The Man Behind the Lens: An Interview With Andre Magarao

There’s been a recent deluge of pretty sick material from pro riders. Czech beauty, Paula Novotna showing off new moves. Youngster Liam Wheely, shredding up some Brazilian Lagoons. Of course, who could forget current PKRA champ Alex Pastor showing us why he’s #1.

These brilliant edits all came from one hard working Brazilian videographer and photographer extraordinaire, Andre Magarao. We recently had a wonderful opportunity to sit down with him and ask him some questions. Not sure how this man finds the time to film all the riders that he has. Even Hannah Whiteley recently strutted her stuff for him.

 

KiteScoop:

So how about a brief intro. I’m sure that most kiters have seen some of your videos, but they might not know the man behind all the media. Who are you?

Andre Magarao:

Damn, you ask hard questions. I’m really into sports and photography. Videos actually came later. I started doing videos with my friend Reno Romeu and it kind of evolved from there. I don’t kite so I had to learn the tricks from the riders and from watching lots of videos.

KS:

What are some of your favorite videos that you’ve shot and edited?

AM:

From the stuff I’ve done, I think my favorite is the one in Tarifa with Alex Pastor. I feel it’s always more fun to do a video in a different location from where you live. You have this fresh perspective over it. I end up filming a bunch in Brazil because I live here, and it’s challenging to not take the scenery for granted.

KS:

A lot of the guys watching videos and such online probably have no idea what actually goes into making the video. Let’s do a brief run through. For an average 3 or 4 minute video, how much raw footage do you generally film? How much time goes into the editing?

AM:

The amount of time varies depending on the weather. But in general I tend to do this very high performance oriented videos, so we focus really hard on getting the best tricks possible, a lot of time go into that, I would guess maybe a good 4 hours a day, for around 7 days. I have to say that sometimes I would like to focus more on getting different shots, different angles, but it’s nice to be able to help the rider show his best performance. Everything is very rehearsed, I know the trick the rider will do, where he or she will edge and everything.

I imagine a lot of filmers would feel a little constricted doing what I do. Most of the time I’m not able to pick the able I would like because it won’t show the traveling or how low the kite is but that’s part of the game, I don’t complain. As for the behind the scenes, there is also the pre production part of it, figuring out where to go, getting tickets, places to stay. I always try to get pictures in between filming sessions, so I carry a lot of gear, there is always the “How i’m gonna get all this into the place?” situation.

As for the post production, I honestly don’t have that much time to put into the editing, so I try to do the best I can with the time I have. It takes me around a week to finish an edit with all the back and forth with the rider to get the video the way he wants. I wish there was more budget so I could pay someone to edit. It’s undeniable that the more time you put into editing the better the result will be.

KS:

Alright let’s talk a bit about your gear. I don’t think people realize how much the gear costs that a typical videographer will use over the course of a shoot. What gear do you feel is indispensable to you?

AM:

Nowadays the sky is the limit. And the more gear (and people) you have on a job the better it will be. I think the Travis Rice movies (That’s it, That’s all and The Art of Flight) changed the game a lot. But on the other hand, they are signed as “by Curt Morgan” and people end up thinking Curt did everything by himself. He is an amazing filmer/producer but he has a huge crew and a lot of budget.

I currently have a Sony FS700 for filming, that’s around 7000 dollars in the US, it costs a lot more in Brazil because we have 100% import taxes. I’m using Canon lenses on the Sony camera. I usually use 2 or 3 lenses on it. Most of the time either the Canon 24-105mm and a Canon 70-200. In some situations I need  longer lenses so I also have a 100-400 and a multiplier. The thing with gear for filming kiteboarding is, not only the price of the gear itself, it’s the condition you need to put the gear under. It’s always windy, humid, super close to the water, there is a lot of sea breeze so the gear tends not to last very long. That leads to another tricky situation about Brazil, we don’t really have technical support here, so I have to fly to the US to get my gear fixed/taken care of at Canon for example.

Apart from the camera/lenses you also need things like tripods, glide tracks, steady cams, water housings, rc multicopters… basically the more accessories you have the cooler the final product will be. Those accessories are also pretty expensive. And they are also sometimes hard to come by because they are custom made. Since I like to take pictures too, I often opt to take photo gear like a water housing for a Canon 7D and flashes. That usually takes a lot of space and weight on my luggage. I often find myself taking very few clothes to trips, and then there is computers, hard drives for storage and backups… and also cases and bags to carry all this that are also pricy.
It’s hard to be like “this is indispensable”. But I guess good cameras, good lenses and a good tripod would go on that category. If airlines didn’t charge so much for excess luggage I sure would take more stuff on trips.
KS:
So then I guess the question is, how does someone like you generate income? Do the kiters pay you per edit? Do you get paid per hit on a video? How does it work? Say a magazine uses a shot you take for a cover, do you get reimbursed?
AM:
The riders pay me for the videos. And the magazines pay for shots too. It’s not very much. So I have a “day time” job. I definitely wish I could dedicate more time to photos and videos.
KS:
With GoPros and their slow-motion capabilities becoming much more prevalent, we’ve started seeing a lot of kiters and their video editors rely on slow-motion as a crutch to make moves seem better executed, or make give a bit of drama to an otherwise bland shot. Any trends that you see in video or photo that you  disagree with, or that don’t sit very well with you?
AM:
Cameras started doing more frames per second on a more affordable price. The Sony fs700 does 240fps!
I really like slow motions I think it shows really well how complex the tricks riders are doing these days really are. But real life speed also shows how powered and fast they are riding. So you have to find the right mix.
GoPros are great. You can definitely do things with it that you usually can’t do with a bigger camera. I don’t think technology is bad. Multicopters/drones, stabilizers etc. all those things are going to help people make better videos.
If I had to pick something I don’t like is dub step soundtracks. Hahaha. That stuff sounds like NY noise played backwards.
KS:

