After watching the Lego Freeskiing clip that’s been circulating the ether, I was struck by two things. First, how fantastic it is that modern digital capture and editing methods can make a plastic toy reveal much about the experience of snow riding. And second, how we’ve become so distracted by modern digital capture and editing methods that a one minute clip of a lego skier can inspire nearly the same emotional response in the viewer as many ski videos.
I thoroughly enjoyed Lego Freeskiing, and hats off to Devon, who made the clip, but as a visual storyteller myself it left me with some curious questions.
The sudden drop is frame rate to slow motion, the shallow depth of field, and sincere music; is this all that is needed to make a modern ski or snowboard video? Are we so saturated with visual stimulation that footage of the world’s best skiers ripping the world’s most demanding lies is little-more impactful than a stop-motion project shot with plastic toys in the garage?
Or perhaps I was taking it all a bit too seriously, so I showed it to my 6-year-old daughter to get her perspective on Lego Skiing.
She had one word to describe it: “Funny.”
But she didn’t get all the innuendo poking fun at the snowsport movie industry like I did.
Then I showed it to her twin brother.
His response was disturbingly in line with mine: "He's pretty good at skiing. For a Lego."
Hmm. That didn't help my dilemma.
I haven't come to grips with some backroom artist making a video with a toy that compares favorably with some of today's most popular ski videos, but the inspiring thing about it is what it means for the future of ski and snowboard cinematography. If Devon can do that with a toy, just think of what photographers, videographers and editors will do in future projects – once we learn to balance the eye candy with the deeper human story.
Think about it. Today’s ski and snowboard athletes are amassing an incredible visual record of their careers. Not just the money shots of them winning Olympic gold, or ripping the radest lines and throwing down the sickest tricks while being filmed with the cameras that cost as much as a new car, but the camera-phone footage of them learning to ski or snowboard with their families, throwing tantrums after crashing in the terrain park at 10 years old, and growing up on the snow.
We now have digital records that have the potential to capture entire lifetimes in a visually entertaining format, and when outdoor sports filmmaking culture moves beyond the eye candy, which many producers are already beginning to do, ski and snowboard movies are going to get entertaining indeed.
Then someone will make a spoof of Barbie growing up to be an Olympic downhill racer and going on to date the world's best golfer. Oh well.