I love being in the Ocean; surfing, swimming and recharging from the salt water. So naturally finding a job that paid me to be in the ocean and surf all day would be a dream job. I am confident I will not be joining the WSL pro surfing tour anytime soon, the next best option was getting hired by one of the leading innovative Virtual Reality companies Specular Theory. The team at Specular brought me on board to run the point and project manage their VR surf project.
The idea for the campaign was to capture different surf styles (longboard, tandem, shredder, female surfer) from iconic spots in Southern California. I was out in the water almost every day using the specially developed 360 camera gear. I connected with local surfers in Malibu and Venice to get the different style of surfers for the project.
This was an absolute awesome gig! We were getting some great footage in Malibu that was insane to watch through VR goggles, but we still needed that home run footage. I had read an article about Taylor Steele working on a VR barrel project with some pro's in Tahiti. I told Specular CEO Morris May we needed a barrel shot for this project. He agreed and we were on it!
Just after sunrise we connected with the rest of our team just down the beach from Pascules. I went over the gear and remote functions with our surfer. The waves were 8-10+ with solid barrels. I jumped on the back of one jet ski with our surfer and driver on the other ski. This was something I always wanted to do....it was AWESOME!!
We had never had the gear in this heavy of surf and took extra measures to secure everything. After every wave I'd check in with the other ski and surfer to make sure the gear was all intact.
This was a great way to push myself in new areas. I knew I could figure out what needed to get done. I will say that fixing the gear on the side of the road in Mexico was a huge personal tech repair moment for me. Big pat on the back to me. : )
Over the two days of surfing and shooting in Mexico we got unreal 360 barrel footage. Unfortunately, the only way to really have the full experience is with VR headset. However, check out this link to some of the behind the scenes footage from the campaign with sick inside the barrel action shots. VR Surf Footage
My surfing definitely improved over the month and a half on this project. Though my only surf regret was I didn't pull off getting barreled in Mexico. I never got the hang of the step off and got pounded a few times. Morris on the other hand nailed his second wave with a perfect barrel that ended up closing on him breaking the board he was ridding, which happened to be the brand new board of our guide. Morris of course felt bad about the broken board and paid for the damage. He was totally ok from the wipe out and had a rad surf story to tell from this project.
Thanks Specular for having me on this project and paying me to surf! I have to say a huge THANK YOU all of the surfers who paddled out with me and tried the camera gear. I got to surf with great surfers and meet incredible people. Grateful for the support!
Over beers the last night in Mexico Morris told me I killed it for them on the project. I not only pulled off a huge tech victory for myself, but we got AMAZING footage and my boss was happy. WINNING!
The 360 VR surf segment I produced with Specular Theory ended up Winning Best Live Action Sport Experience at CES 2016 VR Fest...now that's double WINNING!!!
On to the next adventure!