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Digital Domain and the World Surf League (WSL) recently partnered to give surf fans a Virtual Reality viewing experience. Action sports have always pushed the boundaries of video production, and in the past few years they have begun to break down VR walls as well.
The WLS features the best surfers on the planet, and Digital Domain just gave fans a breathtaking VR look at of one of the biggest Men’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour events. The Billabong Pro Tahiti, the seventh stop of the 11-stage tour, is one of the most popular events of the year. And the most famous men’s surfer, Kelly Slater, just took home the crown.
Digital Domain filmed a ton of competition footage in immersive 360-degree VR. The wide-ranging footage includes point-of-view shots from surfers and exclusive Q&As with the athletes. Some of the best footage gives fans a bird’s eye view, following the surfers as they ride beautiful waves with 360-degree close-up shots. Some of the footage is currently available on the WSL’s Facebook page.
Samsung experimented with their VR technology in Tahiti last summer, and the results were pretty great. But Digital Domain’s footage is even more crisp and clear.
The Tahitian event is the second one Digital Domain and WSL have covered together. This event is world famous. Not only for its massive waves, but because they break in an extremely shallow reef directly off the coast.
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Tim Greenberg, senior vice president of digital for the WSL, is excited about this new partnership. “We can now transport viewers into the center of the action,” he said, “and with innovative cameras and advanced 360° filming techniques, Digital Domain was able to perfectly capture the beauty and drama of the sport.”
Many people might not know Digital Domain by name, but their work will be familiar to most. The visual effects and digital production company started in the early 1990s, and since then their work has won multiple Academy Awards. They have worked on classic films such as Titanic and Apollo 13, and most recently Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse.
Digital Domain has proven they can produce commercially viable VR sports content, such as Nike’s virtual reality commercial “The Neymar Jr. Effect,” along with a slew of others.
Hong Kong-based Sun Innovation Holdings Limited purchased Digital Domain in 2013, and they now trade under Digital Domain Holdings Ltd. They are investing heavily in VR. Last summer we looked into their VR coverage of the 2015 International Champions Cup. They own IM360, a subsidiary VR company. They also recently announced their Zeus 360-degree VR camera technology.
VR and action sports seem to be a perfect fit. They are often individual sports, and they are rarely confined to a small area. Many of the best professionals do most of their work in remote locations far away from stadiums and broadcast television cameras. This makes sports like surfing and skiing the prefect fit for POV and drone based VR footage.
WSL and Digital Domain have already given surf fans some incredible VR footage from one of the year’s biggest events. With the continued growth and improvement of VR camera technology, expect to see the two companies ride this wave for years to come.