Article

New brand of surf photography takes hold of Pipeline

| posted on July 22, 2010

As ridiculous as this may sound, Jamie O’Brien’s biggest innovation could come not in the form of a 10-foot rodeo flip at Backdoor, but on a million-gig hard drive. Jamie’s been dabbling with filmmaking for some time now—starring in and producing two opuses himself, Freak Show and Freak Side—but it would now appear that, like his approach in the water, he’s interested in taking this pursuit to the next level.
Striking up a relationship with filmmaker Vincent Laforet and his production company, Laforet Visuals, Jamie is the centerpiece of Vincent’s latest groundbreaking experiment in surf cinematography.

“The best thing about watching, let alone filming, Jamie is the privilege of seeing someone do something so beautiful, so difficult, so effortlessly,” writes Vincent on his blog. “The last time I saw something like this on such a regular basis was when I photographed Michael Jordan at the United Center in Chicago for his last three years on the court.”

Utilizing technology like you’ve never seen before, they’ve found a way to shoot surfing in a whole new way. If you’re a camera junkie like Vincent and can make sense of all the equipment, according to his website, the shot of Jamie going switch at Backdoor “was made with a Canon 500mm f4 – on a RED One at 120 frames per second at 2K using the Wicked Circuits EF Lens Adapter. That’s the equivalent of a 1600mm on a 35mm camera.”

In a nutshell, the central component of this project is the revolutionary RED One camera, which essentially shoots both still images and HD video all at the same time.


If you’ve got no idea what the hell that means, don’t worry, just watch the video clips online and you’ll get the picture…no pun intended.

As Vincent described on his blog, the Jamie switch-foot barrel was shot at 120 frames per second, which is unheard of…for both still and motion-capture cameras. The RED has the Hollywood set all aflutter too. “Shooting with RED is like hearing The Beatles for the first time,” states Steven Soderbergh of Ocean’s Eleven and Traffic fame.

But what’s even more impressive, the Laforet Visuals team have strapped the camera to a remote-controlled helicopter and have taken it all to an even crazier level. Forget shooting from the back of a ski—heck, you could pull their helicopter into the tube at Teahupoo or Jaws. Ok, that may be a bit extreme. But take some time looking at the clips online and you’ll see how good the heli footage is.

But with a price tag of what must be close to a quarter-million, you have to admit, it’s a pretty damn expensive way to film surfing. So why’s Vincent really into this project?

“The best part is that I’ve actually had a chance to eat some poke with Jamie,” he jokes. “Social time with Michael was nothing but a distant dream.”