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How to get a great POV tube shot with Rob Kelly

You might not know it but the best creations in surfing often come from PVC piping, some bits of wire and duct tape. Thanks to surfing MacGyvers like Rob Kelly, DIY chutzpah is alive and well in the wave pool world. The New Jersey surfer had been after a particular POV tube perspective from a tail-mounted pole but kept getting skunked in the ocean. Then, after seeing the potential with Waco’s wave, Rob set to work in the Texas heat.

Although he refused to share how to turn a VCR into a coffee maker (we think, MacGyver did that) he did spill his secrets, complete with photos, on how to get this unique POV tube shot.

In Rob Kelly’s first try with the system the camera pole was too short, so the GoPro got splashed with water producing a clip that was not up to Rob’s standards.

Haver you surfed BSR a lot?
I’ve had the opportunity to surf BSR a handful of times. I’ve been working with American Wave Machines for a few years so I’ve had a chance to surf the wave pool the first day it was run with full power and a bunch of times since then on different trips.

Did you think out the shot or did it just come about? Give us some background please.
I’ve tried to capture this shot/angle in the ocean a few times with no success. Most of the time the camera would get knocked off before I even made it out into the lineup or I never caught a clean wave while I was shooting. After a handful of failed attempts I kind of gave up on the shot. Then after surfing the PerfectSwell wedge I thought that the controlled environment of the wave pool would be a good place to give it another go.

The duct tape, resin and pvc magic behind the shot

Tell us about the tail mount and what other equipment you used.
My setup for the shot was pretty basic. I used PVC piping, some wire, and duct tape to attached the GoPro mount. My biggest concern was making something that I could take apart and resemble that wouldn’t take up any extra space in my board bag. The first time I attempted this shot in the wave pool was a few months prior on a left. The shot came out okay, but the camera was a little low so there was a lot of spray from the back of my board. After seeing how that came out I added a little extra reinforcement by glassing the PVC base to an old board, extended the pole and added Lume Cubes (lights) to the back of the board for my next attempt. 

Any epic failures or triumphs during the shot process?
The day of this shot, I remember it was late afternoon and we were surfing 3 wave sets. Right when the sun started setting the lighting became really colorful. I thought it would be the perfect time to try to get the shot so I grabbed my board, asked the AWM engineers to let the pool settle for a few minutes and throw me a right wedge. I opted for a right this time because that’s the way the sun was facing. I caught two waves and reviewed the footage and was pleased at what I got so I gave the engineers a thumbs up and we all ended up surfing for a few more hours. After so many failed attempts in the ocean then having success pretty easily in the pool definitely put into perspective the creative opportunity not only wave pools have for surfers but for surf photographers/cinematographers as well. I’m sure every photographer has dreamt up a shot that they would to capture. But after running through the logistics never pulled the trigger. I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of these concepts come to life now. In addition to the creative minds within the surf industry, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before wave pools are rented out by directors to capture shots for movies and commercials too. 

You can follow Rob Kelly on Twitter here and on Instagram at this link

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