Intro and Interview:Ryan Loewy Photography: Sam Asken
So tell me about yourself, how you grew up, where you grew up, and where, when and why rollerblading came into your life.
My name is Carter Romard LeBlanc. I was born and raised in an area of Seattle, Washington, called Queen Anne. It’s a nice neighborhood, just a short skate away from the space needle.
I first found rollerblading at my elementary school, because something like two times a month, the P.E. class offered a skating day in the basketball gym, and it was always really fun. I think I was 7 or 8 when I began, and I’m 29 now. A few years after blading around sidewalks on purple fitness skates, I met a kid named Reily in an after school program. He had K2 fatty pros, he could grind and jump stairs, and once I saw him skate, it was over for me; I was irreversibly drawn to rollerblading.
Sometime after seeing Reily’s skates, I convinced my parents to gamble on a pair of skates for me, and then I had aggressive skates of my own. I would skate on the sidewalks around the neighborhood mostly, bombing the hills I was brave enough to get down (not many), and often skating a series of shitty spots in one giant lap around the neighborhood. The only great spot I had was a ledge at the elementary school that offered a rollerblading/skating day, so thanks John Hay.
Let’s refocus to the video creating aspect of your life, when did you first get a camera or have an experience with one, and would you say that initial experience had a significant impact on how you’d develop as a videographer? For example, I did black and white photo back in high school, and while it was my first time really involved in handling a camera, it wasn’t until 5 or 6 years later that photography became a significant thing for me.
Maybe a year after getting aggressive skates, my friend Tim Willis bought his own video camera, mainly to film the few friends we had skating. We filmed blading tricks, and “Jackass” was a popular show at the time, so we filmed the dumb things we all mimicked from that show as well. Tim started with small handy cams and tiny fish eyes, maybe some small JVC camera first and eventually moving to the coveted GL1&2, with an mk2 fisheye for each.
I tried to film with them, but I was awful. I think I wasn’t interested enough about learning to film in order to make things look good; I sucked. I filmed really shitty clips for my friends with their various cameras through the years, but would consistently botch clips to the point where I wasn’t really allowed to film, because we all knew I’d blow it. I wish I could have helped film my friends in those early years, there were some cool things that happened and it’s a shame there wasn’t more basic documentation of it, but especially from the filmers, who were often not on camera as much as they filmed others. Oh well.
Aside from Tim, I was skating and filming with Christian Hansen, Mack Fisher, Tyler Edwards, Gavin Fitch & Geoff Phillip.
When I was 13-16 running around with everyone, Tim, Christian & Mack were peers. Tyler was an elder and Gavin was a young kid. These were the filmers who really shaped my definition of what skate related filming should look like early on. Gavin’s filming is the style that I think I most emulate or refer to as ‘good filming’, even though at the end of the day we both emulate Tyler Edwards a lot and for good reason.
Tyler is the filmer you might not know is your favorite filmer, and before him is Derek Brown. Tyler and Derek have both given so much to the growth of rollerblading and its potential, not to mention its impact on media. They may never understand the ripple they helped create, I don’t entirely either.
Gavin gives me the visual starting point or WWGFD moments every time, but later in life I met Geoff Phillip who was very much a filmer when I met him, and I had experience botching clips. Without any reason to, Geoff trusted me to film some of the craziest things I had seen people do on rollerblades, and this was when I first met him. We kept skating together and filming for weekends when I could drive to Moskow, ID to meet him, but I really think my interest in filming only came about because Geoff let me hold his camera and take a chance on filming tricks that were hard for him to do.
To me these people are the pinnacle of how to film rollerblading. We all watched a lot of rollerblading and skateboarding footage, the principles of filming action sports. We all got ( a lot ) from skateboarding videos (cue a whole interview worth of questions about skateboard filming because it is without a doubt a better documented sport than ours).
I learned to film from all of these names I’ve mentioned, but I expand my knowledge exponentially when I started watching skateboarding footage from all eras and studying what made the footage from any era look better than the blading footage I knew and loved.
