okay i'm expecting few people to have any interest in this, but i thought i'd post it for those members who actually like to think about things.
i wrote a paper for my visual anthropology class comparing amateur video edits on newschoolers and professional video edits and specifically the ways and reasons for amateurs to emulate professional videos.
theres a lot of substantial thought behind this in an academic realm that few people are familiar with, so all the teachings, tenets, etc behind it aren't going to be known by 99.9% of people who read this...so this essay is probably gonna get ripped apart by people who feel insulted by what i've said in this essay
its not the best thing i've ever written, but its directly related towards ns and newschool skiing. enjoy:
ps you'll probably learn a lot if you read this, my anthropology professor responded very well to my presentation which was basically the same information, but condensed
alright really, enjoy:
May 29, 2005
Final Project Paper
Newschoolers.com is a forum based website for skiers who are interested in exploring and discussing aspects of newschool skiing. With over 60,000 registered members and more than 2 million posts, Newschoolers.com serves as the primary online community for newschool skiers. Newschoolers.com allows its users to listen to radio, follow news updates in skiing, sell equipment, discuss issues, check terrain park conditions, view pictures and upload and watch video files of skiing. The video files uploaded are produced by the site members and depict skiing performed by themselves or by friends. It is these video files that this paper will focus on, analyzing and illustrating the ways in they emulate videos of professional skiers. However, a background for professional skiers and their videos segments must first be provided.
â€śNewschoolâ€? skiing is an aspect of alpine skiing that emerged as recently as the late 1990â€™s, however, in this relatively short time period it has effectively redefined the face of modern skiing. With the invention of the twin tip â€“ adding a turned up tail at end of the ski â€“ skiers are now able to ride backwards or â€śswitch.â€? This is a prominent function of terrain park skiing, or â€śjibbing,â€? where skiers perform tricks and maneuvers off of jumps, in half pipes and on rail setups. However, skierâ€™s innovation and complexity of maneuvers are not restricted solely to the use of the twin tip. Style and technique unassociated with this ski feature have been additional characteristics and factors in the redefinition of the sport.
Professional skiers are the paramount representation for newschool skiing. These athletes serve as mechanisms to progress and develop the direction of the sport, by innovating new stylistic elements and maneuvers. Amateur skiers performing the sport at their local terrain parks look toward professional skiers for inspiration both to develop their own style, as well as to perform new tricks. In order to become a professional skier, an individual must gain sponsorship from a ski manufacturer and be placed on the companyâ€™s â€śpro team.â€? These athletes maintain their pro status by competing in competitions, appearing for magazine photoshoots and showcasing their talents in ski films.
Ski films serve as the most popular means towards developing and maintaining pro skier status, due to the fact that they are the most proliferated form of media. Ski competitions receive little coverage as few are broadcast at all, let alone nationally. This is due to stagnant associations with skiingâ€™s antiquated past image, as well as the fact that skiing is a sport primarily accessible to only those with either the financial means or geographical proximity to the environs necessary to regularly perform the sport. Therefore, the act of viewing skiing â€śin actionâ€? is something available to very few individuals. While magazines are easily accessed and carried in a wide variety of bookstores, grocery stores, mini marts and available for subscription, these provide only images, lacking the ability to convey the real motion and sequencing of skiers stylistic and tactical maneuvers. Skiers, therefore seek out ski films because they are the only means by which most skiers can view professional athletes performing newschool skiing. In addition to this, ski films are attractive to skiers because they are generally affordable, entertaining, showcase the most advanced and progressive skiing and can be viewed repeatedly.
