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#1 Jamie McIntyre

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:10 AM

Hey everyone,

Been a while since I posted here.

I'm planning on shooting a surfing video for a friend down in San Diego and I need a few tips. Firstly I have never shot a surfing video before so I don't even know where to start. I'm planning on taking some surfing lessons beforehand so I can get out on the water with the camera and get some really nice shots.

I'm planning on shooting on the HVX-200 but I have never considered using one out on the open water. Is there any waterproof casing I can rent from somewhere for a reasonable cost/easy to use?

Is it ok to use the stock lens in such a casing? Or is there a special lens required? I have no idea you see :)

Also, would anyone be able to recommend any DP's that have shot some surfing footage that I can research and look at their work?

Thanks,

Jamie McIntyre
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#2 David Desio

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 11:12 AM

Hey everyone,

Been a while since I posted here.

I'm planning on shooting a surfing video for a friend down in San Diego and I need a few tips. Firstly I have never shot a surfing video before so I don't even know where to start. I'm planning on taking some surfing lessons beforehand so I can get out on the water with the camera and get some really nice shots.

I'm planning on shooting on the HVX-200 but I have never considered using one out on the open water. Is there any waterproof casing I can rent from somewhere for a reasonable cost/easy to use?

Is it ok to use the stock lens in such a casing? Or is there a special lens required? I have no idea you see :)

Also, would anyone be able to recommend any DP's that have shot some surfing footage that I can research and look at their work?

Thanks,

Jamie McIntyre
Student Cinematographer


Hey Jamie,

I'd say that you're off to a good start by taking a few lessons, if not for the project, than for yourself because once you ride a wave, you'll be constantly searching for that high again and again. Its so good that it trumps everything else when the waves are good...even sex! (at least for me anyway)

Also, a good way to get the rythm of surfing down is to watch a lot of surf videos so you can anticipate what a surfer will do on a wave, when they will turn/stall/bust an air etc. I'd suggest not using your zoom control but find a good focal length that allows you to lead the surfer a bit and get his entire body in frame while still making out his facial expressions. The sport is all about fluid motion and timing so a good tripod if you're shooting from a position that allows it or a very steady hand if you're in the water (though if you shoot from the water, you'll find that mostly those shots will be used as cut-aways and don't encompass the entire ride. If you can, get on a boat and sit just outside of the impact zone(the place where all of the waves crash down), from here you will get the best angle. I do know that you can find a mountable camera for surfboards that allows you to see waht the surfer sees, or even a helmut-cam in water-proof housing. Do a search on the internet and I'm sure you'll find a number of sites.

Ask your friend what type of board he is going to be riding, short or long board. Each one denotes a certain style and could be a good way to develop a feel for your video-ie. do you want a fast-cut, aggressive video or a slow, fluid mellow video?

As for the housing for and HVX, I don't think you need to get an attatchment for the lens but I've never used one in a housing before. I would assume no since any adapter would weigh down the camera and make it more awkward to shoot with in the water. You'll want light weight for obvious reasons while in the water.

Some good videos to check out are THE ENDLESS SUMMER and SINGLE FIN YELLOW. There are probably hundreds more out there but these two are really beautiful, especiall the latter. Very cinematic in the way they are shot and put together. Also, check out RIDING GIANTS for more from-the-water shots.

Hope this helps!

Dave
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#3 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 04:42 PM

Ewa Marine make a soft housing for the HVX, rated to 33 feet. It isn't the easiest thing to operate with, but it's great for surface level shots, and it's pretty buoyant, so it you lose hold of it you won't have to spend the rest of the afternoon duck diving. ;)

I don't think you can go wrong if you plan 2 versions, one that works entirely with dry footage (on the beach, a high vantage overlooking the break and footage from out on a boat / surf ski). And then go try getting wet.. it's harder than it looks but if you have the time to get comfortable with the style, I'm sure you'll get some awesome angles.

A good surf cameraman knows where to be on the break, and more importantly, where NOT to be. A board can cut you up pretty bad if you get in front of it, so take it easy.
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#4 Jamie McIntyre

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 05:47 AM

Wow, thank you very much for your reply's guys, I really appreciate your help. I'm shooting two surfers, once tends to go for air while the other is more f a technical surfer. Thats all I've been told so far regards to style *(short or long board I have no idea)* haha.

Thanks for the tip on finding a housing for the HVX, I'm not sure wether to go with that or the HPX yet, I'm still in the decision making process about this whole thing really.

I can't wait to get out there and get on the waves, like you said, I heard surfing is amazing once you get going.

I will be sure to rent those movies you mentioned too!

Thanks a lot guys, I'll let you know how it turns out for sure!

Cheers,

Jamie McIntyre
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#5 David Desio

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 09:26 AM

no problem...have and be safe out there!