I learned from skateboarding media how to better refine techniques in filming, but from all the names I mentioned I learned how to be a passionate filmer who was dedicated to filming skaters. In essence this is what I feel I have to do in terms of being out skating with people, but it is also equally enjoyable as doing tricks and performing in that way. These people showed me what it’s like to have a friend who motivates you and documents your moments of success in a sport where you do not often find encouragement or praise. These filmers I mentioned gave me some sort of sanctuary away from opinions that said we weren’t worthwhile, many of which were from voices within the rollerblading community.
It’s kind of like cutting branches off a tree. I’m not sure where we’d all rest entirely on the tree, but I’m somewhere at the bottom, and my branches are the result of some crossbreeding that has allowed all the other branches down to my own.
These people taught me about enjoying skating and the act of filming it but more than that about being a passionate filmer. All of these individuals made stuff for the friends they filmed and featured, and that sort of goodwill towards the homies you make things with, that created my understanding of what filming with your friends could be like.
We were all artists outside of skating and loved skating as well, so it just made sense that, for a few of us early on people had ways of showcasing and editing our experiences, I found that joy much later in life.
My friend Tim and I skated/filmed together from 12-17. I met Christian and Tyler around 14, all of whom filmed many memorable tricks from Seattle skaters.
Flash forward to being about 22 I think, and we hadn’t had a main filmer for a few years (Gavin Fitch had occupied this space until his camera was stolen). I was skating with James Truitt and Preston Villanueva a lot and filming our tricks felt right, some of them were good enough to want to see later & maybe compile eventually. Preston had a Gl1 /mk2 setup that had been collecting dust so we put it to use. It wasn’t my favorite setup but it was a camera. Sadly our first few months of collecting footage was lost and I wasn’t sure where to go from there. During this time Chad Hornish had moved to town and we had filmed a few things together but not much. Chad’s mom was dating a guy who hooked us up with a tiny hd handy cam and I bought my first fisheye. It wasn’t my camera exactly but it was on indefinite loaner terms and if I fucked the fisheye up it was a small loss. The camera wasn’t the worst, footage looked good(ish), the fisheye was alright but the zoom fucking sucked. Basically the camera was awful but I loved it. It was the first real video camera I had and I immediately loved collecting, importing, editing and looking after footage.
Chad and James set about that summer to each film sections we would put online. For Chad it was sort of a reaffirmation that he could still skate (he was sponsored and emerging a few years prior then due to many factors lost his regularity in the limelight) and for James he had certainly filmed full parts before but many of them were of a younger and less refined skater than he was at the time. So Chad and James each put their whole selves into filming those parts and it gave us all a lot of purpose to go out skating and filming regularly. Filming those parts changed my life completely.
I defined myself as a painter and drawer at the time. I was committed to being a career painter or visual artist who planned on selling wall decorations in some form or another. After some mixed success selling my own art and finding out more about the art world and art history in general i because disillusioned with the whole pursuit and found more joy and fulfillment in filming skating and skating itself. It seemed more logical to go towards skating rather than find an avenue that might let me still sneak away to it from time to time. Getting that shitty camera and beginning to film my two friends rerouted my whole life for better or worse, I’d say for the better.
I wanna get a bit of info on your filmography, if you will. How many blade based pieces have you made?
I sort of began learning filming blading by filming skatepark footage because it doesn’t really matter if you rinse or ruin the footage, so it’s a good low-pressure opportunity to film people. I’ve made a few edits of tricks of skatepark/camping trips, and maybe worked on like twenty-ish full parts of various people, not including the 5 parts I helped film most of for C.O.R 1.
I’ve helped work on many edits of Geoff Phillip; god I fucking love Geoff’s skating. It’s hard to count em all up that I’ve helped with, but I don’t know at this point, I’ve helped be the main camera person for a clip, or a second angle person to others many, many times. The great thing is you always still learn, still suck, get better, suck again and just go up and down with progression. I feel like the first piece I made that I really loved and felt good about the whole thing (skating featured, filming, song choice, edit etc…) was Ian Walker‘s part he and I worked on. I met Ian through Geoff after Geoff had moved to Denver. When we met I didn’t film, and years later being able to film another one of my favorite skater’s was such a treat. Walk put it the fuck on me that trip; way to go bud, 6 days.
