As you’re reading this, I’m probably on an airliner headed for Norfolk Virginia, to be with my father during what might be his last days on earth. My dad loved Aspen, especially all the zany craziness the town used to be famous for, and still is to some degree. So it was a nostalgic trip up to the old mining town this past Friday for the “Meeting” ski and snowboard film festival.
Aspen has played an integral roll in much of North American ski history, so it feels good that the Aspen Ski Company is hosting this “Meeting” event that’s part film festival and part confab, as the newer “action” snowsports the festival covers are the same thing as freestyle was in the 1970s, or for that matter slalom racing nearly a century ago when Arnold Lunn stuck some saplings in the snow and said, “ski around these boys, whoever gets to the bottom first wins.”
Yep, no matter how hard you party and how hip you dress, today’s new school is tomorrow’s old school. So enjoy it while you can (as everyone from pro skier Simon Dumont to youth marketing genius Christopher Jerard seem to be doing here.)
Lets get started on some of my adventures.
First off, I dropped in on a BtoB “session” seminar/workshop titled “HD Cinema and the challenges of changing technology. Headed up by Jeff Blauvelt of HDCinema, much of what they covered was over my head, but I enjoyed every minute of the talk about $900 memory cards and $10,000 helmet cams. More, watching Blauvelt swing a $15,000 lens around like he was holding a can of PBR was priceless. I think my $250.00 Canon digicam wilted during that, but did perk up a bit when they mentioned something about using the vid function of your still camera as a backup system. I didn’t have the heart to tell little Canon they were talking about his big brothers, might as well let him dream.
Interesting tidbit was Jeff saying that video has changed movie shooter habits. Now, even when they shoot film, cinimatographers tend to shoot more takes and use more of the materials Kodak provides. I chuckled to myself. What a good example of the law of unintended consequences. Sort of like back when everyone thought computers would cut down on paper use, and they actually increased it due to the proliferation of printers and ease of printing.
Then, on to the film festival, where at least some of the footage was shot with above mentioned glass.
First flick was “Hunting Yeti” by Nimbus Independent. I’m still trying (and may be doing so for a long long time) to figure out what really makes a good ski movie when it has little or no plot. I enjoy the visuals and pounding music as much as much as anyone. But I try to imagine I’m a festival judge, and I come up short on criteria. But production values are definitly up there on the list.
At the top end, as all films at The Meeting are, you’d have to be a producer or cinimatographer to see most any differences. But one thing I noticed is that everything has definitly stepped up. Visuals are crisper than ever, color pallets more rich. Only thing that continues to annoy is lack of dynamic range that frequently causes the sky to white out if they want the snow exposed in a pleasant way.
It was also my sense that the sound mix was better than ever, but that might have been the new $80,000+ mixing board at the venue. Nothing like tuning the noise for the house. (or, come to think of it, perhaps I was using better quality ear plugs.)
In terms of sound, Hunting Yeti had something unusual. While the webisodes you’ll see have contemporary music, the theatrical release (and presumably the DVD) roll to a list of 80s and early 90s rock. Hard driving numbers such as David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel, perhaps even a dance mix though I hadn’t heard the original in quite some time (undertatement). I couldn’t help but wonder how the 20-somethings watching the flick felt about scoring new-school moves with tunes from before they were born, but it worked for me and was defintly a bold move on the part of Nimbus.
One other thing about Hunting Yeti: It has one of the more artistic and compelling segments of night skiing I’ve seen. Which leads me to another judging criteria.
While I don’t want to see a ski flick full of forced special effects, what seems appropriate is if the cinimatographrs and editors utilize everything that digital production makes available for artistic expression. Night skiing is one of those things, as shooting at night with conventional film is difficult at best, but by using the capabilities of digital capture, you can shoot action even with the meager illumination of a night lit ski resort — and beautifully to boot. (Oh, and if they did somehow shoot this on film, more power to ’em, but the point is that doing such work with digital technology can be so much easier.)
WildSnow’s take? While I’m not saying run out and buy the Hunting Yeti DVD, I’d definitly check it out when your kid does. And if you have the oportunity to see the flick in a theater, by all means do so. State of the art, for sure — just make sure they’ve got a good mixing board for those Supertramp and David Bowie numbers.
More movie stuff next blog, including Davenport’s segment in Matchstick’s new effort.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.