Thrasher Magazine Wanna-Be Correspondent for a Weekend

It all started with a simple, frank message to Thrasher Magazine on Twitter last Wednesday:

@thrashermag: got anyone covering the @ZooYorkInst AM Getting Paid contest in Montreal by any chance? Tell them I’ll buy them a beer if so.

If it wasn’t blatantly obvious yet, despite being a web geek and dad of three, I’m also a life long skateboarder, bmx rider, snowboarder, and so on. I’ve resumed spending my spare times riding most of them a few years ago, now that (at least some of) my son(s) are old enough to follow along. These sports bring me balance in a life which could have otherwise turned “static”, to say the least.

In other words, the latter tweet was a humble attempt at ceasing a symbolic opportunity to show my gratitude and appreciation to this iconic magazine, for having been such an integral part of what makes me… well, me.

I’ll assume you will understand how I could barely contain myself when I received a direct message back, stating they had in fact no one on location and asking if I might want to cover the event or know someone who could.

Nothing out of the ordinary if you work in the publishing industry, which since it is far from my case, turned into an all out challenge I just couldn’t refuse. Project and team management is not only what I’ve done most of my career, it’s my true vocation. I happen to practice it in the software and web industries, but projects are projects, and I truly felt this was something I could manage with the crucial help of my oh so precious network.

Through the software/web world as well as through being a regular at most of Montreal’s riding spots, I’m very often given to interact and become friends with very skilled and talented photographers, cameramen, filmmakers, such as Eva Blue, Jereme Deme (Presence BMX) and many others.

I also realize that I’m very lucky to know an ever increasing ratio of the people who make up the local (and inter/national, online) extreme sports community and industry to be able to succeed with such a task, out of the blue and with only a couple days notice.

So armed with all this, and with the help and guidance of High Speed Productions and Thrasher’s creative director Kevin Convertito, I embarked on a mission to round up the right people to score the best possible footage and photos, planning on focusing on the organizational aspects such as getting full access press passes to the event for all of us, and everything else my team might need.

Unfortunately, being summer and all, it turned out that all of my contacts in this realm, except for Eva, were either already long booked on other events and/or out of town altogether… This could have put quite a wrench in the operation, but Eva and I decided that we wouldn’t even let it slow us down. I’d be handling the video footage, as well as the final video editing.

And shoot we did! We both spent most of Saturday and Sunday at the Taz, taking hours of video (over 16GB) and thousands of pictures (over 20GB combined), thanks to the freedom accorded to press passes, provided to us by Philippe Jolin through my friends Charles Deschamps and Marc André St-Jean.

Eva took some amazing photos and provided us both with mid to high end still camera equipment, but I had no choice to resort to using my recently acquired, cheap, barely appropriate pocket HD cam to handle the video. I mean, aaak, pistol grip form factor, low end processor and fixed lens, no fisheye, no real means of (or time to) color correct the video, etc. A challenge to say the least, but quite an ode to “gettin’ her dun, no matter how”.

And then of course, came the tedious, but rewarding, post-processing of all that media… Eva and I processed our photos Saturday and Sunday night, while I was also scrubbing through all the raw footage for valuable parts. There went a couple of 4AM bed time nights. Not that unusual for both of us, being night owls.

And finally, I ended up *forgetting* to sleep entirely in the night of Monday to Tuesday, as I painstakingly edited the videos (1, 2) and photos you can see on this blog. Talk about getting out of your comfort zone! I hadn’t done any such editing in over three years, and never beyond the obviously amateurish realm.

All that to, in the end, getting scooped by the Zoo York pro crew releasing their edit only a few hours before I was able to send them to Thrasher, and only because of my aging MacBook pro chocking on the final exports, upload time and the fact that I do have a day job that keeps me busy busy bee-zay. Oh well!

All in all, the entire experience was nothing short of a BLAST. Can you feel the hype on that bold uppercase? Can you? :)

Given the opportunity, I’d do it all over again on a moment’s notice! Actually, scratch that, I’d do it all again with a bit more advanced notice next time, so I can really make the most of it and book the best people for the job instead of improvising it all. Seeing what we achieved in the short time and with the means we had, just think what we could have produced with even the smallest of budget: real-time online reporting, interviews, professional-level editing, the whole nine yards.

So if you’re a skateboarding, BMX or snowboard brand and are looking for a Montreal hookup to cover such events, you know who to ping. :)

Note to self though: next time, get a quick and dirty edit out extra fast, then work on a nicer cut. Heh heh, lesson learned. :)

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