If additional evidence were needed to demonstrate the eye-popping improvements drones have made to filming the world’s best surfers carving waves, two recent videos have provided it by capturing perspectives that would have been impossible to capture otherwise.
The new videos were posted independent of one another and taken in spots that demonstrate the complementary and contrasting photographic capacities that drones offer surf footage. Whereas earlier approaches used still or movie cameras shooting riders from the beach, in hovering helicopters, or from boats – all relatively static positions – UAVs can follow surfers as they advance on and respond to the continued changes peeling waves throw at them.
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Perhaps better still, drones can maneuver into a variety of angles permitting clear, tight shots of surfers tucking into the grip of some spectacularly powerful breakers, or simply remaining upright on waves the size of several story buildings with the main objective of just not falling. The upshot are more intimate images (and some virtual sensations) that take pull views through the screen and closer into the lineup.
The first example of the enhancements drones afford surfing videos came from Reddit contributor Oahusurfa, whose “One year with the Mini 2” footage features some frisson-generating Pipeline shots.
The pilot not only offers up an admirable mix of full-wave rides and shorter shots of surfers getting deep into pockets, but also shuffles in some ambient North Shore scenes – and a view of how very crowded even one of the world’s most unforgiving spots gets.
Also worth noting is the early scene of a bodyboarder being spat into an uncomfortable landing by a hollow right that emphatically closes out.
The other video was uploaded by surfer Eloy Lorenzo Junior, featuring previously unpublished 2018 footage of him surfing the giant swells of Bali’s Uluwatu (a name he uses on his YouTube channel as Mr. Uluwatu.
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In contrast to the many fairly short and tight shots of super-fast Pipeline waves, the Uluwatu video is a wide-angle view of the fluid, looping maneuvers of the surfer staying in front of a massive wall of water he really, really doesn’t want to overtake and crush him.
The result is a marathon dance on the surface of the breaker that, thanks to the mobility of the drone, lasts nearly 90 seconds, and gives the film it’s “Longest Wave Ever Ridden at Uluwatu” title. Photographers from set positions would have never been able to follow along the way the UAV does as it captures the full, muscle-taxing ride in front of the collapsing saltwater avalanche.