Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Flatchat Part 1 with Diversion TV's Bobby Carter

Bobby Carter is one of the few riders currently on the scene that's probably been around as long as I have. Bobby's infamous for his video directing for Diversion Video magazine. He has now made the natural progression to DiversionTV.com, a video rental site for extreme sports. Anytime hanging out with Bobby is a good time, this guy is one of the most switched on riders i've ever met, during this flatchat we talk about a variety of factors that could be amounted to "looking at flatland from the bigger picture".. Working in Hollywood has naturally done Bobby a lot of favours with regard to filmwork and his approach to it, he's also a very skilled flat rider, without further a due lets get the ball rolling.. (WORLDWIDE)

interview conducted over past few weeks..

FM in bold text
BC plain text

Lets start then?
What's been going on with Diversion TV, the site was up for a while, then the site didnt work for a while?
We had to build the site again from scratch! The new site is much stronger and has a lot more functionality that the old one!
Mac Support being one of the main enhancements!

Mac support thats awesome!! How has the site been recieved from the extreme sports market? I mean this is much bigger than just flatland videos on there?
Independent producers are really happy about this new opportunity. Props Visual is fully supporting us. We have the entire collection online. All the video magazine issues, MegaTours, and Road Fools. In the skateboard scene, Satori Movement and other skate video makers are also participating. Filmmakers can get worldwide distribution for their all their new and classic videos!

That's killer Props are involved, groundworks is a classic!!! What projects are you personally bringing to the table?
The entire Diversion Video Magazine Series is available and also the newest video Made in: Thailand is also available now.

How long has Diversion TV taken you to get off the ground? Is this your full time job
The idea started in 2004. Right now it's more than a full time job, it's a full overtime job! HA! HA!

(interview gets delayed..)

Sorry Bobby, been busy times!!

Back on the interview...How do you feel about the shift from DVD to web streaming videos? I know you are a collector...
It's basically a natural progression of technology and humans adapting to it. We are moving from the industrial age to the infomation age. Video can be distributed cheaply all over the world. Much cheaper and faster than sending a DVD through the mail. In the information age video collections are being maintained in cyberspace! How do you feel about it?

Well.....I look at last week for example,great edits from Sam, Dez, Hiro, Pete B, and they are forgotten already. I guess the consumer is in charge really, I like having a DVD, especially ones where riders have worked on their parts for a long time. I see it from both sides, just the digest, spit out process I'm not a fan of.... Well......I miss the DVD days, just having the physical DVD and packaging, the "timeless" factor, look at last week, a great week for online edits... And already forgotten, spat out and now waiting for the next fix.... Something has been lost don't you think?
Something has been lost and gained. What's gained is the speed and accessibility to content. Somebody in Mexico can watch riders in Japan. What's lost is the art and presentation of the long form video. Diversion TV is bringing that back. Especially those who make the video as the product as opposed to a video to sell hardgoods.
Having a DVD case is like having a piece of art physical art, but I think economics rule on that point and new school people don't care as much.
The heroes of today are much different and have a shorter life span than heroes of yesterday. Information flows too fast. Perhaps there are too many heroes??? This is deep and is not specific to flatland or BMX, but other industries like music also are experiencing this effect too!

Interesting comment... too many heroes.. care to elaborate a lil more on this Bobby?
Back in the day, you had Dorkin' and Baco and a few other videos release by a team. Each series released 1 video a year and there was very little overlap in the riders that appeared in the videos.
Dorkin' was Kevin, Chase, Mark, and the Crew. Baco was Chad Degroot, Hilson, Rye, and their crew. Once you got a video you watched the same thing over and over until the next year. There were fewer riders being watched. Fewer heroes...These days anyone with a few dope combos can be broadcast over the internet. With so many riders in the limelight, for such a short time, it's hard to stand out. If Denes Katona came out in a Dorkin' video 13 years ago doing all those crazy whiplash combos, he would be super famous. Instead, he was in a short online video, with a lot of other short videos with good riding lined up right behind it. I think information travels too fast to build up someone as a hero like back in the day. There are also many other factors regarding the progression of tricks and people's expectations of progression that play into it too. Practically nothing is thought to be impossible and the formative years are pretty much over. Tricks are mostly variations as opposed to brand new positions on the bike.

