When you’re back-flipping down steps and jumping from one rooftop to another, you want to be sure your perfect landings are caught on video the first time—and safely stored for sharing with friends.
OK, other than Spiderman, how many people generate that kind of footage? A very small, select group, for sure. Among these extreme athletes are the Elite Freerunners of Boulder, Colorado, who are featured in a five-minute promotional video posted on YouTube.
For a video like this, retakes of scenes are not just time-consuming. They’re physically demanding, said Ryan Ford, 24, co-owner of APEX Movement, a Boulder-based company that trains individuals in the urban sport of freerunning. Ford’s film was shot with a Canon 60D and a Canon HF10 and edited using Apple’s Final Cut Express software, on an Apple MacBook Pro laptop, along with a Seagate 4TB GoFlex Desk for Mac (now transitioned to Backup Plus) external hard drive.
“I use Seagate drives because they’ve always been 100 percent reliable for me,” said Ford. “Plus, they have so much space that I can keep all my video project files in one portable place.”
The 4TB Backup Plus Desk Mac has enough storage capacity for nearly 500 hours of HD movies, or 819,000 digital songs.
Using up to three camera angles to capture the athletes in action, Ford and his crew filmed hundreds of hours of acrobatic moves, staged in urban neighborhoods and at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The final piece is a fast-moving series of incredible feats by seven freerunners, including Ford.
The clip has an edgy, urban feel that is characteristic of freerunning videos. The piece captures the athletes performing gravity-defying, cat-like moves, with names like the “Dash Bomb,” the “Cat-Pass Gainer” and the “Cat Side Flip,” among many others.
“It’s hard to describe how it feels when you do a move just right,” said Justin Clark, 20, who does a one-arm handstand atop a 20-foot high pillar at the entry gate to CU’s Farrand Field. “It’s pretty neat, when you and the environment combine just right. It just feels meant to be, like the walls and rails were waiting for you.”
That’s not to say it isn’t scary at times, said Erica Madrid, 20. “And it can be nerve-wracking for family and friends to see you doing something crazy, or at least what appears to be crazy. But to us, it’s just part of our daily training.”
Freerunning, featured in a number of recent blockbuster films including Casino Royale and The Bourne Ultimatum, has its origins in Parkour, which was popularized by the 2003 documentary Jump London. Parkour was developed in France in the 1920s and influenced by the Eastern martial arts of ninjutsu and qing gong—with a focus on efficient movement around obstacles. During World Wars I and II, Parkour became standard training for the French military.
Freerunners focus less on the obstacles, however, and more on the overall mission of self-improvement. For some, like Amos Rendao, 28, it’s also a form of meditation. “If I complete a technique with solid form and flow, I find a state of thoughtlessness,” he said, “a harmony between mind, body and surroundings.”
For many who watch Rendao and his teammates on YouTube—the clip has generated more than 173,000 views since it was posted in February 2012—the reaction is one of awe. In one viewer’s words: “Capture these guys with the electronic [programs] you use to make videogames and then make ‘Mirror’s Edge 2’ already.”
- By Cindy Martini