Tom and Ross came to Strasbourg for a short weekend. Armed with a spot list of some of the best curbs the city has to offer, we hit the streets and made this edit. Filmed by myself, Tom Smith and Ross Fairweather and featuring all three of us blading. Enjoy watching three old geezers doing soul grinds.
I can’t speak for Europe, or the rest of the world for that matter but growing up in the 80’s and 90’s in the UK, I can tell you that we Brits had a love affair with Australian produced television shows. Kids favourites like Pugwall’s Summer or Round the Twist to daytime favourites such as Neighbours, Home and Away and even Prisoner Cell Block H. One that captured both the hearts and minds of 90’s rollerbladers was coming of age, teen school drama, Heartbreak High, set in Sydney.
Reflecting back on it some 20 years later, I think what really caught our imagination was the amazing weather, the exotic wildlife, the idea of a different way of life, a more laid back lifestyle with long evenings and lots of opportunities to go skating along the beach or on one of Australia’s famous half-pipes. I would watch every week for that chance, that rare chance that some skating would be featured. There were quite a few rollerbladers featured but two main characters in particular really stood out, Bolton and Drazic. Watch the clip below (Dubbed in French) but you will get the idea. Enjoy the high octane race, the wallride, the grind, stairbashing, airs and the vintage Oxygen Argon setup.
How does any of this relate to the Joe Atkinson x Sydney VOD? Well, this new video captures the true spirit of Australia, rollerblading in its many facets and the unstoppable force that is Joe Atkinson. Dom West is one of rollerblading’s finest filmmakers and he really needs no introduction here, especially to those that have seen his older works, both chapters of Vine Street as well as anything else from his back catalogue. Just in case, for those who may not have heard of him and are perhaps new to the scene let me tell you that he is one of the best in the game and all of his videos are waited on with great anticipation and impatience.
Joe Atkinson is a diamond in the rough of rollerblading and there are not many like him in every generation. His personality shines throughout this video, his pure focus and dedication to the tricks are so clear to see but we also see him having fun and celebrating landing the hammers, we feel these moments with him. What we really need to talk about is the level of skating itself. Watching this video you can see every era of rollerblading covered. Joe skates big rails with solid, basic but super stylish tricks, I imagine B Love Hardin or Arlo Eisenberg in the Hoax 2 90’s era but then he also looks at the architecture around him and rolls the way he wants to, so he is undefinable in that sense. You can see the early to mid 2000’s influences, i’m thinking about Oli Short or even Charles Dunkle, ‘anything goes’ type rollerblading, completely care free of what anyone might think of it, pushing and challenging himself. I also see the last few years; I see the innovation of a skater like Dustin Werbeski, the pure control of Jeff Stockwell and combined with the high flying altitude of Australia’s very own CJ Wellsmore – very good company indeed. That is not including some absolutely monsterous tricks that come straight out of the Mindgame era. This section shows just how well rounded Joe is and if I really wanted to show an outside audience the definition of what blading looks like in the year 2017, this would be my prime example.
The video runs to just over 5 minutes, 3 minutes for the main part and then a couple of minutes of outtakes (with some amazing tricks too – that toyale!) and funny stuff that happened during the course of production. Speaking of production, this is one of the finest pieces of blading media I have ever seen. High definition, very sharp with what seems to be a range of cameras and lenses used (I am no expert in this field, but I call it as I see it). Dom captures that feeling of big city life (down under) exquisitely. You will see tall buildings, narrow alleyways, quirky Ozzie characters and even a kangaroo sitting under a washing up line, no questions asked! The tricks themselves are filmed really well, nice framing and a mixture of long shots, close ups and fish eye too, Dom really knows the right angle for a certain trick or spot and combined with Joe’s skating it all comes together really well. What is funny to me is that I really get a sense that Joe is a stranger in the city, there is something different about him, onlookers are watching him closely, befuddled and amused alike. The music perfectly accompanies the skating too, classic, chilled but nicely timed and the lyrics match occasionally with what we see on screen, well played Dom West.
