Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 lens @ 70mm
Canon 580EXII flash (zoom @ 35mm (?), 1/2 power)
Paul C. Buff Einstein 640w flash w/ 11″ reflector (probably @ 1/2 power (~1/2000 duration))
1/250 @ f/11, ISO 100
A typical day of shooting with Steven involves picking him up with his bike, skateboard, thermos of coffee and backpack full of tools, hoodie and a TRV900. On this particular day, Shay Lashley and/or John Hughes were tagging along. Steven’s friend Rob met us at the spot- a small ditch in the corner of a vacant apartment complex parking lot. The goal was to film a few clips involving a shopping cart there but upon arrival, an upturned dumpster became the subject of focus. Well-versed in wallrides, Steven sessioned the shit out of the thing before I suggested we shoot a photo. I set up to shoot an x-up wallride with a standard 50mm lens. I put the Einstein to the right, just out of frame, and a Lumedyne 200w Action Pack to the left, sandwiching Steven in between.
I was trying to work with the empty parking lot and lightposts but my composition ended up being pretty tired and boring. On top of that, it was so bright that I had to get my flashes closer to overpower the ambient light and reduce the motion blur. As per usual, Steven suggested I use a fisheye and for once I agreed with him.
The shot definitely became less boring but the motion blur continued to be a problem even after closing down to f/11 from f/9. At this point, Steven was happy with the photo but I was not. In addition to my discontent, my Lumedyne battery died. I replaced it with a much less powerful 580EXII set on 1/2 power (~1/1600 duration). I asked if he could do a different trick and wait until the sun hid behind the clouds so that motion blur would be reduced. I also changed my angle so that he’d be moving toward the camera and not across the frame, effectively diminishing any possible motion blur issues. This is when we got the shot.
The Einstein is just out of frame to the right (you can kinda see the splash of light on the ground from it) about 6′ up and the 580EXII is just out of frame on the left, also 6′ high, simply to freeze his wheels a bit. At 100% you can see that there was still some unavoidable motion blur on his wheels, which were spinning super fast-
So the table is looking dialed, à la Joe Rich, but this angle doesn’t convey the distance he was traveling out of the wallride. This one does-
I used some heavy panning to sharpen his lateral movement but I must’ve had the 580 at full power because his front wheel is lit up but a blurry mess-
In the BMX world, Steven Hamilton needs no introduction. I wanted to talk with him more in-depth about his numerous, varyingly experimental and always entertaining video projects. Having just finished his latest video “13”, I called him to get the inside scoop while the process was still fresh in his mind.
So, what’s in the name “13”?
Well the reason that it’s called “13” is because I worked on it through all of 2013, among other reasons… It’s was a big year for me because I was born on December 13th, and it was 12/13/13, and since there are only 12 months it can never actually be 13/13/13. Also that thing about how the world was supposed to end on 12/12/12, then the next day would have been my birthday, so… It was a big year for me. And I finished the video on the 13th of this month.
It’s possible that this is also your 13th video release, no?
Yeah, I guess it’s possible. If I were to count all of the VHS tapes and DVD’s I’ve made it would probably be close to 13.
Was the whole thing filmed with your TRV-900?
And that modded Lomo fisheye?
Yeah, the fisheye I hacksawed off of a little Lomo camera. But I got a new fisheye for Christmas this year so video 14 is gonna have a real fisheye.
What are some of the filming locations?
Off the top of my head- Columbus, New Jersey, The Bronx, Dayton and Philly…
Is this video anything like your previous videos? Can you compare it to any of them?
Yeah, I’d say it’s a mix between “The Price is Right” and “Inception 1”.
You mean “The Price is Wrong”?
No, “The Price is Wrong” was that Animal video, “The Price is Right” was my video.
Really? I had no idea. What is Lobsterspine Productions?
You’ve never seen “The Price is Right”?
No, I’ve never even heard of it. Where can I see it?
Well it’s sold out now but it was the first DVD I ever sold through Empire.
Do you guys venture outside of BMX or you just do BMX videos?
Just BMX videos.
Where did that name come from?
I was walking around Seattle one night- all night- and in the morning I found this thing… Well what it ended up being was the thing that holds nails for a nail gun, but I couldn’t figure out what it was, I thought it was a sort of bone or something. I was like “What could this possibly be?” and the only thing I could come up with was a lobster’s spine. Then I remembered that lobsters don’t have spines, but I thought it was a cool name, so I kept the name.
When did you get your first video camera, and when did you make your first video?
I got my first video camera in the eighth grade, then I finished my first video, “Inception 1” during my senior year in high school.
How many copies of these videos were you making?
I probably made 50 or 80 copies of Inception 2.
Damn. All on VHS?
Just VCR to VCR?
Well we had a stack of ten VCR’s so I could make ten copies at a time.
What’s the deal with you deleting your Vimeo account?
It was a couple years ago, but what happened is that I had put so many videos on there- I had over 100 videos and a lot of them were repeats or just the same video edited a little bit differently and I just got sick of it… But I don’t really like Vimeo that much anyway so I just thought “Screw it, I’m just gonna delete it” so I just got rid of it. I kinda regret it a little bit though because some of the videos that were on there I don’t have backed up anywhere. I still have the footage but a lot of them were live videos where I had my camera hooked up directly to my computer or had two videos playing at once… I kinda wish that I had kept the account and just made some of the videos password protected, but I just ended up saying “Fuck it” and deleted the whole thing so it’s gone now.
What kind of music is in “13”?
It has a mix of punk rock, indie rock and hip-hop.
Who has full parts?
Eric Probst, Ian Fendrick, Darius Hart, Jimmy Kleoudis, me, Damian Racut, Mike Rose and Luke Padelski.
You said you edited this video in one session. How did that go?
Yeah, normally once I get going with editing I don’t want to stop, so I just banged it out and did the whole thing in one editing session. I was up for… I don’t know, as long as I could possibly stay up and until the video was done.
What is your editing process, as far as the soundtrack goes?
I kinda lay out a couple clips then try to come up with a song, then once I have the song figured out I’ll edit to the song. Sometimes I’ll have an idea for a song and I’ll see if it works, then edit right off the song.
What is your favorite video that you’ve made?
Right now I really like “The Price is Right” but “Inception 1” will always be my favorite because I worked so hard on it and it was the first video I edited and I spent so long on it.
Do take your camera with you every time you go riding?
Do you film anything outside of riding?
I film my dad’s basketball games every Tuesday.
How important to you is the quality of the picture? Do you clean your lenses and set the white balance and all that?
I usually set the white balance, not necessarily on something white but the cleanliness of the lens does’t really concern me that much. I’ll wipe it off with my shirt or something, but it’s not really that important to me.
You just stuff your camera into a backpack, yeah?
Yeah I’ll usually just wrap it in a sweatshirt and throw it into my backpack.
What software do you use to edit?
Do you watch all the current BMX videos that are released?
Yeah I try to.
What is your favorite movie outside of BMX?
Right now my favorite movie is “Raising Arizona”.
You also shoot still photos- will you ever do a project with those?
Yeah, hopefully someday I’ll do something with my photographs.
How is “13” packaged?
The DVD’s are contained in handmade folded paper sleeves.
So how can people get ahold of the video?
It will be available through Empire this Thursday.
Will filming for “14” begin immediately?
You have any big plans for this year?
Just filming for the next video. I’m pretty excited to film with this new lens. I just got a new bike too so I’m excited about that as well.