Guilty Pleasures: Follow-Cam Surf Filming - Stab Mag

Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy Will Be Broadcast Live On June 21st and June 22nd from 5 PM - 10 PM PDT

25 Views

Guilty Pleasures: Follow-Cam Surf Filming

Jimmy Wilson tracks Coco Ho, Dylan Graves, and Tanner Gudauskas with the GoPro Hero 10.

hardware // Oct 7, 2021
Words by Jack Mutschler
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Jimmy Wilson is an enlightened wizard in the world of surf photography.

He spent over eight years working for Surfing Magazine, where he held titles such as senior editor, social media manager, and photo editor. Today, he serves as the online content editor and social media coordinator for Vans Surf.

With 15 years of industry experience, Jimmy has seen it all and has the full hard drives to prove it. He’s recently mastered the art of the follow-cam, wielding a GoPro and a soft top in the wake of elite surfers. 

After watching his methods at Vans Stab High, Central America, presented by Monster Energy, we’d figured there would be no one more qualified to give the new GoPro Hero 10 a trial run.

We sent Jimmy the product and asked him a few questions about his special methods. Read below:

Stab: When did you start shooting follow cam footage?
Jimmy Wilson: I for sure had a GoPro as early as 2010 because a friend just texted me a video she found on Facebook of us slamming inflatable beer bongs on the train to a Padres game. I know I messed around with a couple of follows back then, but nothing legit until about 2017.

What inspired you to do so?
The first surf time seeing it was in Logan Dulien’s Snapt in the early/mid-2000s. Chad Towersey was filming Bruce Irons and a few others out at Lowers, which was impactful to me as a grom.

I got re-inspired by a few others later on. Laurent Pujol’s photography, pulling into tubes behind people, was so crazy. He nailed all kinds of covers. Then came Leroy Bellet, who took it to the next level, getting spit out of barrels with guys like Russel Bierke and Scott Dennis. Even sending on a tow day at Teahupo’o. Insane shit.

But from a video standpoint, Spenny, aka Gimbal God, really got me fired up. What he did in snowboarding might be the single most mimicked shooting style ever, and for a good reason. 

What makes the GoPro good for shooting follow-cam?
There’s no way to match its functionality when surfing on a wave behind someone. You need a wide-angle lens—something as small as possible and great in-camera stabilization.

John Florence and Jack Robinson did some follows with a RED at The Box a few years ago, and I think it did them a disservice. Still amazing, but the wrong tool for the job.

What’s the hardest part of shooting follow-cam?
My own ability as a surfer. I’m average at best. No doubt, someone like Yadin Nicol (who’s already doing it a bunch with his son Corona), or any pro could crush me at follow-cam if they wanted to work at it a bit.

Not to completely write myself off. I know how to use cameras, prefer party waves, and I’m always self-critiquing.

There’s plenty of obstacles, though. Space on the wave, a limited amount of angles, syncing up with a pro surfer in a thick crowd, fatigue, and falls by the subject. So many “almost a clip!” moments out there. One keeper per session would be considered productive to me.

What other ways have you found the GoPro useful?
Anything where you need to be right up in action, POV, or for use as a cutaway angle. There’s nowhere you can’t put these things. I also love using GoPro to shoot videos of my daughter.

What’s new about this GoPro Hero 10? (Frame rates, settings navigation, bonus features etc., battery life)
Water spots on the lens were an issue in previous versions, but they put a coating on the lens cover that water doesn’t stick to. It’s a game-changer.

Also, the HERO10 shoots 5.3k at 60fps, 4K at 120fps, and 4k at 60fps in a 4:3 aspect ratio which is way better for showcasing vertically on social. 

What differences have you noticed in the footage you’ve shot?
The stabilization is noticeably better to the point where you could run full sprint down the beach, and it looks like you have the thing on a gimbal (see my seagulls clip above).

Image clarity has stepped up too. There were times in the past where I wanted to shoot 120fps, but you’d lose so much quality dropping to 1080 HD. Having the additional 5.3k means, I can crop in further during post.

