Back before everybody and their brother had small, waterproof GoPro cameras strapped to their head, film makers had to get creative and build their own camera rigging if they wanted to get that unique shot while on the water.
Here is a photo of filmmaker and instruction video pioneer, Bill Mason using a home-made rigging to get overhead footage for his 1977 film and companion book, Path of the Paddle.
I tried to find evidence that Bill used the rigging for overhead footage for his whitewater instructional segments but it doesn’t look like he did. Imagine how awesome it would be to see that monster going down the river back in the day.
Instead of overhead shots for the whitewater elements in his films, Bill borrowed this head mounted camera which was originally designed for skydiving. Apparently the camera was really heavy due to the lead counter weight and could only shoot a maximum of 90 seconds before the film ran out. There is a story in Ken Bucks book, Bill Mason: Wilderness Artist: From Heart to Hand that talked about the time Bill nearly drowned the first time he jumped in the water with the camera. From then on they had to put two or three life jackets on him to provide enough flotation for the camera to stay above water.
Today, filming on the water is considerably easier with any of the small waterproof cameras that have flooded the market like GoPro, Contour or Drift over the past couple of years.
But even with the right camera, getting that unique shot angle can still take some thinking but thank goodness there are more commercial options now then before. One affordable option involves getting an adjustable pole from kayalu.com. Prices range from $89-$249 and can fit most cameras on the market. Kayalu has a good reputation for their well-built equipment that holds up in both fresh and salt water.
If you are working with a higher budget and looking to get more dynamic footage, then a camera mounted cable built by Sea to Sky Cable Cam is the only way to go.
For approximately $36,000 you can get the equipment needed to shoot footage similar to below:
Looking at the demo reel you might recognize some of the footage. That’s because this equipment was designed by sea kayaker,BryanSmith of Eastern Horizons fame and Matt Maddaloni who has been a sponsored rock climber for the past 15 years.
Bill Mason Photo Credits: BIll Mason Productions
From the guys who brought you Paddle to Seattle, Go Ganges!
This is easily one of the funniest adventure films since…well, the last time I watched Paddle toSeattle.
Here is the YouTube description: Two friends travel a holy river by any means possible; their journey is in search of enlightenment and trying not to get killed in the process of finding it.
Update: Looks like the film should be available January 2012.
More info: dudesonmedia.com
There is a new instructional DVD coming out shortly called Expedition Skills by Olly Sanders and Nigel Robinson.
It looks really interesting and as far as I can remember, it’s the first time that anybody has put out an instructional DVD focused exclusively on the fine art of planning larger and longer kayak trips.
I think it’s great that somebody is tackling this topic. We have all read about major trips that have failed purely due to poor planning, poor gear decisions or poor trip partners (which probably kills more than people will admit!)
Topics will include:
According to the trailer it looks like Olly and Nigel have rounded up the who’s who of expedition paddlers and got them to contribute their wealth of knowledge. Contributors include: Trys Burke, Howard Jeffs, Ray Goodwin, Doug Cooper, Loel Collins and Nigel Dennis.
It should be available for purchase January, 2012.
More info: rockandseaproductions.com
In the 11 years since the film, Classic Solo Canoeing was released it has become a classic. Now Becky Mason is about to release her follow-up, Advanced Classic Solo Canoeing.
Becky Mason is truly one of the greats when it comes to demonstrating the amazing beauty of solo canoeing without making it look dorky. I’m looking at you freestyle people! (I kid, I kid! Kinda not...)
No word on an actual release date yet but should be on the store shelves anytime soon.
The official trailer for the new instructional DVD, Sea Kayak Rescues was just posted on Kokatat’s Vimeo page today. It features Shawna Franklin and Leon Somme from Body Boat and Blade International as hosts and Bryan Smith from Reel Water Productions capturing all the excitement on film.
Here is the description on the Vimeo page:
[blockquote]World class sea kayak instructors Shawna Franklin and Leon Somme team up with award winning filmmaker Bryan Smith to produce Sea Kayak Rescues, a comprehensive, modern guide for easy, safe and effective kayak rescues. Using stunning slow motion to illustrate critical skills and exciting real time footage of rescues in tidal races, rough water and the open coast, this film sets a new standard in sea kayak instruction.[/blockquote]
I was sold in the first 30 seconds of the trailer. Look for it at your local paddling shop sometime in August.
Thanks for @bryanhansel for the tip.
BCU kayak coach and author, Gordon Brown is working on a new kayak skills DVD. Last time his DVD focused on general paddling skills so this time it’s all about rescues, rough water and staying safe.
Topics are going to include: rescues (assisted and self), technical landings, towing techniques (both contact and distance towing), and towing scenarios so you know there is a huge amount of material to work with.
Like volume 1, it’s being shot in Scotland but from what I have read it’s going to be slightly different then before in that Gordon is going to be teaching a group of students through the different techniques rather than just talking to the camera as in Volume 1. This is exciting for a couple of reasons. As a student, you get to learn the techniques but for instructors you can watch and see how he teaches a particular skill so it’s going to be a great resource.
Simon Willis is putting the whole thing together again. If you don’t know who Simon Willis he is the guy who put together that massive collection of very high quality sea kayak podcasts and interviews.
This time round Simon has been assembling short video diaries throughout the filming process. You can watch them below. The first video diary deals with towing so pay particular attention to all the little tips and gear tricks scattered throughout. Video diary 2 is some really cool balancing drills you can do with your students (or friends).
Can you tell how excited I am about this video coming out?
There is a new kayak training DVD about to be released called Sea Kayak Essentials and it’s put together by the same gang that brought us Kayak Essentials last year which we were happy to review at the time.
This time round they are looking specifically at sea kayaking with a focus on the following skills:
There are also sections that go into more detail on how to paddle in advanced conditions including tidal races, surfing and rock hopping.
I’m really looking forward to seeing this DVD. Kayak Essentials was well produced and focused a lot on the technical skill development so there was a lot of material to work with. Sea Kayak Essentials looks to be in a similar vein and very promising.
A trailer was recently posted and it’s embedded below.
You can find more information about Sea Kayak Essentials on their website.
Here is a trailer for an upcoming DVD called Kayaking 4 Kidz which is an instructional video for kids who are interested in getting into whitewater kayaking. It's supposed to be released by Rapid Transit Video but after poking around on their site for a bit, I couldn’t find anything. The trailer looks great though.
Should be out shortly if it isn’t already.
I recently stumbled upon this really interesting whitewater kayaking expedition short film about a group of European paddlers working their way down the Bashkaus River Canyon in Siberia in search of The Book of Legends.
The book of legends is a record book of everybody who has made it through a treacherous set of rapids where; in 1974 a group of paddlers died during the first decent of the river.
It’s a great video that has a very interesting short story and fantastic cinematography. Just put your blinder on during the first minute so you don’t burn your eyes looking at naked bums sun tanning. It’s safe for work except for those 2.2 seconds.