To me, what is cool about this year’s trip is we had our whole group from the trip we took to Jackson Hole nine years ago. 2006 was the last year for the old tram, which was one of our reasons for going. The next year was the beginning of an expansion of the mountain village. The old tram could hold 50 people (the current tram has double that capacity). In 2006 there was only one bar at the base camp, The Mangy Moose. Now village has been expanded to more than double the size it was in 2006 and there are many more options for food and drink. The mountain has a really different feel now. Much more like Summit County or Utah.
The 2006 trip was the first time we experimented with taking video on the mountain. Someone had a small point and shoot that would zoom and take video. I also bought one of the first action cameras, an Oregon Scientific ATC-1000. This was years before Contour and GoPro would release their first HD cameras. I filmed some gloriously grainy runs in full 640×480. We also took some video during a legendary night at the Mangy Moose, drinking enough jagerbombs and beers to tranquilize an elephant. The things you can do when you’re young and within walking distance of your lodge. We did get an awesome group photo of all of us at the bar. That photo is one of my favorite of my group of friends and I have it framed in my house. So for this video I knew I had to dig up the old footage, include it, include the old photo of us and get the group to recreate the bar photo at the Mangy Moose with our grey beards.
This trip we had 4 people with GoPros, giving me around 17 hours of footage to sift through. There was an effort to get more than just us on the mountain. We do have some characters in the group and in the past we haven’t really put the tomfoolery of our downtime on film. We definitely got a taste of that this time around. It does make the final video a bit more R rated than my previous edits, but it is a snowboarding vacation. Most of this downtime footage happens around mealtime. Dinner was a big deal every night. Jackson has a plethora of game meat available. For the price of a good meal at a steak house we stocked up on exotic meat for almost every night. Ground Elk and Buffalo, Buffalo strips, Elk Chops, Elk tenderloins and Buffalo brats. We looked forward to grilling almost as much as snowboarding.
We did take a day trip to Grand Targhee mountain, which was probably the best conditions of the trip. It didn’t snow much while we were there. Adding to this it was sunny and warm most days and freezing at night. That causes melt off and refreeze, which makes the snowpack harder by the day. Jackson Hole has some of the most vertical terrain in North America, so that hardpack means you have to be on your game. Some of the snow at the peak was as hard as concrete by the end of our time there. Grand Targhee is a little higher in elevation so the temperature didn’t get as high during the day, preserving the snowpack and leaving a much softer base. The Targhee footage starts off with just myself and Cameron. Everyone else in our group stayed out too late and didn’t make the shuttle the next morning. They managed to catch a ride later that morning and meet up for a half day.
The day before we left for home we took a snowmobile tour through Yellowstone National Park. The tour was about 50/50 between riding the snowmobiles and taking a walking tour of the geysers. I have been to yellowstone before, but it was 25 years ago at the end of summer. Getting to explore the park while it was covered in snow was a great experience.
I did get to take a second snowboarding trip to Wolf Creek Colorado during spring break. My wife and daughter were staying in Creede with some family during their school break and gave me approval to tag along and board. In our group we say that anyone who takes the expert and backcountry terrain is on the “A Team”. Two of my A Teamers managed to get permission from my wife to tag along so I wouldn’t have to board by myself. Bev and Tyler did try a day on the mountain, with mixed results. Snowboarding might not be their thing.
From a technical standpoint this is the most complex and best looking video I’ve done so far. Last year I got good at using the magnetic timeline in FCPX to pre splice containers for video clips. I preselect some music and use the beat to give me a range of these containers. It speeds up the editing process so much that I spent more time learning about color grading and blend modes. I still don’t use the Protune for clips on our trips because we just don’t have enough storage with us for those bigger files. Besides, since so much of what we shoot is white snow I’m not sure how much benefit we would get vs my limited color grading experience. That said I did perform a color grade on all the video, increasing the contrast, sharpness and vibrancy. I also found some plugins to help me balance overall RGB values to get the whites more true. One of the cameras was an older GoPro 3 and it’s sensor shoots more green. I balanced it’s video to match our newer GP 4 cameras. All of the color work was done on a separate adjustment layer plugin. I also created some transitions and type effects from scratch and tried out some film burns. I’m starting to move out of the basic functions of FCPX and getting into more of the intermediate skill level editing. I plan on adding more custom graphics and even better grading next time around.
2016 will be a trip to Niseko, Japan for some of the deepest powder on earth.