Geoff and I put out a part a little after Ian’s in 2014 that was maybe my favorite edit I’ve made. Both of those pieces were the first real culmination of practice coming to fruition and creating something I still get juiced to watch now.
I think after that JT’s notspot’s edit was the new iteration of what my greatest achievement was in terms of a finished product I did well on, from the filming/editing side of things. The thing is the skating I’ve been able to document has always been top notch in my eyes, so its tough acknowledging I haven’t always filmed people as best as they should have been, but its extremely satisfying over time to have gotten better where now I feel like when I film people I generally get footage of them that not only I like, but they like too.
Granted this is an opinion, and others may hate whatever qualities of filming I possess, so it goes…I do feel this new video Chance of Rain 2 includes my best work as a filmer/editor and the best skating from the dudes involved. I mean no matter what, having someone’s ‘best skating’ would include their best of’s from every era, so its always hard to say something is someone’s ‘best’.
I feel my ability to put together a video paired with people really trying to create something solid made for my favorite piece I’ve worked on. It’s interesting though, because every time you look down (at anything you’re good at) and think “Im really good at this now, NOW I’m at my best”, there tends to be this slow progression towards more and more refinement of skills. I love it. When you’re hungry to keep learning, keep trying, I feel like slowly leveling up becomes this odd unconscious thing you can’t see day to day, but then looking back at old pieces it becomes really clear where and how you’ve improved since previous milestones. I just love filming blading, and its really fun to continue having fun filming while always trying to learn from my mistakes or ignorance, and continue my practice.
So, tell me about your creative process current day.
I guess theres parts of the process for me, theres how you want tricks to look going into filming, then theres actually going out in the world and finding these things to film, then theres editing them later to present to others.
The filmer I mentioned above, Tyler Edwards, really had an impact on what to skate, how to skate it and how to film it for me. I definitely think his standards and aesthetics are something I liked then and still find myself liking now, be it spot selection, tricks or how to film it. He was fun to be around, made tricks look good when he filmed and was always down to go out with people so I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m always trying to be great like him.
My current partner in production, Derek Brown, grew up skating with Tyler, so there’s a lot of overlap in terms of how they film and what they taught each other. Of course both of them were heavily involved in skateboarding culture, so a lot of these aesthetics and knowledge come from trial, error and observation from that culture of filmers.
Gavin Fitch came to be a good friend I’d skate with a lot, but he was young enough that we weren’t skating together a lot until I was maybe 18. Gavin looked up to Tyler’s filming and editing as well, and from that developed his own look, borrowing aesthetics from Tyler’s edits (like we all do). Gavin’s abilities as a filmer were impeccable when I started and I was always eager to film things the way I thought he or Tyler would; I always wanted to film something they would be proud of. My personal bar of standards still rests with them in mind.
In terms of going out to film, I feel roughly as motivated as the people I’m out with. If everyone is chomping at the bit ready to go to spots or go search for them, I feel energized to do that. If people feel low energy or would rather go to a skatepark (not super often for our crew), then I’m with it, but and usually try to get filming practice in at the skatepark.
I guess I just feel creatively motivated when I know a skater is there who wants to try a trick. It kind of began as this sort of paying it forward mentality, like “I’ve had times I really wanted someone to film a trick and no one would or no one could, I want to be that person for someone else”.But of course it mixed with how fun the whole thing is for me, so I guess the underlying thing is that I just feel more complete during the act of filming which spills into editing and compiling footage.
In terms of editing, I like to work as things come in. So my timeline will start with like 2 tricks, and then I’ll copy and paste them a bunch of times, then start dragging songs I’ve saved into the timeline. Occasionally, I’ll know exactly what song might work for a skater, but you never know till you time up tricks to the music. If I don’t find myself nodding my head and exclaiming about how awesome it looks, then that’s usually a sign that the vibe isn’t right, so I’ll keep searching.
