And I road-tested the new WSL/Samsung VR clip…
I like kink. I like vibrating machines, I like hand-toys that flutter, concentrating pleasure wherever you deem it necessary, and I live my life mostly through the screen of my telephone.
Virtual reality is a hole I voluntarily climb down. A lot of people get eaten up with guilt and insecurity over burying ‘emselves in their screens. I ain’t one.
Earlier today, the WSL threw live the VR clip they made with funding by Samsung and with the tech skills of Rapid Films. Around the same time as Rory Parker was uploading his piece about it (Wow: WSL Brings Virtual Reality to Surf) the director Dave Klaiber was FB’ing me an invite to come to his studio and try the film with the $200 Samsung headset.
Was it the beginning of the technologising of surf? A call from the deep? I accepted the offer lustily.
As far as reconstituted experiences go, it’s more visceral than you might imagine. You involuntarily swing your head back and forth, up and down. You’re inside the tube looking out, now you’re looking back at CJ, now you’re scanning the reef, looking at the sky. The six camera angles feel like a hundred.
Watch it a second, a third time, and you might be inclined to ask, where are the cameras on CJ? How’s he filming the tube angle?
This is where it gets good. Rapid Films have got what is, effectively, an invisible camera suit, which is top secret ‘cause I asked to check it out and Dave and his executive producer Susannah Dilallo both yelped No at the same time, but the way it works is this:
Six cameras means there’s a little piece of overlap from each cameras when your stitch the images together. The overlap sphere means you can hide where the camera is.
“We exploit the overlap,” says Klaiber.
The VR clip was made around this year’s Teahupoo contest for “less than a million dollars”. Rapid sent a team of eight, including the director Taylor Steele, to work with Kelly Slater and CJ Hobgood on the project, although it is CJ who steals the limelight.
The CJ clip makes it technically feasible for anyone… including the sick, the disabled or the 99 per cent of surfers who’ll never touch a five-foot tube in their lives… to get into situations that would otherwise remain completely foreign.
Is it a good thing that the infirm or the lazy can climb into a bigger tube than you? Does it matter? Nothing’s stopping the capable nor the humourless nag who rails against such things from paddling out.
Watch the making of it here.
Klaiber isn’t just surf. Rapid Films built a teary short for Samsung around a woman giving birth in Western Australia while her FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) miner husband watches it happening five thousand miles away in northern Queensland. Oh, it’ll make you weep even if it is lashed with Samsung branding.
And the Great White attack?
As no fuck is ever in vain, no VR experience is time wasted. This time, it’s with a 15-foot Great White that was filmed last year down there in the Neptune Islands in South Australia. (Hello Brinkley Davies! I can see you! The sharks have returned!)
During the filming the White ate the giant housing containing the camera although it was attached to a pole, held by Klaiber. Some kind of biology lesson remained in Klaiber’s head and he figured, he if held on long enough, the White would spit the camera out and he’d have the footage of a lifetime. He held, the White spat.
The headpiece is affixed. Some very good headphones by Seinnheiser are strapped on.
Suddenly, I’m in the Southern Ocean.
“See that five-metre Great White? Don’t lose sight of it,” says Klaiber.
I dog paddle my hands in the air and follow. It turns!
Wait, it bites!
“Look up!” says Klaiber.
I see the world as viewed from the inside of a five-metre White’s jaws.
I get a close-up of the inner-mechanisms of the sharks’s mouth.
Oh, this jangles the nerves. I get worked up into such a state that I’m beside myself. I polish off the clip, however.
As should you although I can’t guarantee you’ll wanna surf again. Click to watch.