NUC 99 Videos, another review

I finally got my NUC 99 videos this week! Nobody asked, but I’m going to do
a review…

given, any new video is a good thing. The second thing is the videos for sale
need to be easier to find. Now that the NUC 99 video is over the initial hump of
editing, copying and shipping, hopefully copies will remain available and this
video will be offered for sale in places people can find
it. USA is looking into adding it to our short list of videos for sale.

NUC 99 is the third NUC to have a commercial video, and this is the best one so
far. It cannot rival professionally produced videos costing thousands of dollars
more to produce (and no unicycles), but it’s very good for the budget under
which it was made.

The occasional use of two different cameras on a performance, interesting
editing, split screen effects and other computer-generated special effects make
the videos fun to watch. The camerawork is clean and steady. The overhead camera
angle in the Public Show video is a little strange, but offers views of some
details that you might have missed if you were there
iu. Especially the pizza cutter unicycle in the pizza! That pizza was good,
by the way.

The “Convention” video has highlights from everything, including the Pairs
competitions in the Public show. I believe it covers all of the events in the
order that they took place. Parade is covered, I think showing all the groups.
Then Standard Skill, with highlights of age group competition followed by parts
of the various Expert routines. Jr. Expert and Expert Pairs Freestyle is next,
from the Public Show stage. Then back to the gym for Individual Freestyle and
age group Pairs. Much of this is done in split screen, so you can watch two
riders at once. That’s a great way to show a lot of riders without boring the
average viewer to death. Then Group Freestyle and Club Show, including most or
all of the amazing Wizard of Oz performance by Panther Pride. This was a NUC 99
highlight, not to be missed! Then we’re on the track, with lots of interesting
shots of the various races, including some Obstacle Course, Slow, High Jump and
Long Jump. There’s a few good crashes in there too. Then there are the MUni
events, with some coverage of our first-ever Observed Trials competition, and
the big downhill race. The cameras were set up in one of the hardest sections of
the course, so you could see a lot of examples of how to ride the hard stuff, or
how not to. Finally, a little bit of the awards presentation at the end.

It was a nice mix of everything, though for viewers who were not at the
convention, there is probably too much repetition on the artistic events and
some of the racing. Age group competition all starts to look the same after a
while, especially in Standard Skill. This was left in because I’m sure the
producers realized that a big piece of the audience for this tape would be the
people who were there.

Also missing from this tape, as well as the previous NUC videos, were
explanations of what the viewer is seeing. “Standard Skills” means nothing, and
does nothing to improve the fact that riders aren’t wearing costumes and seem to
be doing really boring acts. With a description of what Standard Skill is all
about, this part would be much more interesting to watch. The same applies to
everything, even racing.

For the video producer who wants to sell thousands of copies of a unicycle tape
to a mass market (where you can actually make a profit), explanations and
interviews are equally important to the riding being shown. Even after 25 years,
the world in general still has no idea what we do at a unicycle convention.
There was a little bit of interviewing in Alan Plotkin’s 1996 NUC video, but
those were stories and didn’t tell about the convention.

The main omission in the Convention video is the lack of music on most of the
Freestyle performances. It’s there for the groups and the Pairs performances on
stage, but boring background music was used on the rest. Granted, recorded music
played in a big gym and recorded again doesn’t sound great. But the music is an
integral part of a Freestyle performance, and watching Sally Wackowski and her
daughter lip-synch and dance just doesn’t work without it. For Standard Skill,
music is not part of the performance and using the “canned” music is a good
improvement. But leaving it off the Freestyle performances means we are actually
missing part of their acts.

On to the Public Show video. That’s what you get, basically the whole show, with
the omission of the emcees. It’s a great video to watch if you’re only
interested in artistic and don’t care about racing or other stuff. Also it’s
much more entertaining to just sit and watch. you won’t find yourself fast
forwarding as much.

All of the Jr Expert and Expert Pairs Freestyle performances are there in
their entirety (including the music). The camerawork is steady and clear.
There was a lot of great talent in that show, and it’s all here. This includes
Lars Lottrup being eaten by a balloon, which was the funniest thing I’ve seen
at a unicycle convention since Sem Abrahams and Frank Birdsall did a crazy
Pairs performance in 1984!

There was only one big thing missing in this video; names. For some reason,
Teresa and Sem were omitted from the whole show except for their chair balancing
act. There is nothing on the tape to indicate who you are watching. As all these
performers were up there for free, it would have been nice to at least give them
a plug. Pairs winners were listed by place, so you know who won but you don’t
know who they were.

It would be nice if some labeling could be added on future issues of the tape.
Mine came in nicely labeled boxes, but the tapes themselves had no labeling on
them at all. I would also like to see a play list included in the Public Show
video, either onscreen or on a piece of paper included in the box.

Overall, these are the best unicycle convention videos I have seen. Though they
may have flaws, they were produced on a shoestring budget and with a bunch of
volunteer help, I believe. Until something better comes along, these are the
best examples you can use to see, or show, what goes on at a USA National
Unicycle Convention. No collection is complete without buying both.

You can order them from the USA web site:

Stay on top, John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone (reply to

“I’m not a Level 9, but I play one on TV” - John Foss, who demonstrates IUF
Skill Level 9 on the video but in real life has only passed Level 7

NOTE: Views expressed in messages with this signature are exclusively those of
John Foss, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Unicycling
Society of America, International Unicycling Federation, or other
positions of responsibility John may occupy.