The making of a good action video: Wheelchair Skateboarder, Erik Kondo
I’ve never thought of producing action videos. But recently the chance to make something really inspiring changed how I look at action videos. And the project turned out to be one of the most popular videos I’ve ever made.
A short time ago I was riding along the bike trail when I caught site of something impossible. It was my first view of wheelchair skateboarder, Erik Kondo – flying along on his home-made electric skateboard – while balancing in his wheelchair.
I had to check this out.
“There’s a lot of things that can be done out there that people just never think of.
So, I chased Erik down and while we were riding along together he began telling me the story of how he came up with the idea to fit his wheelchair onto a skateboard.
My first question I asked was how did it feel?
“I’ve been using a wheelchair for about 30 years and when you use a wheelchair you face forward. When you get on a skateboard you still face forward in the chair – but you go sideways.
It’s a completely different feeling.
Your steering is based on front-to-back balance. It feels really different. That’s what I like about it because I still have my chair with me all the time, but as soon as I jump onto that thing (the skateboard) it completely transforms my mobility experience.”
Next, I asked him how the skateboard was put together.
“I started with a regular longboard, but what it has that’s different is a set of wheel rails. The wheel rails lock the wheels on my chair and prevent them from rolling – while I hold a wheelie. The bottom of the longboard has a motor and a drive train. And the motor is wired to a box that contains all the electrical components – batteries, an electrical speed controller and a receiver. I hold a transmitter in my hand.”
I noted the feat that it takes to hold a wheelie – balance his chair on just two wheels – in order to stay on the skateboard. Erik’s reply was pretty modest.
“Now I’m really trying to work my balance so that I can go over more rough terrain. Right now I’m just limited by my skill. I never really skateboarded before. I don’t have that much experience, but the more I do it the better I get.”
I had to ask him how he was able to figure out such a challenging task: how he came to be riding a skateboard without the use of his legs?
“There’s a lot of things that can be done out there that people just never think of.”
Check out Erik’s Wheelchairboarding page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Wheelchairboarding
How to shoot an action video (with minimal tools)
This video was shot entirely hand held. I tend to favor using hand held – especially for action video footage. For the interview section I had a microphone attached to the camera and shot close enough so that you can still hear Erik’s responses. For al the footage on the skateboard park I was holding the camera with two hands and moving in sync with Erik. When we moved to the bike trail, I followed Eric on my bicycle to get the moving shots – one hand on the handle bar and one hand on the camera. A GoPro camera would make these shots a lot easier to capture.
The audio on all the movement footage was not critical because I planned to use Erik’s voice and/or music as the soundtrack.
One thing that really helped this video is the inspiring subject – a guy riding a skateboard on his wheelchair. This video received over five thousand views on Youtube and another thousand views on Facebook simply because wheelchair skateboarding is so unusual.
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