We get it, “virtual reality” is now a big buzzword. Every newly-minted technology goes through a phase where every marketing department tries to figure out how they can use the latest buzzword to get some eyes on whatever they’re doing at the moment.
So now we have a “VR experience” from totally radical surfer dude Kelly Slater.
In case you don’t know Mr Slater’s body of work, he’s a world-famous athlete that has won a ton of competitions between 1998 and and today. Basically he’s considered one of the best in the business and now thanks to the wonders of 360-degree video you too can have a session with this surf god.
VR Killed the Video Star
Yes, 360-degree video. Referring to a spherical video as “VR” stretched the definitions more than a little, but credit to GoPro and Proximity VR for the actual video, which has some lovely shots of sharks circling the viewer ominously.
The actual video was taken using a GoPro Omni rig and six Hero4 Black cameras. The YouTube stream is available in 4K, although we could only watch it in lowly 1080p ourselves. The footage itself is quite gorgeous actually and if you still have a Google Cardboard lying around it’s worth a go.
Disappointingly, the two and a half minute video only includes about 40 seconds of actual surfing, so manage your expectations accordingly.
Feeling the Proximity
As you may imagine, these short “VR experiences” are promotional material for a more substantial piece of media. So congratulations marketing department, because now we’re going to talk about that.
It’s all in service of the hype leading up to the release of a highly-anticipated surfing film from “guy who has made 24 other surfing films”, Taylor Steele. A film called Proximity.
Despite having people with names like “Taylor Steele” and “Kelly Slater”, Proximity is not a hollywood action film. Instead it’s a “visceral portrait of surfing” that has a lot of technical camera wizardry behind in. Including drones and the aforementioned GoPro Omni technology.
So if you’re a fan of surfing, clever video or just topless men with long hair this movie may be right up your alley.
The Real Virtual Surfer
If you were also disappointed that this Slater-powered surfing experience is not actually a fully fledged VR sim, well then join the club. Having our hopes raised and the urge to aggro straight into a barrel doused in cold water, we went looking for an actual VR surfing sim.
Sadly we came up dry for the most part, other than the Samsung Gear VR Surf Simulator, which irritatingly they don’t seem to sell. Seriously Sammy, that’s a missed opportunity right there.