FIFAD Day 4 – Youth and Alpinism

The fourth Day of FIFAD could have had the banner of youth and children of Alpinism. It began with a conference by Swiss university students who had travelled to Siberia for their projects, a short documentary about the actress who played Heidi in the recent film, disadvantaged youth who went to the mountains to help on a farm, The Makers of Dreams about the Geneva CAS branch and how it encourages young people to experiment with Alpinism and trekking. The last documentary of the evening was about Polish and British people going to the base of K2. Their parents were alpinists who went to climb the mountain but never came back.

K2 Touching the Sky

K2 Touching the sky was an interesting documentary because I cannot make up my mind as to whether the documentary is about death or whether it is a documentary about Alpinism and being a parent. The documentary starts with the question “Can I be a mother and an Alpinist” and ends with a shot of that same woman holding a baby next to a river. This documentary explores how children react and feel to the knowledge that their parents died doing what they were passionate about.

Face to Face

Degrees North is different from the other films because it shows nice images of two mountain guides climbing and having a conversation about the difference in attitude between climbers in different parts of the world. They speak of the Japanese climbers who spent one month working to ascend the North Face of the Eiger as well as of other routes and groups of people.

Degrees North

Freeride films are all alike once the people strap on the snowboard and head down the mountain. What makes the documentary or film relevant is how those people get to the mountains, the steep slopes and more. This film is fun because it combines parapentes, a propeller and drop-offs straight on to the mountain. They say “If we were using the parapente now we could be up the mountain in 10 minutes rather than spend four or five hours climbing up. They also speak of the ability for reconnaissance and appreciating the routes that are spotted.

Voyous à L’Alpage

Disadvantaged youth who have been locked up for a number of reasons at a young age are allowed to go up to a farm in the mountains and help with the daily running of the place. This is an opportunity for them to learn new skills in a nice Alpine setting. Imagine misbehaving in this part of the world and being sent up to spend time up in the mountains like this. In theory they can run away and one or two do but overall this is a great way to experience something else than the environment in which they might live or grow up.


The mountains provide a beautiful environment in which for people to grow up and enjoy snowboarding, via ferrata, rock climbing, alpinism and more. There is of course an inherent risk of death which did figure prominently in some of the documentaries. At the same time as the mountains are deadly they provide opportunities for the enjoyment of sports, people and more. Yesterday’s selection of films highlighted this well.



FIFAD Day 2 – a day of introspection about exploration.


FIFAD’s second day’s documentaries were introspective. They looked at mining in Bolivia, Jean Troillet’s life of adventure and the film Sherpa.

The peaks we see from the Festival
The peaks we see from the Festival

Tous Les Jours La Nuit

Tous Les Jours La Nuit is a documentary by Jean-Claude Wicky who passed away recently. The documentary looked at the lives of Bolivian miners who have to work for up to 20 hours a day in mines where the air temperature can reach up to 50°c, where the life expectancy is between 40-45 years and where they barely earn enough to live. In this documentary he looks at some of the pictures he took when down in the mines. He tells us stories about the people who are photographed and tells us about their culture. At the end of the film he comes back to the country once again and meets with some of the miners and their communities. He donates copies of the books to individual miners as well as their community. The aim is to document the hardships faced by these workers.


Sherpa is a beautiful and powerful film because it teaches us about the Sherpa people, the Everest climbing industry and explores the social challenges posed by professions that can lead to accidental death. The documentary looks at the subject from the perspective of tour operators who are responsible for their clients as well as Sherpa. We also see how Sherpa families see the opportunities but also dangers that come from the industry around summiting everest.

The strength of this film lies in that it provides us with the discussions, sights and concerns of people on site at the time of the tragedy. In the documentary they say that as tourists want an increasing level of comfort when climbing Everest the Sherpas have to climb through the Khumbu ice fall from 20-30 times per season to take up supplies and equipment. The clients, tourists or adventurers, whichever name you prefer face the crossing just twice.

The Khumbu ice fall is a snow waterfall “cascade de glace”. On the day of the tragedy a 14,000 ton bloc of ice came lose causing an avalanche that crossed the entirety of the ice fall.

This film highlights the need for adequate social cover for the Sherpa and their families so that, because they do a dangerous job, that their families are cared for. One of the Sherpa, the leader had been approaching 22 climbs of Everest. I will write no more. Enjoy the film when you get the opportunity.

Jean Troillet

Jean Troillet is a Swiss explorer with 50 years of experience of the mountains and fourty of those on expeditions. He holds the record for the fastest climb of Everest and has climbed ten summits over 8000 metres. In the main film projected at FIFAD we see him spend a week in a tent and receiving guests to speak about previous adventures and experiences. Some time was also devoted to him providing his home crowd, people from this region of Switzerland with the opportunity to listen to personal accounts and more.



