Unless you’ve been living without Instagram, you may have noticed a recent influx in older snowboarding footage finding a new life living on social media. Notably, the Banging Bees ‘Vintage Inspiration’ Instagram series, and posts from media houses and professional snowboarders (both current, and retired) alike – we’re happy to be guilty in partaking in this emerging trend.
With a bit of digging, we’ve identified a few YouTube accounts that have selflessly taken it upon themselves to re-upload a vast archive of now-dated snowboarding and skateboarding films. This has been highly valuable in the current digital era where we are force-fed media in bite-sized pieces for rapid consumption. The need to be constantly stimulated online has led some to yearn for the times past when you would eagerly wait for your favourite film crew to tour their new video before a hardcopy release. The vast majority of these videos were larger productions, with run times exceeding 45 minutes, and budgets that relied on potential viewers to purchase for home viewing.
Some of the channels, such as ‘Vintage Snow&Skate VHS’ and ‘Sigmund619’ cover a wide catalog of both snowboarding and skateboarding videos, dating from the early 90s into the early 2000s. Another channel, ‘Lost Snowboard Videos’ focuses firmly on snow-based footage, with an archive that extends into the early 2010s,
We reached out to the mysterious mind(s) behind ‘Lost Snowboard Videos’ to pick their brain with a short collection of pointed questions. Uploading such a catalog online is no minor feat, so we were honestly a bit relieved when we found out that it was a shared responsibility. Trevor Avant and Richard Madrid graciously took a break from uploading our favourite videos from the past to answer a few questions for us. We touch on the relevance of videos that don’t feel that old, and more, in the following interview.
What constitutes a ‘lost’ snowboarding video to you? Is the name alluding to a more analog style of releasing snowboarding content?
Trevor Avant: I chose the name "lost" because it has a few interpretations. First, it refers to old videos that came out on hard copy but have not been transitioned into the digital world through YouTube, the internet, or streaming services. It also can refer to videos from someone's personal collection that have been physically lost. And it can also refer to the bygone era of individual-part, 40-minute videos when new videos only came out on hard copy in the fall.
Richard Madrid: I think for me it means more a type or style of video production that is hard to find nowadays, both as a type of production and as a literal video. There aren’t too many full-length videos being produced anymore and the ones that are made aren’t being reproduced on a DVD. The older DVDs are out there on eBay and elsewhere but there isn’t a central location where you can watch them and that was the aim of the YouTube page when Trevor started it. So whatever is out there being sold is all that’s left of the golden era of snowboarding. It was really just a way to archive what’s out there in one central location to preserve the culture and a piece of snowboarding’s relatively short history.
We’ve noticed you haven’t uploaded anything more current than 2013. Is this intentional because, as we pass through the fall of 2023, these videos are more than a decade old?
RM: Part of it is intentional. Some production companies like Absinthe, Videograss, and Think Thank were still releasing videos well after 2013 and into the late 20-teens so we don’t want to step on their toes and invade their space and reproduce material that folks can watch or purchase on their platforms. We do have a couple of older Videograss titles up but aren’t releasing them anymore because they just released all their titles digitally last winter for sale. That’s their space and their material and it isn’t our place to give all that away. We’re mostly focused on the videos from production companies that are no longer around. We also don’t post any of the Mack Dawg videos for the same reason, they’re all digitally enhanced on his own YouTube page. I’ve posted MDP clips to our Instagram page with the caveat that people should go to the Mack Dawg page and watch the classics.
TA: Yeah I've been focusing on the older ones more, which is partly because they're harder to find, and partly to avoid stepping on the toes of any video creators. The year 2013 is also about the time that Blu-rays started to come out, which are a little harder to work with because of encryption.
What value do you see in creating a digital archive of snowboarding videos?
TA: Videos are an extremely important part of snowboarding culture. Many videos only came out on hard copy, so I think it's important to preserve them before all of those copies are gone. Snowboarders also often have strong emotional connections to certain videos, and videos can have huge impacts on people's lives. The Robot Food videos had a huge impact on my life, not just because of the snowboarding, but also the music, personalities, and humor.
RM: These videos are hard to find if you don’t already own physical copies and don’t want to spend money on eBay to own them. The videos posted to the page all played a role in what is considered the golden era of snowboarding and beyond as the sport/art form progressed and evolved. The value in providing this content is preserving the history and helping, especially the older heads like me who got into snowboarding in the 90s as well as the younger generation, reconnect with why we all love snowboarding and why it is such a big part of our lives. Like most people, I probably burned through VHS copies just watching them endlessly. Well, now there’s a way digitally to reconnect with our roots!
What are your thoughts on the current state of snowboarding media?
RM: The digital age has replaced the old school way of distributing content as the paper magazines closed up shop. Certainly there’s a small space carved out again for publications like Snowboarder’s Journal, Snowboard Canada, Slush, Torment, or King Snow, etc., but they all occupy space online as well. It has its benefits and its drawbacks. The benefits are that you all are able to get content out to the community quickly so you get eyes on your material. The drawbacks are mostly nostalgic in that the paper copy magazines only maybe come out quarterly whereas with Transworld back in the day, you looked forward to it coming out every month, you looked forward to the new equipment catalogs and ads, etc.
