Winter X Games Aspen 2013

This is my 3rd year at the Winter X Games and finally, by the power of sponsorship dollars and manpower, we were a well oiled content producing machine. If you couldn’t tell by the TV coverage, GoPro had a huge presence this year.  We had about the same amount of media crew this year as last; however, this year we had big dollars going into the overall branding and location/time slots for our content & logo placements.  Also this year was the first year athletes were willing to wear the camera and throw down – some even during competition thanks to the light and small form factor of the HERO3 combined with the frame mount.

GoPro comes to X Games as 4 main entities that largely perform separately.  We have media (my spot), event team, social/PR, and sports marketing.  Media team works in direct relation with ESPN’s TV crew and staff.  We’ve got a trailer in the TV compound with around 12 of us total.  We had an equipment manager, producer, 2 editors, 2 assistant editors, a snow team leader, and 2 shooters.  I was more of a roamer this year helping out wherever I was needed.  Event team is responsible for driving the big truck out there, setting up the booth in the festival village and doing all of the local activations around the event and town.  Social & PR work somewhat with media but most of the time on their own getting photos and talking to local media & reporters.  The social team posts up to Facebook, Twitter, and other websites to generate buzz surrounding the events.  Lastly sports marketing are the guys that make deals with athletes and coordinate them for filming, athlete signings, and PR events.

Aside from amazing branding all over the event we also had a new all-star cast of athletes to bring in the new year.  Our snow team at X Games already consisted of Shaun White, Tom Wallisch, Tucker Perkins, Jamie Anderson, and Eric Willett.  This year we added ski superstar Bobby Brown, snowboard superstar Torstein Horgmo, women’s slopestyle champion Kaya Turski, snowboard slope athlete Sage Kotsenburg and a few others.  Working with ESPN and the athletes we scheduled to create 8 course previews that would air on TV during the related event.  Each course preview is around 50 seconds and is created to give the GoPro POV perspective of the course.  We did ski slopestyle with Bobby Brown, Women’s slopestyle with Kaya Turski, snowboard superpipe with Shaun White, snowboard slope with Sage and Eric, ski pipe with Tucker, big air with Torstein for board, PK Hunder for ski big air, and freestyle snowmobile with Justin Hoyer.  Alongside course previews we also gave athletes the option of wearing a camera during competition.  When they did it we’d run the footage directly to ESPN during the show, cut it, color it, and deliver it to TV to air the full run before the 2nd half of the competition.  This was the first time this has ever been done at Winter X Games and it was super cool.  Eric Willett wore it during slope qualifiers and big air finals, Tucker Perkins wore it during pipe qualifiers and finals, and Jen Hudak wore it during women’s pipe finals.

One of the most common question we got on our videos and at X Games was about everyone wearing the HERO3 with the new frame mount – it’s the super low profile mount that doesn’t waterproof the camera.  Truth be told, with the frame mounted on the front of the helmet of an athlete it’s finally low profile enough and light enough that it doesn’t bother them.  We had everyone from Bobby, Eric, Shaun, Sage, Torstein and Tucker throwing double flips wearing the camera on their head which was a huge first for us.  With the frame, the camera can actually tilt backwards against a QR buckle farther than the housing.  This enabled us to mount the camera directly to the front of a helmet (on the vertical part) and tilt the camera far back enough to get a good view.  Mounting this low also takes away the ‘Teletubby’ look of a GoPro sticking up on a helmet.  The cameras themselves are actually pretty resilient and if you’re not falling it will most definitely be fine in decent weather – just be careful of the lenses hitting hard surfaces.  We had a few of the cameras come off of helmets in the frame from falls and they were still fine after bouncing through the snow.  It’s probably not recommended at all times but if you’re confident in your skiing/boarding and the weather’s good there’s no reason not to rock a frame on the helmet.  I encourage people to go test out the weight differences in housing vs frame on your head.  For the average skier it’s not a big deal but if you’ve trained for double and triple flips and anything can throw you off, it’s a huge help.  Most of the time you’ll forget the frame/GoPro combo is on your head.

Out on course we had myself, Caleb Farro, Matt Cook, Trenton Pasic, and Zak Shelhamer filming and taking photos.  Matt Cook was hired as the main photographer on hill getting follow cam photos and shots of athletes around the games.  Caleb was the follow guy in charge of all of the follows on slope and big air.  He also did the follows of Shaun in the pipe preview.  I did some filming around the slope course as well as the course preview for Tucker in pipe. Zak is the leader of the snow crew so he knew where everyone was at all times.  He comes from a background of snowboarding and is best friends with Eric Willett so that relationship is easy to manage.  All of us pretty much knew what had to be done each day so it was an easy crew to work with.  The shooters got the stuff we needed and the editors were always on point getting their stuff done.

Aside from course previews we also had a pretty cool Shaun White slopestyle piece air on ESPN prime-time Friday night as well as on Nightline later that night.  We’ve got a production artist, Hart Houston, that solely focuses on filming and editing for Shaun & GoPro so he put that piece together.  I helped coach through the edit a bit here and there and did the coloring post-work on it.  The other two main editors for this trip were Connor Toumarkine – head editor of Shreddy Times (Mike Wilson Quadruple Backflip rope swing video anyone?) and Kyle Camerer.  They killed it on the course preview front – knocking it out of the park.  All I had to do this time around was peer over their shoulders every once in a while and give a thumbs up to approve.  Check out some of the work we all accomplished last week:

Video: Shaun White Slopestyle Piece - "You Wrote the Song"

Video: Bobby Brown Ski Slope Preview

Video: Eric Willett & Sage Kotsenburg Snowboard Slope Preview

Video: Torstein Horgmo Snowboard Big Air Preview

Video: Shaun White Snowboard Pipe Preview