Recent Work: REI Snowboard Commercials

Hey yall. Wanted to share some recent work I did for the awesome outdoor company, REI. Above and below are two videos in a series of 5 that I created for their online holiday campaign. Commercials ran in lots of places… Both vids in this post were shot in the lovely town of Telluride, Colorado last spring. And Both feature a friend of mine, Marni Yamada. She’s a dual sport (snowboard and ski) X-Games veteran athlete, a ripper, and an all-around great person.

Love to get your thoughts on either or both. And we’ll do our best to answer questions in the comments below.

The rail slide above was shot entirely on the RED One camera. The halfpipe sequence below was shot on the RED for the slo-mo stuff (120 fps) and the lo-fi handheld “followcam” look from within the pipe was captured with the Nikon D3s (B&H link for product details…).

Credits, links after the jump

Athlete: Marni Yamada
Director: Chase Jarvis
Client: REI
On the cameras: Chris Bell, Scott Rinckenberger, Erik Hecht
On the edit: Erik Hecht
Music: Mad Rad in the halfpipe. Cameron Patterson on the rail slide.

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O.K. says:

I felt this was Ok at best. Yes of course the slow mo looks good, but whatever you shoot with that camera looks insane. The snowboarding was pretty bad, not creative, boring light, very traditional trick. Far from anything that would be legit in the sport.

Papek says:

Who am I to critique your work? In my first life I was a creative services director. Basically, I created theater of the mind through audio. If you ever listened to THE END back in the day you’ve probably heard me.

Vid 1
has tremendous build; the graphic that shows up with tricks and bliss absolutely kills it for me. I believe the audience is smarter than we give them credit. You had me with the visual and audio, no need to tell me about tricks and bliss. The end REI graphic looks pretty amateur. The graphic needs to match the quality of the video for the audience to trust the brand

Vid 2.
I felt it was more your style. People should hire you for your style. Anybody can be polished, but not everyone can come up with style. If there target demo is 18-34’s video 2 connect with them.
I realized in my first life, companies were hiring me for my imperfections. because it was considered different. It took me a long time to understand the more polished I got the more jobs I was loosing. Wish me luck in my second life as a photographer. Cheers!

Eric Calabros says:

first one is so dramatic … second one is so amateurish . in both, Music is guilty !

These are awesome! Great work man.

Mike Kelley says:

Chase, while I see the points of both sides on this one, I get what you (and REI) were going for – this is approachable and not over the top or too niche-y, like REI – appealing to the masses, not the hardcore niche who wants to see 15 foot airs and back to back tens. It is just as hard to exercise restraint in an arena like this, especially when you CAN have someone going 15 feet out – but that isn’t approachable, nor is it REI.

nron13 says:

Both videos kinda weak! Check out Atiba Evans Panasonic GH2 on Vimeo. You had all the expensive equipment, and that is the best you got??? The Gh2 cost as much as all of the Sandisk cards you used on that shoot, and it still looks better! Image if Atiba used the RED?!?!!

nron13 says:

Kinda a waste of the red cam. Shoot some sk8board stuff, ie kickflips and stuff, but i guess its all right for a REI ad. Nothing to diff from there reg stuff.

J. Knight says:

I’ve been looking everywhere for Cameron Patterson’s music online… does he have a link or information you can share?

Great shots! Nice to see yet another one with the Nikon D3s. I’m about to jump from my Canon 5D Mark II to that house, would you recommend it?

I love the shots, the only thing I would see is a smoother speedchange from slow-mo to regular speed, it feels like a cut as it is.

keep up the good work!

koko says:

I have seen this like 1000000 times. boring & mediocre. I think you can do a lot better.

Jon says:

I much prefer the halfpipe ad.

I guess the target market for these ads is mainly the aspirational average boarder. But the continuity in the cuts is really good in the halfpipe ad and actually makes a relatively tame run look visually more interesting than a choppily put together series of radical moves that are in any case out of reach for the average joe and which we’ve all seen thousands of times anyway.

