You Are There: Experience a Pro Surfer’s 360-Degree GoPro Footage

Filmmaker Dave Meinert rigs up a 360-degree camera and capture’s a pro surfer’s athletic mastery on a surfboard, a skateboard, and a mountain bike.

“Anyone could have built and shot this,” filmmaker Dave Meinert says of a new video featuring professional surfer Tanika Hoffman hitting the waves, off-roading on a mountain bike, and skateboarding along the beach. “And we wanted to celebrate that idea.”


He’s probably right, but the footage–which was shot by Meinert and cinematographer Wayne DeLange, along with Hoffman–still provides rare insight for the deskbound into the life of niche athletes. The trio shot the footage on a GoPro Hero 3 mounted on a special rig designed by Meinert and DeLange. That rig, attached to Hoffman’s helmet, allowed the camera to spin 360 degrees around Hoffman’s body as she surfed, paddled, skated, and rode. The resulting images capture a wider range of the experience than a static helmet cam could ever hope to, providing a beautiful perspective on the fluid movements that an athlete like Hoffman performs as part of the process of seeking her adventure.

And while the footage is remarkable, Meinert is fascinated by the idea that it could become commonplace. “We want to take accessible concepts and shoot them really well,” says Meinert, who, you may recall, captured the Internet’s attention last year with his dog’s-eye-view music video. “People must look at the footage and say, ‘I can do that.’ And they can, essentially.”

The spot was created to promote the JBay Winter Fest, a sports festival in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa, and the filmmakers were interested in documenting what the training process for something like that might look like. The footage, which intersperses quick-cuts with extended shots of a never-still camera tracing Hoffman’s routine, does provide an everyman-style look at the process. All you need is an inexpensive GoPro camera, a homemade rig, and a world-class athlete on both land and sea, and you could create something similar, too.

If that doesn’t sound doable, there’s an up-close-and-personal feeling to the clip that might suffice as the next best thing–and Meinert says that it’s by design. “The rig and the camera allowed us to tell an intimate, personal story about her training process and what it means to her,” he says. “Being able to do the whole thing as just her and two filmmakers helped keep it intimate. It allowed us to experiment in ways that we could never before. If this was ever possible before, it would take a huge technical crew. This allowed us to tell a personal story that we couldn’t really have otherwise.”