The Compression Video

Is the DVD dead? Is the concept of buying a BMX video done and dusted now that everyone's watching nearly everything on video via a laptop while Tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging about it all at once? Not so. Out there, there is still a lot of love for videos on a hard, tangible DVD format that comes wrapped in a jewel case with an artistically designed cover -- generally speaking, creative people just put a lot more effort into a project if they know that the end result will be encapsulated forever in a DVD, and riders tend to go a little further too. Case in point, coming out soon will be a visual project twelve months in the making, the Compression video from Jeremy Muller. Frenchman Jems (you might have seen him recently roasting trails on a Vinyl BMX edit) and his team traveled over most of Europe to film for the video, and it centers on the lifestyles and riding at some of the finest trails spots on the scene. This ain't no Web edit which is over and out within three minutes, Compression is a real piece of work: so we caught up with Jems to ask him more about it.

ESPN: So Jems, what are you doing today -- going digging?
Jems: Hey, today's one casual day so I'm just gonna check up some friends and head towards the trails to fix up everything after this past week of poor weather! Then back home and preparing mojitos for the evening aperitif with the Moldavians, my house mates.

Tell us then, all about your newest video project?
Yeah, I worked through 2009 and early 2010 on a pretty serious trails DVD project called Compression. It's the first time I spent so much time and energy on a movie project. Before that I just edited some friend's Web videos and never got involved in anything this size. The basic idea came from Ben Bello at the French magazine Soul. He called me in early 2009 asking to look after a trails video focused on the French scene 'cause he didn't feel legitimate about it. And lots of friends who dig trails keep feeling reluctant about media coverage 'cause they know that it can just bring more lazy parasites to their spots. Then I think Ben knew we would try to do things correctly to 'seduce' them. The Compression name came when we realized how many trails we would have to capture, compared to the planned length of the DVD.

So are you nearly finished with your video now then?
Right now the DVD is all done. Not everything happened how we wanted, but ball ups happen. It will be out with the trails issue of Soul magazine. I'm stoked, I can't wait to see that.

Who is featured in the video the most?
Only unknown people are in the video -- we didn't want to name anyone, just like the trails, which are just located by their department number. In France, we have departments -- just like the States of USA but smaller -- which are classified with numbers. Using those numbers allowed me to locate the spots vaguely enough to keep the doubt on where they precisely were.

Which spots did you film at?
We filmed at something like 40 trails all over France, UK, Belgium and Switzerland, featuring only legitimate diggers on their own spots as much as possible.

Where was the best spot, where you were definitely psyched to film?
I couldn't really define the best spot to film at. I definitely loved filming with guys at the Dept 33 spot. They were psyched and really helped making the footage as clean as possible. They were at the trails early in the morning, all quiet, ready to try again if any problem happened. And the prettiest trails were surely the Dept 40 one in the final part. Lots of people have probably seen it in the Fit Trails Tour video two years ago. It's much more than trails, kind of dirt surfing -- and Dept 29's spot is crazy too. Guys over there are so passionate that they just sculpted big eyes in the double's bodies.

We filmed at something like 40 trails all over France, UK, Belgium and Switzerland, featuring only legitimate diggers on their own spots as much as possible.

--Jeremy Muller

How much travel did you do for the video?
I couldn't really say how much we did travel for it -- we were lucky to know many people all around France who could shoot footy. But we had to travel a lot all over the country, even the UK for me, and Belgium for Hadrien [Picard].

What sort of video equipment do you use?
I think I'm the only guy in the world to work on a DVD project without having a camcorder. I just borrowed some of my house mate's and friends. But generally, we didn't use HD stuff, only 3CCD cams because my Macbook is not powerful enough for that. It's an amateur video; we didn't put any ads in and are not going to make money, so we used what we had around. Friend's cams, premium tapes and as less fisheye footy as possible.

How does filming trails differ to filming street riding and so on for you?
We first wanted to show and enhance the value of digging. Digger's work first. We didn't really care about tricks, stunts or whatever -- except for the long dirt part. Filming trains came as a logical thing 'cause it's common in trails, allowed us to show a lot of people in less time and erases skill differences between the riders. We also made an interlude within the video's running time, showing tools and different technical tips from the diggers.

Has anyone else helped you out with filming footy?
So many guys helped out, I can't name them all. They're credited at the end of the DVD, thanks a lot to them. Plus, the additional editors were Hadrien Picard from Soul Mag, Pierre Blondel who won the Nike media apprentice contest, Fabien Fran├žois and Jeremie Brigolle.

With so many people contributing, is it difficult keeping the film quality consistent?
Yeah, I honestly think that we can see some small quality gaps in the video. It's not too bad, and again, we're not professionals. The goal was to show some pretty trails works and to give pleasure to those who watch it. I hope we'll reach it.

How are you promoting the video then? By the usual video online trailers?
Yeah I made a trailer which is about to be out and, with my housemate Quentin. We built up a Web site (sorry guys it's in French) compressionbmx.com which is something looking like buildthewoods, but in France. Made by the diggers for the diggers.

So when can we buy it?
In France, the DVD will be out with the trails issue #65 of Soul magazine. For people outside of France, you can purchase the DVD on the Soul Web site. Less than 10 euros hopefully!