Bonus video – Suited and Booted. By Dom West and featuring Joe Atkinson.
In summary, Joe Atkinson x Sydney is a must watch video. Superb no nonsense skating combined with one of the true masters of rollerblading film-making. With content like this the future of video on demand is bright. Head over to dom-west.com to buy the full video.
PS. Did anyone else notice the sound in the video? Each of Joe’s landings sounded amazing, the mixture of a good sound capturing microphone, mixed with a solid wheel, frame and skate setup (go #teamsalomon). Also for the blade tech/Salomon fans you get a shot of Joe setting up some blades which was interesting. Also worth noting is that for the most part he seems to use a cut down widebody but just on one skate combined with cream ST9’s, big frames and his 65mm pro wheel. Please feel free to leave any comments on this article and thanks for taking the time to read it. NH.
Future of Rollerblading 4 (F.O.R 4). What could go possibly go wrong in naming your video after one of the greatest video series in the history of rollerblading? Well, quite a lot actually.
A few months back I started seeing adverts on Facebook and Instagram for F.O.R 4. At first I was excited; maybe, just maybe Joe Navran is making a new video. Imagine for a second what that might have looked like… Excitement quickly turned to skepticism when I realised that Erick Rodriguez was helming this project. I wanted to believe it could be a worthy addition to the series, I really did. Over the next few months I enjoyed the promotional material that appeared; lifestyle and location shots overlaid with the names of all of the skaters that would appear in the production. In style it looked like the cover of a Hollywood movie, so far so good.
The final piece of promotion that I heard before the videos release was a podcast with Mr Rodriguez himself on the TOOEASY Podcast 2. Now one of the most interesting anecdotes that he gave concerned some unseen tapes from the F.O.R 2 days. Apparently as the story goes, Joe Navran had so many tapes that he only used a handful for the original video. Erick went on to explain that the footage was being digitised and could appear edited or otherwise alongside the release of F.O.R 4. I will admit to being more excited about the (future) prospect of seeing these clips than the new film itself. To cut a long story short, this rare footage is not included in the download of F.O.R 4. Too bad. Another thing that was mentioned was the fact that Joe Navran himself was on board with the F.O.R 4 project, this led me to believe he could possibly oversee the project, perhaps test it for quality control. For now I still don’t know in what capacity Joe’s involvement was, perhaps it was just in name alone? (I have asked E-Rod for clarification and will update this review if he gets back to me).
The video was released to some considerable groans of ‘It costs 20 bucks, man’. Well guess what, that’s how much videos and DVDs used to cost back in the day. ‘Well yeah but at least you got a physical copy, and the videographer needs to cover the costs of the production, packaging and distribution’. This kind of conversation happens all to often and who really cares, Erick Rodriguez charged 20 dollars for the video and that’s what we have to pay to watch it.
I want to start out this review by being completely clear with you. I didn’t finish the video on the first attempt, in fact it’s taken me two sittings to get through the whole thing. Why? Was I interrupted, yes, was I a little bored, yes, did I despise the soundtrack? Yes, could this 30 minute video hold my attention, no. Is it me? Am I the problem? Well just to let you know that I have really enjoyed a lot of recent online video content, including OK.4 and The Chinatown video Paycheck. To add to that, I don’t love or look up to this modern wave of skating in these videos, I actually find it entertaining to see the new and inventive ways people find to skate the streets. I’m more of a Brain Fear Gone guy, I love the stunts, the personalities and the old fashioned swagger of yesteryears heroes, that’s true. So I was possibly hoping for a little of this in F.O.R 4.
What is good in the video? A solid 30 minute duration with a lot of good skating in the video from
series OG staples including Dre Powell and Franky Morales. They maintain that heavy hitting swagger and personality with big, standard, solid tricks with the kind of style that only 20 plus years on the blades can define. Then there is amazing skating from Julian Bah, Nick Lomax, Eugen Enin and Victor Arias. They skate fast, technical, do big and small tricks and make everything look really easy. There is a lot to take away from watching these guys. There are no specific profiles like in the last three videos which is a shame as I would have loved to see full parts on the guys named above. The video is rounded out with some solid yet unmemorable skating which leads me onto the bad points.
