Skip to main content

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

GoPro VR Party Wave with Stephanie Gilmore & Dave Rastovich
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.

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Kraig Becker
Kraig Becker is a freelance outdoor writer who loves to hike, camp, mountain bike, trail run, paddle, or just about any other…
GoPro Fusion employs advanced stitching techniques to 360 video
GoPro Fusion hands on

While the GoPro Fusion has yet to hit store shelves, the company has released more details on how its upcoming 360 camera will work, specifically looking at how it will stitch the two hemispherical fields into one spherical video. The camera uses a unique offset lens design combined with a proprietary algorithm to create a seamless 360-degree field, as detailed in a blog post by GoPro.

The GoPro Fusion, which is currently in the hands of select content creators as part of a pilot program, is the GoPro’s first all-in-one 360 camera. Standing not much taller than a GoPro Hero5  Black, it is meant to be mounted in much the same way as a regular action camera, transforming athletic feats into immersive experiences that anyone can share in. But where most 360 cams use a back-to-back lens design, the Fusion’s lenses are offset slightly.

Read more
Shooting 360-degree video with a GoPro is about to get epic with Fusion camera
GoPro Fusion hands on

Update on June 8, 2017: While details are still limited, GoPro has officially revealed the Fusion. The camera, still in beta has similar design cues as the Hero5 Black, but the larger square-like dual-lens camera is wider and taller, and weighs roughly the same (at the least that's how it felt in our hands). It looks different that the picture of the camera teased at NAB 2017, but it is in keeping with the recent Hero5 products and the Karma drone. Here's what we know (or suspect), so far.

The Fusion is targeted toward consumers and even pros looking to shoot a quick and easy spherical video, so we assume it would have GoPro's ProTune advanced settings. It would most likely utilize a USB-C connection like the Hero5 Black, although waterproofness is up in the air. At the bottom, it looks like the Fusion is using a removable mount that will fit existing GoPro accessories – we would not be surprised if it could be attached to the Karma drone for 360-degree aerial shots – although, again, this is a beta device and the final product may not look exactly like what we've seen. At the top, there appears to be three pinholes for microphones (we assume for stereo and wind noise cancelation), while the shutter button is on the front. A mode button is on one side, with two fisheye lenses on either side.

Read more
Catch a virtual wave with pro surfer Kelly Slater in a 360-degree video
kelly sltater 360 video slater vr

For most of us, getting the opportunity to ride a wave with legendary surfer Kelly Slater is beyond the realm of possibility. After all, the man who has won the World Surf League championship a record 11 times isn't likely to be found slumming it on just any old beach. But now, thanks to a new 360-degree video from Teton Gravity Research, we can all experience what it is like to surf alongside one of the best surfers ever.

The video, which you can watch above, was created while TGR was making its latest documentary, Proximity. That film pairs some of surfing's living legends with its brightest up-and-coming stars and sends them off to remote destinations to hang out together. In Slater's case, he was matched up with John John Florence and both men were sent to the South Pacific to ride some big waves and ponder the intricacies of their sport.

Read more