From the 6th to the 13th of August 2016 The International Alpine Film Festival, FIFAD, is taking place in the Alpine town of Les Diablerets. This is a week long festival of Alpine films covering the environment, extreme sports, adventure and more.


Alpland is a photo exhibit outside of images of Alpine life in black and white. The images were taken by Romano Riedo

The Flying Frenchies arrive

The image gallery below shows the Flying Frenchies arrive at the film festival. The drummer flew with his drum kit, the guitarist flew with a guitar and amp and the saxophonist arrived with his instrument. They played their instruments while up in the air. Watching this in person is interesting.


Baraka Films and the Flying Frenchies worked together for this fun and entertaining film. This film looks at the Flying Frenchies coming together to combine slack-lining, parapentes and other extreme sports with musicians. The Flying Frenchies arrived at the event on parapentes.The film metronomic shows cliff based stunts. It combines acrobatics on a cliff face with slack-lining and rope based stunts. At one point the guitarist, the drummer and the Saxophonist are swinging in space and playing at the same time.

The Freeride evening

The evening was dedicated to freeride sports, mainly extreme skiing and a discussion with the Falquet brothers and Jérémie Heitz. One of the images that really marked me was the climb up to a pyramidal peak so that they could ski back down. The reason they climb rather than use a helicopter is to assess how good the snow is and whether it is safe to sky down. Some of these films had some impressive images, including at least one unsuccessful descent.

The films on this day showed the beauty of extreme sports both with skiing slopes that are over 50° as well as with flying musicians. As people get habituated to certain sports so the scope for diversity and creativity expands.

Getting Up Getu – some impressive shots

Getting up Getu is short documentary climbing video about Alex Honnold and Felipe Camargo climbing a beautiful roof climb. The most spectacular aspect of this video is the size of the arch that they are climbing. In two or three shots you see the size of the rock formations compared to the climbers. The people look tiny.

The rock formations that droop down from the ceiling look interesting. The climbing at this location ranges from 5a to 9c according to one source I skimmed through. There are 250 routes to choose from so this is ideal for a great number of climbers. This was the 2011 location for the Pezl Roctrip.

Getu looks like a beautiful area in china with interesting rock formations, arches and much more. The video below provides you with a glimpse of what else there is to see in this region. It is in the Guizhou province of china and the nearby city is Anshun.

Getu, China from Ryan Deboodt on Vimeo.

It’s kind of like one big double-edged Jian. On the one hand, the country is somewhat of a political and economic threat to the United States and our international prosperity. But on the other, it has the Getu Valley, a dramatic stomping ground of limestone cliffs and arch formations that promise to enrapture even the most seasoned spidermen and monkey boys.


According to a CNN article climbers have been enjoying this location for generations. As I explored this topic further, to find video or more detailed information I came across this:

Dangling from slippery cave walls 100 meters up from the floor below, Luo Dengping maneuvers across the steep rocks and crags in a dramatic high-wire climbing act to the amazement of spectators below.

Luo, known locally as “Spiderwoman”, is the only female member of a troupe of climbers who entertain visitors to the Getu River Scenic area in Guizhou, with their death-defying acts of high-altitude bravery on a daily basis. Source

If I find some videos of traditional climbing from this site I will share them at a later date.


A Nonverbal Autism Video Interview

I saw Horyou share a link to Speechless with Carly Fleischmann. This is a Nonverbal Autism Video Interview carried out via typed words on a tablet.  The text is read out electronically. The interview is warm and convivial.

It stands out because it does not use a fast talking or energetic host. The interviewer does not talk, in the conventional sense. They could easily have inter-titles rather than synthesised voice. It is because they show the challenge of this interview that it is interesting. It shows that charismatic fast talkers are not the only people with an opportunity to interview artists. It shows that given the right circumstances anyone can interview artists and that desire and interest are required but that solutions can be found for other challenges. It opens up the world to a diversity of people. Imagine video interviews in sign language for example. There is no reason for a specialist channel not to take on this challenge, to fill this niche.

Three things make this possible: Video production costs have gone down so it is easy to find the budget to record such an interview, technology makes communication for nonverbal people much simpler and finally Youtube makes content distribution to an audience easy. This video has three and a half million views.

I will find more videos like this. I believe that they play an important role in modern society where we believe that everyone should be treated equally, to have equal opportunities. It is too easy to idealise the charismatic radio presenter who has a way with words and forget that charisma can be found in people’s intellect. You see it through the laughter in the interview, you see it in the way the interviewee is so relaxed. It’s a shame that there is just one interview. Imagine it as a weekly show.