TA: I think that for a long time snowboard media was basically hard copy videos and magazines. Then everything went digital and the big magazines went away. I think that now the snowboard community is still in a transition phase. So people are currently creating new media through websites, podcasts, and social media.
How do you feel about the ever-changing relationship between social media and snowboarding?
RM: I’m in favor of it. I know this seems to be a hot topic on The Bomb Hole and other platforms, how social media can be a burden or how it relates to the value or lack of value in how snowboarding media is made and distributed. But I think it’s great for the most part. Riders can film a bunch of hammer clips and you can see it as soon as they post it. You can see what everyone is doing all the time. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think there is space for so-called “influencers” and I follow some of them as well. I go to social media to see all the content being produced so I can get away from the daily grind of everyday life. I certainly don’t want to disparage anyone that’s putting out content that others enjoy. That’s just the age we live in. We don’t have to wait until the next fall to see only a full length video. We get in-season edits, tips on how to do tricks, see the snowboarding world through the lens of others out on the hill and the perspective it provides us. Plus we can get instant access to content from events like Natural Selection as it happens. That’s pretty neat and keeps the culture and community connected.
TA: I think it has its pros and cons, and it's all how it's used. One good thing is that it allows anyone to get involved and put their content out there.
Do you think there is still space in snowboarding for full-length (45min+) snowboarding films?
TA: Yeah I definitely do.
RM: Yes, absolutely. Some of my favorite content/media recently are full-length features like Sound Strait’s Washdup or The King Snow Movie. It definitely seems that they are becoming fewer and farther between though for a variety of reasons that probably have to do with lack of funding and sponsors and that money being diverted to other areas that provide immediate benefit to the riders and sponsors.
How do you go about collecting, digitizing, and re-uploading so many videos?
TA: We start with a big spreadsheet of videos which helps us keep track of which videos we've already archived. Then we get a copy of the video, usually on Ebay, but sometimes on other websites and from other people. Once we get a DVD, we rip it to an ISO file which gets uploaded to archive.org. Then we extract the video file from the DVD, and convert it to a file that gets uploaded to Youtube. Getting the Youtube video quality to be as good as the DVD requires some knowledge about technical video stuff like interlacing, aspect ratios, and bitrate. One important trick is that the video has to be upscaled to force Youtube to give it a higher bitrate. Finally, we make a thumbnail and timestamps.
RM: Trevor had already started this project when I found the page and I joined his discord channel offering copies of stuff that I had. He compiled a huge spreadsheet of hundreds of videos as a way to catalog what he had and I added what he didn’t have. I had already been in the process of digitizing my own library. Basically we search online, mainly eBay, for DVD copies of videos. I buy ones that we are looking for, and when I get them, I extract what’s called an “ISO” file, which is basically just an electronic copy of the DVD content itself. If you were to play the ISO on your computer, it would look like you had inserted the disk into your drive without inserting the disc. I upload the ISOs to a Google Drive folder Trevor has access to and he does all the hard work of running them through filters and enhancing them in an “ffmpeg” program that reproduces a large MP4 file that he then uploads to the YouTube page. The larger the file made, the more YouTube’s video uploader likes it. We have to reproduce with a higher bit rate, higher frames per second, and other filters, to get high quality playback so YouTube’s processor doesn’t cut down the picture quality.
Are you uploading your personal collection? Where are you sourcing the videos? How much money have you spent on snowboarding movies over the years?
RM: Most everything I have comes right off eBay if I didn’t already own it. I can’t say for sure how much money I’ve spent, but it’s been a lot! Luckily you can find DVDs anywhere from $5-$15 but I have been known to spend up to $80 for extremely rare and hard to find DVDs. It’s not often that happens but it has happened and when you see it on eBay, and it’s the only known copy up for sale anywhere, then you can’t pass up the chance to buy it.
TA: We've uploaded our personal collections, but then we started buying videos online - mostly on Ebay. You can usually get old videos for about $10. I'm guessing I've only spent about $200 on old videos in the last few years. Fortunately, Rich has contributed a lot of videos, and some other people have too.
Have you run into any copyright issues uploading such a vast catalog of old videos?
RM: Trevor can speak more to this but certain audio tracks are flagged by YouTube as copyright infringement so sometimes videos disappear off the page. Some have disappeared and reappeared but for the most part nothing gets flagged. And with the creation of the Instagram page and how many riders and others follow us, there doesn’t seem to be an issue with what we’ve posted. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
TA: Fortunately, most videos we upload to Youtube do not get blocked, but are restricted from monetization due to song copyrights. But that's not a problem since our channel is not monetized. Some videos get blocked in certain countries, like the US and Canada, and occasionally a video will get blocked completely. This is almost always due to song copyrights. Only two videos have been blocked because of the videos themselves - People and We're People Too.
What are your top 3 snowboarding videos of all time?
RM: Return of the Wildcats (Wildcats 2001)
True Life (MDP 2001)
Washdup (Sound Strait 2022)
TA: Lame (Robot Food 2003)
Encore (Deja Vu 2015)
Elles (Vans 2022)
Big thank you to Trevor Avant and Richard Madrid for their time to answer our questions, and for all their efforts in archiving old snowboarding films for the greater good of the whole community. Follow 'em on at @lostsnowboardvideos on both YouTube and Instagram.