The (Petite) Lens That Stole A Surf Filmmaker’s Heart
“They’re going to eventually be in every cameraman’s gear bag just because they’re so small and easy to use.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Stab has working relations with GoPro.
Why wouldn’t we? Their mastermind is a bubbling pool of wisdom and stoke; they’ve had Kelly Fucking Slater on their books; and whether you like to admit it or not, everyone has, at some point, entertained the idea of bringing one of their bite-sized cameras along, hoping to relive their most fulfilling surf experiences.
We do it with our hand-held devices every day, why wouldn’t we do it via a little box with far superior capabilities stuck to our board or forehead or between our teeth?
Admittedly, fixing one to the beak of your stick and pointing it at yourself is a little crook; selfie poles aren’t exactly fashionable; and, if the waves and/or your surfing are significantly lacking, then leaving the thing at home is preferred.
However, there are occasions where these compact cams really shine. Not to mention the images they spit out are getting richer and more vibrant with every release.
Stab recently acquired GoPro’s latest incarnate, the HERO6, lending it out to long time contributor and veteran filmmaker, Beren Hall, for a trip with Dion shooting in Tasmania.
What’s that? Haven’t heard of Beren before? Guess you weren’t reading the credits on Globe’s Strange Rumblings In Shangri La, their unforgettable wave pool shoot, Electric Blue Heaven, Remember Ricardo, Stab’s heartfelt and very thorough investigation into the life and shocking murder of Brazilian surf star, Ricardo dos Santos and many more.
Stab considers Mr Hall one of the most credible figures in current surf filmography.
Anyway, while he usually shoots with his go-to RED camera, we sent him away with a black HERO6 and his talented subject, eager to see what he’ll come back after a bunch of days in one of the most spectacularly photogenic locations on the planet.
Unsurprisingly the shots were stunning. Surprisingly, they were captured exclusively on the mini-me lens we’d lent, not the RED, and he and Dion couldn’t stop raving.
Beren insisted that he add one to his tool box.
Curious as to how a widely considered surf dork’s toy had blossomed in the hands of the coolest figures in surf film, we fired Beren a few questions.
Let’s rewind a little, Bez. What were your thoughts on GoPro say, six years ago?
“When I first started seeing GoPro’s becoming popular I really wasn’t a big fan. I think it was mostly because you’d see people with them in their mouth or on a helmet in the surf and they could barely stand up.
“It just seemed rare to see someone use one who actually knew how to use it and shoot something that you would actually be happy to watch.
“There’s also a stigma around them for professional cinematographers because they’re basically a point and shoot with little skill required to work them.”
Crisp vision on an ever crisper Tasmanian morning.
What do you think about the whole Point Of View movement?
“I think the POV craze has been amazing in certain instances, like Skeleton Bay or Chopes surf footage, and also clips like the skier Candide Thovex created in his One of Those Days series. That stuff is the perfect use of those cameras and really hard to not enjoy watching.”
What about you personally? What’s your experience like?
“I’ve maybe used a GoPro twice before this trip and they were older versions with pretty limited settings compared to the HERO6 we used on this trip.
“The advance they’re making with each model is pretty amazing and they’re going to eventually be in every cameraman’s gear bag just because they’re so small and easy to use.”
Can you describe the vision that black HERO6 was producing?
“The standard vision you see with most GoPro footage is the fisheye, super wide angle POV but the new cameras have a setting in 1080 or 2k resolution that allows you to shoot linear at 120 frames per second (slow motion) so you don’t have the same amount of distortion as the old cameras had.
“It actually looks pretty amazing and they also have built in image stabilization so you can do some really cool tracking shots handheld that come out super smooth.”
Professional quality, hand held device.
What would you use one for now? How does it work into your current setup?
“These things are absolutely perfect to have in your car or pocket or somewhere handy at all times to shoot behind the scenes footage or landscapes when you don’t want to pull out your Red or DSLR and put lenses and viewfinders on.
“They’re so small and easy to use that I found myself shooting way more than I would have down in Tasmania than if I was only shooting with my RED camera.
“It obviously has limitations with what you can shoot surf wise as you can’t attach lens to them, but for lifestyle/behind the scenes footage, they’re perfect.”
What surprised you in terms of capabilities, things that people may not know?
“I think the biggest surprise for me was how smooth the image stabilization was and also the fact they can shoot 120 fps in linear mode at 2K resolution.
“I pretty much shot the whole clip in those settings and was really impressed with the quality of the footage.”
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