The standard format for a ski film is to begin with an introductory opening sequence. This is often marked by energetic music and highlights impressive footage. The purpose of this introduction is to â€śhype upâ€? audiences prior to viewing the film, as well as to introduce the individual skiers in the film. From here the remaining majority of the film is divided into segments, where each segment is specifically devoted to the talents of each individual skier. Each skier segment is audibly distinguished by its own song and visually defined by footage comprised solely of that skier. Occasionally, segments show multiple skiers, however, these are generally organized around the fact that they have traveled to an exotic location, or are â€śsessioningâ€? a unique technical set up. These types of segments provide an added dimension to the standard ski film format and are typically produced for added entertainment value. Segmental focus on skierâ€™s individual abilities reflects and reinforces the interpellation of individual skiers mechanistic importance.
Evaluation and the extent of credit awarded to these segments is subjective, however, generally speaking, audiences tend to focus primarily on the skiing. A segment with strong skiing is almost entirely assured of positive reception. Second to this is the quality of music. Although also subjective, there are instances where certain songs are acclaimed throughout the Newschoolers.com community. Third is a draw between cinematography and editing. Therefore the performance of professional skiers is the audienceâ€™s primary interest, the combined remaining aspects of filmmaking: audio, cinematography and editing are all secondary concerns to the primary focus. Extensive use of this website over a period spanning more than two years has provided an in-depth understanding and perception of general evaluative criteria. However, to ensure accuracy, this information was measured against a questionnaire posted in the site forum, asking members to list and rank the criteria that they evaluated ski films on. In accordance with understanding provided by personal member history, the data conveyed nearly unanimously the same aforementioned ordering.
The role of professional skiers within the newschool community should be viewed as similar to any professional athlete or celebrity. Films are widely recognized as officious due to the fact that the media form is something generally dedicated towards recording and projecting only the most valuable of subject matter. Therefore, in combination with the respect these professional athletes are paid for their advanced technical skills, the officiously recognized medium of film awards pro jibbers a high level of status. Film media on television and in movies within western culture conveys a celebrity-like status to those focused upon. Because skiers are placed in the same realm by appearing in highly proliferated, expensive and high-level production ski films, they are awarded a celebrity-like status in the arena of newschool skiing.
As professional jibbers set precedent for the progression of both style and ski maneuvers, amateur skiers seek to emulate them. Skiers seek to perform the same tricks performed by professional skiers in these videos. However, newschool skiing places emphasis on the priority and value of individual style. Therefore, amateurs seek to emulate the maneuvers performed by skiers, but attempt to define their own stylistic approach to them. The result of this process is that in an active interest in the sport, amateurs seek to emulate the status of professional skiers.
It is obvious that amateur skiers look up to professionals for their abilities and positioning in the ski community. Among amateur skiers who hold considerable interest in the sport of newschool skiing, they almost always revel in the idea of being a professional skier themselves. This is no different to athletes or fans of other sports who similarly revel in the idea of being a professional baseball player or NASCAR driver. The average skier concerned with newschool skiing is likely to possess the desire to be able to ski with the ability of professional skiers, to travel to the exotic filming locations, to be known internationally and simply to be able to be paid to ski for a majority of the year. Regardless of the reasons, these professional skiers set precedent for the sport and as a result, throughout the newschool community, amateur skiers fantasize about the idea of being a professional skier themselves. Thus the role of a professional skier is a fantasy among the amateur community.
As stated earlier, Newschoolers.com allows its members to upload and view video files. These video files are categorized on the basis of their subject matter: jumps, half pipe and quarter pipe, rails, crashes, edits, etc. The edits section refers to film shorts. Where sections such as â€śjumpsâ€? might show a simple clip of a member doing one trick, edits are more complex in that they are more highly structured, typically unified by the greater message that conveys the extent of the skiers ability. By the criteria of its video section, edits can be structured by any format, however, members typically produce one of two forms of edits. The less common outcome, are teasers or trailers, whereby members revel in fantasy of producing a full length feature film by simply producing a teaser, which is the serves the same purpose as movie trailers seen in theaters. Although some members do produce teasers for their actual purpose, due to the fact that they have managed to produce a full length ski film. However, more common are personalized segments that emulate the concept of the aforementioned standardized professional skier segments. On Newschoolers.com, members typically refer to these member-produced segments as â€śedits.â€? This is affirmed by members who criticize videos uploaded into the edits/shorts section, that do not bear resemblance to the skier specific segments in professional films or to the much less common teasers and trailers.