Not overly keen on the rail ad. Seems to be trying to be a bit too epic given the material – too much slow motion and ponderous music. Could have done with a bit more contrast between fast/slow like the other one.

So an A- and a C+ from me – on the whole though I guess the client is happy as you’ve produced something relevant to the specific snowboarding target audience that also stands up as visually interesting and supports the wider brand.

To start with, I’ll say I like both of them. I like the first one MUCH MORE than the second one but thats personal choice and opinion. The first one, I loved the slow-mo shots and the tight shots showing the snow particles. I also like how in the beginning, you tried hard not to have the cameraman’s reflection in the goggles. Thats a huge plus for me. One thing I would have changed in the first one tho is the two people that were beside the main character in the first few seconds. I feel if it was just the main character in the entire commercial and also if you added a wide shot with the snowboarder as the only person around, i think that would have made it a bit nicer but great job on the first regardless…i really like the entire concept, attention to detail and editing. AMAZING EDITING!!!

The second one, i dont know. It felt a bit careless to me like not much effort was put into it (which i know is not true cos I see behind the scenes videos of how you guys work and i know you bust you a** to make quality work). This is just the perception i think someone who didnt know you may feel. Especially with the shaky shots, I didnt think it fit. Again, this is my personal opinion. I like the shots where you followed the snowboarder behind as she slide down…

To wrap it up, I liked the first one much better and I will give it a 96%. If you didnt include the other two snowboarders in the beginning of the ad and if you added a wide shot, the commercial would have been perfect but i still really like it regardless…

The slow motion shots are so clean! The footage from both cameras look great, each having its’s own distinct qualities. It’s cool to see video from the Nikon DSLR and Red used together and amazing how well they work together given the difference in price point.

Allen says:

All in all they were pretty good! Sometimes it’s easy to piss in others cornflakes, especially when it concerns online commentary. In the end, u got paid for the gig, probably had a good time making it and most importantly, everything looks effin cool in slow motion!

Oh, Telluride great mountain – not too crowded, interesting visuals, good park.

Love the feel of both; they are very different. As stated in another comment above, the first feels more refined, but the second has a cleaner edit.

I’m curious – What lens did you use on the D3s? I often ride with my camera. I’ve found that wide-angle lenses are far easier, but require you to ride closer to the subject.

Chris Bishow says:

In the sport you cut your teeth in, and in a place you know like the back of your hand, I expect quite a bit more. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt on this one, and assume that you were given strict limitations by the client, which stifled your creativity.
I know you hate to hear this, but it was really lacking authenticity. You’ve set the bar pretty high, let’s keep it there, huh

Chase says:

core audience is not the audience here chris. thanks for the kind words on authenticity – i think you’re referring to core audience for that authenticity . we did aim for AN authenticity, but the authenticity of a more aspirational, not intimidating, rather inclusive audience.

i wanted her 12 feet out of the pipe in my heart, but we had to keep it approachable. (which was a fun, different challenge i might add!)

thx for your thoughts.

Ted fulmer says:

I think it is funny when someone has to defend work like this. Most of the time it either works or did not. This character was boring and had no emotion to connect too. Regardless of the poor riding these spots were a fail on many levels, primarily very stale. From a director standpoint there is no connectable story. So you did not want to be “core”, well then why film weak riding in a shot sequence that felt like it was from the core. The shaky to slow mo contrast thing did not work either. It probably sounded sophisticated in your pitches, but simply does not work. The first spot is marginally better. When shooting commercials remember that every frame counts. You have very little time. These spots wasted a lot of that time with unneeded films. I can’t imagine these spots worked very well. I would not be stoked to have to sit through this pre roll. I hate to be so harsh, but you want feedback. These were extremely uninspiring spots. She does not seem approachable( bad filming, riding, editing and concept do not make someone approachable.) at the end of the day remember you can’t travel through the computer and defend these spots. You need to step it up if you truly want to be more than a still guy shooting video.

