How To Film a Night Surf Adventure with Evan Adamson

Evan Adamson is a filmmaker and music blogger out of Corpus Christi, TX. He mostly films music events around Texas, but he’s been dabbling in surf filmmaking for a little bit now. He sent us a video from a night surf excursion and since it was different from most films we see, we asked him to break down the process.

I shot this video a week or two before Christmas, in Corpus Christi, TX. It had been pretty flat that week, so we got behind my buddy’s boat one night when the wind was dead and the ski canals (fed by the Gulf of Mexico) were super glassy. It was pretty chilly, so riders Tegan Gainan and Nick Mackrizz  made the best of the 45 mins that we were out there.

Step 1: Get a Song Stuck in Your Head

Everything was shot in 60 fps and conformed to 24fps. Music has always been a big part of my life, especially with surfing, and I always have to get a song stuck in my head  before I paddle out (different depending upon my mood or the weather, etc). Editing to certain songs really helps me depict the vibes I was feeling at that point in time. For this night, Flume’s track, “Insane,” really helps narrate how mysterious it was riding at night, and vis versa (the night time footage really supplements the song… they go hand in hand).

Step 2: Be real funky

Everything in the video is “real” lighting, and I didn’t do any post production coloring. The blue you see is from the blue underwater LED lights on the back of my friends boat. The green lights you see are the under water dock lights used to attract fish. The psychedelic visuals are  done by putting a kaleidoscope filter over the various lights (movement and textures are what make these shots good). The other lights you see as a kaleidoscope are from the reflections of Christmas lights on the water in the canals (many of the houses on the island in Corpus are positioned right on the edge of the water in the ski canals).

Step 3: Use the darkness to its fullest potential

Other than that, the darkness really worked out to my advantage, and I was able to light the perfect section of the wake with a fairly inexpensive LED. Because the outer frame of every shot was dark (pretty much a true black) I was able to seamlessly  slide between different shots (mirrored a part of the connecting image to blend it in with the incoming shot), making it look like both Nick (shortboard) and Tegan (longboard) were riding at the same time.

And since the right gear can make all the difference, night or day, we asked Evan to share some details about what he shoots with: 

  • I shoot on a Canon 7D with 2 Zeiss Prime lenses: 50mm f/1.4 and a 21 mm f/2.8. I also use a shoulder mount for the 7D for stability.

  • I obviously try to keep the ISO as low as possible, but you can get up to 1600 with this kind of set up and still maintain a good picture. 
  • As far as post production goes, I use mpeg streamclip to convert all of my files to Apple Pro Res 422 (HQ). All of my editing is done in Final Cut 7(Final Cut 10 sucks), but the same stuff can be accomplished in Premier and Avid.
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