Progression DVD from Big Up Productions

© Big Up Productions
Progression DVD from Big Up Productions  © Big Up Productions
Progression DVD from Big Up Productions
© Big Up Productions
I recently purchased (and subsequently watched) the new Big Up Productions film Progression.

The film is available on DVD or as a download from the Big Up Productions Website.

I went for the HD download as opposed to the DVD. I watch 99% of films on my PC so made sense to go for this option.

The download was quick-ish - 1.8gb took about 1-hour on my home connection. Normally I use a download accelerator which would've reduced this to about 30 minutes but this wasn't available for this film. Obviously download times will vary massively depending on your supplier.

  • But for ease of use, I'd rate this service at 9.5/10

With the download you don't get the DVD extras which seems a little mean, but without seeing them I don't know what I'm missing.

On to the film itself:

Production quality is excellent - Full Hi-Def (1920x1080) works brilliantly on climbing films, bringing the rock texture to life.

I had some slight technical issues with the file - in various players I either got un-sync'd sound (The audiotrack from the film started playing when the trailer started) or no-sound (Audio for the into/trailer, no audio for the feature). After a bit of fiddling (changing audio track mid-way through) this was resolved, but this might have been down to my PC as opposed to a flaw in the file.

Note: I used Media Player, MP Classic, BS Player and VLC.

The film offers a good range of climbing and as the name suggests attempts to show the progression of rock climbing in this current age.

Opening with Chris Sharma's work in Spain, it shows some of the super-hard routes he's been opening in and around Oliana.

It then introduces Adam Ondra, including one of the finest bits of climbing footage I've seen with what felt like 5-minutes of perfectly tracked climbing with Ondra racing up one of Sharma's new routes with such fluidity. Truly inspiring to see him climb with such drive.

Next up is Patxi Usabiaga showcasing his somewhat extreme training regime.

Very interestingly, this section focusses on indoor sports/competition climbing - possibly a first for a commercial DVD release? Love it or hate it, it's good the producers acknowledge this aspect of rock climbing and is true to the name of the DVD as this is an area which is undergoing massive growth at the moment.

Also featured is 15 year-old Johanna Ernst and her first World Cup effort. Whilst this section isn't perhaps as visually inspiring as the outdoor sections, it's nevertheless important to recognise the lengths some people go to in order to be the best. Also of interest is the difference in attitudes between the 28 year old Patxi and 15 year old Johanna.

Then on to the obligatory bouldering section. This time it's Rocklands in South Africa. A nicely put together piece of 2 young'uns; Daniels Woods & Paul Robinson and the "old guy" Tommy Caldwell. The problems are good and the scenery lush. Again, sticking to the films title, it tries to show the direction bouldering is going but is also a nice mini-roadtrip segment.

Whilst highly enjoyable, this was perhaps the weakest section of the film, though I can't put my finger on why...

This leads nicely into Tommy's continuing exploits on El Cap including his current 2-year project which looks insane.

Team America's recent exploits on the gritstone is the only British action in the whole flick. Most of us are already aware of what they accomplished whilst over here but it's good to see it first-hand (well, almost). Sketchy ascents of classic routes, many soloed, are a real nail biter and also provides the only red-stuff of the whole film.

This flows nicely into Kevin Jorgeson's crazy highballing endeavours in Bishop, Califonia. Whilst stunning in setting, somehow it didn't capture the nail-biting situation that it was, especially compared to the other film the Sharp End (UKC Review) which was often edge-of-the-seat viewing.

Finally we're back to Sharma and his sending of his F9b super-route Jumbo Love (I don't think I spoiling anything saying he makes it). I really enjoyed this section, it breaks the cruxes down nicely so you can follow what he's going for and also, for once, shows Sharma repeatedly failing and getting frustrated which was a pleasant change from the laid-back persona we're used to seeing.

In Brief:

A well shot, well presented and engaging film. It flows nicely and feels more like a documentary/film than say Dosage which are very different scenes.

Not overly US-centric, and the Ondra segment though brief, is in my opinion one of the best pieces of climbing footage to date.

Eye-candy, inspirational and engaging. Not as "extreme" as the Sharp End, but does capture the various areas of rock climbing and where they're going very well.

My personal rating: 9/10

Price: £19.99 (DVD)VIDEO: Progression Trailer

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2 Nov, 2009
Might be worth sending this to jack et al to see if they want to turn this in to a 'proper' review, its good enough. A quick note on the technical problems you mentioned at the start: i had similar difficulties but it played perfectly in quicktime. so anyone looking for a quick fix:
2 Nov, 2009
Ah - but I hate QuickTime with a passion, almost as bad as RealPlayer *spit* ;)
2 Nov, 2009
cheers for that....i've been looking forward to it but will probably wait for the DVD.....any idea when this will be available in the UK?
2 Nov, 2009
Good review, great DVD. Worth getting the extra's as there is some really good footage on there as well. Out now, you can buy here..||1846~@c~@b|0|user|1,0,0,1|1
3 Nov, 2009
Watched it last night. Really good stuff. Wasn't too sure at the beginning, I can't usually get into sport climbing stuff on DVD but the footage of Ondra was really inspiring. Really enjoyed the footage of Tomy Caldwell trying his Yosimite project probably my favourite bit of the DVD. The team USA stuff was pretty funny and quite impressive for a single seasons work! Enjoyed "E stands for EXTREME hur hur hur". By the time it got back to Sharma on Jumbo Love I was reduced to shouting at the TV, and was forced to reconsider if I thought sport climbing footage really couldn't be produced in an interesting way. Killer stuff.
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