Spencer Frost: Young, Free, Alright!
The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing
Presented by Arnette
By Mike Jennings
Would you like to meet Spencer Frost? He’s 20 years old. Gemini. He has long hair. Sometimes he sells coffee. Sometimes he does gardening. Sometimes he flies a remote control twirly whirly helicopter machine (or drone, if you want to get technical) over reef-breaks and beachies to film a different perspective of surfing. You might know him as Eyes In The Sky Visuals, and seen his clips of Karl Atkins getting shacked around their homes on the Northen Beaches of Sydney. So should we meet him then? Of course we should. I did. I interviewed him for Young, Free Alright! presented by Arnette, and then accidentally deleted the audio file. That way I got to meet and interview him again. Double interview, best day ever!
CW: So Spenny, I know I just asked you this, but just pretend I didn’t: How did you get started filming and working with a drone?
SF: Haha, okay. I’ve always filmed and been around the ocean, then last year for Christmas my dad bought the drone for me, the bottom-range one, and I started frothing on filming aerial stuff and that inspired me to film more in general.
What was the learning curve like in getting used to flying and filming with it?
It’s pretty hard when you first start flying it. You have to go to a big open field and be prepared to crash heaps I crashed so many times before I started getting it down. And even six months later I don’t have it down-pat. but I feel like I’ve kind of got it.
So you’ve been only using for six months?
Yeah,and I started Eyes In The Sky Visuals five months ago.
What was the hardest part in learning how to film with it?
Not crashing. Learning your spatial awareness, like how much space is in between the drone and whatever else. And working out the directions really well until it becomes second nature. With the gimbal it’s heaps easier but when I didn’t have it, tracking was a huge challenge, you kind of have to stick with one direction, one straight line, and not change from that.
What’s a gimbal?
A gimbal is a counter-weight, it makes everything smooth no matter how shaky the heli is.
Tell us about your horror day, losing the drone to the drone gods of the ocean…
I went down the south coast to film a couple of guys at a wave down there, and I thought by that stage I was pretty much a professional at it, I was flying and doing pretty well. I didn’t have a screen at the time so when the sun came up over the clouds the drone just disappeared in the glare. It was gone. I never saw it again. That’s my drone-heeartbreak story.
So it was early morning?
Yeah I was filming before the sun came up. And when it did I couldn’t see it anymore.
Where did it go?
I guess it fell into the ocean. It was like eight-foot that day, so I’ll never see it again. Apparently you can salvage them, if you can find them. But it isn’t to be… After it went down I was pretty rattled, I drove home on my own and was kind of in the mindset of just, “Fuck it, give up on filming… concentrate on a regular job,” but then a company called Sphere Group hit me up and said they’d give me a mega discount if I wanted a new one, so I spent all the money I had saved to go travelling on the new one and then it’s all come together again after that.
This drone is different from the last?
Yeah, it’s way better. This one has 20 minutes flying time instead of six, it has a screen, so I can see everything that I need to know: altitude, satellites, it’s pretty technical. It runs on satellites and GPS so it locks into specific areas if you tell it to. It shows battery percentage, how far away it is, how long you have left to get it back… everything.
So your typical day of filming then, what’re your weapons?
I use a Canon 60D for filming from land and for water I just use a Go-Pro but Go-Pros are sick if you learn how to use them properly and for my drone set-up it’s Phantom 2 with a gimbal, a Go-Pro 3 Plus and a screen so I can see what I’m filming.
You seem to be developing a good filming relationship with Karl Atkins.
Yeah filming with Karl is sick, he’s always the one frothing for me to come and get some stuff done. We work together for a gardening company at home so whenever there’s swell our boss lets us go chase waves, so it’s a good relationship we’re always hanging together or working together. We’re trying to travel somewhere together soon, just waiting for the right swell.
Who are your inspirations in filming?
I try and follow and look at everyone who is doing surf photography and surf filming, just anyone doing something creative. Not many guys are doing aerial stuff for surfing which is cool, so I look at guys like Kai Neville, Blake Kueny, and the Brain Farm guys, they’re sick
When you’re filming, it must be the first time a lot of people around you would have ever seen a drone. Do they stop you on the beach?
Yeah pretty much every time I’m filming someone walks over and asks a bunch of questions, it’s almost annoying because I’m trying to concentrate, but yeah everyone wants to know about it. I get a lot of emails and messages with people wanting to know where I bought it and how it works, it’s a pretty cool new thing.
Do you have dream session to get the drone out into?
Had you ever flown a remote control plane or anything like that before this?
Nah, I’ve never been a tech guy, never been a remote control toy guy. It’s been big learning experience, it’s also taught me heaps about wiring and soldering, you have to build a fair bit of it.
But is it fun just flying it? I just want to have a play with it, fly it around. Do tricks and stuff.
It’s fun flying but I’m kind of over that stage now. I don’t usually get it out for the fun of it like I used to, only when I’m filming now.
Can you do any tricks? Barrel rolls? Loop-de-loops?
I’ve done a few spinners but I’ve crashed. It’s more like, if I hit a tree it does a trick. That’ll send it into a spin. It’s actually really hard to do anything that it doesn’t want to do, because it’s so still and the satellites have locked it in, you can’t even tilt it really.
That sucks. Last question. When are you gonna cut your hair?
Yeah it’s on the way out. Getting the chop very soon.
A little over a year ago Coastalwatch and Arnette launched Young, Free, Alright! a series showcasing the inspired young community rising in Australian surfing – introducing talented new faces doing rad stuff every fortnight. Now, we want you to join us and be Young, Free, Alright! Just hashtag the fruit of your work on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with #youngfreealright and we’ll be all over you like a bad op-shop jacket at a Year 12 Formal. Our favourite photo or video each fortnight wins a pack of goodness from Arnette.
On top of that you could find yourself getting props as the next Young, Free, Alright! feature profile like Mikey here.
It’s time councils and States stopped playing this silly game
Plus Exclusive unseen footage of Kelly’s wave pool
Planning to brave the aquatic elements this weekend?
Lipped, The Surfer's Podcast
Showcasing The Rad and Creative Youth of Australian Surfing. Presented by Arnette
Lipped, The Surfer's Podcast
The Dooley podcast tackles the small questions
Disappearance into the Mentawaiian jungles
A worthy cause to jump onto
The new movie from Surfing World hits Costa Mesa.
In search of anything
A stellar story
Another surf community has to worry about a dead whale and a council
All on four-foot board
Featuring Kelly, Mick and friends