Time Collapsed Surfing: when short swell periods pump perfect waves

Video artist Cy Kuckenbaker superimposed an hour of perfect surf to observe the waves' rhythm and movement.

Imagine that your favorite surf break is pumping consecutive perfect rides that are all being ridden by someone. Cy filmed a San Diego spot for 60 minutes to see how the movements and patterns from surfing interact.

"This video is a playful attempt to split the difference and reveal just how much can actually happen in an hour in an otherwise nondescript surf spot with non professional riders", explains Kuckenbaker.

"There are no computer graphic elements, these are all real surfers and real waves with the time separating them removed. The video does not contain every wave that passed during the hour; I picked the best rides but otherwise tried to maintain chronology".


The video artist took the raw footage and cut the best waves and rides. The entire process takes time and discipline. In this surreal surfing world, the swell period seems short and infinite.

"Compositing water is difficult. The basic strategy I worked out is to have the clips roll behind one another with the leading edge of the hind wave fitted frame by frame to the contour of the wave in front of it. The compositing was done using masks in After effects, which are key frame animated," adds Cy Kuckenbaker.

In this video study - named "Time Collapsed Surfing" - you can even find the same rider in two or three different waves rolling in.

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