THUNDER ONTHE REEF V O L C O M
as events go it doesn’t get much better pumping Cloudy, a livecast super session, ridiculous restaurants, closely fought heats and an a grade slater performance. what we also had was a cutting edge webcast that had us thinking “how dey do dat”. so we asked. and a controversial call that split the surf community down the middle, so to wade in on the debate we asked some of britains top surfers and avid Ct cast viewers what they thought. all interesting stuff! so without ado, read on!
P R O
THE RETURN TO CLOUDBREAK AND RESTAURANTS WAS HIGHLY ANTICIPATED BY THE SURFERS, THE MEDIA AND THE FANS. AS EVENTS GO IT SURE AS HELL DIDN'T DISAPPOINT!
F I J I
VIDEO LINK TOP: 2John does his best Madonna iMpression. ABOVE: Miguel pupo another young brazilian that’s turning heads. BELOW: kelly adds yet another oversize Cheque to his ColleCtion. asp/robertosn
the Jedi has been a Cloudbreak regular for a Couple of deCades. it was not exaCtly a huge surprise that he nailed a ConvinCing viCtory.
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gabriel Medina is not Just a sMall wave JoCkey. yes he is a Maestro in the air, but as proved by a seCond plaCe finish in fiJi (and a deCent showing at pipe last year) he’s got the beans for the big reefs.
FEED ME V O L C O M
F I J I
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eh? I nearly spilled my rum and coke, and got all “WTF!” I was pretty stressed. Nowhere Toads Media Group’ out of Venice, California, who put on the Volcom Pro webcast.
VIDEO LINK He is in charge of the 5 million dollars worth of equipment and over 22 people which brought you the live images from a small reef 2.5 miles out to sea, off a small remote island called Tavarua. Which is an hours boat ride from the main island of Fiji. Which is 1,000 miles from anywhere. Onto your computer or large screen TV so you can hurl abuse at him and his team from the comfort of your armchair if there’s a small glitch. Pretty amazing huh? What we all tend to forget what you are watching is a cutting edge media production. In terms of sports coverage there is nothing like it. Carve: Given that the Cloudbreak is on an offshore reef, quite a way off a small island, off the main island of Fiji, which is basically in the middle of nowhere anyway, how the hell do you get a full broadcast signal to go global? Chris: We utilize top of the range wireless video links. We have a set up on the tower and beam the signals back to the island and vice versa. We had two cameras on the tower, the jet-ski camera, the boat camera, as well as the interview camera on the contest marshall boat all beaming across the ocean. This allows us to use the tower as if it were pretty much cabled to the island; without having to run cable from across the reef. Then we would run the show like any other on Tavarua. The show then gets beamed to the world via satellite.
the tower: in essenCe a building on a reef in the Middle of the oCean.
How much planning went into the production? We started planning right before we started the Volcom Pipe Pro in January. So much goes into just wrapping your
cost effective way to do it. So we pretty much would meet monthly just laying the ground work until we were about two months out where myself and the producer, Jordan Velarde, were pretty full on. Once we got there we spent about a week setting up which include two days of just getting our shipments of gear. We from LA, Australia and even New Zealand. This all comes in huge boxes weighing up to 300 lbs so transferring from the shipping barge to the island was a task in itself. After the event we sped through the wrap up and had it done in a day and a half. We were getting pressure from a huge storm front coming in and we wanted to make sure everything got packed up safely. What is the value of the equipment you need to run and what kinda stuff do you use? The exact value of everything put together is hard to say but a good guess could be over $5 million (USD). We had 5 cameras that cost about $500k (USD) a piece once you add lenses to them. Then we had four editing suits along with a server to network everything together so we could share
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media and have access to the footage from the event the second it happens. Everything got beamed to the world via starlight provided by Red Bull Media House. The rest of the nine people all running a station (including the tower as a station). This is your replay operator, audio mixer, graphics operator, director etc. Needless to so there is a lot going on with a lot of expensive toys. How many people does it involve behind the scenes to put out a show? We brought in 22 people from California, Hawaii and Australia to work exclusively for the live production. This isn’t including Volcom’s staff involved on the website and social media end as well as overseeing the broadcast from Volcom's end. Volcom is really involved with their events so we work closely with them to make sure they are stoked on the show. We also get huge support from the locals on Tavarua who feed us and take care of us while we are on their island. Then we had people around the globe supporting our show. From editors at home working at all hours on the heat analyzer to the TV networks taking our signal and sharing it with the world. Needless to say it takes all hands on deck to make everything works and you need a lot of smart people who know what they are doing. I saw a photo of a crew on small boat trying to get gear onto the tower on the reef in heavy swell. What was going on there? How scary is that when thousands of dollars of equipment is out there. How do your nerves cope? Kava? The tower has been dibbed ‘the most dangerous thing in broadcasting’. We pretty much risked life and limb to get on and off that thing. That being said we hired some pretty bad ass camera operators and utilities so they were able day, so imagine it during the massive swell we broadcasted. Once the boat was in the channel the guys took turns getting brought to the tower via water patrols jet ski. Once most the guys were on the tower the 20 something foot boat would charge into the loading dock while getting blasted with whitewater. The guys were basically throwing gear from the boat to the loading dock while getting hammered by waves. We got lucky most of the time.
which interrupted viewing for a short time which was pretty bad timing, but beyond anyones control. How did you feel at that moment? This was a very hectic moment. We knew the storm was coming so we had several back up plans. Once you get word that the stream isn’t working you kinda hit the panic button. Red Bull were on it though and got the signal back and were able to keep it going. We decided to replay those most part it’s hard because you know people are looking at you and blaming you for everything they experience even if it’s out of your control. From what I have seen and from what I have been told, the surf industry webcasts like Volcom Pro are pretty much at the cutting edge of this type of sporting broadcast, would you agree? We work with guys that do every kind of major sporting event in the world and this hands down is the most extreme. We use the same gear they would on any professional broadcast, we just toss it on a tower miles out to sea
different than watching a surf video, it really gives an idea on what it’s like to be there and watch it. What was the funniest thing that happened during production? Any encounters with snakes, sharks etc? in hindsight but we had a camera man who we hired to work as the boat interview camera man. He failed to tell us he gets sea sick and basically threw up the second he set foot on the boat. What was the most stressful moment behind the scenes that we may not know about? Every single morning getting boats to get your guys out
and we had some close calls getting live in the morning just because of boats.
Did anyone drop anything expensive into the sea? sea via splashing. How the hell do you get the power to the tower on the reef? We had a local vendor supply power to the tower. We had the show. The tower was basically getting smoked out by
Does anyone monitor Twitter when the peasants (us viewers) are revolting? Do you ever want to tweet a bit of abuse back? This is different with every event we do but for the most part taking away comments to the announcers a couple years ago though because the most hateful things would get said to them and it would totally throw the guys off!
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Article in Carve Magazine about Uncle Toads Media Groups live broadcast from Fiji.