Keeping VHS tapes in a box for five years and moving them from Minnesota to LA to Northern California, often in checked baggage or on the back of a pickup truck, isn't exactly a recipe to improve the already questionable picture quality of half-inch magnetic tape. The footage just looked terrible. As I edited Skate Warrior, I kept wondering if the effort was justified. We were kids when we shot it and it showed up. This was going to be a terrible movie.
If I had finished Skate Warrior on tape in college with the incredibly limited post tools I had back then, it would have been an impressive feat, how the hell did you do it? Years later, when you wasted that sophomoric albatross with the same VFX resources that I used in a Star Wars movie, people just asked, "Why the hell did you do this?"
But the busier I am with my day job, the more I pursue my secondary interests – and I was actually very busy back then. During the breaks from the animation of Naboo Starfighters, between 1997 and 1999 I took over 130 Skate Warrior VFX recordings with ElectricImage and After Effects.
I saved all files on this single 5 GB hard drive.
And then I was … done?
In 1999, I "finished" the film, including a better score than Mike Berkley deserved, and the sound design by Last Birthday Card composer David Levison. I somehow got permission to use two songs from a ska band because it was the 90s. With my brand new VX1000 DV camera, I even shot the “skate sequence” I always imagined for the opening of the film in San Francisco.
Skate Warrior was done. I was almost ready to render it.
Then I left ILM and took my 5 GB drive with me.
And put it in a box for 20 years.