Chris Bishow says:

It’s not about how big she went, and I completely understand your target market on this one. When I walk in to an REI, I’m inspired to do all this great outdoor stuff. I’m no rock climber, but for some reason I want to buy all that stuff when I’m in the store. I guess that’s the feeling that I wanted from your work.

I hope I wasnt too harsh before. You are an inspiration on a daily basis, thank you.

dhani says:

I really liked the hand rail commercial and felt that you were pushing your creativity. I can´t say the same for the half pipe footage. The two stlyes of shooting didn´t really mix well, Follow cam to shaky and slo mo stuff too slick. I would say go all lo fi or all slick smooth camera movement etc.

Chase says:

interesting thought. we very intentionally mixed handheld POV footage with a different “slick” angle as a contrast….

Loved the slo-mo action on the first on a lot. Is the still shot used on the REI ad pulled from a frame? I’ve been curious what frame shots look like from the Red. I’ve only seen a few.

Chris says:

For some snowboard promo videos, great. As far as commercials, meh. Not sure what REI was looking for but both videos were too long and very little focus on what REI sells. It is certainly more than snowboard stuff. It’s like ‘Shot of snowboarder snowboarding, mild trick, freeze and display catchphrase and REI logo (I did like the art of these), more snowboarding, more snowboarding, cut to images of things REI sells, end’. These just seemed very dull for an outdoor adventure company commercial. Especially the second video.

Dan Kaufman says:

Your editing especially in synch with the soundtrack is well done. Especially like the micro-second drum roll and rapid fire frame rate as Marni exits the rail slide.

Carsten says:

I do not feel the music fits. It’s a bit like putting a baby in an adult man’s suit.


Arturo says:

IMHO, the first one is too nice, slow and calm for snowboards equipment. Maybe that´s just me though…

Dan says:

Love the Grind spot – it has a real feel and style to it. The inserts punctuate everything perfectly. And best of all, it makes boarding look cool.

The Pipe spot feels to me a bit like an editing exercise. The cuts are to perfect continuity wise and it seems a bit technical. I didn’t get any “feel” from it.

Antp says:

Love the second one! the snowflakes behind the board in the first one are amazing

Debbie F says:

I love the railslide; feels super professional,. I like the tension you capture in her face before she takes off, the detail shots, and slo mo is effective. it feels like it will encouage a gal to push her skill on a snowboard. targets the REI type of customer – not the extreme athlete. the half pipe does feel very amateurish, but may appeal to a wider, less skilled audience. the first jump is botched; the camera was too low and then there was a quick jerk to fix the angle.

thanks for the opportunity to give feedback! chase jarvis and company rocks!

jay says:

I think the first ten seconds of the first video could have been cut out or tightened up somehow. Although I liked the contrast of the two different techniques in filming, the shaky/handheld seemed to drag on for too long.

Can you give me a little more detail on how you shot the RED? 2K or 4K and why? It’s been a while since I had my hands one and I can’t remember all the different combinations of fps/resolution. Also, what lens(es) were used with the RED? I’m really curious about if you decided on zoom or prime and why.

Erik Hecht says:

As I recall, I think we shot everything at 2K resolution and 120 fps (the RED ONE can only record 120fps at 2K resolution). Christopher Bell (the DP) has a beautiful set of Red Pro Primes (25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 100mm. All T1.8’s), so those were our lenses of choice.

Arild Orholm says:

I must say, I am not the biggest fan of this work, the skill of the rider is a bit lost on me. I will try to explain.

As an Art Director who has been snowboarding for 17 years, my biggest concern is it just does not have the look and feel of extreme sports. That may have been the objective, having actually visited the store in Boulder, the (to extents David Carson inspired) extreme sports look may not really fit the bill either. (One time visit when I was buying a new board, quickly moved on to the next store who knew and had passion for what they were talking about, strictly personal observation/feeling).

