By Seb Kemp
We are lucky these days to have World Cup racing beamed onto our computers. Each race weekend is a bounty of images, videos and commentary, but perhaps the best source for quick and quality footage has come from two British lads, Rob and John Parkin.
Earlier this year they teased race fans by saying (via Twitter) that they were not going to be producing the Dirt TV race videos anymore; a sad loss if that had turned out to be true. However, it turns out the Parkins will be upping their output and producing race weekend videos from both the World Cup downhill events and the inaugural Enduro World Series.
From the Enduro World Series press release:
"In addition to two videos showcasing each event in the series, in the lead-up and during the race, a feature-length highlights show will be produced and broadcast online by DirtTV in the week following each race. More than race highlights the videos DirtTV produce will put storytelling front and centre, to ensure meaningful and entertaining coverage of the new discipline, from the race leaders to the everyday riders who are as much the soul of the sport as the pros.
"Combining the most up to date filming equipment that the Parkin brothers are known for, the coverage will raise the bar of the enduro viewing experience."
There has been a question mark about how the EWS will manage to present itself to the world because the format doesn't necessarily lend itself to live TV or spectating, so having the Parkin Brothers on the job is sure to be a good move.
Bike chased down Rob Parkin to hear about his plans and predictions for the World Cup and Enduro World Series titles.
Bike: So Orpheus Productions/Parkin Brothers, what have you been up to this winter? Tying knots and sailing two sheets to the wind?
Rob Parkin: Everyone says I talk about cyclocross way too much, so I'll get it out of the way first and just say that I raced as much of it as I could over the winter and I love it. Other than that, we've been expanding our business beyond extreme sports.
John and I both have a passion for narrative story telling and Hollywood, I think we'd both like to see ourselves producing and directing real films at some point, so we're slowly starting that transition in the down time we get over the winter. Working on feature films and commercials really opens your eyes to how different that world is compared to filming bikes.
Other highlights of our off season include: John got much fitter, I got engaged, we both celebrated getting an entire year older and I moved house twice. I also came last in an XC race if anyone's interested.
Bike: And what are the plans for filming in 2013?
Rob Parkin: This year will see a relatively large expansion in the coverage we'll be producing for Dirt compared to previous years, particularly with the addition of the Enduro World Series to our schedule. Downhill will always be the pinnacle of the sport when it comes to sheer speed, technical mastery and very large testicles, but for the sport of mountain biking to grow it needs to be more accessible to the general public and we plan to do our best in promoting the EWS by making damn good videos from each and every round.
Enduro racing has great potential and it could be just the format that brings mountain biking to a wider audience. It's great to see such positivity and support in the industry and we're confident that world-class coverage will foster a large fan base that will help the sport grow.
Bike: Going crazy with the enduro series filming, eh? Surely you have enough on your hands with the downhill World Cup races, it must be good that there are two of you.
Rob Parkin: There are disappointingly few World Cups in a season and the EWS schedule has been put together to allow the DHers to get in on the action too (even if it now seems like the UCI will playing their usual role of fun police and nipping that one in the bud…), so it will be business as usual for all but the two rounds in the middle of the season that clash; for those we'll be splitting up with me at the two North American rounds of the EWS and John at the corresponding World Cups, while also sourcing the additional footage we'll need from some of the talented filmers who will already be there. This will be the first season where Orpheus Productions will cover two world-class events simultaneously so we're pretty happy to see the business grow and mature, I'm sure we'll both learn a lot this season.
Bike: How do you plan to get around the enduro courses to film, what with them being giant loops in the mountains rather than contained tape worms at nice ski resorts?
Rob Parkin: This is something we'll work out with each race organizer, getting around the course on bikes under our own steam will be part of the challenge and certainly in the spirit of enduro. Having said that, the main goal is to provide top-notch footage so we won't hesitate to break out the jetpacks should we fall behind and need to make up some ground on the leaders!
As for equipment, we'll be spending the next few weeks working on streamlining our equipment for enduro races so that we can access it quickly and easily by the side of the trail. Our Red Epic is a heavy, awkward camera, but as it make such pretty pictures we have to suck up the inconvenience. We do need good camera bags though, so if anyone has any suggestions we're all ears.
John and I are actually in pretty good shape and have been riding loads in the winter so we don't see the courses being too much of a challenge physically, although keeping up with the likes of Jerome Clementz and Nico Vouilloz might be a whole different story!
Bike: You and your brother have been battling it out at the Megavalanche and various other uber mountain races for a few years now. Do you still have plans to get on the start line yourselves?
Rob Parkin: The Megavalanche was the one race we did every year. It was our chance to leave the camera bag behind and have some fun, but as we moved our way up the ranks the risks involved with racing 400 other people down the same trail became very real. Running the risk of sounding like a total pussy, I have to say that over the last few years the appeal of mass start enduro has waned. I now get my head-to-head racing kicks from cyclocross and I'm really looking forward to racing at home in Victoria, BC at the Island Cup Enduro in July. We will probably both still race the Mega qualifiers though. We have to try and smoke Sven Martin this time round.
Bike: What are your predictions for 2013, firstly for the weather and secondly for the EWS and WC DH titles?
Rob Parkin: Scorchio! I'm predicting sun and plenty of dust this year, not just because I have a good feeling that the rain will stay away, but also because we're going to places known for their sunny weather, and at the right time of year, for once!
Downhill title is easy, Gwin has 'win' right there in his name, I'm sure that Greg, Gee, Stevie, Danny, Sam, Josh, Brook, Mick, Brendan, Andrew and Cam will push him to his limits, but have any of them gone gluten-free yet?
Enduro is wide open. XC racers will be shocked by how fast downhillers are, downhillers will be shocked by how fit XC racers are and everyone will be downright blown away by how fit AND fast the enduro specialists are! I still can't call it though, I think certain courses will play to certain peoples' strengths and everyone could come out pretty equal. Or not. Who knows? Jerome Clementz is probably the safe bet.
Bike: You have been building quite the gadget portfolio – Red camera, boom mic, etc. – what is the big equipment purchase this year?
Rob Parkin: The gadget portfolio is coming along nicely, but once you have a Red, it's hard to get excited about much else as the images coming out of that thing are amazing. We have been secretly working on something that should up the level once again, but it is very much a work in progress, so watch this space. We also got some lights and a couple of new lenses to try and make everything look even nicer. We probably jerk off to our own footage more than even our biggest super fans, so we won't be happy until our videos blow your socks off. Figuratively and literally.
Bike: What music is best to accompany Enduro race footage? The kind of tinny bleepy-bloopy beats that get played at underground raves?
Rob Parkin: Music is all about personal taste, so we'll be mixing it up and listening to the fans for feedback. We can't please everyone, but we can choose music that fits the pace of the riding. A lot of work goes into each and every video we produce so that it flows well and enhances your viewing pleasure. Oh, and I didn't even go to raves when I was a teenager so I don't even know what tinny bleepy-bloopy beats are. I do like dubstep though, it's rad…
Bike: Thanks for taking the time out of your heavy cyclocross training regime, Rob. Anything else to say?
Rob Parkin: Not much to add to that…other than a plea for free bikes to get around the races on!