Monday, August 4, 2014

Ski Movies. They should be better.

“Nice GoPro, JONG”

Nobody says that, but I always get the feeling that it’s on the tip of every “bro’s” lips whenever I strap on the box shaped camera and its overly elaborate mounting hardware. I guess I’m a little overly concerned about my image, but a lot of good footage is never recorded because I feel weird about tele-tubbying my way around ski resorts.

I have gotten some comments; wry, insult-between-the lines comments like “that’ll be a good trail to take your pictures on” or “what are you filming here?” The worst part about remarks like these: I do it too! I see some tool on a blue square with a GoPro light flashing away and I say to people around me “wow, that guy is getting really good footage of a groomed ski trail with nobody on it.” I see some dude taking a picture of a view I’ve seen a million times (“it doesn’t even look that good today!”), and I push by him in a huff, anxious to get to wherever it is that I’m going, completely pissed that he would slightly inconvenience me by having the audacity to try to capture a cool moment for his family.


I think the underlying problem is the continuing battles that have always existed: “Locals” vs. tourists, bros vs. families, hardcore vs. fair-weather. I might have seen the view a million times, but that guy I rudely pushed past is seeing it for the first time (and may have struggled mightily to even get up this high on the mountain). Me and my buddies might laugh at the guy with the footage of an empty groomer, but maybe I didn’t notice his kid skiing in front of him. Who am I to tell other people what memories to capture?

The number of photographs taken in the year 2014 will approach 1 trillion. More photos are taken each day than in the first 100 years that photography existed. One hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. I’ve done my fair share of picture taking, video uploading, editing, etc. And I’ve watched a lot of stuff, too. Most pictures and video on the internet are pure crap. Most of my stuff is crap! The best edits are from pros or semi pros that just shred hard.

Like a lot of people, I’m growing increasingly bored with the mass market ski porn. I don’t know if it’s the ADD society we’ve created, but these days, I like videos that just show pure fun, like the Candide Thovex edits that have hit big the last couple of years. My edits aren’t nearly that good, but they remind me of fun days I had, and that’s cool for me. I hope that other people get the same general feeling from their videos (although I can’t imagine how that’s possible in some cases).

Maybe that’s what’s missing: the “fun” factor has to be really big. The thing about “The Blizzard of Ahhhs” or “Sick Sense” or, more recently, “Claim” was that it looked like everyone in the movie was having an amazing time.  I saw this the other day:

It’s an insane trick, but the best part about it is the jubilation the guy feels after he rides it out. What an amazing feeling that must have been. The fear at the top, the anticipation, the inrun, then, finally, the success. That’s the feeling that I miss when I’m watching these ski movies. Runs that are absolutely insane just look normal when you don’t show the celebration at the end and immediately cut to another crazy line. Triple corked spins were unheard of 5 years ago, but now they are just stomped and edited in as if it’s just a normal thing.

And I think that’s the root of the problem with the GoPro: I get the feeling that I’m just not rad enough to even show up. The condescension from locals, bros, and hardcores isn’t because I have a camera and I’m taking pictures. It’s because I have a camera and aren’t sufficiently awesome enough to warrant the megabyte usage. Pros are doing this, locals are doing this, and anybody doing less than that is just not worth watching.

Oddly, though, just being completely rad isn’t enough. Compare these two trailers from this year’s crop of ski porn. First, here is the fun-filled coolness of Matchstick Productions latest:

Then, here is the way too serious, bro-boosting, death cheating, over performance of TGR’s film:

The fun in the first one is so great. It shows that you can enjoy yourself just screwing around on jumps, in a backyard, or on a short little hill. The second video implies that you have to be an amazing skier, have balls of steel, go a million miles an hour, and only then do you get to experience the fun of skiing, which it seems to define as the overcoming of the impossible line. They keep saying how "gnarly" they are, how crazy every line is, and how rad they all are at skiing. 

But that’s really only one aspect of skiing. For every flashed Alaska line, there are 2,000 kids smiling after their first straight run down the bunny hill. For every quadruple kinked handrail cleaned, there are 2,000 snaky tight tree lines in unknown stashes skied with your buddies. The fun of skiing isn’t narrowly defined. So give the guy filming a break- he’s just capturing his idea of fun. And when you make videos, make sure to include the cool people you’re with, the fist bumps and congratulations at the end of a sweet line, and the smiles that you create along the way. That’s the kind of video that you’ll want to replay over and over. Hell, I might even want to watch it.