The Higher Class of Extreme Sports Video Enthusiast’s Manifesto

We are the HCESVE, or rather, the Higher Class of Extreme Sports Video Enthusiast. The Higher Class—those who are above the stunt man’s home video… those who are better than the make shift taped helmet cam…those who won’t ever be seen in the right lane, simply exist on a different level than the rest. Our roots start at the Clifton Suspension bridge and don’t have an end, for we are forever growing. You see, our nature is to be over the top. Our passion is to be faster than you. Our mission is to exhaust our body and resources completely, and then find any extra juice stagnant in our tank. Oh there isn’t anything left? Well we’ll just have to make the tank that much bigger, then. We lead our lives, like we brush our teeth: sub 30 seconds and with a planned, controlled chaos.

The Higher Class makes no exceptions when it comes to the expectations of what we choose to watch. No HCESVE member will watch a video that is not sweat provoking. By rule, we cannot even begin a film that’s not of at least HD quality. It isn’t our way. Members fiend for videos that put us there, that make us believe we too could possibly die from whipping around that corner to pickup enough speed to clear that monster 10 stair leading into traffic.

The Higher Class doesn’t just watch the tour de France, we watch Lance Armstrong Highlights on our iPad while participating in last length. We don’t go out to see Chuck Norris movies; instead, we take 3-D/ 360 degree footage of ourselves spar training him for his upcoming film. The High Class Enthusist don’t settle for this:

The quality is not up to our standards and any average man can fall off a bike.

The Future of Extreme Sports Video

Undoubtedly, extreme sports video is making and talking strides in the world of filmography. It seems only natural that it is this way, however, seeing that the different sports are ever-changing themselves. Where extreme sports and their films used to be a lot of random people taking footage of themselves doing crazy stunts, we now see more planned and precise progression in these films. Of course there is still the X games footage that is less planned in terms of what tricks are going to be done in the scene. However, we see an equal amount of planning in the types and angles of the shots, especially when the events are shot from multiple cameras.

I recently posted about Nike Skateboarding and their new 360 filming. I really think this technology is going to be big, especially for extreme sports. My biggest interest and concern is that with this technology, are we going to see extreme sports take more of a team aspect than it needs to. When limit the range of what you can film, then you have the option of making your with films one or multiple subjects. In use a way, the 360 filming forces these videos to include multiple athletes at a time, because otherwise, the 360-degree is pointless. If you are only going to shoot one athlete, do you really need to shoot it 360? So much of the remaining frame (when you shift left or right) will be empty and unfilled. I am curious to see what happens with that.

Continuing with the 360 theme, I don’t think this new feature will be getting boring anytime soon. Especially if Apple has anything to do with it. As humans I think we are keen to what is around us more often than not. Apple and GOpano have come up with a plug in 360 camera for the iphone 5. Yes, it is true. Now all of the sports junkies who probably have Iphone like everyone else in the world (except for this guy) can take footage of themselves and their buddies doing extreme sports and what not. I actually think this is great because it allows the footage to parallel the roots of the extreme sports: never settling for a limit, and always pushing the limits. The genre will continue to grow in such a way as long as there are techys trying to figure out new ways improve cameras. All directors have to do is continue to find ways to use the new technology to portray the danger of the sports.

Personally, I would like to see sports filming continue to innovate. Unfortunately, I’ve got no clue how you can top a 360 camera, but I can’t wait for it to happen. Maybe in the future we will see more features like 3-D filming in extreme sports video. So much of the filming is based on putting the viewer in the perspective of the athlete, so that they too can experience a crazy half pipe run or a 100-foot base-jump. What better way than to ramp it up and make it 3-D?

History of Extreme Sports Videos

Truth of life: there are some people in this world that live for pushing the limit; it’s just how they’re made up. According to Wikipedia, in the 1970’s, David Kirke, Chris Baker, Ed Hulton and Alan Weston founded the Dangerous Sports Club of Oxford University. Whether intentional or not, the foundation of the club paved the way for extreme sports and its filming. At the time, Kirke and his comrades couldn’t have known the historical implication of their actions, but almost thirty-five years after their (and the) first filming of modern day bungee jumping on 1 April 1979, from the Clifton Suspension Bridge of Bristol, England. The group went on to further their accomplishments by filming there next stunt jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, as well.


