Steven Akkersdijk – KITE VLOGGING

Steven Akkersdijk is one of kiteboarding’s top big air riders. He was on the podium at the 2014 Red Bull King of the Air and finished fourth in 2017, 2018 and 2020. The past few years he has turned his attention to generating some of the best kitesurfing instructional videos and travel pieces. Be sure to check out his travels through the Canadian Rockies and his Squamish riding videos.

“Finding a spot in the Rocky Mountains on my latest trip. Wind was ranging between 2 and 20 knots, but we got a shot!” José Denis-Robichaud photo

Kitesurfing Magazine: You’re one of kiting’s most popular vloggers, how did you get into kite vlogging? 

Steven Akkersdijk: I started a long time ago creating my own video and photo content as my dad got me in to it from a very young age. He was often walking around with a video camera and making a DVD every year with ‘Steven in action.’ Even though I love looking back at this video content at a certain point I wanted to do my own edits and publish them online. So I guess I did my first edit around the age of 15. 

KM: What have been your most popular videos or topics that you covered? 

SA: My most popular videos are for sure the SA Masterclass series that I started about two years ago. In these videos/ tutorials I talk about certain kiteboarding tricks and topics. The most watched videos are the ones about line length, kite trimming and how to pull Kiteloops. Next to that I also have some travel videos that do really well and are getting more traction in the recent years. 

KM: Are you ever surprised by what goes viral? 

SA: On YouTube I usually have a pretty good prediction on the performance of the videos, but I’m often still surprised about the performance (good or bad). This is especially true for Instagram. 

Kite action in South Africa. Thomas Burblies photo

KM: Who have been your biggest vlogging influences? 

SA: To be fair I’m not really a big fan of vlogging where people talk a lot about what’s happening in their life. I do really enjoy videos that offer value in the form of information. A great example for this is Peter McKinnon. I loved watching his videos because I learned something from them. Next to these type of videos I love beautiful images and F-One for sure made some epic kite movies that inspired me. 

KM: Tell us about your filming set up? How often does it change? 

SA: For the past eight years I’ve actually been filming with Sony and really enjoyed their kit, especially the a6300 was a super good buy. At the moment I usually travel with two camera bodies and filming for Core has definitely helped me invest in better equipment. At the moment I own the Sony a7S III which is an absolute 4k, 120fps powerhouse that upped my videos by a lot. Next to that I own a Sony A1 because it’s a master in photo and video crossover. Even though these are very expensive bodies I can really recommend investing in some good glass as that keeps the value for way longer and it gives your videos and pictures a high quality look. On average I think I change my camera bodies every four years. 

KM: Who films you when you’re on the water? 

SA: I often travel together with José-Denis Robichaud (my girlfriend). We’re both in love with kitesurfing and that makes the choice of where to travel quite easy. On these trips she often films me and takes pictures. As we’ve been working together for a while now it’s very easy to communicate and get amazing shots in a short time. 

KM: What is your ratio of minutes filmed to minutes in the final project? 

SA: For my SA Masterclass series I always make a storyboard so I know exactly what to film. Usually these shots take 3-to-4 tries to get the camera and the move in sync. So I would say that 25 per cent of the total footage shot is used in the final video. For my travel videos I think this drops to about 15 per cent as there is a lot of shots that don’t make the cut. 

KM: Do you have things planned out with a storyboard in advance, or is it more organic, chaos, or a bit of both? 

SA: This always depends on the project. For my SA Masterclass I always create an exercise list that I want my viewers to go through. Generally I’ll look at the final goal and break this trick down in multiple smaller exercises. Let’s take the Kiteloop as an example for this. I won’t just tell the viewer to go out there in 30 knots, make a jump and pull one side of the bar so the kite goes into a loop. I prefer to start the Kiteloop journey with a Down-loop Jibe so the viewer gets used to looping a kite and the power involved. From there we’ll look at the right jump and then start with small Kiteloop transition jumps. After writing down the trick list I’ll put it in to Final Cut Pro and write down what I want to talk about and highlight. This is then something I do in front of the camera. 

For my travel style videos it’s usually a bit more of run and gun. Shoot whatever you think might be interesting and towards the end I usually have a bit more of a feeling what direction and buildup I want to use. This usually gives me time to get some of the missing shots. 

Thomas Burblies photo

KM: What was the best advice you heard that helped make your videos better? 

SA: I can’t remember one specific thing that really helped my videos get better, but through the content production of Core we’re always searching for the angles and shots that are unique. Before I go on the water I already envision what the image or specific video clip should look like and then I work closely with the person behind the camera to realize this image. When working like that you can be really time efficient and get more done in a shorter time without filling up your hard drive with unusable shots. 

KM: What program do you use for editing? Editing tips? 

SA: When I first started editing I had a Windows computer and used Adobe Premiere. This is for sure the industry standard and there are loads of tutorials out there that teach you how to use the program. About six years ago I switched over to Mac and when I started working more with 4K video and longer projects I got a bit annoyed by the speed of Premiere. This is when I decided to switch over to Final Cut Pro and this was a game changer for me. Of course there is still render time and it still lags once in a while, but because Final Cut is a native program to Apple the workflow is way smoother and pleasant to work with. 

KM: Where is your favourite local beach for riding and filming? 

SA: As I travel all over the world there isn’t really a local beach that I usually film other than Cape Town. Even though the riding there is next level exciting, the filming just sucks. Most of the time your getting sand blasted because of the stronger winds and you’re constantly cleaning you lens due to the salty air. 

One of my favourite places to film is probably the spit in Squamish, Canada. The wind is offshore on the spit and that means that you can get really close to the person filming without worrying you’ll hit the beach. Next to that, the water is butter flat which means you can take off on the spot! 

KM: What have been your favourite destinations to film? 

SA: Last autumn I did a road trip in Canada with my girlfriend. That was one of my favourite trips up to this point as it was so different to the other ones. Usually I go to the sea where the sun shines and the wind blows. This time we moved in to the Rocky Mountains and tried to find some kiteboarding spots making it a very unique trip for me. You can find the video on my YouTube channel. 

KM: Any big projects in the works for 2022? 

SA: I’m about to get on a plane to Mexico. We’ll spend a month over there, then we’re planning to drive up the West Coast from the US with José in and cross from West to East Canada. In total we have about four months for this trip so I’m super excited to see where the road will take us. 

MY SETUP 

CAMERAS: SONY A1 AND A7SIII 

MIC: RODE WIRELESS GO AND SENHEISER MKE 200 

LENS: SONY 200-600, SONY GM 70-200 F2.8, SONY 24-105 F4, ZEISS 16-35 F4 

HARD DRIVES: LACIE RUGGED SERIES FOR STORAGE AND SAMSUNG T5 FOR ACTIVE EDITING. 

EDITING SOFTWARE: FINAL CUT PRO 

COMPUTER HARDWARE: 16” MACBOOK PRO WITH 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM AND INTEL I9 

From the Spring 2022 Issue of Kitesurfing Magazine.