Another part that does not feel right is the set up of some of the shots, the distances to the subject and the choice of lens. Again, could be a certain choice of the director (to try to make it something else), normally you go with wider lenses and closer to the subject for shooting board sports. For the half pipe the set up of the Red for slow motion does not make the rider justice. A lower angle with wider lens might make it feel more powerful (I watch lots of pro stuff but also lots of amateur footage, and making it feel like the rider flies and gets more airtime is a very important part of a shot).

Third thing I feel the edit is a bit too loose, the set up is a bit too long and the cuts aren’t dramatic enough. Again the right slow motion parts will help the rider look more powerful. 53 and 54 seconds for this is too long for me, and I do not feel the shots, edits and music fits together either.

That rainbow rail and that run in the pipe is great riding, but (to me) wrong choices in both set up, gear choices and edits does not give the rider justice. It doesn’t show the stark contrast between soft snow an scary metal, or the fact that she is high above the ground in the park.

I do not know the background of the team, I’ve just followed and seen some work of the director. And pardon me if I draw the wrong conclusions here, but the apparent lack of an enthusiastic skiing/snowboarding or extreme sport person creatively involved in the process makes this feel like ‘a job someone did for the shop’. The ideas are cool, the gnarlyness of the rail and the one run in the pipe is great, but it just isn’t present in the work to me.

I sound very negative to the work, I am not. I am sure the client is happy with it. This is the things I would have tried to make different.

Chase says:

thx for youre thoughts. Indeed the client wanted something very different from extreme. they wanted approachable, aspirational, inclusive.

Scott Morrison says:

Love the concepts of both commercials. Definitely like the second commercial better because even though the first is more polished and probably the favourite of most, the editing in the second is simple and the riding is good. The simple editing makes it easier to connect with the feeling of snowboarding and the good riding is a must for the snowboard community, we will scrutinize everything. I really like that the grabs were in the right places and the girl was going big and having fun with it.

The first commercial however is a different story for me. Mainly because of the riding and editing. neither were bad but a few simple changes would make it much better. First off the riding, its awesome to see a girl ripping a boardslide on something like that but for a commercial you have to think like a judge, it wasnt turned 90 so it will lose points. Im not saying do it better because even some of the best girl pros have a hard time doing a fully 90 boardslide, but chose something (even if its not as hard) that they can do cleanly. after all a cleanly pressed 5-0 will beat a half turned boardslide anyday. showing something done cleanly and the right way will impress the snowboard community and give them the impression that the company actually knows about the sport. Youd be surprised how much this affects the decision of where to shop. It will also have a better effect on the people that go out maybe once a year, even if they dont know what it is or how it should be done, it is easy to see style and what looks good.

Second we have the editing, for most things it is awesome, but for snowboarding and the message you are trying to get across it is to complex. If you want to give the feeling of being on the slopes and its bliss to the viewer go simple on the editing. Showing about three shots of actually hitting the rail, one of the run up and getting on the rail, another of the full rail slide (very important, like showing the take-off and landing for a picture), and a last shot of the landing and reaction. why do this? because if you think back that is exactly how you break it up when you are doing it yourself. sure you can play with it but that is the basic formula. one last thing to bring the effect home would be to muffle/lower the music when she is on the rail with a nice slow mo shot and bring it back up when she is done. You guys forsure know that when you’re so concentrated and doing something like that the world and its noise disappears. Other than that the intro and showing the preparation are awesome, you really captured the focus.

all in all guys great job, both commercials look awesome and were executed with class. Just thought id share my un-adulterated thoughts from when i was watching both commercials because i am part of the market REI was wanting to reach.

Chase says:

if I had my “core” hat on, i’d be in sync with your thoughts. but this is not for that audience. it’s only the core crowd that needs to see the takeoff and landing of a trick (i lived in that world for a decade…). the rei audience is more forgiving – actually more curious. so we gave them a different set of things to oogle.

thanks for your thoughts!