Certainly the most important part of the editing process is choosing music that pairs well with the skating its timed to. Film tricks you like, do them well, film them well, choose a song that makes you feel something, then edit it so it’s tightly knit and all the clips can feed into one another. Basically my creative impulse is to always improve or at least always do my best. I sort of think about filming/editing like its my second job, like if I don’t get this right, right now, who will? In the past it was literally just me who could film or would want to on many occasions, but now a days theres others who can hold a camera and get a shot.
Tell me a bit about the fruition of Chance of Rain.
The first Chance of Rain was the result of lucky timing. All the members involved wanted to see content come out of Seattle. There had been maybe 2 years of a lull where the older generation had faded away, and with that, participation and documentation had gone by the wayside. Gavin’s camera had been stolen, and at the time, he was resolved to be finished filming on any level. Basically everyone wanted to make ‘the part of their dreams’ but none of us had anyone to do it. I had just bought my first camera (a Sony VX1000 w. MK1 fisheye), it was the same camera & lens my friend Derek used. He and our friend Matt Crissinger were filming each other in hope of making a 2-song split part: half skateboard/ half blading.
Matt and Gavin had been playing guitar a lot at the time, so Gavin began filming tricks in hopes of also saving for a part but separate from what Derek and Matt were working on. James and I were compiling footage for him, and I knew I wanted to make a section of myself, but didn’t want to have someone film who wouldn’t film my tricks at least mostly well. One day we just decided instead of having all these disjointed parts, why don’t we make a video of all of us?
From there, we all went out a lot & started obtaining and saving clips. We spent about two and a half years saving clips and editing that (roughly the same time spent on #2). It really was a dream come true, at the time we each made a part that felt really complete, really polished, really finished. We were all proud of what we made individually and as a whole, I don’t know about all those dudes for sure, but I still feel proud of everyone’s efforts in that one; I still watch those parts from time to time for motivation. Gavin was as motivated as a skater can be to make a part; always on the lookout for his next spot/trick, always willing to do a trick until it felt/looked right from all ends. He was dedicated as much as one can be. I remind myself of his work ethic whenever I feel lazy or unsure of how to continue, whether filming or skating. Thank you for that Gav.
Let’s fast forward to this past year or so. How long was the second installment in production? How did you curate who was apart of the film?
So we made each film over about 2.5 years. Part of that time, I’m sure, is because our winter months can be wet and cold, so productivity for about 6 months is steady but not overwhelming. I basically have my wishlist of skaters I want involved ( most of them are just my best friends so its kind of a “duh” that we’ll just film things), but really this lineup came about from just being open to including people who want to get after it.
The last video the crew was 5, and we didn’t have enough people who we regularly skated with to shoot for a friends part. We had a few names, like Sam and Josiah and John Xmas, who were filming things during that same time period, but it was always knowing there was a barrier between the COR skaters & everyone else. I’m always down to film anyone, but last time our lineup was decided and it wasn’t going to change.
This time around, the lineup shifted around based on who wanted it bad enough, and more importantly, who showed up. If you helped bake the bread, you got to eat it. If you helped a lot, you got a shit ton of bread. I knew JT, Derek, and I were for all in, but it took a bit of time before Gavin and Matt were down. They each wanted to be involved, but not necessarily as much as last time, so I just figured they get what they get and I would maybe split a part or something. Gav got enough to split, but Matt’s recurring ankle injury, mixed with new interests, led him elsewhere (still sad we only had 2 Matt clips 🙁 ).
I knew though that I wanted Ace Kieffer and Brian Long involved, both of whom I was living with and had made edits of them, but not really a full individual profile. They were in, but over time only got enough footage to split, which still ended up being one of my favorite parts (Gav/Brian/Ace’ split part!).
Dustin Spengler made a trip, as did Korey Waikiki but at the time it seemed like other dudes were gonna film more, so I could only offer them footy in the friends part or maybe a split piece. Long story short, the lineup fully came together once everyone had a lot of good footage, and then it slowly became clear who I wanted to see and where.
