Twenty One Pilots' Creative Director

My Hard Drive Strategy on Tour

Mark C. Eshleman, creative director and videographer for Twenty One Pilots, has been traveling with and documenting the Columbus, Ohio band almost since the band formed in 2009.

Eshleman, who is also founder of the video production company Reel Bear Media, gathers massive amounts of video — typically 8 to 10 terabytes of data — during the band’s tours across the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia.

Filming the Band

During the tours, Eshleman is a blur. He might be filming: interviewing fans outside venues, capturing Joseph and Dun’s impressions as they prepare for a show or shooting the concerts. And if he’s not shooting, he’s editing footage so he can quickly turn around videos and post them on YouTube for the band’s growing legion of fans. That process may occur in the front lounge on the bus — “basically just a couch that’s moving at 55 mph” — in airports, on flights, or at a folding table once they arrive at a venue.

"Stressed Out"

Mark was regularly plagued by a “weird crazy nightmare back in the days” — five or six years ago — when the alternative hip hop duo was just getting started.

“I would see the hard drive just shattered on the ground because I turned the wrong way and it fell and I just wasn’t able to grab it,” recalls Eshleman.

The dreams apparently were summoned from his subconscious by the fact that he would literally sleep with his hard drives because he was worried they’d be damaged in the cargo hold of the band’s bus.

Eshelman's WD Storage Solution

Eshleman is sleeping better these days, partly due to the cresting popularity of Twenty One Pilots — aka Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun — but also because he now has his footage saved on Western Digital storage and backup drives that he is confident can stand up to the rigors of the road.

With WD solutions, Eshleman’s no longer “Stressed Out” about losing irreplaceable video footage. “The easiest way to not worry about something is to make it so you don’t have to worry about it,” he says.

Mark's Backup Strategy

My Book Pro WD Red NAS Hard Drive

Eshelman's WD Hard Drive Strategy on Tour

With the wisdom of his six years on the road and an array of WD storage products at his disposal, Eshleman has developed a three-tier system that lets him work almost anywhere and simultaneously add layers of protection as he does so:

  • If he has a robust setup, say a table and a power outlet, he will break out his My Book Pro and upload the data from the My Passport Pro drives. The video is stored on the internal WD Black drives — each capable of holding more than 5 terabytes of data — in “a really precise folder structure” that enables quick access to a precise moment from almost any of the band’s shows.
  • If he’s got the luxury of an internet connection and a bit of time, he can send everything on the My Book Pro to a server containing 12 6-terabyte WD Red internal drives in his home office in Ohio.
  • If he’s on the move, he relies on the My Passports that he carries in a backpack to store the footage as he shoots.

Thunderbolt compatibility with the WD devices makes the whole process faster and easier. He drags and drops from one drive to another with considerably increased transfer speeds.

“If you want to grab a 2 gigabyte file and just throw it onto another drive, it’s done in seconds,” Eshleman says.

The whole point of this fail-safe arrangement is not just to free him from nightmares but to allow him to concentrate on the creative and fun parts of his job. That, in turn, enables him to crank out more of the sort of music videos that have helped earn him — and Twenty One Pilots — considerable acclaim.

The confidence that he has in his system and equipment, and the fact that he’s adding additional videographers to the team for the band’s upcoming 40-show Emotional Roadshow tour concluding with back-to-back shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden, may even allow him to take a rare moment to appreciate how far they’ve all come from Columbus.