If it is not on YouTube or Vimeo, did it really happen?
Go to any ski area these days, and see what you think.
Action cameras are all over the place, mounted on helmets or taped to ski poles, or strapped to the chest of a skier or rider. Not everyone wears one. But go into a terrain park like the Carinthia area at Mount Snow and check out young men between the ages of 14 and 22. It will sure seem like everyone does. And those who don’t? Chances are they have a friend shooting them.
And why not? It is a simple process. Shoot youself and your friends in action on the hill, get to a computer, download the video and edit — include commentary and music if you wish — upload the video to YouTube or other program, then post it on Facebook or other social media outlets.
Not only were you at a ski area, but now all your friends can see just what you did there. You are the hero of your own movie. And these small–palm size, high-definition cameras have made it all possible.
Is this just a fad, or is video getting bigger every day?
Well let’s check the numbers. According to SnowSports Industries America, the industry’s trade association, there were 12,063 action cameras sold in 2009-10. During the same period in 2011-12, sales were 94,577. If you look at partial year sales through last December, the numbers are up again. For the period August–December 2009, compared to August–December 2012, action camera sales have increased 884 percent. Sales of accessories for these cameras are up even more.
Bill Deerfield is the camera specialist at Alpin Haus in Clifton Park.
“It is remarkable what these reasonably priced cameras can produce.” said Deerfield, who has been shooting his own videos for three years. “For less than $500, often much less, you can get equipment that can produce professional quality media up to 60 frames a second and more. A standard camera now is 64 gigabytes providing up to nine hours of filming.” (Author’s note: beware of visiting the home of a friend who has just filled up a disc).
This not just a fancied-up home movie.
Said Deerfield: “What is very appealing about these cameras is what you can do with the raw material. Some users are content with a relatively simple intuitive editing application that generally comes with the camera. But other users, especially young users, are experimenting with multiple cameras, audio and text, even 3D.”
To extend the camera capability requires a significant commitment. For instance, if you can produce a useable one minute of edited product from less than 60 minutes of shooting, that is considered pretty good. Obviously, the more sophisticated the product, the more time it takes to produce.
Most users would share Deerfield’s view: “I shoot just so I can relive the experience.”
The idea of video that takes the viewer right into the action has been around television for a generation. You see it routinely in auto racing, and in skiing it is
often used to preview a race course. The equipment is versatile with people using it for documenting their own experience in a variety of action sports like skydiving, biking, rock climbing, even snorkeling and scuba diving because a standard feature available with these cameras is waterproof casings and lenses.
As commonplace as these cameras have become with area patrons, they are now almost essentials for the resorts themselves. It is rare these days to not find fresh video posted regularly on the websites of areas to carry the message of what to look forward to on the hill.
Evan Spinoza has been working with social media for the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid for four years.
“Not too long ago, we had to load up with a bulky camera and microphones to do this,” he said. “Today, you grab a stick, some duct tape and an action cam and you are ready to go.
“And the quality is so good. The professional production companies are using them too.”
Like all new technology, there is movement toward less expensive gear. While the gear produced by GoPro and Contour, the most popular brands, continue to get better and better, new, less-sophisticated gear is coming on the market. This probably won’t produce a broadcast quality product, but when home movie quality is all you need, then the price is appealing.
Veteran public relations/marketing officials like Okemo’s Bonnie MacPherson know that this action-camera development adds to the reach of her efforts.
“It is people showing other people how they are having fun,” she said. “Social media allow people to get their experiences out there for others to see and share, and in turn, we expand that reach by using these on our webpages. This has all happened in just a few years and the growth is incredible.”
While the main users of these cameras seem to be young males, others are using it too.
“Don’t overlook the dads when talking about these cameras.” said Peter Hines of Colonie, a computer specialist with New York State and a regular videographer who posts well-produced ski videos throughout the winter. “These are some of the same people you saw lugging bulky cameras on their shoulders just a few years ago. And what we have now is so much easier to carry, and the quality is so much better.”
Not too long ago, a day on the hill was just as good as the memory that came home with you. Now, with the proliferation of action cameras and social media, that memory is stored for replay any time you want, proof that it happened, whenever you need it.
SECTION II AT STATES
Section II Nordic and Alpine racers will be at Bristol Mountain near Rochester Monday and Tuesday for the New York state high school championships.
On the Nordic side, Saratoga Springs’ Brian Halligan, who competed in the world junior biathlon championships earlier this winter, is the sectional champion after finishing just ahead of Shenendehowa’s Austin Huneck. The two seniors were in reverse order, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in last year’s state meet. Lake George senior Emma Underwood had a convincing win in the Section II championships. She was 16th in the state championships a year ago.
In the Alpine competition, Shenendehowa ninth-grader Julia Smith is coming off impressive wins in both the slalom and giant slalom events at sectionals. She was sixth in the slalom and 10th in GS at last year’s state meet.
With the boys, CBA teammates PJ Kotecki, fourth in GS, and Michael Merecki, fourth in slalom, are the best Section II finishers from last year. Merecki won the sectional title in slalom this winter, while Niskayuna’s Philip Weeber raced to first place in the GS.
FREDDIE ON THE MEND
Freddie Anderson’s plans to give lessons over Presidents’ Week went by the wayside when she took a tumble recently, and injured her ribs. But the 92-year-old head of The Schenectady Ski School is back on skis, and is planning a trip to Utah later this season.
The Presidents’ Week in February is traditionally a big holiday for skiers and a big week for business at ski areas. Despite the cold and wind, the three-day weekend worked out well once again this year, but mid-week business was disappointing.
The reason appears to be more hangover from Hurricane Sandy that created so much damage in the New York metropolitan area. One result of that storm was that there were widespread school closings throughout the area, and that resulted in the cancellation of the February school holidays. No holidays, no ski trip for downstaters, many of whom drive north to resorts in our region.
In recent years, the guy who would eat up all the news coverage of American men’s skiing was Bode Miller, who brings talent and temperament to the table in equal measure. Then comes Lindsey Vonn, who matches speed on the hill with looks on the podium, and the U.S. has had two marquee performers on the international stage.
With both out due to injury, there has been a headline void c. But not now. Soft-spoken Ted Ligety, with three gold medals in the recent world championships, and teenager Mikaela Shiffren winning the slalom world championships before she turned 18 give the U.S. two new international stars we’ll be hearing a lot more about in the run up to the 2014 Winter Olympics next February in Sochi, Russia.