Good points...Would you say the disadvantage of the modern era is that tricks get loss, just so much choice of what to watch, that of course is where Diversion TV comes in I guess, kind of bridges the two in a way. How has response to the site been so far?
I think there's a fundamental difference between long form videos and short clips. It's a different experience all together.
Long form has the ability to tell an in depth story about a rider or send a message. Short form is more like "trick of the day", advertisement, or news. It's like watching a movie vs. watching the news. Some of the "web edits" are getting good in terms of editing,videography, and length. "Project A" is a good example. With so much work and time put into that kind of video, it has a much higher value than your average "look what I did today!" type video. As more videos like "Project A" are released in the future, they will have a home at Diversion TV.

"Project A" definitely had substance as well as quality, do you see Diversion TV eventually taking the lead in terms of exclusives, at the moment seems like you are building the archives...
The end goal is to maintain the largest online library of full length action sports videos. (New and classic!)
Right now, Made in: Thailand is exclusive to Diversion TV. Any long form video I make in the future will be exclusive to Diversion TV. Expense of manufacturing DVDs is usually the prohibiting factor with long form video. With Diversion TV, all you have to do is make one copy and we do the rest for you. Filmmakers please come through!

That's awesome. Flatlanders are slow to catch on, in the future I can see exclusive videos and video parts dropping on DiversionTV. Riders and editors presumably would get a cut of that?
The content providers get paid from each rental. They also receive a login on the site where they can see all their videos online and how many people are renting their videos in real time, and how much money they've earned.
This way the video makers can get paid to support their art and the viewers get high quality content for much cheaper and faster than a physical DVD.
On top of that all their classic videos will also be available. Diversion TV can breathe life into classics that are just sitting on a shelf collecting dust. BMX Plus! Magazine has already stepped up and offered their video classics on Diversion TV; BMX Plus! Magazine has already stepped up and offered their video classics on Diversion TV; Freestyle's Raddest Tricks, RadTV the sequel, 101 tricks pt 1 and 101 tricks pt 2.

Wow... 101 tricks was legendary growing up. Sounds like your project has really gathered shape. Are there any deals going on your site? I see the standard rate to hire a video is $2.99
New schoolers will be able to see roots of modern day freestyle riding. (Ramps and flatland!) Old schoolers can reminisce.
The best deal on the site is the monthly subscription. For $9.95 you can have unlimited access to all the videos in the library.
That's about half the cost of 1 DVD and right now there's over 160 videos available and that number is increasing!

I think it's really important to show the new school the history side, hence why I have so many old school edits on flatmatters....that's a good deal on the videos, any more plans in the near future for exclusive edits similar to the made in Thailand edit?
I have footage from Okinawa and Kobe Japan. That will be the next release from me. The Kobe flatland scene is really strong as well as in Okinawa. Okinawa is a group of islands off the south coast of Japan. It's Mr. Miyagi's homeland in the Karate Kid part 2. I didn't see Tomi Village though!

Yo, Michael Jackson just died out here in LA a few hours ago.

I heard, really sad, all over the news here, infact I think the news broke here 45 mins before LA, crazy!!! Japanese scene stuff is always good, what do you like about Japan Bobby? You go there a lot, ladies? Haha
Yes, actually Michael Jackson is the ultimate example of what I'm saying about how heroes were made back in the day vs. today. He came out when you had to buy the physical record. Record labels were determining who gets published and who doesn't. Out of all the talent that came through, they picked out the best and pumped it out. These days recording equipment is cheap and you can get music from all sorts of artists on the internet. It's harder to stand out from the crowd. Information about artists flows so fast the labels are pumping out various artists left and right and people don't get the lime light like they used to.
Japan has everything. A lot of Flatlanders, nice girls, girls that ride, a safe environment, and convenience. All that in together means you can have a lot fun!