Dave
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#6 Serge Teulon

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 10:02 AM

Hey James,

LIke mentioned before the most important thing is your safety.
Make sure that before you go and sit down with your friend and watch the waves from the shore. This gives you an opportunity to study the waves and also to talk to your mate about where it would be best for you to be.
If its a sand bank you'll have different points where the wave will brake. If its reef then the wave should consistently break in the same point. But water is shallower at the bottom and the reef is sharp!!
In the midst of most waves you'll have what is called a "set'. That normally refers to a set of 3 waves that are bigger, which means that they'll probably break a little further out, than the majority of them. Look out for those!!

Even though you are going to have some lessons in surfing I doubt it very much you will be learning on a proper wave. You are more likely to learn on the foam. And that is a completely different thing!

Definitely get out there and learn to surf as it is amazing! I've done since I was 7 and am 34 now. ONce it bites there is nothing like it!

But for this project I would recommend that you take the camera into a pool (or a beach where it is flat water conditions) and learn to dive under the water with the camera and basically get the feel for it.
As for lens, I would use a wider lens. Less focal issues, better stability and also if you want to follow your shot to under the wave the lens maths change due to the water.

Hope you have fun and it would be great to see some of the footage.

Good luck!
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#7 Jamie McIntyre

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 10:26 PM

These replies are great. I have no idea about surfing at all so I'm relying on my buddy to tell me everything there is to know. As for filming it, it's a new experience for me so I should learn a lot. I've taken note of all of your comments and I will make sure to refer to them closer to the time of shooting.

I think I'm going to wait until spring to shoot this thing, I want the water to be warm ofcourse, us British folk can't handle the cold water :)


Cheers,

Jamie
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#8 Jamie McIntyre

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 03:50 PM

So I'm off to San Diego tonight and an early rise tomorrow morning to get some test footage from the beach with the HVX.

Can anyone offer any scene file setups to get some good clear footage, at sunrise of these guys surfing?

They will be about 50 yards from the shore, Is that going to be ok you think, quality wise?

Cheers
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#9 Will Earl

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Posted 16 January 2009 - 09:57 PM

At 50 yards you'll probably be on the long end of the zoom quite a bit. I've only ever shot from land, but one of things that I would have liked was to punch in a little closer to the action. The range of my Sony Z1 (similar in range to the HVX) was never quite long enough to get some of the shots I would have liked. The 200mm on my dSLR is also a bit too short a lot of the time(some surf photos I have taken), I've talked to people who've suggested 400mm as a good place to start.

I always used to take a camping stool with me either strapped to my camera bag or tucked in the tripod bag so I could have something to sit on while shooting or if I was standing up and shooting it was often handy if I needed to have a quick rest in between sets or when going through the camera bag. You'll often find yourself sitting around waiting for the next set to come through.

I've also noticed that by the time one surfer has pulled out of a wave that you've been filming, the next will have taken off before you've managed to pan the camera back to the line-up. So have an idea of where the line-up is and what framing you want so you can whip back to the lineup if you see another surfer start to take off out the corner of your eye.

If your looking for more inspiration, check out 'Five Summer Stories' - a beautifully shot film from the 70s. And 'The Endless Summer' is one of the films that inspired me to be a filmmaker.
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#10 Mark Gervasoni

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 12:32 PM

"Step into Liquid" or something like that is another great surf movie with fantastic footage. I've been surfing for 42 years and still get excited each time I get near the beach. I've shown that movie to non-surfers and even they thought it was incredible. Much like the original "Endless Summer."

As for being in the water shooting, I'd recommned swin fins for speed and control. Not the big Scuba type fins, but shorter bodyboard or bodysurf fins. And add a cheap wetsuit because you'll get cold after a while.

I would also use a screw on polarizer and UV filter as well (and don't forget to set ND) and set the camera to the scene file for greatest dynamic range (I forget the name of it, I'm on vacation vegging...). Then I'd color correct in post by to get the look you want.

Have fun!
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#11 Joe Giambrone

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 09:43 PM

Janie,

Not sure your budget, set up, etc. But most surf movies have some slow motion overcranking going on. I don't know if that camera you mention will accomodate. It sounded like you were renting and could choose something to fit the needs of the shoot.

If you've only got a few seconds of usable footage on a shot, it would be better to draw it out longer in slow motion. The effect is very powerful and useful for a fast moving sport like surfing. Good luck.
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#12 David Carstens

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 11:09 PM

I'm also quite interested in experiences using Ewa-Marine housings in surf conditions. While the depth is not an issue, will the seals in the housing stand up to the suction when the camera ducks through a hard breaking wave? Anyone know how susceptible the soft casing is to ripping if brushed against reef? I'm considering grabbing some surf footage with my HPX170 in Hawaii.

Edited by David Carstens, 01 May 2009 - 11:10 PM.

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