Josiah and I always this weird misunderstanding, where we thought the other person wanted to use the footage we collected for different things. We’ve been filming together consistently throughout Chance of Rain 1 to present day. Throughout that time, I always thought he wanted or needed his footage to go towards his sponsor, Remz, and simultaneously, he thought I didn’t want him in the second video. We realized this once Chance of Rain II was maybe 80% filmed. Finally arriving at the conversation, I invited him to be apart of the video, which at that point, he pretty almost had a full part finished, and I couldn’t be happier for his involvement.
Jeph Howard and I met about 2 years ago, and from there, quickly began filming his blacklisted section for Ground Control. Much like Josiah, I figured he had obligations to sponsors, but to my delight he wanted to be a part of the video, so we also started saving clips.
Initially, Josiah and Jeph were gonna get mini parts or something, but they kept getting good footage and over time, the two of them were indistinguishable from the ‘main’ crew we had started with; slowly they both became solid members.
Really though, the video was made for James Truitt & Sam Asken, and I say that with no offense to anyone else or their efforts. But I’d honestly say that Sam and James put more of their time and hearts into their parts than anyone. Sam had been hurt on and off for the past 3 years of skating with him. I had intended on making a section with him around the time of the first Chance of Rain, but he was in and out of the game so much, it just never worked in our favor.
Sam had a few small edits where he was featured, and maybe one or two summer with sam kind of edits, but he had never worked longterm on a project with no end date. Never worked on a thing until it was done. Needless to say, Sam wasn’t hungry, he was starving. To me, it always showed in his drive and dedication. Also Sam might get the MVP for B squad; always down to hold lights, watch for cars, come out regardless of whether he was planning on trying to clip. For the start of this video, Sam was healthy again and we started stacking, the whole while I was holding my breath praying, “Let sam get this trick! Let him stay well enough to keep clipping up!”.
It brings my an indescribable kind of joy to know what Sam did to make this part happen. Regular wars with tricks, frustration and falls, long nights and early days. Sam was on a mission that ultimately took us almost 6 years to get to, but we did it bud.
James Truitt is a machine for getting clips, it’s really easy to make a part with him because he’ll always keep getting more & generally without too much of a battle involved. This time around James’ life was in a very specific moment, he was broken hearted at the end of a long term relationship., and in C.O.R 1 he had to cut his filming short to take an awesome job opportunity. This time around we had very similar work schedules, and thus enjoyed a lot of the same days off. He had a fire in his belly from the start of collecting footage; you could see how motivated he was for every single clip.
Seeing James slowly stack the best footage he’s ever gotten was really satisfying to be apart of. I feel like this is James’ best part. Its awesome to see your favorite skater killing it and make that even more enjoyable being there for the filming of it and everything just generally goes well. Sadly he hurt his knee right towards the end of filming, but thankfully had enough footage to make my dream come true: the James Truitt ender. Thank you JT.
Really though the people featured are just the close friends I have, who I happen to think are great at skating, and who have schedules that allow each of us to link up. If people were down to skate, and we could coordinate for the most part, thats who you saw on screen. Thank you to all the boys who busted their ass making this thing.
I am curious to get your insight on the phenomenon of social media. It seems that the # 1 source of seeing blading is through Instagram. In turn, lots of people are catering to that medium. How do you feel about that?
Well overall I like it. That being said I’m a bit of a luddite about some aspects of ‘advancing’ ourselves, our culture, etc., particularly when it comes to technology. I think overall, platforms like Instagram and Facebook are great for spreading content fast and in a very widespread way. Because of the internet and the several platforms that exist, for people to see each others content and share it, as well for people like myself are able to show our art to a much wider audience, rather than if I were trying to do it in my city alone, or going to companies trying to see if they’d feature us, promote us etc.
So in that regard I love what things like Instagram has done, they showcase skating you might not have ever seen and then you’re plugged into a whole new skater and scene to observe and enjoy. It’s good for getting your stuff out there if you’re a creator, but it’s great as a voyeur or connoisseur of blading. I now get to see so much blading so continuously and its fantastic!