Nice analogy Bobby..,.All this talk of Diversion TV, what about riding? I take it you don't much time anymore....
I'm still riding, probably 4 - 5 of 7 days a week. I go to the parking lot, like other people go to the gym after work.
I try to get a 1-2 hour session in during the week and 5-6 hours on the weekend. Weekend sessions are usually with the other LA riders. Just learned a death truck combo the other day. I've been trying to increase my skills on the back wheel lately. I will admit that my mindset is a bit different now than back in the day.
I know you're still riding hardcore like day 1...

That's rad your still into it though Bobby after all these years, last year I really enjoyed the process of being dialed for contests, being dialed helps you progress a lot faster if the tricks your trying are in anyway close to what you are dialing. Othertimes I just enjoy pulling a combo once a day and making it different everyday, flatlands all about you. That's why contests are so hard, cause then it's not about you. There are so many factors. Getting back to you, how does the LA scene compare to how you imagined it would when you first moved out from Michigan? I remember you saying, you can take the weather for granted after couple of years out there...
The weather is awesome out here. Arriving from Michigan, I didn't want to waste one day of good weather. After a while, you get used to it and get lazy. The "Tomorrow I'll ride hard. I'm going to chill out at the session today" type of mentality comes through. Sometimes the weather is a motivating factor in riding. When you can't ride because of snow and rain, you ride much more focused when the weather is good.
The LA scene has changed so much since 1999, when I first moved here. In 1999, there were a lot of top pros that lived out here and a lot of riders from all over the world came through to visit. CFBs, B3's, and X-trials kept people coming out. Since X-games dropped flatland in 2003, we rarely get any visitors and a lot of Pros moved back East or back to their home countries. There's still a handful of riders out here representing, but it's not the flatland mecca it was when I first moved here or before that in 1996. I think 1996-97 was probably the peak for LA being the world's hotspot for flatland. Now there's a lot of places around the world that are crackin' with flatland!

Of all your travels, "worldwide" where do you the most thriving scene? Are contests integral to that?Do you think contests are integral part of a scene thriving, hence japan having a regular contest structure....
Of the places I've been to, Kobe is going off, Paris, Hungary, Brazil, Central America is growing...I know there's more. Some drop off and others rise up. It's always changing as people grow up.
In Japan, I think the contest scene does give some of the standout riders something to reach for, a reward for all the hard work they put into riding. However, there are a lot of other contests in Japan that are so relaxed that I wouldn't really call it a comp. Most of the riders don't seem to care what place they get, they're just out there having fun. It's actually more of an organized jam.
It's more about just having structured events that bring everyone together that creates a thriving scene. Contests are a lot of stress and jams are just about having fun and exchanging information. The riding level is so high these days, it's much easier for the average rider to participate in a jam and go away motivated.
It doesn't seem to me like the contest scene was pushing Kevin and Chase in York. They were pushing each other to progress, like mad scientists in the lab.
Same with Chad DeGroot, Rye and the Baco crew. They would ride together, then go fool around in the city.
It's more just being able to ride with a group of people regularly that keeps people motivated and progressing.
Having a central spot is also key. In Los Angeles, there's no central spot. Even though there may be about 15-20 riders, we're so spread out, we end up riding alone or in groups of 2 or 3. Hollywood Steve told me that he would show up to Huntington Beach parking lot around 1996 and there would a ton of riders out there all time. Also, the riders here don't get to hang out together without going through a lot of trouble. Off the court, being able to hang with a crew, talk about riding, new tricks, etc. also helps build the scene.
I think the energy a group creates when riders are together creates a thriving scene.

Flatchat with Bobby Carter Part 2 continues tommorow

Go check out: http://www.diversiontv.com/


Shane Badman said...

Bobby rules. I haven't spent as much time as i'd like with him, but every time I have spent has been memorable. I really dig his insight into things - can't wait for part 2!

flatmatters said...

Second that Shane! Bobby is able to look at the bigger picture, i think he's one of the most intellgient riders
involved in the sport. Had some good riding sessions at his Hollywood riding spots a year and a half ago. Part two is almost ready to go, the discussion about jams influencing more riders than a contest is inspiring, how hard is it to put on a jam? So if your reading this, and your wondering about organising a jam, do it, having a central meeting point is invalueable to this..