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The Web Clip is Dead. Long Live the Web Clip.

Earlier this year, Dane Reynolds did a three-part web clip where he discussed how his relationship with long-time filmer Mini Blanchard came about, and the origins of marinelayerproductions.com. He used the third episode to announce the end of Marine Layer, saying, “I feel like the era of a surfer running their own blog and making little web clips and shit is kinda over.” For modern surfing’s enigmatic spokesman to say it’s over, well, then it’s probably fucking over.

I feel like the era of making little web clips and shit is kinda over.Dane Reynolds

Last week he hammered the final nail in Marine Layer’s coffin, opening up the private Vimeo account that served as the engine behind the site for so long. It’s a bit like being handed the keys to the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a palace of prized items that had been cloistered from the public for so long.

A sample from the treasure trove that is Marine Layer on Vimeo

For the last few years, we’ve gobbled up web clips with a voracious appetite, always demanding more, more, more. When clips are too short, we bemoan their brevity. When we finally get longer videos, we complain about their infrequent delivery. We’ve demanded that professional surfing document and Instagram every turn, every tube, every wipeout, turning it into a culture that prizes quantity over quality.

So if Dane is leading the charge away from the web clip, where are we headed? If recent signs are any indication, it might be back towards taking the time to film something special, to make it’s release an event. With this year’s release of movies like Strange Rumblings in Shangri-La, Attractive Distractions, and the upcoming Cluster, for which Dane has been filming, we’re getting a bit of surf cinema again, instead of just cranking out 5 minute bursts of video to satisfy everyone’s visual sweet tooth. While I don’t think DVDs are gonna make a comeback, I’m betting that people’s iTunes libraries will soon be full of memorized parts with guys like Dane, John John, Craig Anderson, etc.

But for this model to work, every person clamoring for more free surfers and hating on contest surfing needs to stop complaining about having to shell out $10 or so for a movie. Every time a movie comes out and people avoid buying it (read: BitTorrent) it makes it less likely that we’ll get another video in the future. But if people stop complaining about exchanging a few bucks for something good (you know, the basic premise of every economy), payrolls for free surfers will grow. You think without Strange Rumblings’ success, Globe would be willing to keep that entire team around and send them gallivanting across the planet on the company dime?

As long as there is surfing and the internet, we’ll get videos of our favorite surfers delivered digitally. But if we’re willing to open our wallets a bit to let folks that know what we really value, we might get something a little more special in return.

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