Automotive Narrowcasting

Thanks to cheaper cameras, cheaper editing systems and cheaper means of distributing video content automotive narrowcasting has become an entertaining way to cover the subject. Everyone knows about Top gear, the flag ship of automative journalism and mischief but there are dozens if not hundreds of lower budget and fun alternatives. One of these alternatives is by Motor Trend, an automotive magazine that provides written reviews of new cars and other automotive news. Their about page ignores their video activity and yet this is the part that I enjoy.

When I watched this specific episode it reminded me of articles from Popular mechanics because it is about reviving an old vehicle that has been dormant in a garage/barn for many years. They show us the steps that were carried out in order to make it road worthy and then they throw in a road trip and fooling around for good measure.

Some of these projects are light hearted and fun. The idea for the PreRangerRoverLandeRunner is amusing. “…they combine an old Range Rover with a Ford Ranger to build an overlanding prerunner that can also play in the mud and rockcrawl with the help of Maxxis’ Bighorn MT-762s.  The build process uses the eyechrometer and by the end of the video their machine is broken. 

The stats for this channel are impressive. They have 50 channels and twenty four thousand videos. The average views per video is fifty five thousand two hundred views although globally they have one billion three hundred thousand views overall. Those figures are no longer about narrow casting.

Network statistics

  • 50 channels
  • 24,792 videos
  • 5,235,424 subscribers

What I like so much about niche content and narrow casting via youtube is that the barrier to entry is low in terms of cost and sustainability can be achieved relatively quickly. There is little need for pitching and getting funds.

In the video above they make it clear that this is a side project that they are working on over two weekends. They are doing this in their free time, in between articles. This is a side project video that has been viewed six million times.

Printed Media are said to be suffering as people move towards the world wide web for news and information. From what I observe the world wide web is great because it provides a place for writers to write articles, radio shows or podcasts and scenarios for videos. As people with skills or passions unite with video producers so new markets can be tapped. The beauty of websites such as Youtube and Vimeo is that they share that revenue with content creators. Websites such as facebook still want to pay to distribute content and be seen. They have not shifted to the new model.


Slow Motion Climbing

It is interesting to watch Slow motion climbing because you get to see precisely what people are doing. You get to see how each muscle group is moving and you see how much the body swings as someone jumps from one hold to another. It allows you to appreciate the subtlety of the moves.

People like to say that rock climbing is about technique rather than strength but it is evident from these slow motion sequences that muscle groups are working hard. You see the arm muscles, the arm muscles and the back muscles move. You also see how the legs act as counterweights. The video above would be better if it was one or two minutes.

The same can be said about the video below. What makes slow motion interesting is to catch details that you would not otherwise notice. Ideally slow motion edits should show the action in real time and then show the same action in slow motion. The beauty of slow motion is that you can see how technically perfect a move was. In some cases a person starts from vertical and goes for another hold. In this action they go from vertical to horizontal, swinging on their fingertips. Slow motion brings the effort to life.

There are other moments where a massive effort, when seen in real time, is clear to see When you watch that same motion in slow motion it looks relaxed and serene. That is the beauty of this medium.

Slow motion should highlight the beauty of a well executed move to help emphasise that it was technically good. Slow motion should be used sparingly.


Flowing water – a visual experiment

Flowing Water – A visual experiment is a simple one minute video. The first images were filmed at the Arboretum in the Jura and the timelapses show clouds playing above the Jura near La Dôle. La Dôle is where the doppler radar is located. That radar shows rainfall and precipitation so that air traffic controllers can advise pilots of weather conditions.

With the amount of rain that has fallen over the last six or more weeks every river is full of water. As a result of this they are flowing fast and debris can be seen. When rivers flow fast they are fun to watch. The next step would be to capture waterfalls over a period of minutes or hours. If we stopped recording just as the rain stopped we might get interesting results. The peak wouldn’t appear until soon after the rain stopped.

I was lucky with these clouds because they moved quickly from one side of the screen to the other. They also formed and dispersed quickly. As a result I could set the interval to take images every few seconds. I could quickly see the result and adjust. When I filmed the clouds I filmed the ground and the trees as they came in and out of the shadow of clouds, I filmed a tighter shot where you could see the transmission mast and then I pointed to the sky and tried to capture the movement of clouds with blue sky as a backdrop. Some moments are fun to watch.

