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:
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
- 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.
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.