The filmed stunt was such a success that the group was eventually made a TV appearance on That’s Incredible. Eventually, however, extreme sports video would hit its peak with the introduction of the X Games in 1995. Originally called the Extreme Games, the X Games were the first televised program for extreme sport competitions. Audiences around the world were able to see the best extreme sports athlete compete all against one another. The show was a hit. Year after year its popularity grew, as more people around the globe began to have access to this gold mine:


The invention of the internet and eventually Youtube, allowed for even further progression of extreme sports filmography. With this new access at the everyone’s fingertip, all of the self-proclaimed extreme sports athletes could post their home videos of their feats. Furthermore, trailers and documentaries from directors such as James Marsh, Mike Christie, and Jacques Russo could be watched at home. In 2012, a film called Last Paradise, was released. This film documents the history of extreme sports, and walks the viewer through the beginnings of many of the original extreme sports.


Extreme sports video continue to flourish as long as people continue to reach and past whatever limits have been set in their respective sports. Five or so years ago, Travis Pastrana pulled off the first ever double backflip. The camera zooms in on Pastrana mid flip and all you see is the crowd in the background in awe, and as he completes his first flip you some how realize that he’s actually gonna do it. Once he lands the camera captures the absolute mayhem that is going on I the crowd. The awe is in the stunt, no doubt, but the video and different angles the stunt was captured had unmistakable amplifying features.


Vlog on Extreme Sports

According to Wikipedia, extreme sports “are certain activities perceived as having a high level of inherent danger. These activities often involve speed, height, a high level of physical exertion, and highly specialized gear.” The beauty in the sport is that these athletes that participate in the various sports that fall under the umbrella of extreme sports find ways every year to go faster, higher, farther, and constantly test perceived ‘limits’. For years the X Games have been the face of extreme sports on television. The games have been able to capture and share said instances where special athletes obliterate all notions of a possible limit of what can be done. Bob Burnquist’s 2001 Vert Run in the X Games is a prime example:


The intriguing aspect of extreme sports is position the nature of the sport puts the film crew. In some films the camera crew can or needs to film from afar so there isn’t any apparent danger to whoever is filming. But, in other instances the film crew is the athlete or, if there is a crew they are right along side of the athlete, keeping up.


Some of the most successful extreme sports videos are skiing and snowboarding. The reason for this is because a lot of the time, these videos use a combination of up close and long range shots. By in large, however, cameras are set up at specific angles shooting a jump or set of stairs where athletes can perform their tricks.


Another interesting aspect of extreme sports video is the use of our groth technologically. When you start to get into the surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding films the diversity of shots and visual effects are highlighted and often raise the level of the tricks themselves. I was reading an article a couple months back on a Nike idea to film a skateboard film that allows the viewer to see a 360 degree view form the skaters perspective. Naturally, if you can see 360 degrees you can see other skaters doing tricks behind and in front of the central skater, whose perspective the video is being shot from. The results were pretty rough, but I don’t doubt that Nike will continue to progress and innovate is the world of sports and sports footage:

The demographics of who watches extreme sports videos is pretty telling. According to the Extreme Sorts Network, the most view extreme sports program was the 2008 Winter X-Games 12. Only 6% of those viewers were teens, while nearly half of the US considers themselves extreme sports fans and watch videos regularly. I was impressed that the number of X Games viewers has held an upward trend every year, and the program continually sets viewership records. This data supports the notion that each year action/extreme sports are becoming more and more popular, and the videos are helping to continue this trend.

My criteria for extreme sports are as follows:


  1. Audio

Finding the appropriate audio for an extreme sports video is key. And some times the appropriate audio is a lack of audio, or music, or commentators. But the point is the audio must match. Watching a skate video without any noise in the back ruin the film, but you put a song in the background and you’ve got a great video

  1.  Must Portray the Level of Danger Involved

It’s not a coincidence that in a ski film if the athlete is doing some huge jump, most likely, the camera is capturing the entire take off and landing from a far. That’s the only way to show the epic-ness of the feat. If you film up close, sure you can still tell that the jump is a big one, but the effect isn’t the same.


  1.  Variation

People need to see variation in these videos. The shots can’t be the same, the angles, the types of tricks, the speed of the footage, all of these things need to be variable but also maintain balance and somehow flow.