I always thought it sounded like a 56k dial up modem. Haha.

Alright let’s talk riders then. Who’s been your favorite rider to shoot with, and why?
AM:

Haha, I like the 56k dial up modem comparison. It does sound like that!

I don’t really have any favorites. That’s one of the really cool things about kiteboarding to me. All the riders are really nice. Everyone I worked with have been really fun, professional and worked really hard. It’s cool to see how every rider is a little different.
Alex is quiet and really picky with the footage. He always wants to show the lines coming out of the side of the frame so people can see how low the kite is, or wants to use angles that show the traveling really well.
Working with Hannah on the other hand is always a bit hectic, she can’t stand still for 2 seconds!
I’ve never filmed with Alby but I did some pictures with him and he is super easy to work with too. It’s crazy, when you tell him to edge at a certain place he can just keep on hitting the right spot forever.
Shooting with Liam was really fun too. I like to do stuff with groms, they have so much energy. You really have to drag them out of the spot at the end of the day.
KS:
Any funny stories that have happened over the years? You’ve been through a lot.
AM:
There is this one story that’s pretty good. I went to venezuela to film with Alex and Bruna during on of the stops of the PKRA.Venezuela has this crazy situation with money and the exchange rate so we ended up having to buy the internal flights once we got there.
But, on the way back from the contest all the flights were booked so Sam Light and I had to take a 6 hours taxi through Venezuela to get to Caracas (the capital and where the main airport is) and fly out of there.
The taxi was the sketchiest thing. Even by Brazilian standards. The guy drove like a madman, ran over a few animals on the way. I guess was some kind of possum. The road was the weirdest thing too, going through these rundown cities in the middle of the jungle and every now and then we drove in front of this pimp ass looking oil refinery that looked like that power plant on The Simpsons. The stops to get gas were super scary too. Gas costs US$0.01 there so I guess that part is cool, but the gas stations looked like something from a Tarantino movie.
KS:
That sounds ridiculous. For everyone who’s never ridden in a Brazilian taxi.. let’s just say it’s like being a real life version of GTA.
Well speaking of Venezuela, what’s been your favorite location to film? You mentioned Tarifa earlier being awesome, and I know you do a lot of work in Brazil.
AM:
Tarifa was really fun. It was my first time there. I really like Europe. And I got lucky to get 3 different spots in one week during the winter. So it was always a different scenery. Brazil is fun too. We can’t complain about the wind and lagoons but I’ve seen it many times. So it’s hard to see it in a different way by now. There is this one stop in Brazil called Uruau that is really fun because the lagoon is pretty small so it’s very easy to walk around it and get different angles.
I was really pleased this last time I went to Cumbuco too. The lagoon was really small and shallow so I could walk in it. It’s definitely easier than swimming to get shots! I would like to go to Hood river. It looks sick there. I would like to go to Dakhla too. It looks very unique.
KS:
You seem to really like to pick unique locations and backgrounds for your videos. Is that something you emphasize on purpose?
AM:
Yeah. I like backgrounds, foregrounds… anything you can do to change it up from the good ol blue sky to spice it up. sometimes is hard, specially when you are shooting at the beach.
KS:
Are there any general tips you’d like to throw out there for anybody editing their own stuff at home?
AM:
As for tips I would say to try to get the best gear you can, a good head for that tripod is key! Also, get low in the water or on the ground.
KS:
Looking back at your first videos, to what you’re doing now, anything in particular change about your own style?
AM:
I’m always trying to learn something new and improve. I don’t really know other filmers feel about the stuff they do but I’m always a bit unhappy with the results.
Even if people really like it, I’ve watched that a million times, so I know where every single little thing is. I know all the mistakes. and I know all could have been shot on a Red camera. Haha. So hopefully my next video will be better than the last one. I definitely know more about kiteboarding now so it’s a lot easier.
KS:
Alright, I think that wraps it up nicely. Any last words, parting thoughts?
AM:
Thank you for the opportunity. And thanks to everyone who has helped me. All the riders and everyone who had to endure the boring “Could you hold this flash for me?” situation!

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The Man Behind the Lens: An Interview With Andre Magarao The Man Behind the Lens: An Interview With Andre Magarao The Man Behind the Lens: An Interview With Andre Magarao The Man Behind the Lens: An Interview With Andre Magarao
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