It's been a little while since I have written anything in this space. Radio silence can be a good thing though, it means that work is being done. Normally, winter is the slowest season, but this year it has been full of interesting projects, some just in their infancy, some in that near panicked, closing deadline hustle. All good things, but nothing I can talk about at the moment (story of my life). If you want proof that I am actually turning stuff out, you can check out TheTeamlab.com where we have been putting out lots of stuff over the past few months.
I got a call a few weeks ago from my friend and Bataleon/ThirtyTwo team rider Mike Altobelli. Mike has been working on a project called This Is Wisconsin this winter, a sort of crowd sourced snowboard flick, filmed entirely in Wisconsin. So I get this call, Mike says that his crew has this gap-to-down rail set up. They had filmed the same setup the night before, but today pretty much every other spot they hit was a bust, so they wanted to go back and shoot some stills and additional video.
I picked up Ride Snowboards rider Max Boileau and we drove up together. After a stop for gas and few Redbulls, we met up with the rest of the crew just as the sun was going down. The spot was somewhat concealed from the view of the main road, so everything was still intact from the night before.
It takes a certain amount of balls to ride something like this. The gap from the takeoff was about ten feet from the lip to the top of the rail and the run in was pretty steep, meaning that there wasn't much time for the rider to set up after pointing it down hill. There are definite consequences, commitment is the name of the game.
There was a little bit of skepticism and some nervous jokes being muttered as the light started to fade. The rail was pretty steep as well, meaning that the speed had to be just right. Too slow and you would come up short, too fast and you would fall out of the sky on top of the rail and get bucked. Finally, Max said F&%$ it and dropped in. He aired over the railing and on to the bank on the first hit with plenty of speed. Ice broken, he charged up the stairs and dropped a smooth 50-50 first try. I think we were there for almost two hours shooting that thing. Max got a back board, 50-50, back lip, and front board on the thing. Mike got a 5-0 and a bunch of smooth 50-50s.
The lighting is pretty simple here. One sb-900 on a stand, about 45 degrees to the axis of the lens. You can see that the placement doesn't need to change even when the camera angle does. On some of the shots, I had somebody hold another sb at a 45 behind the rider to give a little separation. All the lights were triggered by pocket wizards. The simplicity is by design, I know that there are many more elegant ways of lighting such a scene, but speed and reliability are key here. On this occasion we had plenty of time, but that isn't usually the case. Sometimes you only have 10 minute and a few tries to get it right. The cold weather doesn't do the triggers any favors, nor the recycle times of the battery powered strobes.
Lighting in broad strokes is also important, because you can't always count on a consistent composition from shot to shot. The sort of "cross light on 45s" setup that I used is the most basic way of not "blowing it" when time is limited. I am working on some more technical posts about lighting action sports in the near future, stay tuned.
As we were packing up, somebody mentioned that we should do some pow slashes on a slope near by. Urban slashes are a tall order at night, but here was Carter's best attempt.
We went back to this spot the other day, slushy grass is all that is left. Mother nature is taking her time with winter this year. Check the This Is Wisconsin Facebook Page for the video from this session later in the spring.
Thanks for reading, as always, more to come. -J.H.