Can a news organization in a major market shoot a show on GoPro Cameras and Cell Phones? Yes, yes it can. I was skeptical myself when I was first presented this question but through determination and a little pushing, it happened.
One of the hardest obstacles to overcome was getting our reporters to understand they could shoot on their own. If you came from another news station you are used to having a photographer in the field with you. Now I know some smaller stations have reporters shoot their own content on large format cameras, however this was a whole new ball game.
The idea behind our show is to bring the viewer into the story the reporter is covering. The only way to do this was to use a compact, versatile camera with easy operation and mounting options. Enter the GoPro.
I first got involved with GoPro cameras in 2011 with the Hero2 Model. I’m not an action sports photographer, not skiing, snowboarding or anything along those lines. While working a TV job in New York City, I was spending my evenings covering red carpets movie premiers, Broadway play openings and other events. I started using the camera as another way to capture the events on the carpet from a slightly different angle. We all know the traditional shots that come from these types of events and I was trying to modify the game with some different images. Shooting video and photos to capture not only the celebrities walking the carpet, but the action that goes on with the photographers, videographers and all the other staff involved in making that red carpet moment pop.
Shortly after leaving the job in NYC, I got involved with a new TV program that was looking to shake things up in the way local news is covered. Questions were asked about technology and what we can do with it. A realization came one day to my boss about shooting events on cell phones. He was thinking if he can tape his kids playing sports on his phone and then share it with friends, why can’t news be presented that way?
The first part of the puzzle was in place, shooting on cell phones. While most of the news would be tackled that way, some high res cameras would also be used in the field to capture events and to shoot the show in the studio.
The above process worked great, but something was missing. It was still hard to bring the viewer into the story, through the eyes of the reporter. The cell phone could only go so far and a cameraman would only get so much, but something was missing. That’s when it came to me…let’s try the GoPro.
I sent my personal GoPro into the field and the results were fantastic! It was the missing link to help bring the viewer into what was being covered. The possibilities of where the camera can go are endless. On a car, in a bag, in a pothole, under a bus, in a drawer, in a snow blower, attached to almost any moving vehicle, you get the idea.
Eventually we moved up to the Hero 3 Black and 3+ Black, these cameras are the workhorses of our shop. The quality we get on these cameras is great and their flexibility makes it easy to use for the reporter. Just extending your arm and shooting yourself telling the story about where you are going and what is happening gives a whole new perspective to telling a news story. The GoPro works in tandem with the cell phones, often becoming a second camera angle to news events that are often only shot at one angle. In an age where Vine, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and other video APPS are taking over the way viewers consume media, this was the answer to telling a visual story and bringing the viewer into the moment.
We also learned, that the GoPro is built to last, not just from physical abuse but also from a mechanical standpoint. We shoot at least an hour of footage on each one of the 8 we have in use daily. In the case, out of the case, mounted, under water etc. starting stopping the records multiple times every day. We have been doing this for over a year now and only lost 1 camera…and another under a train but that’s another story. I think the wear on these is great. Most people use them on the weekend or a few times a week while doing sport activities, we are shooting news content on these every single day.
We broadcast in 720/60 so the camera was more than suitable for shooting the quality we wanted. The updated image sensors in the 3 and 3+ create gorgeous images. I actually have the cameras set to shoot 1080/60 so we have an even crisper image to zoom in on if we need to. The other advantage to this was the video was less fisheye at 1080p versus 720p. Light performance was better than expected, of course at night it can be tricky but on a day-to-day basis, outside or indoors the GoPro excels on getting the images we want.
GoPro With Knog Qudos LED Waterproof Light
Audio can be tricky with the GoPro, but most of the sound we capture on the internal GoPro microphones works great. Man on the street sound and natural sound are captured very well. We also invested in some external microphones to attach to the GoPro. They require the GoPro adapter but otherwise there are a slew of Stick Microphones and Lavalier microphones that are available on the market to suit your production needs.
Recently we have started using a GoPro hand-held gimbal during our studio production, giving us nice smooth stabilized shots.
GoPro with PilotFly Gimbal
So I ask you again, can the GoPro be used to shoot news and features in a Major broadcast market? Yes, yes it can.
I welcome your thoughts on this process…