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Tips for go pro filming

Epic Wave Riding

tips and ideas to get filming with a go pro right the first time

A few of you guys have asked the question: "How do you effectively film from your Slyde handboards / handplaneswhile bodysurfing?" we will do my best to answer with help from our own testing and experiences, as well as input from "down under" in the form of Willy Cole and Morgan G and more recently Zachariah Zeigerand Desmond Port and mates. We have come up with one or two good ways to film yourself or, have a friend film you while handboarding and bodysurfing. When you get it right, you can get some epic shots from your handboard mounted or handheld GoPro surf session.

There is nothing like a hero shot of you buried deep in the barrel. On the flip side, there is nothing more horrifying as thinking you scored an epic shot of your buddy, only to get home and find that the epic wave footage is either fogged up, off image or any number of things that tend to go wrong when filming in the water. Having the right bodysurfing and handboarding equipment and making sure that equipment is ready and in good shape is important to a successful handboarding movie making session.

Filming with the Go Pro

There are 2 main ways to film, and these are the two we will concentrate on.

First Person Shooting

Shooting from a Go-Pro mount placed on your board.

Second Person Shooting

Having a buddy shoot your hand planing efforts efforts from the water.

Filming with your go pro while handboarding

Getting your GO-pro set up on your slyde handboard

Wondered what the FCS mount is for. In this video we show you how to mount your Go-pro to the already inserted FCS plug.

Slyde Tips

Below are some good tips, before you head out, that are required for both forms of shooting. With some forethought and preparation, you can get the most out of your bodysurfing or handboarding session.

Go-pro Preparation

  1. Prepare everything in the car or at home before you leave. Always remember
  2. moisture pads
  3. Scratched Lens

Never open your GoPro with wet hands. In cold water, remember to place the moisture pads inside the housing. You do not want to spend hrs in the water thinking you got epic shots to get back and see a blurred mess. Trust me, it happens! That is about the time you want to throw the GoPro out the window. The moisture pads go a long way in preventing the moisture buildup! It is actually a good idea to have the pads in the housing at all times, even when in warm water. Why take the chance?

Battery power

Make sure the battery is charged fully. This is a no-brainer and maybe it’s just me, but there has been more than one occasion that I have gotten all the way out to back line and realized my battery was dead.

SD Card

Make sure you have a big enough SD card inserted for the time you intend to spend out in the water. Eight GIG has served me well for a more than adequate amount of footage, but obviously more is better.

Go-Pro Settings

Opening up the casing at the beach to change settings allows moisture in. Make sure the settings on your GoPro are set correctly to what you want out of your shoot session. Sometimes you can have the camera switch off when inactive, your wave comes, and you are trying to turn the camera back on. Wasted chance!

First Person Filming

Be prepared, and your shoot will reap the rewards with clear and sick footage. How to Attach: There are two ways to attach your GoPro to your new handboard watch the video above for more on how to attach your go pro:

Embedded FCS Fin Plug

This is the Slyde and other handplane companies’ recommended way to keep your GoPro attached to the front of your board. as pictured above

Go-Pro Supplied Stick-on Attachment

As we said above, we prefer the FCS embedded system to keep our camera safe. Who wants to lose a $300 camera? Truth be told, it's probably just as safe. GoPro has come a long way in the size and adhesive used on their attachable mounts.

Camera Placement on the handboard

When you are heading out alone (Nigel no friends) you are going to want to attach the GoPro to the front of your handboard (nose or tip). It is possible to attach it in other areas (i.e. the side near your hand or anywhere where there is space). However, we find the camera gets in the way when placed anywhere other than the tip/nose. Other ways of holding the device are becoming popular. You could feasibly use the headgear supplied by go pro or hold the camera in your free hand. Although we have tried different techniques, our preference is to have the placement on the tip. We also recommend using the bright orange floating device that is included in the go-pro surf hero pack. This is in case the Go-Pro comes loose. It is much easier to find in the water when it floats!

When filming first person you have the two main options:

Towards yourself

This allows you to film yourself in the wave and the wave behind you great for hero shot not great for really catching the barrell

Towards the wave

This films the wave breaking out in front of you

slyde top tip

want barrel shots? go with the go pro facing away. for hero shots face toward, We have found we get some of our best shots when turning the camera around to face the wave.

Raising Your GoPro Above Your Handplane

The main problem with on-board placement is splash back! As you can see from a few of our videos and shots from the front of the board, there can be a lot of water andsplash-back coming back into the lens. This can ruin the shot and turn a good shot into a bad one. Below, you can see that raising the camera higher is an example of one good way to counteract the splash back. This is Grant Schofield’s neat little Go Pro set up. As he words it, this works really well! However, he did tell us that, as you would expect, sometimes the attached arm would bend forward and “ruin a shot". Truth is when filming from the front of the board and filming in the water, these are the hazards. You can only try to minimize the problems inherent in this kind of filming.

Second Person Handboard Filming

Even better, you have found a friend that is willing to give up his bodysurf time to film you getting barreled off your head. Now that is a good friend! You can, although we do not advise it, share filming duties. If you're getting barreled, why would you share that? Jokes aside, having someone else shoot you is by far the best way to get the most out of your session. In a perfect world, the best scenario would be to have a camera mounted on-board and a second person shooting from another angle.

This gives you some great editing options. However, owning just one GoPro is a stoke, let alone two, so that might be a pipe dream for most of us. The reason we say second person shooting is a better option is that even as a filming novice, with good waves and ocean knowledge, you can get some decent footage. The camera stays out of the water higher and is generally not in the rough part of the wave, avoiding splash back and making the shots cleaner and longer.

A bit of home modifications for the Surf Hero Attachment

Things to watch out for when second person filming

Placement in the water

I am no camera waterman professional by any means, but what I did figure out pretty quick is that in order to get the best shot, you need to have good placement in the water in relation to the rider. You could probably write a book about water/surf camera filming placement. However in short; keeping a distance and trying to be right in the path of where you think the wave will be breaking is a good strategy.

Below is A good example of filers positioning in the water. Far left of the rider and in the path of the breaking wave, catching the entire ride.

Communication is the key


Communication with the rider is key. You are sitting left and then suddenly he/she goes right. Talk to each other and work together to get the best possible shot.


Keep the camera and where you are pointing it as your primary focus. However, be aware of your surroundings, the wave, other surfers and the rider. There is nothing like a board upside the head to end a session. Safety first!

Go attachments great for second person shooting

Go Pro accessories have come into their own in the last few years and there any number of contraptions to get some awesome footage. I personally want to try the GoPro hover craft! To the Right are some professional hand grips we are cheap so we made our own from a piece of PVC purchased at Home Depot for two bucks, with an FCS center fin plug and an old watch strap to secure it to the hand. Epoxy the FCS plug into the top of the PVC and you are good to go. we enjoyed making our own, and it’s way cheaper.

The stock might suck but, We love go pro

Previous to using these, we were simply holding the camera in one hand and trying very hard not to let go when you get caught on the inside. This is one way to lose a camera. Also with this little contraption, you get the camera higher out of the water and you can concentrate less on losing it and more on getting that great shot. We hope this makes your filming experience that much more rewarding. Hopefully you don’t make too many of the same mistakes we did! However, as with most things, practice makes perfect. So get out there and give it your best shot! Find the ways that work best for you and let us know how it goes.

If you have any more questions regarding handboarding, handplanes or bodysurfing in general,check out our frequently asked questions.