But this fantastic amount of content comes at a price. The downside is now that people get content everyday all day, they are impatient about when they will see content. This is seen in how fast productions are made not just for small self sponsored bladers, amateurs and hobbyists, but also from major blade companies.
It’s been a slow building momentum that didn’t start with Facebook or Instagram, but they both foster the culture of immediacy and instantaneous experience. So from my observations, it’s cool to see blading I might not have otherwise found, it’s great to promote the things I make with my friends and spread the word a bit about what we all make, but it does sort of devalue content. It makes it to be this thing people expect all the time, continuously, and expect it to always be free, always.
While I think ultimately content should become free, I’ve come to see that quality productions take time. They take time and they take dedication. Depending on how much money you put in, that’s a factor. but I’m not so much concerned with that when I look at free content vs the idea of VODS or full length videos (free or not). I think that there are some people who believe now that we have so much free content, that people give away each day at a time that no one should be justified to be paid for their efforts when its compiled.
Some people think the best new media platform we have for displaying clips is one minute at a time on a platform like Instagram. There is no best platform, of course, just the one you want to use. So I’m excited to see people who really get to showcase their skating on Instagram, and I know I watch a few people very regularly getting stoked to see their daily tricks, but I’m also really happy there are still some people out there who like to take their time building a project. Whether it be a filmer and skater as a pairing, or many people in a project. It’s nice to see both forms displaying all types of skating, but I think you can figure what side of the fence I’m on in terms of releasing regular content, haha.
Lets work back towards Chance of Rain II. Can you let me know some of the struggles that you encountered in producing this?
Well in no particular order heres some:
– Skating with no warm-up (a VERY regrettable but VERY regular occurrence),
– Showing up to a spot with no wax,
– Driving around ‘wasting’ gas all day to search for spots we never came to find (the scrape is never-ending)
– Getting stuck in a battle for a trick (everyone got pushed to that edge a few times, or a shit ton, Sam haha),
– Sustaining many injuries that took months to heal during the filming of my part, the worst being a broken leg.
– Constantly searching for the best in-camera and in-editor settings to export good looking footage (I’m close but probably never done trying to find a better version of what I already have)
– Lugging around all the fucking bags I bring with me skating (thanks boys for helping me get my luggage to the airport)
– Constant anxiety that World War 3 would break out before we released the video mixed with the daydream of being in a prison camp knowing we never finished the video
– Rushing to set up 2 cameras to film someone’s ender several times, always worked out ok, but there’s a weird autopilot I go into and its always more stressful/harder to film consciously and skillfully in these moments (I hope I didn’t fuck any of you boys over.)
In the beginning I was constantly anxious that we wouldn’t get the ball rolling enough for there to be a 2nd video, later it was anxiety that we wouldn’t finish it enough and would have to just release whatever we had without really finishing it. Coordinating with everyone is tough, because its requires constant coordination and pretty continuous availability on my part. I took days I knew I needed and I spent time I needed to on other parts of my life, but mainly I made myself as available as I could, as often as I could, because I knew it took that kind of time commitment to get everyone their best things.
With every low, there’s a high. What are some of the defining experiences you had with making Chance of Rain II?
Again, I’ll give them to you in no particular order:
– filming JT’s ao soul rewind full true soul.
– kicking that damned sign with my toes and watching it spin around.
– Hugging Sam the first time we realized we were really, really done with the video.
– crying tears of joy watching James’ part as I finished editing it/ did my final watch through to confirm the video’s completion.
– watching Sam slide through caps.
– permission from the cops to film JT’s ender so long as Geoff didn’t go over the fence he was sitting on-top of for his angle.
– Filming a line of Jeph in a walking boot.
– impromptu trip where Chad, Flash and I kicked it a lot, the soul to soul redemption and filming in the pouring rain all day.
– working on a project for a really long time and seeing it finished on all of our own terms, cheers boys.
– getting Avery and Neil involved in the project & skating with them more.
