Do Not Have A Chase Car Or Automotive Rig? Use Rollerblades

First of all, if you watched the lead video above, you have learned that Matthew Jones is possibly a crazy person. Car photography is absolutely a challenge, but rollerblading down the road at full speed to capture driving action is just bonkers. When I heard Matthew talk about doing this and when I saw the high quality of his images, I knew I had to feature him on Fstoppers. Obviously this technique is not for everyone, but Matthew has absolutely captured my attention with his story. Read below to read why he has chosen to do this and see samples of his great photography,

There are numerous ways to emphasis movement in a vehicle... For example, you can shoot from one vehicle to another. Also, you can use a rig, which is essentially a long arm attached to the subject vehicle with a camera at the end of it facing back at the vehicle. You can stay stationary and pan your camera as a vehicle drives by. There is even  very expensive virtual software that makes a parked car look like it's flying (you need to be darn good at post production to make this look convincing). Although, this is the first time I have seen rollerblades used to create beautiful dynamic motion shots of cars and motorcycles and I think I really like it.

According to what Matthew Jones exclusively shared with Fstoppers: 

The whole idea of the human rig shot really sparked a few months back while living in Southern California when I was randomly reunited with one of my childhood best friends. Rather than hitting the nightlife on the weekends, we decided to go out and do what we knew best, skate. But rather than blading down rails or grinding ledges as we’ve always done, we decided to keep it simple and change things up a bit. So we would strap up, cruise the city and search for the biggest hills we could find in effort to go as fast as possible as we dodged traffic and linked sections of mountain roads together. The more we met up, the bigger we went. Pushing our limits to see how fast, and how far we could travel. Eventually, we started bringing our cameras out to film and shoot our evening activities and I believe that's where it finally hit me.  That this idea of a disconnected, “human rig” would not only be entirely possible, but extremely fun.

Since starting this process, one of the main questions I've been asked (aside from the, "what if you fall?!") would have to be, "What’s the difference between being on blades, and simply shooting out of a chase car?" To be completely honest, I really didn't know at first. I just wanted to experiment with combining my two greatest passions, yet the further I dug into the technique, the clearer the answer became... 

With shooting action on blades I feel that it provides a directly irreplaceable connection with the subject. There is no shouting at your chase car's pilot to speed up, or slow down. And there are no window pillars or door frames confining you to a designated shooting space. Forget replicating the sense of motion in Photoshop or tirelessly editing out a bulky rig - the freedom is completely yours, and the decision to jump from left to right, high to low, or even speed up at a moments notice is entirely up to you. And best of all, it’s all natural.

In addition, where the technique really comes into play is while shooting in the city, or a crowded, generally unachievable area. Skitching along side the subject as you explore the city allows you to capitalize on every opportunity that the environment presents, as well as reach shots that would generally be near impossible with a chase/follow car. It also eliminates that, "Hey! That looks cool right there! Circle the block a few times and I'll stand on this corner as you drive by…." Every shot is 100%, entirely in its own moment. It’s almost as if you're capturing chaos in its purest form.

To briefly touch on the technical side of things, its pretty much exactly what you see. Aggressive rollerblades with a larger frame, allowing the housing of 80mm wheels for a faster, smoother cruise. A shutter speed varying around 1/10th-1/15th, and a Kenyon gyrostabilizer to increase the slow shutter's hit/miss ratio as far as keeping things tack sharp. Skitching along with a rope isn't really necessary in anyway, and also kind of defeats the purpose of the technique as it requires an extra bit of editing time in post...

I think I was just having fun, wanted to experiment a bit more and go a bit faster.

With all said and done, shooting photos while blindly cruising down a hill or an inner city intersection may not always be the most practical technique for every situation, or needless to say, the "safest", but with the process still in its experimental stages, I feel the possibilities are nearly endless. From chasing athletes and various forms of actions sports through center city roads, to following motorcycles and cars ripping through open canyons, the effects are open for the taking. Especially considering what's possible while operating a Movi or Ronin. And at the end of the day, I’m just out here having an absolute blast. Isn’t that what photography is all about? 

 

I should add that I do not suggest trying anything like this unless you are a trained professional. Matthew has been blading on a regular basis for over a decade and this was something that came fairly naturally to him. Oh, and speaking as a former member of fire and rescue, I also hihgly suggest you wear the proper safety and protective gear, especially when riding on public roads. That being said, I think Matthew is on to something pretty fantastic here.

Make sure to check out Matthew's site: MatthewJonesPhoto.com

Have questions for Matthew? Ask below and he will answer to his best ability.

 

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31 Comments

Nick Viton's picture

Based on personal experience, I would advise against this. Remember in Back to the Future when Marty's on his board and hitches rides to school? When I was a kid I thought that was cool, so I gave it a try. Long story short, I ended up faceplanting along the ashpalt while in motion, scraping my face along the road. I needed stitches to close up a HOLE in my FACE. It was completely painful and traumatic.

