Yeah, throwing corks and different spin variations off gigantic jumps is fairly hazardous. But perhaps even more dicey is trying to capture footage of athletes hucking their meat off said jumps during the most pressure-packed moments of their lives.
Enter human drones Justin Mayers and Caleb Farro, GoPro employees and skiers assigned to the gnarly task of capturing mid-air footage of athletes in motion. Both Mayers and Farro line up at the top of a run, be it Big Air or Slopestyle, and then follow the athletes while holding a camera, taking off on the massive kickers, often launching some 120-feet while trying to keep the camera perfectly still. It’s a tough gig. But getting the shot is worth it.
“The footage is next level,” says Farro. “But it’s live television so you always have butterflies. I crashed last year following Sage (Kostenburg). I slid into the corral (at the bottom). It was pretty embarrassing.”
Both Mayers and Farro attend GoPro athlete camps following different athletes in the air. “In a perfect world, you air off and stay composed and everything is good,” says Mayers. “But you’re holding a rig so you have to find the perfect balance.”
And their team has had some carnage at this year’s X Games. Matt Cook was following Bobby Brown when he wiped out, causing his foot to swell up and forcing him to spend the rest of the Games in the editing bay–hazards of the gig when you’re going huge but your attention is focused on getting the shot instead of sticking a landing.
All of GoPro’s human drones are talented skiers in their own right and Farro was actually discovered by the GoPro peeps thanks to the vids he made with the ski team at the University of Southern California. Hucking and filming goes hand in hand for them. “This is my first week doing this,” says Mayers. “But growing up, we’d get five or six of us together and hit jumps and film so it all comes pretty natural.”