USC Ski & Snowboard – The Flashback

Subject: USC Ski & Snowboard - The Flashback
Filmers: Abe Kislevitz, Caleb Farro, Chris Farro, Matt Cook, Tom Wallisch
Location: Mammoth, CA & Andes Mountains, Chile

This was a fun video to create – it’s my classic ski video mold where I do some outside of the box intro then proceed to show a bunch of dancing and high fives in the snow. I haven’t really had a chance to put together a big edit like this in a while so it felt good to give some solid effort and time into something. It’s 100% GoPro!

The intro was filmed in Chile this past August when we were down there filming for the HERO3+ shoot. We were strapped for snow for the first couple days – it hadn’t snowed in about 2 weeks and they were having a bad season. Towards the end of our stay we got an epic storm that dumped about 2 feet out in the mountains. That was our first day out on the mountain post-storm and our 2nd run. We knew conditions weren’t super stable but we were taking necessary precautions to be safe about it all.

In a big mountain environment like that you feel pretty useless after you mount up the athletes and they go on their way – almost like you’re taking advantage of the situation because you pretty much just ski down and enjoy it (not a terrible gig). Wanting to make the most of my time there I decided to post up half way down and wait for John Jackson to pass by and get a quick shot. I had talked to our guides and confirmed  I was in a decently safe spot, nestled up against a pretty big band of rocks. It’s not even that good of a shot, but I felt like I was doing something to help the cause. I hung out up there for about 15 minutes while John found his line – you’ll see I whistle to myself, talk to the cameras, introduce the location, etc. As I’m talking to myself there was that small sluff slide that went down past from when Lynsey Dyer was testing out her line. My heart started to pound a little but I figured I was in a safe zone if anything were to happen. Backcountry (especially in the Andes) is a whole different beast and I definitely feel very out of my element when there’s serious risks involved. The Andes are known for big mountain slides and precarious situations but we were with a good crew and I had faith in our decisions.

As John passed the entire slope above him and around me gave way.  I could hear and feel the crack around me and knew I didn’t have much time before things got sticky. It was only 2 feet of super light snow but it goes fast on a slope that steep. Also there wasn’t much coverage below – we had been out there before the storm and it was mostly rocks on those ridges.  As soon as I heard the crack you’ll see I instantly go into react mode trying to back up out of the zone I was in. Quickly the snow below me gave way and it put me on my butt. I started pulling my feet up trying not to get stuck and eventually managed to shuffle left as snow was sliding below me until I was standing on the rocks below. At that point I figured I was alright and sat close against the rocks.  Just as I thought I was clear snow started pouring down from above the rocks behind me. It covered me pretty thoroughly as it waterfalled over my head and at that moment I started preparing myself for the unfortunate situation of being buried. In the edit I do some tricky editing but in reality as soon as I saw a clearing from the snow pouring over me I bolted and B-lined down the mountain over the slide and out of the way. No, I wasn’t buried like the video makes it out to be – sorry!

An interesting take away was how long the whole ordeal felt to me. As soon as that initial crack hit, time slowed down and every move I made seemed planned and deliberate. I can remember my order of operations, reactions, and how I felt at each new stage of the slide. When I went back to watch the footage I was astonished that the entire thing was at most 4 seconds. It felt like 2 minutes. It’s that notion of time slowing down that I thought would be cool to convey in the video. I’ve passed out before (not buried in an avalanche – but hitting my head) and you go into a long drawn out state of dreaming for what seems like minutes or hours when you’re only out for a couple seconds.

The park skiing was all filmed in Mammoth last season starting in February and going all the way until April with Wallisch.  I was pretty busy last year so I didn’t have a ton of days out in Mammoth but we stacked some footage on a few weekends in February. Later, I had taken a week off to go out and try to get some shots for the Wallisch Project (buy it!). We got the worst week possible and it actually rained just about every day. We had one decent day where we experimented with some interesting mount configurations for when the sun came out but it never did.  We actually ended up snowboarding together by the end of the week because the weather was so awful! Pretty hilarious!


One thing that’s kind of funny is how many different outfits I wear throughout the video. I must have been experimenting because I’m wearing something different in almost every shot!


This video is mostly POV for once since we were able to use some pretty sweet mounts. A lot of the shots you see are from the GoPro spinny mount that’s made in-house from a carbon fiber pole and a rollerblade wheel. It’s super light and really smooth. This is the same mount Bobby Brown wore for his double cork TV commercial.



The other mount we used a lot of was the Sail Video Systems 3rd Person Mount.  We tried every configuration and came up with those epic Wallisch shots by getting it out to the side.  You almost can’t even tell where the mount is because you can see his entire body independent of the mount, which is very cool.  I shot those shots in 1440 and 960-100 to get his full body in the shot.  You can see this one in action and some of the other mounts in this B-Roll video I put together a while ago from the same footage.

On the tech side of things this was edited in Final Cut 7 (I started working on this a lonnnggg time ago, otherwise I would have been in Premiere). After Effects was used for the intro and Resolve 10 for the color! For the After Effects most of it is pretty stock effects, just a lot of things combined. One cool thing that can add a bit of zest is the glass looking effect over some of those shots – That’s just adding an adjustment layer, masking out a triangle and adding the effect “Transform”. Then you get the basic tools like scale and position for the adjustment layer that’ll adjust anything below it. When you duplicate a few of these it starts to multiply and look pretty sweet.  On the GoPro side of things I experimented a bit with 720-120 Narrow – those are those super slow motion shots in the middle of the video.  I mounted two cameras on the end of my film pole for an entire day and shot both 1080-60W and 720-120N.  I was stoked on the results – lots of slashes and beautiful sun shots!

If you have any questions shoot em below!



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