Team bloat is a real thing. Even once small, independent brands, should they be fortunate enough to taste real success and grow into global legitimacy, quickly face rosters that can expand unruly in size. Positive trends towards diverse teams that appeal to diverse demographics, not to mention international riders, can swell professional and paid amateur head counts to impractical levels.
This is to say: Teams be getting big.
As I unscientifically research this in Spring of 2021, I see that FA/Hockey has about 22 combined professionals. The Creature team, counting Ams and Legends as they are listed, is holding 27 people. Those are some wheel team numbers!
What is the ideal number for a board team to seem cohesive?
Fifteen? (Santa Cruz)
The roll-call of ‘corporate’ shoe teams gets even more insane.
Adidas has a team of at least 37 skaters. Nike is sitting on about 50 pros. Same with Vans. This isn’t even including the ever fluctuating Euro teams, Aussie teams, and assorted flow riders.
So what’s a mega-brand to do when it comes to video production choices?
And how does our current preference for free quick-shot video content play into this?
We’re basically looking at a couple of possible scenarios.
First is the Going Big option: A fully funded, trips-to-China, multi year full-length production where nearly all the big riders who are healthy enough will have parts, or at least shared parts, and up-and-comers and brand legends get a trick or cameo in there as well. Think Vans’ Propeller video or maybe Element’s Peace.
These videos can hit run times of nearly an hour and need to recoup some costs so are typically released with a price tag via iTunes. There might even be a DVD. They are the types of videos we have been claiming are on their death bed for nearly a decade but they seem to keep coming.
While not quite as sprawling, we’ll lump in basically any team video, presented as a whole, that attempts to get parts from all their professionals into this category. Sure some riders were hurt or phoned it in or had to give the footy to their shoe sponsor, but basically the whole gang is there. Deathwish’s recent Uncrossed video is a good example.
Next we have the Serialized option: Basically just slice the squad up and drop a new full-length-but-not-full-team video every couple of years featuring whomever is presently delivering the goods. These videos typically have a “Chapter” or “Volume” number in the title, such as the Nike Chronicles or the Emerica Made series. Santa Cruz recently released the 5th volume in under 3 years of their Til The End series and is kinda back at the top of the line-up with Maurio McCoy having a full part again.
Side note: Ryde or Die Vol. 1 is an exception and we love Aesthetics for it. Was it even meant to have a Vol. 2?
We won’t delve into the idea of taking a full-length and exclusively releasing it in sections on the internet for free over a week or two, like Zero’s No Cash Value video from 2014, but that is happening as well.
I suppose we should also mention the Etnies High Five concept, where about 25 people each get about 30 seconds to do their thing in what is pretty much a 15 minute montage. I’m actual surprised we don’t get more of this type of video from the larger-rostered companies. Of course, modern music clearance realities ensure this type of project would likely lack those good old DJ mixtape vibes.
Finally, we have what call (and I encourage you to add to your skate lexicon as well) the Colleagues Section. Quite simply, it is the an extended montage of clips from non-featured team members that usually precedes a single riders online part, or gets sandwiched between a pair of full rider parts. A friends section for the rest of the team.
And thus, a little extra something gets added to the mix and perhaps the video isn’t forgotten before the sun sets that same day. We get a reminder of who else is in the brand clan and an extensive inventory of riders is perhaps made a bit more cohesive under one banner. God forbid they put the names in there during the skating.
The single part is still the main course, but the meal is that much better when a little sampling of all the side dishes. Case in point: Tanner Van Vark’s T.V.V. part for Real from February of 2021.
According to their web page right now, the Real team consists of 28 dudes (14 pros, 8 ams, and 6 ‘forevers’) with about 17 of them making an appearance in T.V.V.. The four minute ‘opening’ segment is the aforementioned Colleague Section, with about 27 tricks from the team in addition to Tanner’s 8 or 9. Then the main part drops for another 4 minutes, and then we have a couple of minutes of closing credits and such.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, his how an online 4 minute Professional debut part becomes a 10 minutes medium length video worthy of a (socially distanced) premiere party.
And I’m all for it. Especially if Ishod is one of the colleagues.
And, I would feel remiss to not speak at least a few words about Van Vark’s skating here. He proves his fast-track towards Pro-ness was well deserved, made all the more impressive that Real is already so stacked. Lots of wallies and wallrides into ledge tricks (including the rarefied wallie-barley), along with spins in unexpected directions. His hair is kinda silly, especially when he wears a baseball cap, which is often. It makes his whole air deceptively carefree.
I swear it is a coincidence; Boil the Ocean posted another mini-masterpiece of skateboarding journalism just a few hours after this post. It’s about the rise of fall and revenge of the Credits Section.