The term “filmmaker” is thrown around pretty loosely in BMX these days. To me true filmmaking is the conscious use of both technique and craft, and employing that astute awareness into a compelling style. Oton Bačar is someone I would consider a BMX filmmaker. His Vimeo channel is pretty bare aside from a couple of short stylized experimental videos, and his profile pic reminds one of a cloaked bankrobber. But recently he dropped a bombshell promo trailer for his new project with DK, known only as The Secret Video Project, which can be seen above. This short promo is seriously amazing in so many ways. So who exactly is this camera-wielding masked bandit? I had a chance to shoot over some questions for Oton about himself, his thoughts on filmmaking, and the upcoming web series centered around DK team riders. – Chris Rye
My name is Oton Bačar, I’m 21 and I come from a small town called Izola in Slovenia.
How did you get into filming BMX?
I have been making different videos since I was a kid. I was always fascinated by special effects and cool shots in different movies. I am still experimenting now, using different effects, concepts and trying out all kinds of software to test it’s boundaries and the limits of my imagination. I am a pretty restless person and I have to keep changing up things and trying things that I have never seen before to keep me satisfied. I had a chance to borrow the 7D from a friend one day and I was excited as I have never tried it before but heard so much about it’s filming capabilities. I asked my friend Voranc who rides BMX to come and do some tricks that I could film. It was meant to be a test of the camera and everything used in the 7D 1000 FPS video was shot in only an hour in a local skate park. I then tried to slow it down as much as I could using Twixtor and see what I come out with. I was pretty happy with the result, but I wanted to try out more ideas, so I made the 7D 2000 FPS video. I uploaded both of them on Vimeo and couldn’t believe how many views and positive comments it got. One day I got an e-mail from DK saying if I wanted to come shoot some promo videos of their BMX riders. It was a wonderful opportunity, so I packed my bags and flew over.
You have a really classy clean style, your color grading technique is very compelling. Is that something you went to school for, or have you arrived to where you’re at through experimentation?
Thank you for your compliment. I didn’t go to school for this, I basically learned everything I know from tutorials and years of experimentation. I think that my style of BMX videos differs from everyone else’s style just because the process of making it and the reasoning behind it is so much different. A am a very visually oriented person and my main goal was to make a visually stimulating ad pleasing video, not only a video showcasing someone’s tricks or their riding skills. I don’t like the raw-footage look of the clips we usually see and I wanted to make it a little bit more interesting, make it pleasing to the eye.
You see other vids online, particularly from Woozy, shot in extreme slo-mo. But other than that your don’t see it used too often in BMX. What do you find interesting about using this technique in your filmmaking? Is there a certain, almost ballet-like beauty you’re trying to convey?
The first thing my girlfriend said when she saw the rough cut of the video was that it was more like ballet than a BMX movie. I later tried to work on that idea and develop it to be more visible. The airy feel and elegance of movement of the riders is much more apparent when the footage is slowed down. I wanted to further emphasize that using slow music, more fit for a ballet show than a BMX video. Some BMX tricks are so fast and complex in real life that it is almost impossible to see what is going on when watching them at normal speed. They deserve to be slowed down to really appreciate the beauty of movement.
Woozy has a camera that shoots at 1000fps, but you’re using a Canon 7D and a plugin called Twixtor to achieve the same, or even more exaggerated effect. I’ve used Twixtor before with varied success. What are you experiences with Twixtor?
I was always fascinated with slow motion videos and I wanted to make some of my own. The problem is that high speed cameras are too expensive for young videographers. Twixtor was the only solution to give me a taste of the fascinating world of slow motion. I was just playing with some basic settings and trying to get some interesting results. If I had enough budget for a project that needed slow motion, I would rent a high speed camera and work with ‘the real thing’ rather than trying to emulate it.