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Capturing the Kayak on Camera

Posted by Zach Grossfeld on

Part 4 of our January campaign series featuring pro kayaker Bren Orton

 

As whitewater kayaking grows in popularity, video technology evolves alongside the sport. The ease and flow of the most mesmerizing kayaking films underplay the intricacy involved in capturing these gnarly moments on camera. At thirteen years old, Bren Orton broke into basic video editing with a camera and Windows Movie Maker. “I think the motivation to make my own kayaking edits mostly came from all the time I spent watching any kayaking films that I could,” he says. The end product of a white water video cut does not depict the total involvement of the creativity process. According to Orton, the most difficult part of editing is transforming the vision into video. “Getting your ideas out of your brain and onto the timeline, I think a lot of people can imagine the edit they want to make in their head fairly easy. Putting those ideas into an edit can be challenging,” says the pro kayaker. Taking the time to play around with the software features pays dividends when putting the final cut together. YouTube tutorials have helped Orton gain a familiarity with program layouts as well.

Photographer: Thomas Fahrun

When tackling a run, the nature of the whitewater heavily determines the usage of camera equipment. Larger equipment weighs down the kayak, affecting performance. On relaxed day runs, Orton packs more filming toys, but he leaves the big guns behind on higher intensity water. Currently shooting with a Sony A7s and a Go Pro 5, he has utilized both mirrorless cameras and DSLRs (digital single lens reflex). While the DSLRs have a longer battery life, the sleeker mirrorless models make for easier transport. Orton’s filming skills and style have progressed with improved camera gear. “At first, all I cared about was getting the action on camera. I wasn’t fussy about the angle or composure of the shot, and wasn’t filming with a story in mind. Now I plan a lot of shots out before we start filming,” explains Orton. Communications on waterfalls between the athlete, film crew, and safety team presents the hardest part of the shot planning process. “We are going to start using walkie talkies from now on,” he says. 

“We have so many different directions we want to go right now that it’s hard to say, but you can be sure we will be pushing it on the water, trying to create really sick videos, and maybe someday holding our own events.” - Bren Orton

In 2017, Bren Orton aims to put out more media content. Recently, he and his friends formed a kayaking group called Send. Having been close for years, Dane Jackson, Adrian Mattern, Kalob Grady, and Bren Orton realized a unique compatibility after running waterfalls as a crew in Chile. “We got along really well and found that everyone was on the same page,” tells Orton. At its core, Send combines year round travel with the mission to put kayaking and progression at the forefront. The camera bridges the gap between the kayak and the audience, capturing the action on the water. As for the future of Send, Orton doesn’t hold back. “We have so many different directions we want to go right now that it’s hard to say, but you can be sure we will be pushing it on the water, trying to create really sick videos, and maybe someday holding our own events.”

“At first, all I cared about was getting the action on camera. I wasn’t fussy about the angle or composure of the shot, and wasn’t filming with a story in mind. Now I plan a lot of shots out before we start filming.” - Bren Orton

For those jumping into action sports editing, Orton uses Adobe Premiere pro, After Effects, and sometimes Blender. For an amateur editor, the actual software matters much less than the hours put in. According to Orton, all a newbie needs are some video clips and an NLE (non-linear editing) program with a timeline format. “A lot of people get hung up on what software to use, but it doesn’t matter until you get to a more advanced point,” advises Orton. The increased exposure of kayaking on video and social media has built a platform of viewers who have more deeply connected to the sport. Forming Send and working on his own vlog channel, Orton will share all the random, funny behind the scenes moments to strengthen that connection. The genuine and professional attitude of Orton and his crew on video will only help bring a larger following to kayaking.

Recommended Kayaking Channels:

Send

River Roots

Substantial media house

“Chasing Niagara” – feature length film by River Roots

Through the month of January, 10% of your purchase of any product in our shop will go towards supporting Bren Orton. For adventure sports like kayaking, funding doesn't always come easy, and elite athletes often times have to incur large personal costs to compete at a high level. The Frynge is proud to provide a platform that allows readers and customers like yourself, to have a direct impact in supporting athletes like Bren Orton. So be sure to check back each week for new stories, gear and apparel! 

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