– spending the never-ending summer with Korey Kilo.
– Josiah’s fishbrain to backslide line, still his best backslide IMO.
– seeing Derek set out to redefine the part of his life and succeed.
– victory beers/spliffs. “A thousand Beers, A Thousand Biffs!”.
– finally getting a dog and getting to film my first clip with him juicing me up between attempts, <3 Slim.
- Jame's getting permission from a cop to skate a really loud metal box in a small town outside someone's house at night.
- watching Brown drop in on the fucking sundial, you god damn madman!
JEPH HOWARD – X GRIND – PHOTOGRAPH BY SAM ASKEN
You went ahead and did a physical version of the video as well, something 10 years ago was standard, now a pleasant and delightful bonus for the current day blade videophiles. Where’d this inspiration come from?
I guess it goes back to being a person who liked painting and drawing. I like lots of visual art but I also love printmaking, even though I’m not very good at it. I had done some printmaking before the first video we made, or at least enough, so I volunteer myself as in house art director for DVDs haha. Basically we all like physical DVD copies and I know it has everything to do with us growing up and that was the main platform for consuming our content.
I do think there is something very satisfying about an object that has been printed on because there is a texture and a whole tactile experience to holding it. Mostly we all wanted some kind of thing to hold in our hands and revel in the fact that we did it, we made a skate video and this is it. That same Pathos is what guided us making DVDs this time around. I didn’t really want to do it this time around honestly. I wasn’t going to until maybe 4 months before we released the video, I’d say, I felt like, “damn, we spent all this time last time and did it right. Now were here again, and I’m gonna turn away from doing this again because I’m busy?” Basically we all wanted something to hold after this is over, and to me it’s a cool meditation to have a physical thing to look at that represents your efforts, and for all of us just the last few years of our lives. Like for me, it wouldn’t tell you everything about my thoughts, but if you asked what I’ve been up to since I was 26, I would hand you that video.
There’s often this discussion of 3 chip vs. HD. Personally, I think a camera is a tool similar to that of a painter, just a type of brush if you will. Certain tools fit certain people. That said, I’m curious to hear your opinion of the optimal brush for you and what you utilized for the filming of Chance of Rain II. Any things you’d improve upon as well on your current rig?
I agree about the camera being a tool. We are all swordsmen and each has their preferred blade. For me I have only found love for the Sony VX1000, 2100 and less so but still for the 2000. If the fisheye on these camera’s is not a Mark 1 made by Century/Schnieder Optics, then its just not my ideal setup.
Other cameras get good footage, even the same cameras and different lenses, but when a shot gets filmed well on any given camera, I think it looks best on these cameras. At this point I’ve filmed skating with maybe 20-30 different setups, ranging through some of the major producers like Canon, Panasonic, Sony,etc. But I still can’t find a camera with all the variables colliding. If the physical camera body is too big or too small, it has pros and cons, but ultimately the VX size is the favorite I’ve found. Part of this is more objective in its size giving you certain things like stability, but part of this is because I have shitty weak wrists, so I can’t film well or for long times with big cameras or heavy lenses.
The zoom on the 1k is smooth and steady whereas the 21 is more variable, but both have their own slow or fast zoom look, each is amazing and the only close contender I’ve found is on the panasonic HVX or HPX (HMC might have the same one, but the other two are those I’m familiar with). There was a Sony camera my friend Jon used, I think it was a Sony as7 maybe? Anyways very small camera, had a sort of shitty metal rig/casing around it for a handle grip, and what would otherwise be a awful Rokinon lens on it, but paired with this camera and maybe a step down ring or two, it had a fantastic fisheye. I prefer fisheyes that are really ‘bubbly’ or distorted in the corners giving the look of a circle. For whatever reason it is, fisheyes look better to me way distorted, even though I wouldn’t want long lens shots similarly distorted.
On the same note I don’t really like it when fisheye shots fill the full frame and have little distortion. I know for sure it has to do with what I’ve grown up seeing and what I watch, but it’s what I like, and the VX’s give me that better than any other camera I’ve used personally. No hate towards other peoples preferences, we’re all just trying to make the best we can with what we have.
