Monday, January 25, 2010

I Was a Cloud

I Was a Cloud

All I really know about Erik Bill is that he is from Idaho and he rollerblades. I’ve seen an online edit of his skating and I liked it, so when I heard he was making a video, titled I Was a Cloud, I thought I’d give it a look. I Was a Cloud not only features Erik’s skating, but also includes profiles on Cameron Card, Erik Bailey, Chris Olpin, and many more. Also, the DVD has great cover art, and a good artistic feel to it all around, if that means anything to you. I can appreciate it.

I Was a Cloud opens with some scenery shots and introduces the riders who are in the video. There aren’t too many skating clips in the intro, as the intro really just sets the mood for the rest of the video, which I can only describe as “feel good”. I was pleasantly surprised with the first trick for two reasons: First, I didn’t know that Cameron Card was in the video, and secondly, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the footage. The flick was filmed with a Canon XH-A1 and looks really good. Beyond the camera itself, the NDN is a good filmer, so there aren’t really any “bad” shots.

The first of way too many profiles belongs to Cameron Card. This got me juiced because all I knew about this video was that Erik Bill and Erik Bailey had sections. I haven’t seen much of Cameron at all since his injury, so it is great to see him skating again, and doing it so well. If you’ve never seen a Cameron Card section before, his style is the smoothest and he’s really solid. There are a lot of soyales and tts’s in this section, but there is still plenty of variety. Easily one of the top sections in the video, I Was a Cloud has a great start with Cameron Card.

The next profile is from this guy, Phil Davidson. This section has started growing on me. Phil has some tricks that look really sick, and then others that just seem like a random kid from wherever. I really liked the perfect alley-oop fish 360 off, the sick style on his spins, and some of the creative stuff Phil does in this section. The music on in this section doesn’t fit my personal taste, but it works perfectly in this section, so that’s cool.

**this section is actually online already, so i'm not putting screens. go watch it and buy the video**

After Phil Davidson comes Chris Olpin. If you’re like me then maybe you watched his miniview in VideoGroove, and I think he had a little section in some other video, too. So, also like me, when you hear about a Chris Olpin section you might be thinking “SKIP!”… but not so fast!! If you skip this section you are missing out on a great section. The skating, music and filming are all really good, and this Chris Olpin section is nothing like any section you’ve seen of him before. He skates really fast, does tricks switch and natural, and has such improved style and overall skate moves that this section is one of my favorites from I Was a Cloud. If you consider yourself an un-fan of Chris’ skating, I suggest you pick up this video and watch his section. Your mind will be changed.

Erik Bill is from Idaho, so the next section is a montage featuring what I would assume is primarily Idaho rollerbladers. This is your standard local skate video section, full of people that you’ve only heard of if you live in the area. Nonetheless, this section is still watchable because of a good vibe, good filming and music choice.

The next guy to get a profile is Tad Tregeagle. Like most of the people in I Was a Cloud, I’ve never heard of this guy before, but I like the way he skates. He makes his tricks look nice, throws in a couple switch tricks, and just comes through with a decent section. Still, I would have much rather seen Erik combine most of these profiles into shared sections or montages. There are just too many sections in this video. It’s one thing to watch a VideoGroove that is an hour long, but every clip is someone you’ve heard of busting their ass for DAP, and it’s another thing to watch a long ass video out of Idaho/Utah full of people you’ve never heard of. Still, Tad’s section is cool enough. I didn’t like the song but I don’t like a lot of songs.

Yet another profile section, this one is from Eli St. Germaine. I think this guy is from Idaho. This section is a perfect example of what could have been done differently with this video. Instead of another section of a random guy who doesn’t necessarily have the abilities that warrant a full video profile, there are a good number of tricks in this section that could have been used toward a shared/split section that would work properly. The rest can be used for DVD bonus material. The same could have been done with like 4 or 5 other sections. In any case, Eli does some good tricks, and I like this topacid on a curve drop ledge.

After this is a Jay Whitmore section. I don’t know who Jay Whitmore is. This is another section like the Eli St. Germaine one: Take the best clips and use them for a split section and then use the rest for as bonus material. Jay does some cool tricks and a lot of ledge transfers and little random grinds that anybody can appreciate, but not everyone can do.

The NDN got it right with the next montage. It is a shared section with a bunch of people I haven’t heard of, but all of the tricks in it are really cool and make me want to see a lot more from each skater. This guy Jeff Stanger totally steals the show. He has a sickening style, tricks switch and natural, and just kills it hard. Just look at the true topsoul below! I Was a Cloud should be more like this section. If you take all the 45 other profile sections, just take the best clips and turn them into 3 shared sections you’re going to keep a lot of people’s attention better than 45 profiles of people we don’t know.

Extra props again to Jeff Stanger. I am now a fan.

Mike Petrack is the next profile in I Was a Cloud. This is another section that could have been combined with someone else and the rest used as a bonus section. There are a lot of good tricks and lines in here, and I like Mikey’s style.

Dan Dickerson also has a profile in the video, and it’s pretty good. There is something in his skating that is lacking in some of the other sections. Maybe it’s a few new spots, or the way Dan steezes out some of the tricks. Whatever it is, I like it. Really solid skating, a good trick and spot selection, and good filming all contribute to a nice profile.

