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Skate & Create - Behind the Scenes

Written by Trippe   
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 15:14
Fecal Pal Matt Irving does all of the creative work for Adidas Skateboarding along with Juice Design here in SF and guest blogs up a really interesting project Adidas was involved with last spring. Transworld Skateboarding invited 4 shoe teams to compete in an artistic competition where each team is given a warehouse, skate obstacles and given 10 days to shoot a short video which will be judged on the level of skating, creativity, the use of obstacles, and overall image and video quality.

This blog is a little behind the scenes from the 10 days in Matt's words.

Written by Matt Irving Video by Dan Wolfe & Kyle Camarillo Color Photos by Seu Trinh B&W Photos by Andrew Paynter

Being trapped inside a warehouse for 10 days to film skateboarding probably sounds a little rough to most people, but to me it was a exactly what I wanted to be a part of.

Transworld Skateboarding magazine has hosted a contest for the two previous years called Skate & Create where four teams are invited to spend ten days shooting in a warehouse using the same obstacles with a limit of six skaters.

Our team, Adidas Skateboarding, consisted of Mark Gonzales, Dennis Busenitz, Benny Fairfax, Nestor Judkins, Lem Villemin & Jake Donnelly. Silas Baxter-Neal was supposed to be in our group but was unfortunately plagued by injury three days before we went to the warehouse in Oceanside, California. Being the trooper that he is, Silas came out anyway to show his support and ended up being a huge help working with the art department.

Dan Wolfe and Kyle Camarillo were behind the video cameras, while Seu Trihn was the man shooting photos. Chris Pew and Andrew Paynter from Juice Design along with Jascha Muller and George Cutright from Adidas worked endless days and nights with setting up all of the obstacles and coordinating the team. What we ended up with was a 4-minute film documenting skateboarding in ways that we felt were fun and inventive.

Nestor Judkins skated pretty much every obstacle we arranged. Without a doubt, he was MVP for the team and always stayed positive amidst far too many hours of downtime. This Backside Tailslide is a personal favorite from the whole shoot.

The one and only, Mark Gonzales! Mark’s warm-up for this Boardslide consisted of him just committing to it first try. His board stuck instantly and where any other human would simply sack on the end of the rail and then face plant on the concrete, Mark managed to sneak in a foot on the uphill portion of the backwards handrail he was skating and gracefully run out of it. For the second try he decided that rubbing a bit of paint off the rail with his board might help him get a feel for things. Most people start at this step.

Every person on the team was given the task of designing their own obstacle. Dennis Busenitz is a pretty handy guy when it comes to building things, so naturally he was the one who came up with the most elaborate obstacle. This is a Backside Tailslide across the top box from two wedges that were pitched at an angle to make it steep and an obviously a Busenitz spot.

Not the most elaborate of setups, but playing with looped video and projecting it onto the wall was pretty surreal. Lem Villemin pushed his Frontside Wallrides nice and high, stalling them out before pulling them all the way around as he was coming back in.

Benny Fairfax makes pretty much everything look effortless. He’s one of those guys that make people think that skateboarding is easy. He’s more like a refiner of the finer things. The cleaner, cooler looking tricks; that’s his specialty and it takes a seasoned veteran to truly appreciate it. To truly appreciate this Nosegrind Backside 180 Out you need to watch the video and pay attention to the placement of his feet as he rolls away. Flawless Mr. Fairfax.

This sequence of Jake Donnelley was the most tedious shot of all. We wasted two thirds of a day making Jake do the same Crooked Grind up the ledge, once for every three bands of color until we could animate the entire ledge. In retrospect he could have done it once and then we just dropped in the colors, but the rules for photography was that we weren’t really supposed to Photoshop things too much, so we wanted the sequence to be authentic. Thanks for the persistence Jake.

Right from the very beginning of our ten days in the warehouse we concluded that the elevated stage that was provided was more of a trap than a service. It just seemed like it was too obvious and not a very creative way to approach the obstacles. Sure enough, on day ten we found ourselves using it. Lem Villemin was a champ for skating this thing and offering up a Backside Noseblunt on the rail. In the end the photo didn’t stand out enough to use it in the article because the spot just looked too traditional. The footage looked good though.

Above are two angles of Nestor Judkins doing a Backside Smith grind, one from the perfect vantage point, and the other just slightly off of alignment. For the film we revealed this effect by using a scissor lift to drop from a high vantage point to a lower one. As Nestor worked his way through the Smith grind it would disclose the optical illusion. Naturally, timing this perfectly took forever.

This photo of Mark Gonzales’ Blunt to Pivot is technically a double exposure, which if we had shot on film it would be fine but with digital we sort of bent the rules of the contest a bit. Everything was supposed to be done in camera, which could have technically been done, but instead we assembled it in Photoshop by overlaying the two frames. It’s one of those moments when you want to stay true to the form, but to do so you’d be doing it out of stubbornness and the odds of the results working out would be slim. Mark doesn’t do many tricks twice, so we opted to achieve the magic in post-production.

One more shot from Nestor Judkins, this time with a Backside Noseblunt. He and Mark had a little session on this wedge for a while, something that a lot of skateboarders would probably view as a dream scenario. Skating with Mark is a strange thing, even the guys on the team find it weird at times because they’ve spent so many years looking up to the guy.

Chris Pew on the left, building miniatures of each obstacle that Transworld had made for the contest. This saved us tons of time and energy for coming up with ideas for obstacle arrangements.

Nestor & Benny messing around with multiplying shadows from the array of lights.

Silas Baxter-Neal might just be the hardest working person in skateboarding. He really doesn’t have an off-switch.

Trying to mask out the projector to fall on the elevated manual pad was a complete pain in the ass. Chris Pew went full-TRON on this and made the dream a reality.

On every take for Nestor’s opening Back-Smith when the scissor lift would lower, Silas had to run up and paint the stripes in perfectly so it looked fresh for every attempt.

Dan Wolfe reviewing footage with the Nestor, Benny & Lem. Having preview monitors on hand makes for fun moments that get everyone hyped. It would be nice to have these at a street spot sometimes.

Setting the lights for the array of shadows, we had to measure everything perfectly and adjust angles to get the alignment just right. It’s only fair to give Olafur Eliasson props for this one.

Usually the best motivation comes in the form of a 12oz can, but on occasion you can talk try to about it.

Dan Wolfe lurking in his Scissor Lift. You can still drive this thing when it’s 30 feet above the ground, a great combination when you add in two forklifts and a ton of beer.

Nestor shredding the six-string…

… and Rune Busenitz on the thunder sticks.

George Cutright grinding off some unwanted shrapnel on the floor of the warehouse.

The TV room was where you’d find most of the guys killing the downtime. That’s our photographer Seu Trinh hiding in the corner with the glasses and hoodie.

From the reverse angle, spots didn’t normally look so pretty. Andrew poached this shot of Gonz about to push through the kink and into the uphill section of the handrail he’d opted to skate backwards.

Lots of glorious clean up to be done at Skate & Create. On the last day, everyone was so over it that we just started tossing everything in the dumpster. I felt bad, but we had hit a wall of exhaustion that didn’t mesh well with subjective reasoning.

My dog Captain in the foreground, he managed to tough it out the full ten days in the warehouse, but wasn’t overly excited about it. Sorry about that Captain, my Captain.

More Links Transworld - http://skateboarding.transworld.net/skate-and-create/ Adidas – http://adidasskateboarding.com Juice Design - http://juicedesign.com/

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