Gimbal God’s Point of View: Follow-Cams With The Best Riders on Earth
The irony of it all is rather palpable. Spencer Whiting is a snowboarder who has carved a niche for himself by following others and now he finds himself entertaining thousands upon thousands with every clip he exports. It actually isn't unheard of for Spencer to be recognized on the slopes before his super pro subjects do. Well, before Spencer became the notorious @gimblgod, he was a young shredder on the come-up lapping Mammoth. Then one day he decided to grab a GoPro and take a crack at capturing what his peers were doing in POV fashion.
This soon led to his being hired by SNOWBOARDER to film Sage Kotsenburg for our annual Blackboard Experiment board test. In no time Spencer had parlayed his skills and contacts into a full-time gig giving us all a 1080p glimpse into what it takes to hit big shit alongside the likes of Stale Sandbech, Sage Kotsenburg and Torgeir Bergrem. Snowboarder recently had a chance to get Spencer's "point of view” on the history of follow-cams, his setup, a few tricks of the trade and what it's like to share an office with the best riders on Earth. – Pat Bridges
What is your current filming setup?
A GoPro Hero 6 with a Karma Grip.
Have you ever pondered how far follow-caming has come since the 90's and 00's when Kurt Heine, Kirk Bereska and that guy wearing all white at the X Games were all lugging 16mm film cameras down runways?
I've looked up to those dudes and respect what they've done because it was way more of a mission to get a follow shot with a massive heavy rig than with a GoPro. Plus those guys are filming with RED cameras sometimes and you can't fall. If Kirk Bereska falls that could be like 50 grand. If I fall I just gotta call up Davey Schmidt from GoPro and get another sent over.
Do you find it easier to shoot regular footers or goofy footers?
No difference. Ride switch.
Have you ever told a rider that you weren't down to hit something? Any close calls?
I haven’t pulled out on a shoot yet but I've definitely had a few close calls. I did hit Eric Beauchman 2 years ago on the bottom jump at Mammoth. That sucked.
Who is the most solid rider you've ever shot?
Ayumu Hirano. We've shot 5 runs and he has landed a full pipe run on demand 5 times. All of the riders are so good these days that it's just mind blowing to have a front row seat to the action, especially on the big jumps.
Is there anyone you wouldn't follow? Like @koonhead70? He gets into some really dicey spots.
Nope. I'm down to follow the koon.
What would you say are your top three follows? I'd imagine that Stale's back three melon to manual has to be one.
1. Sebbe De Buck's Stubai front flip line.
2. Ståle Sandbech’s BS 3 to manual.
3. Torgeir Bergrems X Games switch backside 5 method.
If you had to guess how many total views have the clips you've filmed garnered?
If you count Instagram, YouTube, Facebook I'd bet it's around 100 million.
What can a filmer like yourself do that a drone can't?
It's a different perspective. I can get the audio element and camaraderie that you don't get with a RC controlled camera. And there is more risk so it makes it more fun.
Give us your take on VR?
Personally I've never really tried one of the new VR headsets but if it helps get more people to see snowboarding from a perspective that makes them want to go out and ride I'm all for it.
What are some pointers for those would-be follow-cam filmers out there?
Learn to snowboard first. Film second.
Any truth to the rumors of a rivalry between yourself and @skichef?
Haha, nah. We're good homies. Matt is an insanely talented dude. I've looked up to him and his work the last few years. It's pretty crazy some of the backcountry stuff he's done. I haven't dabbled too much with that side of filming yet but I really want to.
Tell us three things you learned while being my intern?
1. Pay attention to what you say at 9am because you're probably going to ask why I didn't do it by noon.
2. Don't ask too many questions. Just figure out how to get what it is you want done and do it well.
3. Don't fuck up labeling the Dropbox.
We dug up Spencer’s mini-movie from #Superpark21 last year for your enjoyment.