I guess if you’re going to have a bunch of profiles and you don’t want to combine them, you could just have a mini-profile like Ty Acuff has. This section is less than 2 minutes long, but it works really well: Ty gets to show off his skills and we get a good, short look at his skating. That’s pretty much what local videos are for – highlighting local talent. No better way to highlight someone than this section – short, good clips, good editing… good miniview.

Finally we come to filmer/editor/skater Erik Bill. I Was a Cloud is his video, but thankfully he doesn’t have tons of clips of himself all over the whole DVD, a la Too Much Love 2. I really enjoy Erik’s skating and was looking forward to this section. If you like his skating then you will like his profile. Erik has a visible confidence in his skating. He looks like he is having fun and doing exactly what he wants to do, and that is what rollerblading is all about (and pantz).

The closing profile in I Was a Cloud goes to Mr. Erik Bailey. This profile is the main reason I sat through 14 other sections to get to this. This Bailey section definitely isn’t a WAV/WAV2 section, but it is obviously still sick. Bailey skates the same stuff that everyone else skates throughout the video, but he kills all of it. The same ledge that Phil savanna’s down, Bailey fakie 450 backroyals, and so on and so forth. This section really shows the difference between pros and locals, and what a difference it is. Bailey kills it nicely, though there aren’t really any insane hammers, if that is what you’re looking for.

I Was a Cloud closes like it opens – with a fun section that shows the vibe of Erik Bill and his friends. I’m sure if I were from the area I would absolutely love this video. As it is, I’m not from the area, so seeing full profiles of 8 people I’ve never heard of isn’t the most awesome thing ever. If some of the sections would have been combined, I would like it better, but they weren’t so I’ll have to live with I Was a Cloud as it is – a sick local video with TONS of skating from unknown locals, known ams, and top pros like Bailey.

Pros: Tons of skating, lots of sections, Bailey/Card/Olpin/Bill/Dickerson/Stanger all come through really sick. The unknown guys are fun to watch and see what kinda stuff they’re into skating out there in Idaho. Good filming with a good camera means clean footage. Music fits well in pretty much every single section.

Cons: Too many profiles to sit down and watch straight through – I kept falling asleep cause it was so long and I didn’t know who the people were.

Overall: If you like blading videos, then you should get this. If you like local videos that highlight your everyday rollerblader, then you should get this. If you like videos that are filmed well with high quality cameras, good editing and music, and Erik Bailey/Cameron Card, then get this!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Too Much Love II: The Breakdown

Admittedly, I’ve never seen the original Too Much Love, but when the trailer for Too Much Love 2: The Breakdown (TML2) hit the web I knew I needed to cop the second installment of the series. John Bolino is amazing, I’d been yearning for a fresh Jeph Howard section, and of course there is that little Chris Farmer section.

TML2 is a local video out of Minnesota, produced by Blake Cohen and Brett Dasovic. Like I said, I’ve never seen the first video, so I can’t comment on the progression between the first and second, but as for TML2 - it is a good video with room for improvement. If you watched the trailer and saw Howard, Bolino and Farmer you may be expecting some kind of epic video, and I have to say that I had high expectations. But after watching the video it’s easy to see that this is just a local video that happens to feature some top pros. The video is a documentation of part of the Minnesota scene, and that scene is definitely healthy.

The intro begins with clips from each profiled rider in the video – John Bolino, Jeph Howard, Chris Farmer, Michael Garlinghouse, and producer/blader Brett Dasovic – and progresses to include skaters from all over Minnesota and a few faces from elsewhere. The filming and editing is alright, and for this video, the song is decent. Thrown in are some ill tricks, and there you go – TML2 has a solid intro. Notable skaters from the intro, who also appear throughout the video, include Blake O’Brien, Aaron Peterson, James Beary and Derek Larson.

The appeal of TML2 lies strictly in its profiles, the first of which goes to Jeph Howard. Jeph’s been laying down serious hammers since back when he was wearing sweatpants that looked like they came from the Skittles factory. Well, he’s still laying them and they are just as intense as ever. I can’t say that I approve of the song for this section, but that’s okay because it’s not my video, nor my profile. The song is boring, but if anything I think it puts that much more focus on Jeph’s skating, which is incredible. Right off the bat he destroys it with a disaster fishbrain on what looks like a gap to 16-stair down rail that sets the tone for the rest of the section. Like I said, TML2 is a local video that has some top pros, and Jeph is one of them. Rail transfers, gaps, gaps into and out of rails, switch-ups, Jeph kills it through the whole profile. Notable tricks are an illusion zero makio (snake zero makio) on a down rail, alley-oop topsoul fullcab gap out over a rail to drop, and a ridiculous topsoul to HUGE drop that you can see in the trailer. I don’t know if Jeph has room left for more sponsors, but if he does they should be knocking down his door after watching this section.

