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Discovering Cloudbreak

July 27 2017

We will be retracing the steps of Legendary Surfer John Ritter. Located off the remote island of Tavarua, Fiji, Cloudbreak boasts some of the most awe-inspiring, powerful, and consequential waves on the planet. Along this journey we will be utilizing cutting edge technology to amplify Ritter’s true aim of contributing to the well-being of the environment and those around him. To this end our story will be investigating and filming topics such of Overfishing, Marine Debris, and Coral Restoration in 360 spherical video.

July 27 2017


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Preparation Stage

Here it is! For best results watch in Youtube at high res.

Awesome Laura! Thanks for posting!

Proof of concept...

Before embarking on any adventure, I like to complete a proof of concept for whatever shenanigan I am up to. In this case, it is testing the OpenROV TRIDENT as filmmakers assistant and #360video survey tool.

With Zach and Dominic in town, there was no better time than the present! We met up at Cove 2 as the passenger ferry was fortuitously not running, and got started! Introductions to the Trident were made, if you are familiar with the earlier generation OpenROV, this is basically worlds apart. The TRIDENT really is what the Phantom Drone was for aerial, it is stunning. The build quality is top shelf, it is robust and magnificently easy to master the controls. This immediately boosted my confidence.

Once the cameras were securely mounted on the TRIDENT we removed the saltwater weights as the Kodak Pixpro's are a little negative and got started!

The trim compensation worked well to level the TRIDENT out, even though she was nose heavy from the cameras, in future tests I'll probably make some little syntactic foam floats for the top camera, as although trim compensation worked well, I'd like to keep her floating in trim comfortably as that makes for more stable footage which is necessary for a good 360 viewing experience.

We flew the TRIDENT #360 around for a good half an hour which was a blast. Again, if you have only experienced the earlier models of OpenROV, you REALLY need to give this a try, seriously night and day.

Sadly my lenses fogged up on the Kodak housings (humidity and all can be a bear in the summer) but luckily I still managed to get a fair bit of usable footage which will be uploaded shortly.

While you are waiting, here is a screen grab!


This Monday I got to do something i've been dreaming of for over a year now! I got to test out shooting 360 video with a TRIDENT ROV!

In preparation for the coral bleaching and restoration portion of the film, Cloudbreak, it became clear that being able to survey larger areas of the reef before jumping in with the 360 cameras would be super helpful.

I'd chatted with Zack from OpenROV about catching up when he was in town, but we hadn't really nailed down and exact date until last week. I'd been wracking my brain about 'optimal' set up for a 360 flying ROV. Would it be pole out front, would it be the 3 camera array mounted on top, the options were numerous.

In the interest of efficiency and utilizing stuff I already had sitting around the house (and limited options on hand for mounting brackets etc) i figured why not give the method that Kodak Pixpro already uses for flying on aerial drones. With the original OpenROV that wouldn't be a real option due to shape, but with the new TRIDENT, its slim and trim design could work.

So we opted to use the standard mounts (luckily I found two in my random accessories drawer) one on top, one on the bottom and hope for the best. I knew going into it that the stitch would be a bit of a challenge, considering loss of FOV with the small dome ports and parallax from the distance between cameras (less of an issue on a drone because everything is so far away) but figured if this is just for surveys and not for client footage, that what the heck, why not do a proof of concept!

Video coming shortly!


Can't wait to see the video!

And here it is! (watch in Youtube at highest res for best viewing experience)

There is some good news where coral is concerned for a change.

“A new study found that Caribbean staghorn corals (Acropora cervicornis) are benefiting from "coral gardening," the process of restoring coral populations by planting laboratory-raised coral fragments on reefs.

The research, led by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and partners, has important implications for the long-term survival of coral reefs worldwide, which have been in worldwide decline from multiple stressors such as climate change and ocean pollution.

"Our study showed that current restoration methods are very effective," said UM Rosenstiel school coral biologist Stephanie Schopmeyer, the lead author of the study. "Healthy coral reefs are essential to our everyday life and successful coral restoration has been proven as a recovery tool for lost coastal resources."

Read more at:

A project like this takes a village... From kickstarter donations and campaign shares to collaborators and everyone in between.

The planning stage of any expedition/production is a tremendously exciting and at times epically exhausting but we'd like to take a moment to highlight some of our amazing collaborators.


OpenROV Trident + 360 'spherical' video

One of the most important preliminary parts of filmmaking is scouting. For topside productions this is key to getting exactly the shot needed. This is tenfold the case when shooting 360 video.

When it comes to scouting and surveying the underwater portion there are not a ton of options, we can use drop cams to see what is directly under the boat, but if you want to see 'more', the thing to do up until now is drop a scuba diver or free diver into the water, take a look and maybe some quick survey footage, and report back. A down side of this for deeper locations that require scuba is that unless you have a second team ready to jump in the water for the actual filming, your diver needs a surface interval, full tanks, footage review time, etc. Enter OpenROV Trident. The option to use a small, stable, fast moving ROV with on board streaming video for the initial site survey will be key to scouting underwater sites. This will ensure that our underwater filming team can make the most of each and every excursion beneath the surface.

It is our hope to utilize a Trident ROV for the underwater scouting phase. We will also work on devising a mount for 360 camera array the will allow some 360 footage to be filmed with the ROV when looking to cover large areas of coral bleaching events and restoration areas quickly and efficiently.

Expedition Background

In 1972, yachtsman John Ritter set sail in search of raw moments of solitude and serenity. Six years later it would lead to one of the greatest discoveries in surf history – the now-famed wave Cloudbreak in Fiji. Nakuru Kuru: Discovering Cloudbreak documents Ritter’s untold story by retracing his original passage throughout the South Pacific; along the way providing this true pioneer the opportunity to give back to the ocean environment that has given him so much. Viewers are immersed in this extraordinary journey of inspiration, risk and exploration, as past and present are connected in a modern-day expedition like no other.

John has spent a lifetime in and around the water and witnessed drastic environmental changes first hand. As our oceans continue to rapidly deteriorate, there is no better time to share a positive message of stewardship, and no one more qualified to tell it. Nakuru Kuru recounts John's entire voyage leading up to Cloudbreak, with stops in Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji. Each location serves as a 10-12 minute chapter of the story, examining critical challenges facing these locations and some key objectives aimed at solving them.


Challenge: Ocean Plastics

Objective: Reconnect with youth at Matafao Elementary (where John taught during his original voyage) to completely restore one designated beach or mangrove.


Challenge: Overfishing

Objective: Showcase Tonga's leading efforts to preserve marine life in hopes of expanding on this success throughout the region.


Environmental Challenge: Coral Bleaching

Objective: Demonstrate how coral gardening and removing invasive species can greatly benefit and restore reefs.