Snowboard Style Police says:

I don’t want to be too harsh on you, but the ‘core audience is a lot bigger than it used to be. It’s also easily offended and you don’t want to do that with your opinion leaders and early adopters. Outside of the ‘core audience, everyone’s seen Shaun White in the halfpipe at the Olympics last year, or the Xgames, and so they know what good snowboarding is supposed to look like. You don’t have to get Shaun White or even go anywhere near that level, but then you should at least make it look like fun and not that this person has been psyching themselves up all year to do a poorly executed boardslide on a short rainbow rail. You can respect the ‘core audience while speaking to the masses.

Tim Skipper says:

As always everything looks awesome.

They need a logo on the bottom of the boards ;)
Or at least in the corner of the screen throughout.

Red footage was crisp and lush …
D3s was really shakey (not so good). Looked more like home video than advertising, but perhaps that’s the feel they want?

Still, as long as the client’s happy :)


Matthias Glastra says:

It interesting how people can have different take on both of them. I’m joining @Matt Timmons on his take about the second vid. It needs that little extra smoothness. For me its to home video thought that does not say anything bad about the great work that went into it. Probably it was that bit that you chose to do this way. Two really different styles with the same type of message.

keaten says:

I thought the first spot was great. Well edited and song selection was perfect. The only thing I didn’t like was the close up shot of her jumping on the rail.

For the second one… right off the bat the lens flare in the follow cam bugged me. It’s really distracting. Also it was all really repetitive. From her doing the same tricks the whole time to the edit in and out from the slow motion shot to follow cam. Her mixing up the tricks and throwing a spin could of made it more interesting to me. Maybe it’s my snowboard background.

TimR says:

Rail slide one is awesome. So tactile with that RED resolution. In my mind, I actually heard the board scraping down the rail. Which is interesting. My brain filled in some audio? Since audio is the new black, that’s maybe worth exploring.

Chris H says:

I guess I’m the odd man out here, cause I didn’t think it was your best work. I felt like some of the editing/sequencing was off just a bit in both spots. The first one in particular, where it seems like it’s just one hit on the rail, but the shots jump back just enough to make it not a smooth progression from start to finish. This could be by design, but for me it didn’t work cause the repeating actions just looked like mistimed cuts. For example, when the rider first jumps off the snow ramp and onto the rail, maybe you should have cut to the side shot of the lift off from the ramp while she was still in the air, not after she’d just touched down on the rail.

And the second one was just too repetitive for me – follow cam in the bottom of the pipe, then cut to deck shot over and over.

They were nice shots and all, but just didn’t do anything for me overall as a complete spot.

Pablo Azocar says:

Sorry, but didn’t like it … maybe I did not get it
but it’s probably OK for mainstream … which make sense since it’s REI.
I would expect more from shots with the RED and maybe better audio too, a bit more “intimate” … closer … anyway, what do I know

Werner says:

The rail slide vid was pretty nice. Clean editing, nicely framed shots. I liked it a lot.

The half pipe clip looked like something a teenager would upload to youtube… only with less thought put into it. There’s nothing interesting or unique in that video, and the final edit is just plain boring. The standard for ski/snowboard videos has been moved so high, that this falls well below baseline.

Aaron Blatt says:

Yep –

Chase, while your work is great, this one was a turn off for people that live for snowboarding.
I understand that mainstream consumers don’t ‘need’ to see high end action, but with a growing percentage of the outdoor sports market becoming involved in snowboarding/skating/’action sports’ etc – I don’t see how REI can get down with this…
By using athletes that are in the game right now (no offense to Marni) and features that are a bit more ‘official’ (no offense to ride on rainbow rails and 16 foot pipes) – I think the average consumer would still feel involved and influenced to shop at REI, and the true snowboarder would have respect for REI’s support and vision of our lifestyle…

My two cents –


Nick Girard says:

I agree with Aaron on this point. Straight airs with Indy/Mute grabs in the pipe aren’t going to do much for a snowboarding clientele. Beyond that, the footage looks great and the cuts are clean.

