In the beginning of the year I was approached by Bomber Eyewear. Bomber is a brand of floating sunglasses, designed for people doing water (action) sports. To introduce the brand in Belgium and to get some name recognition, they wanted to organize a wakeboard tour across the country. The result was the Bomber Cablepark Battles, a 5 stage competition, with a stop at every cablepark in Belgium. 5 teams, one from every cablepark, battle against each other. And my they asked me to capture all the action and produce a wakeboard video series.
My assignment was two fold: first of all, I had to make a video for each cablepark, which premiered 2 weeks before the corresponding competition, to introduce the location and the different obstacles.
Second, I had to make recap of every event, which had to be only before the end of the week following the event.
From the start I knew I wanted to create a overarching visual style, so that people would instantly recognize one of the Bomber video’s when they saw it. I researched for a while, looking at TV idents, editorial design, to figure out a good look for the project.
I choose the colors based on the eventposter, to further connect everything together.
To start, we spent an afternoon at the cable with a bunch of riders from across the country to film a little teaser. Since the Cablepark Battles have a bit of a different competitionformat then most wakeboard contests, we had to make this clear from the start. I try to reflect that as much as possbile in the teaser shown above.
Since we decided that this video was going to be short and sweet, it gave me some time to spend on adding interesting graphics. I did my basic edit in Adobe Premiere Pro, keeping in mind all the extra effects I wanted to add to it. Once I was happy with that, I moved everything into After Effects. I build a few assets, like squares, triangles, circles, lines and crosses. Then came the fun part of adding them to the shots. This was pretty organic process, I added them where I felt it would work, resized or mirrored them to add some extra variation. In the ended I added some extra glitchy effects where I scaled parts of the original shots up, this was to add even more dynamic to the edit.
I thought this camer out pretty well, this sort of edit is maybe a bit much for a 2 minute piece, but since its only 40 seconds, it’s allright.
Over the course of the next few months, we visited every participating cablepark to shoot their introduction video. Since I just bought the DJI Ronin, my idea was to make these video’s really dynamic and sort of ‘MTV cribs’-style, following the locals around the park. Remember, I did all these shoots as a one-man-band so it was important to keep everything as straight forward as possible. I also only had half a day for each shoot, due to budget, so things had to move fast.
So I came up with a simple 3-part structure that I used for each video. First they welcome the viewer and give brief background story about the park. Second they explained their set-up, some cableparks have hostels, others a huge new obstacle in the water, a mini ramp or beachbar. Basically everything that sets the park apart from the others. Finally they end with the date of the event and the location.
We made sure we did these interviews early on in the shoot, that way I knew what shots I needed for the b-roll. Then I spend about an hour filming the local wakeboarders with a long lens on a tripod from the shore. This would cover most of my basic angles, so afterwards I could get in a boat and spend the remaining time getting closer shots.
It was pretty though to get all this done in the timeframe we had, switching between gimbal, tripod and drone. But since I knew what I was looking for, I was able to pull it of.
Editing itself was pretty straigth forward, I layed out the 3 interview parts on my timeline as my base and then added b-roll where needed. I usually had 1-2 sections in between the interview where I showed some actual riding by the locals. The danger here is offcourse that by doing it like this, all video’s will get a similar look and feel, but you run into the danger of repeating your self after a while. This was something I was struggling with quite a bit, to add something new to every edit while still keeping it similar to the previous video’s.
On the day of the event, I knew I needed an extra hand for the filming. The competition is 3-4 hours of non-stop action so in order to get the best tricks on camera, as well as getting some good lifestyle to cut in between, you need at least 2 people.
Our A-camera was an Sony FS700 with a Canon 18-135mm on a DJI Ronin. The lens itself is not the best, it’s pretty slow and not the sharpest, but it has a really good range and outdoors in daylight it work pretty well. The big range on the lens allowed me to get some good variations in the shots, I was able to zoom in all the way without rebalancing the gimbal which speed things up a lot. My main focus was capturing the atmosphere on the shore. The second camera operator had his FS700 set up on a tripod with a long(70-300mm) lens. His goal was to capture all the action, switching angles as much as possible depending on the obstacle the riders were using.
On some of the competitions I was able to get in a boat as well, to get closer to the action. Here was just shooting handheld and at 240fps.
In between all of that, I was flying my DJI Phantom 2. The goal here was to get an aerial view on some of the tricks but this turned out to be a bit to difficult to do during a competition. Too many variables and the risk of hitting some of the competitors. So I focus on get wider shots of the whole competition area.
In the edit I reused a lot of my graphic elements from the teaser and introduction video’s, keeping the look and feel the same. Deadlines for these were pretty tight, the recaps had to be online about 4-5 days after the competition so being able to reuse assets from earlier made things more efficient.
All in all this was a really fun wakeboard video project to be involved in, and I learned a ton about working on bigger projects like this.
Some of the things I’ll do different for next year:
I decided to not do any interviews on the competition days and half way down the line I started to regret this decision. I was struggeling to keep the edit fresh and adding interviews would definetly help. It’s easier to tell a story and guide to audience when you add some interviews here and there.
A 2 man crew was the bear minimum, it was manageable but it wasn’t easy. I was running around with my gimbal, flying a drone, shooting a drone, all while trying to keep track of where the competition was at. An extra person would mean we can each focus more on specific tasks(and do a better job).
This is one of the key points for me. Cableparks can be pretty big so sometimes the obstacles are pretty far from the shore. On a few occasions we weren’t able to go in a boat and this didn’t make it easy for us. Clearly communicating with the local organizers what we want to do, a few days before the competition, making sure they have a boat driver on stand by.
Article by: Sam Van Olmen