera gear and setting preferences. My audience loves that." On a recent trip to the Isle of Skye, Mike discovered that the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III, which shoots 4K video and has a 180-degree tilt-up touchscreen with customisable controls, is ideal for capturing his behind-the-scenes updates. "Usually the Record button is on the back of the camera, so it can be hard to find when you're filming yourself, but the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III has a button on the screen, so you just click it and start filming instantly. No more missed moments."
Mike found the super-portable compact was perfect for capturing unexpected moments. "I shoot in a spontaneous, run-and-gun way, which is what vlogging is all about. Some of my kit is stowed in my camera bag, but I can keep the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III in my jacket and whip it out at a moment's notice. It's amazing to have such a powerful, high-performance camera that fits in your pocket."
One of the features that most impressed him about the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III was the 4K time-lapse feature, which he uses to deliver smoother, more realistic action footage. "Just being able to set it up so quickly and easily was incredible – I could capitalise on some truly remarkable moments. At one point, a large wave of cloud rolled across the mountains; it came in so quickly, but I managed to set up the camera in time to capture it. Plus the quality of the 4K recording is just amazing."