The First Day of Summer

The good weather is finally back. I took this opportunity to go out and film around La Rippe which is on the border between France and Switzerland. From here you can see the Mont Blanc and the Jura. If you look to the South West you can see Geneva’s Jet D’eau and the Salève.

I found the first location’s vantage point when I had a day off from work. I don’t remember where I was cycling or driving the scooter but I went up. To get to it you have to head up a steep hill which is good when you’re cycling as it builds up your endurance. It can also be fun on the way down.

Now that the weather has improved I have a number of locations that I want to film. I want to experiment both with 360 video and flat video. I want to go to interesting locations and share the highlights with you. The better the weather the easier it will be for me to get the material. I would have ranged further today but as I will be climbing this evening I prefer to preserve that strength and endurance. Tomorrow I can range further.

The three sports I would like to focus on this summer are climbing, both conventional and via ferrata, hiking and cycling. Each of these sports is feasible in the landscape around here. Hikes can take you by some spectacular scenery. The challenge will be to decide whether to film with the 360 camera or the conventional one. Time will decide. I can easily carry both cameras but it is always better to focus on one format at a time.

The pleasure of narrowcasting

Three things have made the pleasure of narrowcasting rather than broadcasting a reality. Broadcasting is finding something that as many people as possible are interested in watching. This is mass appeal television. European Football is one example, british rugby another, skiing another and tennis as a last one. Each of these has a large budget to spend because of the mass appeal of the content. It means that you can experiment with Ultra high definition, 3D broadcasts and more. In essence it is content that is easy to justify. Narrow casting is the opposite.

Narrow casting is the opposite. It’s about providing content for a small number of people. This means less interest, less money and therefore less feasible. Early attempts at narrow casting include both cable television and community videos. The problem with cable television and community videos is that they are not on demand so unless you’re ready to watch the content at the time it is aired or the time when it available on VHS tape you missed it.

Youtube, DailyMotion, Vimeo and other video distribution solutions started by allowing people to upload random clips with low production values. As interest grew and as people uploaded new content from pirated shows to pirated music, from home videos to more so the focus changed. I look at the early days of vlogging when iJustine streamed content live, Seesmic when we chatted with each other to webcam vloggers, game play videos and more. As these low brow content makers showed that they could amass an audience and as advertisers saw that they could generate an income so other people could come along.

I recently noticed that Jay Leno has a show on youtube about his garage. We see him talk about a car per episode, around 25 minutes a piece. In these shows he speaks at a relaxed normal pace. We see him talk about cars. We see him show content from photo books and in general we get the feel that we used to get from browsing through magazines and books like in the good old days. With Video on Demand services like youtube we are coming to a new age in video content where the content we can browse through and watch documentaries like we used to browse through newspapers, magazines and books. We can learn about niche topics in a medium that would have been prohibitively expensive in the past.

Cost of production

Video cameras and storage are now very cheap and so are editing systems. We have gone from video production costing hundreds of thousands of swiss francs to it costing hundreds of francs to get started to several thousand depending on the quality of the image you are looking for and the topic you want to speak about. Gameplay videos and vlogging have a low barrier to entry so charismatic people can quickly start to cover cost and make money.

Specific examples

Cycling is another niche market. With a small team of people you can produce a channel such as the Global Cycling Network and produce content which people can subscribe to and watch at their convenience. When you discover that you have a passion for a sport or activity you are not stuck waiting for mainstream media to pick it up and push that content.

Some narrow casters are a little more boisterous than others. Colin Furze claims just to be a plumber but we see from his inventions and creations that he understands what his audience wants. He has worked on a few projects that capture the imagination of certain portions of society.

The World’s Worst Belayer is an amusing form of content that is for a narrow audience. The rock climbing community is growing but the number of people practicing the sport is relatively small. At the time I wrote this blog post just 268,000 people had watched the video. Youtube does have quite a bit of content for those interested in the topic.

The Future

Everyone turned their attention to Facebook and twitter for content distribution. They were made to believe that social media and social networking was about the two most popular networks. What they forgot to look in to is what people are passionate about and where these people can find content. I am passionate about video and to find new content I search for topics that interest me, for example rock climbing, technology and cycling. I watch the content I searched for. Youtube and other video sharing social networks then recommend more content and I can follow that trail for days before drying up that content stream.

Brands, tourist destination and special interest people should think of social media as a new means by which to promote themselves and their industry. The more content they produce the more visible they become on certain platforms. If the video content is compelling then producing the content is enough and the enthusiasts will take care of distribution.

I want social networks to be populated by enthusiastic people sharing their passions, not automated posts. Social media and social networks should be inspiring. One very good way of ensuring this is the case is to produce high quality video content that people are inspired by and want to share.