What's What | RB Umali
Apr 13, 2012 12:51 PM CDT

If you've watched any Zoo York footage or any footage coming out of New York City over the last decade for that matter there's a good chance NYC videographer, RB Umali, has had his hands on it. As a local New Yorker, RB has a unique eye for the city and is able to capture the urban jungle and the skaters that inhabit it in a way that few can. As a part of our ongoing investation into the lensmen behind TransWorld SKATEBoarding's Cinematographer Project we caught up with RB to get his take on his experience with the video. Here's what he had to say.

Photos By Sean Cronan Courtesy Zoo York

What was the most memorable part of filming for the video?

The most memorable part of filming  was probably the Zoo trips we took to Miami and Atlanta.  It's always a good time rolling to a new city with the crew.  There's something about being in a new environment all together that gets everybody psyched to skate and push each other.  Miami and Atlanta are also great cities, not just for skating, but for chilling with local homies and having a good time.

What’s the craziest thing that happened while you were filming?

On our first night in Miami, Joel Meinholz and Mark Gamez threw a party at this crazy nightclub with a miniramp on a stage by the dancefloor. The club was popping with all these partygoers and at the end of the night everybody was skating in jumpsuits and spraying each other with neon paint under the blacklight. Eli and Zered's griptape got nicely decorated and it set off the Miami trip with a bang.

What was your favorite section (aside from yours)?

My favorite part of the video is Russell Houghton's timelapses, Fat Bill's club handsome and everything that Jake Johnson did.

What’s the most difficult part of your job as a filmer?

The most difficult part is not getting kicked out of spots and doing whatever it takes to make it happen.  Patience is a virtue.

What’s different about your style vs. some of the other videographers featured in the video?

I guess my style is more influenced by aspects of New York City that I grew up loving.  The city, Hip-Hop, Graffiti and other elements that are nostalgic to me and get me hyped to make a video part that represents good skating and compliments the city.

What’s your favorite trick you filmed in your section?

My favorite trick that I filmed is Zered Bassett's backside tailslide in Brooklyn with the rolling view of the Manhattan skyline in the background.  Not only am I hyped on how good Zered did the trick and the way the footage came out, but if you actually see that spot in person you will see that on the other side of the ledge is an 80 foot drop onto the freeway.  If Zered's board went on the wrong side it could have been really ugly.

What’s your favorite spot you filmed at during your section?

My favorite spot is the new metal ledges at the South Street Seaport that Chaz has a two trick line at.  That spot has so much history to me as it is close to my house and a spot that I have been filming at for many years. Seaport has had so many eras of different sections that have been skateable.  That spot is so good.  It gets a little crowded sometimes and it almost feels like you’re in Europe or some skate plaza overseas when you are there even though it’s right in the city along the waterfront with amazing views of Brooklyn and all the bridges on the East River.

What was the thought process behind choosing the skaters you wanted to feature?

When I was first asked if I wanted to film a part for this video I was hyped because I was given the opportunity to film whomever or whatever I wanted.  Then Zoo York asked me if I wanted them to be a sponsor of the video and they would support me in travelling to film for it and I have obviously always had so much love for Zoo York so I decided it was the right decision to showcase the Zoo team exclusively and highlight the new ams that are on the team:  Dave Willis, Travis Glover, and Kevin Tierney.  Three young bucks who are super cool to film with and rip the streets on the daily.

Aside from camera gear what’s the most important thing for a video guy to bring on a shoot?

Aside from camera gear it’s very important for the video guy to bring positive motivation.  And wax.  Lots of wax (right Travis?)

What makes a good video part? What makes a good skate video these days?

At the end of the day it's all about documenting good skateboarding and a video part could be great to different people for different reasons.  Some people love watching videos with enormous hammers or ridiculously technical ledge combinations.  I personally love video parts that show a skater who is really comfortable on their board having a good time and rolling around in cool looking environments.  I'm a big fan of pushing.  As far as what makes a good skate video,  I like videos that showcase a crew of skaters that are not only a team but also good friends and have a great time skating with each other.


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