When Rip Curl shot a recent ad campaign featuring Mick Fanning and their new board shorts, they gathered some A-list surfing talent (Stephanie Gilmore, Owen Wright, and Matt Wilkinson joined Fanning), some A-list filmmaking talent (a company called Timeslice, famous for the "bullet time" camera technique used in "The Matrix") and an A-through-Z-list of high tech gizmos (52 Canon 5D digital cameras, several Apple computers, and external hard drives out the wazoo). They shipped everything to the world's largest wave pool, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and produced some epic imagery unlike any seen in surfing. So we had to ask the hyper-focused, training obsessed Fanning: Is this technology that could be useful for a world champ?
Was Malaysia the first time you surfed in a pool?
Yep -- such a wild experience. It's so bizarre surfing in a swimming pool.
How are the waves generated?
There are these big tanks behind the back wall that hold heaps of water and they pump the water out of the tanks simultaneously and that creates the wave.
Were they able to generate more power by increasing the depth of water so there was more volume and push in the waves?
They can increase the size and that determines where the wave will break. At a medium size, it hits the best part of the pool and stands up most, and offers the most power. If it's bigger, they crumble a little further out. It takes a little getting used to, but once you know the personality of the pool it's the most predictable wave of your life. It doesn't really break with any power though.
So Rip Curl and Timeslice teamed up to capture your every move in 3D. Was it shocking seeing your style from angles you'd never seen before?
Those scenes from "The Matrix" blew everyone away when they first came out, so to see something like that of myself surfing in general is wild. It didn't really reveal anything, style-wise, because I've seen myself from most angles. It was just crazy to see all those angles in one shot.
Right now I'm done over-analyzing technique and style in surfing. I'm just enjoying riding waves and following my instincts.
We're usually limited to one angle at a time through cameras and video, but with this technology you were able to view more than one angle at a time of your surfing. How does this benefit you?
The benefits are in the viewing. I wasn't looking at technique or anything like that when I saw the footage. I was just psyching on seeing it all come together for the first time.
The footage is a world first in surfing. Did Rip Curl take the modelling, simulation and measurement from the imagery and study the biomechanics of your style?
It's definitely some of the coolest vision I've ever seen. I'm not sure it's more than just incredible footage at this stage, though. I'm not sure if anyone is using the clips to breakdown style and technique.
So you haven't reviewed the footage from a training perspective, but what are some of the things you learned from a three dimensional perspective?
That I pull some awful heads when I take to the air. Ha!
What did you think when you saw yourself from the front, then the behind on the same maneuver?
It's just a mind-blowing unique visual the first time you see it and that's what I took from it. Now that you mention it, though, I probably could go back and look at the footage, and break it down, then take a closer look at what's going on there with technique and style.
However, in saying that, it's not a real wave and you probably adjust your technique to compensate for that, so I'm not making any changes after seeing the footage.
Do you think the 3D modelling will benefit your performance with aerials?
I don't know. All practice helps but I don't think you can take what you're doing on an artificial wave and apply it to the ocean where there mores power and elements to take into consideration.
What about rotating in general -- shifting your weight, the position of your arms and stuff?
I've always been pretty comfortable with rotation; it's height I'm always looking to get more of.
Sports science is big business these days. Is it a direction you want to take your training to optimise your technique and reduce in injury?
I go through phases with it. It's always there in my head but at the moment it's kind of at the back of my mind. Right now I'm done over-analyzing technique and style in surfing. I'm just enjoying riding waves and following my instincts.