Snowboard Style Police says:

Chase, Love your work, love what you do, love the shoes, but… According to paragraph six on page 334 of the style laws, “You may not publish any image of a snowboarder on a rail whose board is in any other position relative to the rail that is not parallel or perpendicular. The only exception to this is in sequence when the snowboarder is transitioning from 50-50 to boardslide.”
You clearly have the still frame with the board at about 35 degrees. Your citation is in the mail. Marni’s will be delivered in person at the Banked Slalom.
Furthermore in the halfpipe still you freeze at a point where the hand is touching the edge of the board but the fingers are not closed on it, thereby not counting as a grab. This I don’t get since she’s making the grab in all the other shots.
I think you might have been able to get away with the missed grab and odd angle boardslide if you had a few smiley people going “Woooo!” and having a good time, but since you threw in a serious goggle pull down intro, we were expecting at least a 7 in the pipe.

Matt says:

You just shot them, right? And someone else edited?

Brandon says:

You can go bigger.

Pat says:

Agreed. WWVD. What Would Vincent Do?

Paul Conrad says:

Nice work Chase.

I think the second one needed more angles of the same sequence to make it feel like one of the snowboarding vids.

Question: did you strap on your board and get some turns in? Hope so.

Thanks Chase.


Jared says:

I like the rawness of the follow cam and the audio from Marni Yamada when she is about to drop in. I also like where the video pauses and shows the REI ad. Most importantly, the commercial is shot by someone who knows the snowboard/ski industry and it shows.

Marc Levi says:

Real Nice work Chase

big dave says:

that camera is awesome but at 25k is it well worth the money?? great movies and very dramatic with the slow mo effect, wish i could make anything even close!!

Cool short solid. Man I’m gonna go boarding right now in fact.
Nice to see some finished product . Nice work

Chris. –

Paul says:

love how they make you feel like its a home movie that I could shoot with my buddies. Thats not a statement on the quality of the production just the feeling. It draws me in and engages me in a way most “super hot” pro boarder shots just do not.

The rail slide one, I can relate the prep waiting to go then making it happen, or usually not in my case. anyway nice work.

Matt Timmons says:

I Like the editing in the first one- clean and smooth. Plus I really like the tag lines and the way the frame freezes mid action to get the tag line in. Mainly good storyboarding and shot sequencing, but the editing takes the prize.

The second is a different feel of course, and if I had to reach for anything to critique, I think all it needed was a steady cam holder on the follow cam and maybe another camera or two at the top of the vert to edit together multiple angles from one piece of action. I’m fan of the smoother stuff and not the handheld vibration. These are a couple of well done commercials. Cheers-

Dejan says:

Hehehe, who’s that in the reflection of her glasses. :D

Anyway. Awesome work. What was the timing of it (how long did it take to make it)?

The slow motion is amazing.

Another question, as you being a director. How much planning do you do in advance? In terms of what sequences/shots are you planning to do? Is it very micro-managed or you leave some things open and see as it goes?

Chris says:

I’m digging the slow mo. Too bad they’re so short. The kids are great.

Danny says:

Yes sir! I want one!

Dude… you rock! And these vids rock, made me wanna grab my board hit the slopes right now!

Ben says:

What I find interesting is that the followcam stuff isn’t really discernable from the RED footage. Although as is obvious from the (beautiful) close up slow mo, the RED really comes into it’s own there. The 7D might be close, but won’t give the flexibility you got from that. Lovely promos, not my ideal music though.

Personally I thought the difference was obvious and the cut in the middle to the RED slo mo showed it even more for me. Come on Nikon. Catch up to Canon at least. I’m Nikon through and through and love my D7000 video but want more!

Those are fun spots. Love the slow motion portions.

Nicely done sir.

Joe Alonzo says:

So cool. I bet that RED is killer.

DanielKphoto says:

Beautiful shots man! Love it :)

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