There’s people out there that I am sure are curious or eager to embark on creating skate videos, myself included. What is some advice you’d don on a newcomer?
Become a student. Not in the sense that you go to an actual school for filming, or maybe do that, but when I say that, I mean become excited about learning your desired craft. Watch A LOT of edits of rollerblading, and just try to pay attention in your own mind to what you like watching when you see a skate video and what you don’t like watching.
Pay attention to what shots look like, do they look good or bad to you? For each of these try to figure out where the filmer was in the real world for that shot (good or bad), almost like remaining/reenacting a crime scene. We’ve all watched a lot of skate footage in our lives, and might be able to identify some clips that were filmed well or not well, but not all of us get to really study or notice where filmers are in the physical world, or what they do with their hands/body to film certain tricks so they look just so.
Watch filmers shadows in fisheye clips, try to figure out how you can use your own camera to get similar looking shots. Granted sometimes you will learn that you can’t always film things the way you’ve seen because you’d need that exact camera to duplicate such a shot (not entirely true, but sometimes there is only one amp to create the sound of music you are searching to create and hear).
Be available to the people you want to film, if they don’t think you want to film, chances are you might not be their first pick to hold a camera or even get an invite to go out. If you’re serious about wanting to try it, let others know you’re about it. Don’t be afraid to be a shitty awful filmer. We all were awful skaters when we started (save a few maybe), the same way we all suck at most things we do when its a new skill to acquire (save a few). Like most things, practice will help a lot but more than that, studying others’ footage, camera setups & practices will help you understand how to film things so the tricks are shown well, and hopefully so it makes them look cooler than in real life (whether they needed the boost or not).
Google fisheye and long lens tutorials. There are some great resources from seasoned pros as well as beginning users that all have knowledge to soak up. Every tip you learn about filming is a gem in your minds quarry, and if possible you should want to obtain as many as you can, because with every one you become more and more proficient, and let me tell you its pretty fucking fantastic to film the shit out of a good trick, but also equally crushing to botch it. They are all part of the continual process of trying. Good luck to anyone who is starting out or trying, I’ll leave it with the advice Gavin gave me : “Be ready for the fact that you might not make anything good or that you really like for the first few years”. 10,000 hours.
What do you love the most about rollerblading?
Just rolling around and carving really. Over time, I’ve found all these other moments I love about blading, like being out enjoying good times with my friends, making new friends, becoming more skilled at tricks and executions of tricks, but always the rolling sensation is just so enjoyable and satisfying to me.
I recently went to the roller rink for the first time after breaking my leg and staying off skates for 4 months. One of dumbest, shit eating grins I’ve ever had was on my face that whole night,I was just elated to roll around again. To me its a lot like what I remember about the swell of happiness and excitement that comes from connecting with someone you find attractive and maybe finally take on a date or get to kiss. I love challenging myself, and doing new or old tricks that are hard in some way, but always I just love rolling around with wheels under my feet.
What are you the most excited about for 2018? What can we expect from you next?
I’m excited to have a bionic leg that I can rebuild strength in. I will be stronger, better, faster, haha! But seriously, I’m pumped to recover more and more, and get back to skating comfortably without pain or restrictions. I’m excited to continue seeing blading evolve and learn new things. It seems like any time when we all think it may have hit some wall, it continues to evolve and grow, I think for the better. I’m excited to see what other people put out, I love seeing what other people make and that other people still fucking rollerblade. I’m excited and hopeful to see more of the few young names I can think of who will be amazing skaters if they continue their practice. I’m excited to be cutting the cord of my stress from our last project and closing that chapter in the book, and I’m excited at opening a new chapter, filming for Chance of Rain 3 has begun. I hope we’ll have some things to put out occasionally while we work towards a next full length, but if not its because we’re saving the good stuff, not because we stopped blading.
Love to everyone, thanks for reading.
Chance of Rain II is a full length skate video from Seattle, WA by Carter LeBlanc, featuring:
& James Truitt