Any funny or interesting stories from shooting with Coco, Dylan, Tanner, Chris?
The most entertaining sessions are usually with Coco. We already hang a lot, and she psychs on shooting follows, so it makes things easy.

Last year during the most crowded day ever at Lowers stands out. Also recently, when we shot longboarding at Cardiff Reef. I was wearing a long-sleeve spring suit, Vans Surf Boot Mids, webbed gloves, and a Drag Board Co surf hat –– while riding a rasta Wavestorm. Imagine almost literally running into Joel Tudor looking like that! She was so embarrassed. Par for the course with me!

Click here to check out the new and improved GoPro Hero 10.

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

355 Days Later, We Still Don’t Know What Elo Did In Brazil

But here's your 2024 Rio Pro preview.

Jun 20, 2024

JJF + Medina To Continue Rampages In Brazil?

12x CT event winner and previous SITD pilot Taj Burrow says 'yes'.

Jun 19, 2024

Allow Us To Introduce The YETI Ladybirds And Bottle Rockets Of Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

Here's our schoolyard pick for teams; who will win the most cred at the lunch…

Jun 17, 2024

Prediction: Moving The WSL Finals To Fiji Will Kill Off Two More Surfing Superstars

Is this JJF's time to collect his titles? We checked the stats.

Jun 17, 2024

Confirmed: Fiji To Host 2025 WSL Finals

Cloudbreak will remain on tour until 2026.

Jun 17, 2024

What’s The Secret To Powersurfing?

Taylor Knox, Kyuss King, and Jessi Miley-Dyer tackle a trio of questions in our third…

Jun 16, 2024

How To Win Stab High Japan, Presented By Monster Energy

A statistical analysis of the 493 airs attempted in previous chlorinated editions.

Jun 16, 2024

Watch: An Intimate Portrait Of The Wave, Village, And People At The End Of The Road

Oxbow’s ‘Children of Teahupo’o’ is playing exclusively on Stab Premium for the next two weeks. 

Jun 15, 2024

Fuck It, Run The Entire CT In Indo

A historic beginning to the Indonesian dry season.

Jun 14, 2024

Ferrari Boyz: Holly Wawn

"I've had 4, 5, maybe 6 cars... I'm a car dealer I reckon."

Jun 13, 2024

A Miscalculated Shallow Dive, Neck-First, Into The Waters Of Japanese Surfing

How is surfing different in the land of cherry blossoms?

Jun 13, 2024

How Has Ian Crane Made 4/5 Stab High Finals?

And who he's most afraid of competing against in Japan.

Jun 13, 2024

“I Haven’t Seen Anyone That Young And That Keen For Heavy Waves In A Decade” —Shane Dorian

Jacob Turner is 16 years old and trying to paddle tow sets at Teahupo'o...on his…

Jun 12, 2024

Long Read: 1,000 Ways To Die In Indonesia

18,000 islands of beautiful people, world-class waves, and danger around every corner.

Jun 11, 2024

Watch: Craig Anderson And Kaito Ohashi Find (Mostly) Empty Waves In Southeast Asia

Oh, and enter to win a grand worth of DB gear.

Jun 11, 2024

Brad Gerlach Rode A 600cc Motorbike Through Europe’s 1980’s Psychedelic Renaissance  

"Fuck London. Let’s just buy motorcycles tomorrow and drive to France, man."

Jun 11, 2024

Caroline Marks Goes Two-In-A-Row And John John Florence Wins First CT Event Since 2020 At The Surf City El Salvador Pro

Plus, we asked Chris Cote for a look into the commentary team's psyche and Griff…

Jun 9, 2024

Why Is Mavericks Core Getting Overrun By Yuppies?

And other questions from our audience — answered by Pete Mel, Mick Fanning, and Joel…

Jun 9, 2024
Advertisement
JUNE 22 & 23
1 Days
12 Hours
24 Minutes
48 Seconds
Join Stab Premium