There are a lot of sports videos coming out on the market lately, some of them are really good, but most of them are kind of the 'same old same old' and don't really offer much replay value. 411vm (the 'vm' stands for Video Magazine) has been pumping out interesting sports videos for a few years now and has brought together some of their better discs in a well priced package that serves as a nice addition to their material for those who haven't seen it before or an affordable way for those who know it and enjoy it to stock up on some solid material.
One thing to keep in mind though, for those of you who have followed the series or bought an odd entry in their catalogue here and there throughout your travels – all of this material has been released before, so buyer beware. The Skateboarding disc was originally released as 411vm Skateboarding – Best Of Volume 9, the Snowboarding disc as 411vm Snowboarding Issue 02, and the Surfing disc as 411vm Surfing Issue 02. Fans might want to check their collections against those entries before plunking down the scratch for the box set, just to avoid unnecessary duplication.
With that caveat out of the way, let's take a little peak at what lays hidden beneath the menus of these three DVDs…..
A great 'action shot' of Bob Burnquist adorns the front cover of this compilation of top quality competitive and stunt based skateboarding footage, and serves as a pretty accurate precursor to what you'll find inside. This disc essentially compiles what the 411vm editors wagered to be the best footage shot for issues 48 through 53, and who am I to argue?
Clocking in at roughly an hour in length, the highlight of the disc relates to that killer photo on the cover – 'A Day In The Life Of Bob Burnquist' follows the skate star around as he does his thing. Some pretty impressive stunts are well showcased and it's interesting to get a more candid look at him as he does his thing. Other pieces on this compilation include interviews/skate segments with up and comers Rodrigo Teixeira and Colt Cannon. Not quite as impressive as the Burnquist footage, these are still guys to keep an eye on as they could become bigger players. The potential is definitely there!
Rounding out this first disc in the box set are some road trip segments which follow the Vans tour to Oregon (yay Oregon!), the Circa tour to New Zealand, and the Firm tour and the Cliché tour as they travel to Spain.
The second disc takes us from the streets and half pipes of skateboarding to the mountains and ramps of snowboarding. The 'Day In The Life' segment on this disc covers some new ground with Dave Downing and once again proves to be the highlight of the disc. Other interesting segments on the release are the 'Boarding For Breast Cancer' displays that also feature some good live music acts as well as some insane competitive stunt rallies; clips from the Vans Triple Crown series with Eddie Wall, Shaun White, Todd Richards, and Travis Rice (all of whom pull off some very impressive feats in this segment – how some of these guys make this stuff happen without becoming statistics is beyond my primitive level of comprehension).; and some great 'training camp' footage with Jimmy Halopoff..
The whole thing is hosted by an amicable chap named Marc Frank Montoya who lends a nice air of excitement to the entire encounter.
The third and final disc in the set, and my personal favorite of the three, is the Surfing disc. Once again, we're treated to another entry in that 411vm staple, 'Day In The Life' and this time surfer extraordinaire Bruce Irons (who sites an ongoing rivalry with his older brother as his chief source of inspiration for a career in competitive surfing – as good a reason as any I can think of!) goes under the microscope. A profile of Mick Fanning (who also adorns the front cover of the disc) is up next, which is followed by some extremely impressive 'controlled chaos' footage with cheyne Magnusson, Matt Archbold, and Randy Welch. These guys are pros – don't try this at home or you're likely to end up as fish food. Some of the footage contained is actually stressful to watch as the waves literally almost engulf some of these guys.
Rounding out this final entry in the set is some excellent contest footage from the US Open, and some more road trip entries that take to the Mentawai Islands.
All three discs are presented fullframe, which is how they were composed. Video quality for the most part is consistently good which nice bright colors and a noticeable lack of compression artifacts, which is always a good sign when talking about this type of material. There are some odd edge enhancement issues that crop up here and there but it's nothing that most of us can't deal with. It's not perfect looking, but overall, all three discs look reasonably good.
No problems to really speak of in the audio department. Dialogue is clear and easy to follow and understand and the background music used throughout is balanced well and effectively helps to set the mood for the onscreen action that follows. It's a basic mix in that it doesn't use surrounds or audio effects, but neither of those are needed at all so it's pretty hard to fault the mix for being effectively simple.
The only real extras in the set are, on each disc, a segment of bonus footage – each one relating to the subject that the disc is named after. The Skateboarding disc has a clip from Steve Berra's skatepark, some footage of Mike Vallely in actions, and a Wheels Of Fortune segment starring Steve Nesser and Gerg Lutzka. The Snowboarding disc has 'uncut controlled chaos footage' and the Surfing disc contains a clip from the 4th Annual Surfer Cross competition featuring Adam Wickwire, Sunny Garcia and Josh Sleigh competing. Most of this footage is along the same lines as what we're treated to in the features on each disc, but it's still interesting material and one does have to wonder why it wasn't simply incorporated into the video magazine itself, rather than presented out of context as a separate featurette.
As far as skate/snow/surf boarding video compilations go the 411vm Best Of The Boards three disc set is a tough one to beat. Great footage combined with some genuinely interesting information make these worth a look for enthusiasts, and the set is packaged nicely and priced fairly.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.