A new surf film uses 360-degree video to take us along for the ride

When Teton Gravity Research (TGR) joined forces with surf-film director Taylor Steele, the result was a groundbreaking new film called Proximity. The documentary pairs some of the sport’s most accomplished athletes, including Kelly Slater and Shane Dorian, with young up-and-comers like John John Florence and Albee Layer, and sends them off to remote destinations to surf together. The film is currently on tour, and getting rave reviews from the action sports community.

While making Proximity, Steele wanted to give viewers an experience that they hadn’t seen in a surf film before. He wanted to make the audience feel like they were actually part of the adventure, joining some of the surfing legends that he was profiling as they traveled across the globe. In order to do that, he decided to film four segments in virtual reality, giving viewers the ability to experience the world in much the same way as his subjects had.

To accomplish this, Steele used a GoPro Omni All Inclusive and six Hero4 Black cameras to film Stephanie Gilmore and Dave Rastovich as they traveled and surfed in Baja, Mexico. The rig can simultaneously record video in every direction at once, and then uses special software to seamlessly stitch everything together, creating a 360-degree VR experience in the process.

tgr proximity vr surf film gopro omni

You can check out the results in the video above, which starts by taking us down a dusty desert road with the two surfers. Later they arrive at a remote and rocky coastline before grabbing their boards and hitting the water. As the clip progresses we even have the chance to drop below the surface of the ocean for a little snorkeling too, complete with a curious sea lion.

If your browser supports 360-degree video, you’ll be able to use your mouse to pan around throughout the clip, altering the view as you see fit. The effect should be even more impressive when using a pair of VR goggles, however, allowing viewers to simply move their head to glance in different directions.

The other three VR segments that Steele filmed should be released over the next few weeks, giving viewers not only a behind-the-scenes look at how Proximity was made, but further opportunities to see the surfers in action, too. And to catch the full version of the documentary, visit the Teton Gravity Research website to find out when it will be playing near you.