Florida Kite Boarding

Off the east coast of Florida, near Pompano, there is an area of the beach designated for kite boarders. On a windy day, the kiters are out in force, ripping through the waves at 20 knots per hour or more, and then lifting off the surface of the water to heights of 25 feet plus.

Kite surfing became popular right after the new millennium and has replaced traditional boardsailing (windsurfing) because of its versatility, i.e. not having to deal with a mast and boom. The secret is in the kite. Nominally a parabolic wing, it is inflated with air, so that if it hits the water it won’t sink. There are lines to deal with, but the harness helps keep them from tangling.

The board is approximately three feet long and is not unlike a snowboard — the rider is similarly locked in with stationary boots. Skegs on the bottom of the board help give it forward motion, but the kiter uses the edges of the board “carving” the water to change direction. The kiter can also pull up out of the water to jump waves, do 360’s, etc.

The colorful sails and acrobatic kiters make for great pictures, but it is difficult to show their impressive speed. One way is to “pan” with the rider and blur the water, another is to show jumps and tricks in sequential images, but the best way is with video.

5D Kiteboard Clip  My main camera, a Canon 5D shoots 1080p HD video, but without several pieces of additional video specific gear (like neutral density filters, a follow-focus knob, an audio recorder, a larger monitor and shoulder frame), it is difficult to create high quality imagery. Click on the link to the video I took of kite boarders with the 5D. Note in my video that the kite boarder goes in and out of focus because I was viewing the video on the small LCD screen on the back of the camera. Also as I had no tripod, the wind became a factor.

As part of this trip, I attended the Miami Short Film Festival (tag line: It’s Miami, it has to be shorts.) Because more and more of my assignments require both video and stills, I was anxious to see a demo of the new Canon EOS C300 video camera. It was announced in Hollywood in November 4 and will be available in January. It was a treat to see it, touch it and ask the questions that needed to be asked.

My take is that the camera will be a tool of choice for the serious videographer. It has several drawbacks, namely no headset for the operator, the Canon codex (another one that has to be supported), the incoming audio is connected through the handle on top of the camera and although detachable, you would rarely want to, as the camera itself has no mike capabilities.

But weighing a little over three pounds, capture at 50 Mb/sec and a top end of 20,000 ISO (not a misprint), it has to be reckoned with. The price is rumored to be $20K, and if that is true, it will be a rental unit for many of us. A $10K-12K price point would have Canon selling many more units. They did stress that this was the first camera in a line of cine cameras for the company, so stay tuned.

 

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