Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tell me when the light turns green



Still from 'The Wanderer': Craig Dinas, N Wales
I’ve been trying to digitalise some old VHS video tapes which contained a fair bit of camcorder footage and which with the system I’m using,copies straight onto DVD. So far...not so good. The old tapes have obviously deteriorated and the DVD copies are not exactly HD quality! Lots of flickering and glitches. Apparently that also has something to do with the recording software. The footage has lost quality when seen on TV but it does run at real time without flickering and glitches. I do have the original High 8 mini tapes so I’m tempted to see if I can record straight from the analogue camcorder to disc or hard drive.
Harold Drasdo on his own route.Moss Rib

Its an interesting thought though,when you consider the thousands of hours of rare and irreplaceable climbing/outdoor footage-both on cine film and video tape-  that is buried away  and forgotten in drawers,lofts,cupboards and sheds. I blogged a while ago about some rare climbing films which had totally disappeared and were last heard of in an elderly woman’s shed in Aberystwyth. Of course amateur footage taken by those recording their adventures is always going to be fascinating for the individual to look back on. However, there must also be a fair bit of as yet undiscovered footage taken on Cine 8 cameras and analogue camcorders which feature many iconic figures.


The late Harold Drasdo once loaned me a DVD of old climbing footage featuring Joe Brown. I recall there were at least five films going back to the 50‘s and 60‘s which included footage of JB climbing in Jordan. I’ve never seen or heard of these films being distributed in the wider world?

Phil Livesey at the start of The Wanderer

Talking of HD, it was nice to see I had a bit of footage of him climbing his own route, Moss Rib, which he put up with Tony Moulam on Craig Dinas near Betws y Coed.I’ll always regret not taking more camcorder footage of my climbing adventures as many of the people I climbed with are either now dead, have moved away,or have given up the activity. 


Ken Wilson’s recently republished ‘Snapshot’ was a remarkably prescient take on the world of climbing photography which although originally published in 1981, even then lamented the fact that the sexy action shot had become the norm within climbing media while the ‘snapshot’ which recorded more accurately climbing culture as most people experience it, was being forgotten. In a way, these old amateur video camera recordings from the 80‘s and 90‘s form an important part of Ken’s ‘Snapshot Culture’. Recording an important period in climbing history in all its glorious vivid over saturated glory! 

'The Big Yin' Pen Tyrau: Arenig Fawr

Fixing on a few stills from the footage, although as photographs they would be considered terrible, there is something of a ‘Lomo’ quality to them. They could have been taken on a plastic Holga camera...all light leaks, weird saturation, blur and Polaroid colours.

Perhaps an august body like the BMC might consider putting out a video appeal? Nudging the middle aged and older members of the climbing community to dig out those old videos and Cine reels before it’s too late?

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