The Pirates Bottom Line Is… Flow Eckhart (Part 3)

Photo: Daniel Ronnbeack

Words: Christian Bach

Viktor Skogquist, Justin Hare, Stefan Schnappberger and Heiko Knaur are the names of the cameramen who live up to the expectations demanded by the Pirate crew. Their skill is largely based on their superhuman fitness. Also, the vision of high-quality camera work they share with Pirate cameraman-in-chief Flo Eckhart makes each of them a good fit with the crew.

Flo is sort of a self-taught craftsman who knows how to handle camera gear, mechanical machinery, wood and zucchini plants equally well. When other people get aggressive, Flo retreats with a smirk and gets lost in detail only to have a surprising comeback and solution to a problem when loud words have faded away. Flo’s Intro-Animations are stuffed with detail, and when the Pirates won ESPN’s “Best Snowboard Cinematography” award in 2010 for Hooked Flo and his crew were given a heavy portion of the credit. Good camera work in snowboarding –according to Flo – is mostly determined by the experience a cameraman has. Experience, which allows him to…

FLO: … create maximum output from the given circumstances, which contains a lot of factors. What is the sun and available light doing? How close will I get to the perfect camera angle without using a heli? Do I have the needed lens and zoom in my quiver to create a frame that is good? I guess a good shred-flick cameraman is one with a lot of experience since “trying” is not an option once conditions are good. I think the best thing about them is how they lose themselves in detail once the course is set – that helped me and taught me a lot.

Flow working on the set of Bottom Line | Photo: Ludschi

How important was it for Pirate Movie Production to transition from 8mm to 16mm?

Really important since it fully pushed us into a professional direction. I still use 8mm every now and then. And I guess if it weren’t for 8mm and people actually being stoked on our early images, the Pirates [wouldn’t exist] today. Gigi, Hannes Metzler, Jocki Köffler – I mean we started out filming these guys at the Backyard Camp in Vorarlberg on 8mm and since there was no easy plug and play editing connected we were totally forced to develop our own style. Which then resulted in the analog intro-art and riders actually working in the art department as well.

Did this change by the time 16 mm came in?

No, because we had already established the culture of analog art. But we increased overall quality when 16mm came in and had to raise all other bars accordingly. Meanwhile we also use HD digi-stuff since the RED Cam really brought in picture-quality getting close to 16mm. But it still doesn’t reach analog 16 mm film in all areas or have the filter to reproduce the feel of 8mm material.

You’ve mentioned before that you are looking to maintain the original Pirate spirit all the way, which resulted in riders enacting a Pirate story for intros in last year’s movie Hooked. What’s the plan for this year?

I cannot really tell you now since it’s meant to be a surprise – let me put it this way: I have been really busy developing this together with the art department, ever since the idea was out on the table. The intro will be stop-motion and film… I am not really a man of words. I am afraid you have to check it out for yourself (laughs).

The Pirates Bottom Line Is…


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