The member-produced edits uploaded on Newschoolers.com share various similarities to the professionally produced segments. In general, they share the standardized format, introducing the skier at the beginning by showing their name and the entirety of the segment following being comprised of footage solely of that skier. Like professional edits, these amateur versions typically apply music (one song usually). The footage of the skier conveys skiing abilities primarily by including a variety of maneuvers performed on a variety of different park setups (jumps, rails, half pipe, etc). Skiing and editing ability rarely compete with that of professional videos, however, there are consistent similarities in terms of the basic principals of focus.
So how exactly do these videos emulate professional videos? The central idea is that producers of amateur videos try to reproduce the aspects of professional films that they feel make them officiated. As professional skiers establish the benchmark for style and technical ability, professional filmmakers establish the standards for professional film status. This is typically achieved due to advanced skill levels, superior technical equipment and innovative, stylish and creative approaches to filmmaking. The result is that professional filmmakers are able to establish characteristics to their films that are visually attractive as well as fulfilling of the responsibility to convey the progression of newschool skiing in terms of a depiction. Where the skiers must handle the responsibility of progressing the technical maneuvers and stylistic approaches to the sport, filmmakers fulfill their divisional role by progressing the sport through the manipulation, portrayal and presentation of the film medium.
The most prominent form of emulation in these videos is not actually a visual device, but rather music selection. However, this is an interrelated component of the totality of the edit. Producers have frequently and on numerous occasions used the exact same music as in many professional skier segments. However, among more critical members this is often criticized due to the fact that an original edit (an esteemed edit) must include an original music selection. It is possible that this use of the same music is suggestive of the producerâ€™s particular liking for the skier in the segment that the music was originally used for. In cases where producers have in fact selected original music that has not been used in a professional film before, they often choose similar music. In Poor Boyz Productionâ€™s 2004 release WSKI106, the producers used an electronic instrumental for Tanner Hallâ€™s segment (the edit shown in the presentation). During this past winter following the release of this film, electronic instrumentals became popular among member-produced edits. This is due to the fact that Tanner Hall is often considered the best and most progressive skier. Thus electronic instrumentals now associatively conveyed both a sense of progression, as well as high skiing status. Ski films often set the parameters for what are feasible music selections for segments. In the last couple years filmmakers have proved innovative for the selection of a style or type of music that strongly defies conventional standards. As a result, use of unconventional music selections has increased among member edits.
Professional videos, at least the most popular ones, are produced with film, not digital video. As a result, NS members are unable to recreate the same aesthetic as created by the film medium, as well as some film-based characteristics. In some cases though, digital editing programs supply special effects resembling film characteristics, so that producers can mimic or make reference to film. For example, lens flares do not show up on digital video in the manner that they appear on film. A popular Apple program called, iMovie allows users to add lens flares on top of their digital medium. Other available effects include, white flashes and artificial lens filters for color, softening and sharpening.
Actual camerawork is a more common source of emulation. Professional videos have utilized steady cams to follow skiers through terrain parks, half pipes and in the backcountry. Threads in the Ski Gabber forum section continually arise about the construction of follow cams, whereby members give pointers based on what professional filmmakers are using, generally supplying a more economical means to reproducing this device. In some cases professional filmmakers will use the follow cam to actually follow the skier off the jump. This maneuver is rare in amateur edits considering the implications if the skier holding the follow cam was to fall on landing; young amateurs typically cannot afford the risk of a broken camera. In addition to this, specific maneuvers have become popular among amateur filmmakers. A common example of this is a follow shot, where the camera follows the skier heading into a rail or box set up but then stops at the edge of a box or rail and records the skier descending the set up while moving away from the camera.
