Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's With "Soul Rebel"?

By now I imagine many of you have watched 'Soul Rebel', Mark Appleyard's new part from Element. If you haven't or you just want to rewatch, click here.

And to be honest, when I first watched it, I was a little bit disappointed, and I wasn't really sure why. At first I thought it was just because many of the tricks in there were on bank spots, and I tend to think that Mark shines on ledges and rails, but I don't think that is right, because when I thought about it I realized that I liked the tricks he did. Also, you don't generally watch Mark for difficult tricks, you watch Mark to see his effortless, unnaturally smooth style. Not to mention, I think the guy is in his 30's, so it would be foolish to expect his best work at this point. Not everyone can be Guy Mariano.

After watching the video a second time, I realized what I didn't like about it- the filming and editing appears to have been done by a 12 year old. I'm not usually picky about this sort of thing, but watching this part made me realize just how important editing is. Someone took footage of Mark Appleyard and somehow made it into something that I don't want to watch. It's like someone tried to serve me a pizza off of a man-hole cover. It's a terrible waste of pizza, although the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would probably eat it if I refused to.

There were a lot of details that I feel they just didn't get quite right. First of all, there was not one, not even two, but 3 montages of Mark falling down. And not a single fall was particularly gruesome, as most of them are just him slipping out on banks. It doesn't make Mark look tough and it's not interesting to watch, so it seems as though they are just there to fill up time.

The most prominent mistake was the amount of slow-mo involved. I went through and counted each shot of each trick- in other words, second angles counted as 2 tricks, but in lines filmed as continuous shots, I counted each individual trick seperately. Mark's Soul Rebel part had 53 shots of tricks in it, and of those, a whopping 20 of them were in slow motion. Let that sink in  for a second. 37.7% of the tricks were in slow motion. I have no problem with slow-mo, but even if they had used it properly, having over 1/3 of the tricks in slow-mo would get old. The kicker is they didn't use this technique properly. Slow-mo is generally used to emphasize something unique about a trick, whether it be how the skater caught the board or something about the spot, or on rare occasion, a really technical trick that needs to be slowed down to fully comprehend the difficulty. No matter how it's used, it's primarily to call attention to a trick, and that begins to lose it's effect after about the tenth time you slow a piece of footage down. At that point, you might as well go Fully Flared on us and be blowing stuff up in the background as well. Most of the tricks didn't need to be slowed down at all, which made it extra frustrating. A fakie flip to switch crooks is pretty straightforward, and although clean and smooth, the way he did it wasn't really odd in any way. In other words, I wouldn't have missed anything if the clip had been shown at normal speed. Same goes for his fakie flip ender. But even all of that would be forgivable for a different skateboarder- slow motion doesn't work as well with a lot of Mark's skating. It takes away from the effortlessness of his style. Everyone appears pretty relaxed when things are moving at half their normal speed, so to slow down Mark Appleyard is to water down what makes his style so good.

I don't know who edited Extremely sorry, but they understood what I'm talking about. Despite having innovative tricks in it, Mark's part in Extremely Sorry had 65 tricks and only 4 were slowed down.  It's also worth mentioning that that part also had some more trick variety, but again, there's no question that Mark is great to watch, so I feel like the filming and editing is the reason it turned out so... well, blegh. It turned out 'blegh', in my humble opinion.

Kirk Dianda has the credit for editing and partially filming this video. He's worked on many of Element's other videos as well, including Nyjah Huston's "Rise and Shine" part and "Future Nature". This fact baffles me a little, because I distinctly remember liking how "Future Nature" was put together. Maybe he didn't know how to put together a part for a seasoned pro of Appleyard's caliber. Maybe he got caught up in trying to give this part a different look and forgot that people were actually going to watch it. Whatever the issue, I encourage him to try again. I look forward to seeing the Youtube remixes of this part to come out.

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