Mr Blah's picture

I was about to say this. He is insane and completely oblivious to the danger. Those rollerblades aren't meant to have their wheels spinning that fast! Bearing load, rubber form the wheels, etc... all this could melt, break down and the result would be one less talented photog on earth. Amazing pictures though!!!

Matthew Jones's picture

Thanks for the compliment on the photos Simon! Believe it or not, I am completely aware of the dangers of this technique. Though I feel I'm at no more of a risk than driving an automobile, hanging out the trunk of a car for a car to car shot or even leaving my front door while living in center city Atlanta. The wheels and bearings are completely capable of this type of speed, and are even setup to exceed speeds far greater than what I'm reaching. Also, keep in mind this technique is used frequently in high level productions in effort to achieve the unachievable while drastically reducing budget. Thanks again!

Anonymous's picture

It is not about the rollerblades ... it is about your attention is on the subject of shooting and not on the road you are driving . In the car you have driver which has a eyes on the road and can tel you .. "careful bumpy road" or he can avoid dangerous parts.. in your case you are playing with your health and if you are writing the lines above and mean it .... you are not self aware .... this is very childish. ... But results looks good ... ;-)

Matthew Jones's picture

Sounds painfully unfortunate, Nick. As stated below, believe it or not rollerblades are actually frequently used in production. This is nothing new. In addition, this is far from a, "I'd like to give this a try" as it was in your case in attempt to replicate Marty's slick moves. I've been on blades for well over a decade now. Trust me, I've definitely taken my spills here and there, but accidents happen. That's just life outside the bubble. Thanks for watching and for your concerns!

jon gibb's picture

I haven't heard a guitar riff that badass to rollerblading since xgames 2002

Joao Portes's picture

Someone should let boarders know, their pursuit SUCKS lol

Andrew Knies's picture

Even cooler that you had a rollerblading edit on your vimeo! I put my skates back on this summer and was surprised how much muscle memory was still there!

Ariel Martini's picture

darwin awaits you

Sada Domonkos's picture

haha yeah rollerblades and buy a gyro for 2500$ ( a cheap car price ) worth more than the 5D2 =D

Jacob Hamilton's picture

Loving the frugality of this! However, sadly, this would never work on the UK's shocking roads! ;)

J D's picture

Safety issue aside, that's pretty cool and not something I would have thought of.

Sam Merkel's picture

That's pretty badass.

Spy Black's picture

That's cool. He wasn't going that fast. I've seen guys skateboarding WAY faster down Bear Mountain in New York State.

It wouldn't hurt to wear motorcycle riding gear and a helmet. If you went down it wouldn't be so bad.

Matthew Jones's picture

Glad you understand, buddy. :) Really, I'm not going THAT fast. Shoulder diving into the concrete after a stair rail tends to be much worse.

Mr Blah's picture

I guess if everyone thought you were going fast enough to hurt yourself seriously but in fact you weren't, you pulled off the effect better than I thought!

Although I'd never attempt a shoot like this, you gave me some motivation to put my new wagon to good use!!!

Keep it up!

Garrett Wade's picture

Very nice! Great work Matt!!

Justin Haugen's picture

I wonder what speeds they topped out, it looked pretty fast. Could have just gone like 10 mph and used a slower shutter speed lol

Matthew Jones's picture

We were anywhere from 15 to the high 20's. Handheld, 1/10-1/13 is about as steady as I can get while keeping everything crispy

Joris Reynaud's picture

Fun, I actually sell myself to many big production such as NBA/NIKE SB/REDBULL etc.. as a Roller Steadicamer.
www.RollerSteady.com

Matthew Jones's picture

Rad stuff man! Exactly what I'm talking about!

Ajith R's picture

Or.. you can be inside the trunk of a car .. for this shot..
;-)

Matthew Jones's picture

Trunks totally work as well, bud! Yet is a bit of a challenge to shoot a subject, directly from behind at a low angle, from a trunk.

Michael Kormos's picture

Wait, so there were two guys on rollerblades, right? One in the video, and one making a video, of the video?

Also, remind me to really get into this disheveled insomniac look that all the cool photographers are doing nowadays. I'm feeling a little out of touch with the cool kids!

David Arthur's picture

Before I read this article I assumed that the person doing this was the dumbest person on the planet. But now that I watched it and realized you weren't really going that fast and you were doing photos instead of video it makes much more sense. Although it probably would have been a good idea to put on some protective gear. But your final images are pretty awesome!

Jimmy Schaefer's picture

LOVE HOW THE MOTORCYCLE GUY is the only one with the Helmet on!

Christian Berens's picture

You know, I was expecting to laugh at how goofy this was, but honestly, it's damn difficult to get a rig on a motorcycle, and this video was fantastic!!

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