The trailer was the intro (see below), i’ve never been a fan of that and nothing more to add. No skater names, okay this is a fairly small point but in this day and age it just feels lazy to not include the skater names on each trick. It is possible to work out 90% of the famous bladers but there are a few who I wasn’t sure of and I feel by adding their name Erick could have given credence to the ‘Future’ in the title of F.O.R. The music is simply annoying to me and I think this video would be better viewed on mute and put on your own musical playlist, of course this is personal choice, but if you have seen previous 9TO5DigiMedia productions you will probably already know what i’m talking about.
In terms of production, it has that modern high gloss high definition picture that digital SLR cameras provide, it’s not gritty and it’s certainly not raw. This video suffers from a lack of zoom. I have no problem with HD footage and I love the videos of Adam Johnson, David Sizemore and Ivan Narez for example. There is quite a lot of drone footage, some of it looks nice but I don’t like drone clips where Erick tries to film a trick while flying, it’s just distracting, I find myself wondering how many tries things took rather than the actual trick itself. The editing is fine, but occasionally some shots feel short and abrupt and the sections don’t really blend together that well, again this is really a personal preference. I also felt that the video ended too abruptly. Maybe i’m too old school and expect a certain style of presentation for a skate video. Some of the sections were really short and it felt as though the clips were filmed over a very short space of time.
All in all I thought the video was okay. I will never watch it all the way through again but that’s modern life for you. However I will still watch F.O.R 2 at least once or twice a year. Some people might think that I am ‘hating on the industry’ but this is my completely honest review. I think we should all stand up for what we enjoy but also voice our opinion on things we think can be improved. It doesn’t feel at all a part of the F.O.R series.
As a final word I can’t help but imagine what a video like F.O.R 2 would have looked like if it had been produced with today’s technology and social media…#FOR2 #partyandbullshit #rachard #deltron #abdiel #fp #theblindstaresofamillionpairsofeyes #dl #petty #feinberg #shima. NH.
Bonus fact: There was some awful name spelling on the Sellfy description (Thanks Jon Lee):
I took the afternoon off work on Wednesday, and by chance found a new spot on my way back home. I took some pictures on my phone and I posted the images in a group we have for local bladers. 30 minutes later and Salim and Jon arrived for an inpromptu session.
Plenty of wax later and the ledges are starting to slide okay, the problem is there is a car parked in the most dangerous place possible next to the higher ledge. Anyway, sometimes you have to make do. After months of not skating I worked on my basics, Salim was doing grinds to wallrides and Jon was sessioning the top ledge and stacked a couple of very nice clips. The sun was shining and it was light until 6pm, a great sign that the Summer is coming!
Anyway it’s always good to get the first session of the year done (Even if it is in February). You know that great feeling you get after a good session? I am riding on that wave right now and ready for many more sessions, hopefully starting this Saturday. See you soon. NH.
A small landscape photo of the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland as used in the Harry Potter film. It’s always interesting to see film locations. We also took a trip on the Jacobite Steam Train which crossed over the bridge. The views were spectacular!
Broforce is a great little game. It is really enjoyable to play through the campaign on your own but it’s even more fun if you team up in the multiplayer mode. Although you can play across a network, I found it more enjoyable to play with 2-3 other real life ‘bros’ for maximum fun!
The graphics have an ‘8 bit’ throwback look to them. The games play style is mashup of Mercs and Prisoner of War. Each player takes control of a playable character lovingly called a bro. There are lots of unlockable bros that I won’t spoil for you but they include such actions legends as ‘Brobocop’, Rambro and Brominator (My personal favourite being ‘Indiana Brones’).