One aspect of the video that I don’t really feel is the sampled audio from various movies at the beginning of each section. However, any section that begins with a sampled Woody Allen audio clip is the kind of section I want to watch. I’m talking about Michael Garlinghouse’s profile. The last video I reviewed was the Vibralux team video, On Top, and Michael has a section in that video, as well. Between those two sections I’ve really started digging his skate moves. There really isn’t anything lacking from the section – Garlinghouse pulls tricks switch and natural, does gaps and grinds, and skates all kinds of different obstacles. Beyond that, he has an individual style that keeps growing on me, and hopefully others, as well. The music in this section is mellow and has an easy-going feel. I’ve never met him, but from watching his skating alone it seems like Michael has the same type of attitude. Another reason I love this profile is because there is some seriously sick terrain being shredded down. Dope ledges, crazy spots, freeway overpasses, and lines. Some of my highlights from this profile are the line that goes right foot true porn and then inspin fastplant-to-left foot true porn, some ill stylish grabs, and a full allyooop acid on a stair ledge. I wish more people would make sections like this. Variety in tricks, skating both ways, sick terrain…great stuff.

The next section is a montage split among Aaron Peterson, Jeff Dahmen, Kevin Meland and Josh Ulrichsen. The music is off target again in this section, and it’s too bad for the riders. The song has no climactic point – or much variation at all, for that matter – which makes it hard to build up any intensity. What results is a string of clips put to music, none set apart from another, nothing at all to grasp your interest except for the skating itself. Unfortunately the skating alone isn’t enough for this section to pull its weight compared to the profiles, but I have to give the riders credit for busting their asses. They all come through with some decent clips. I really liked Kevin Meland’s skating, and Aaron Peterson kills it with a sick ender.

Producer/Editor Brett Dasovic is up next with a full profile. Brett’s skating is the kind of skating I enjoy. He spins both ways into and out of grinds, grinds both ways with spins in and out, and jumps big gaps. That being said, I found myself wondering why I didn’t absolutely love the section. I think it is because of the music. This is Brett’s section in his own video, so I’m positive that he wanted that song to be used, but I don’t know why. Though, I must admit that the music and skating go well together somehow. Not my choice, but at least it works. Brett kills it with hard tricks landed both ways, lots of lines, massive 180’s, and a controlled style. Brett shows us here why he’s on the come up.

One of the main reasons I wanted to pick up Too Much Love 2: The Breakdown was because I couldn’t wait for a new John Bolino section. If you don’t know how dope this kid is on blades, let me say this: he’s THIS dope. JonJon does some seriously sick tricks for his section in TML2, but he is capable of much more. Bolino does 540’s both ways over double sets, rewinds in the middle of switch-ups, and has such a smooth style that makes it look like he’s hardly even trying. While the John Bolino profile was one of the highlights of the video for me, it is no exemption from the curse of bad music choice. Sometimes you can use a good song, but when you use it in a blading video the song doesn’t work. That’s pretty much what happens in John’s section, and TML2 as a whole – songs that aren’t necessarily bad are put with skating and it become monotonous. In any case, this section is a hit and a miss. What hits are some seriously sick tricks. What misses is that even though Bolino kills it, he is capable of killing it much harder. But beggars can’t be choosers, so I’ll take whatever section of John I can get.

After the JonJon section there is a montage that is mainly shared among the profile riders from the video. Howard, Garlinghouse, Farmer, Bolino, and Dasovic all have some sick tricks and are then joined by some friends for a couple tricks. This section is a good look at the overall video – the profiled skaters kill it hard, and the locals come through with good tricks of their own. I think its kind of cool to see your regular average local dude in the same section as John, Jeph and Chris. Notable clip is Bolino’s line of switch 360 then back torque to true makio then outspin backslide 270 off.

Buy this video for the Chris Farmer section – it’s worth it. Obviously the most anticipated profile of Too Much Love 2, Farmer comes through with the sick delivery. Straight annihilation left-footed and right-footed, Farmer kinda shows everyone what’s hood. There really isn’t anything to say about the section, so I’ll just tell you what my favorite parts were. First and foremost is the launch to topacid on a wall into some sketch landing. There’s the zero spin switch backslide. All the tricks from his ONE interview. Farmer handles in a way that only Farmer can. A+

Too Much Love 2: The Breakdown ends with a really good closer/friends/credits section. Faces from the Minnesota scene roll through with nice tricks and the song, filming and editing was fine.

Too Much Love 2: The Breakdown is a good video. From the next TML release I expect to see some nice crane/dolly shots, hopefully a really sick camera, and some more sick skating from the Minnesota team. Hopefully a better soundtrack will be included.

Pros: All 5 main profile sections, especially Farmer, which is worth the price of the video alone. Jeph Howard’s section is also completely off the hook and is also A+ material. The DVD also includes all the A Day With Brett & Jeph edits from the internetz, as well as a couple remix sections.

Cons: Music choice. Also, this is a local video, so if you don’t like to see local skaters and only like the big names, you’ll have to deal with some “who?” questions, but not many.

Overall: If you can get past the music, there is some decent skating in Too Much Love 2: The Breakdown. You need to buy this video for the Jeph Howard and Chris Farmer sections, no doubt. Length is pretty much perfect.

...that's what she said.