In producing an edit, amateur filmmakers seek to create something that appears highly established. In order to appear professional, they attempt to address all the criteria that define professional ski films. Member-produced ski films attempt to meet the standards set by professional ski filmmakers and in doing so they are required to emulate the characteristics of these films.
However, this doesnâ€™t address the reasons as to why they produce film edits of their own in the first place. The question arises as to what exactly is the purpose of creating a film edit, why go to the trouble and effort to produce it? Of course, the obvious answer is that amateur skiers find enjoyment in creating a video, considering it a fun activity. In accordance with this level of speculation another obvious answer would be that these members are fascinated by and highly interested in newschool skiing and therefore seek external avenues that will allow them to experience the sport in alternative ways. However, why then is the production of edits such a prominent form of exploration and enjoyment? Why arenâ€™t members as interested in producing drawings or sculptures of skiers instead? As stated earlier, ski films serve as the most proliferated source of viewing the sport, however, film as a medium has deeper cultural roots that must be explained. In order to do this, film must be looked at in a greater cultural context.
As an aspect of Western culture, ski films are part of greater construct of Western visual media. Although unique and constructed to cover highly specific subject matter, ski films are influenced by other aspects of visual media. The influences of skateboard and snowboard films are obvious, however, its ties to more abstract concepts of the institution of film in Western culture are far more subtly related. As highly proliferated media sources, film and television hold a high degree of officiousness and status. The subject matter on television is generally regarded as being important, due to the financial wealth of those backing their investments in media. Regardless of whether or not the subject matter at hand is liked, people perceive film and television media as being a highly lucrative business. The characters built in film and television, whether it be game show hosts, news anchors, primetime drama actors or movies stars, are not only famous for the proliferation of their media presence, but are usually very well paid. The result is that film and television media are synonymous with power and high social status.
A sports enthusiast might argue that professional athletes can be distinguished from the role of a television or film celebrity, because as members of a sports team they are awarded status regardless of whether they are filmed or not. However, media services provide proliferation of these athletes in the form of commercial endorsements, athlete profiling/analysis and broadcasting of sports events. The result is that this media focus builds additional status and promotes them as sports celebrities. Regardless of what status they may accrue from their inherent talents and accomplishments in the arena of their sport, media presents them with status.
In the greater cultural context of film and television, with the high status of celebrities, there grows a desire among the public to be like these characters and athletes. As a result of the status tied to film and television media, audiences fantasize about the idea of sharing the status of celebrities. It is for this reason that reality television has become so popular. Audiences watch reality television because they are interested in gaining insight into the lives of â€śrealâ€? people. However, the individuals starring in these programs are primarily concerned with the star power that results from it. Reality television does in fact promote reality television celebrity status. The result is that reality television is an avenue for average people to gain access to their fantasy of fame and celebrity status.
When viewing ski films, amateur enthusiasts interpellate their meanings in terms of associations with the greater cultural context of film and television media. Due to the high status of subject matter in everyday film and television, viewers attach high status to skiers viewed in ski films. With an interest in the sport, amateur audiences additionally project themselves into the image and role of professional skiers. Members on Newschoolers.com produce edits because they have interest in skiing and possibly filmmaking and editing. However, due to greater cultural contexts, they produce these edits as a way of producing an avenue into their fantasies as professional skiers. They do not seek to emulate the skierâ€™s styles exactly, but rather the role and status that they hold as professional skiers in the newschool community. Producing these edits does not cause the amateur to actually feel as if they are a professional skier, they are conscious of their amateur reality. However, producing ski edits provides a connection to the fantasy world of professional skiing. This is similar to a basketball enthusiast buying the pro model shoe of their favorite athlete. When wearing this basketball shoe, the enthusiast does not actually feel that they now empowered with the same ability as the athlete. Instead, they gain satisfaction in the fact that they have accomplished a connection to the fantasy world of that particular player.
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