You fly around the world in your chopper and land in on countries that have been taken over and it is your one sole job as a bro to liberate the area by using maximum force and a variety of guns and grenades and knives if you happen to get to close to the enemy. There are usually three stages to each country with a boss battle at the end. Although the levels are fairly linear side scrollers, the landscape is completely destructible which makes for erratic gameplay but also lets you go about completing your goal in any way you see fit.
This game is an absolute blast and does not take itself seriously at all, it is the Expendables of video games. Don’t let that fool you though, if you are tired of long, serious games, (Ahem The Witcher 3) this can be a welcome 10 minute break, or an hour if you are devoted to some serious liberation! There is a lot to enjoy and admire with Broforce and it’s particularly fun unlocking characters and seeing the bosses and the carnage that ensues. Check this one out on digital download if you can afford to do so.
Reviewed on the PS4 – NH.
I know how it feels to be advertised to especially in the social media age. I live and breathe video games so naturally i’m targeted by retailers who want me to buy the latest and greatest games. Amazon emails me game recommendations, when I log into Facebook I get adverts there, my friends are buying the newest Fifa or PES and sharing their goals online, basically everywhere I look, the newest games are shoved down my throat.
What is the effect of all of this? I feel like I MUST run out on release day and buy the newest games. We all know this is ridiculous but we do it anyway, I know that I did it. Psychologically it can be hard to resist, what if I get left behind? What if my friends are talking about it? What if the ending is spoiled before I have had a chance to play? These are just a few questions that won’t help when making informed purchasing decisions. With that being said here is some free advice for holding back, take it or leave it as you will.
Money savings – It should go without saying but games drop in price the older they get. I’m not even talking about years but months. After a game is released I can almost guarantee that after 2-3 short months that a game will be on sale, perhaps 20 euros cheaper than it was on the day it was released and sometimes up to 50% cheaper. If you wait 6 months to one year you can get absolute bargains. I recently picked up Star Wars Battlefront for 10 euros brand new!
You owe it to your partner/kids/wallet (delete as necessary) to make savings where you can and by being patient and waiting will really help with this.
Watch gameplay videos – Watching other people play video games shouldn’t be shameful. Think about it, people now watch tv of other people watching TV! By watching your favourite YouTubers play the latest games you can get your fix without having to rush out and pay top dollar; With YouTube and Twitch live streams you can even get in on the action by sending comments and getting live shout-outs. Watching gameplay videos is quite addictive and is honestly the next best thing to actually playing yourself.
Buy older titles when new games are released – This is another thing I like to do. Just before a big title is released, try looking on Amazon or Ebay or any other site you trust and look for some bargain basement titles. You will be amazed at how cheap last years mega blockbusting titles are. Just before the release of Resident Evil 7, I bought The Division for 15 euros. The Division is amazing and is keeping me occupied whilst I wait for Resi to become cheaper. Also the older titles benefit from updates so you will usually get a better version of the game than when it was released. The perfect example of course being No Man’s Sky and I don’t need to say anything more on that games release!
Don’t believe the hype/reviews – There are of course biased reviews, hell if a game company ever sent me a game for free i’d probably give it a positive review in the hope that they send me another one in the future, that is human nature sadly. So i’m always trying to avoid the first reviews from the bigger gaming media outlets, you should never trust any reviews anyway as everything comes down to personal choice, nothing is ever truly impartial. (Listen to developer Dino Dini’s podcast on that subject).
Choose wisely and be patient and you will save a lot of money. NH.
I took this photo on my bike ride home from work. It was that time of the year as it starts to get colder and the darkness draws closer each evening. I’m happy with the purples and pinks in this one. I hope you enjoy it. NH.
Dino Dini is a legendary game designer who appears to be going through a tough time with his last release Dino Dini’s Kick Off Revival. I am a big fan of Dino and his games but also the fact he is very approachable as a developer. Here is a link to a really interesting podcast that he has created devoted to criticism of video games, journalism and the media. Well worth a listen. NH.
I took this shot with the sun rising over an almost frozen canal on my bike ride to work. Absolutely no editing, just what you see is what you get. I don’t have a really fancy camera nor lenses, but I do what I can with what I