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Covering the GoPro HERO and other small Point-Of-View video cameras.


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Old November 10th, 2017, 06:54 PM   #1
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Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Is anyone doing serious documentary work with go pro only? How are you handling audio interviews? Very small mics? Cell phones with Zoom audio app? Lavs ? Radio mics? Two camera shoots? Tripods or gimbals?
Are you finding subjects less intimidated by small camera ( not in casing) ? Lighting suggestions again keeping away from paraphernalia and I am here to make a big shot movie!

Thanks for suggestions.

Ralph Bowman
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Old November 12th, 2017, 07:42 AM   #2
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Ralph: while it's certainly possible to make an entire doc with just a GoPro, I'm not sure why you'd want to. You could build an entire house with a chisel and a mallet, but that's just not the right tool for the job.

I'm not sure I would buy the "little camera makes people more comfortable" argument. Part of being a doc producer is cultivating the ability to make people at ease and to shortly begin not even noticing the work going on around them.

The GoPro is a great tool for mounting in odd spots, getting POV shots and the like, but the wide lens and inability to easily create shallow DoF images when the need arises makes it a poor choice for a solo camera system.

That being said, I have not yet used the gopro6 with its larger sensor and some focusing ability, so it could be a more useful tool for you.
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Old November 12th, 2017, 11:37 PM   #3
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Currently, like Bill says above. But each new model GoPro seems to tack on additional features. I expect the GoPro 10 to be close to perfection. Meanwhile the GoPro Hero5 (and probably 6, I don't know) in linear mode is capable of amazing cinematic shots but for audio you're much better off using a smart phone. Of course if a GoPro is all you have, it is capable of shooting a documentary - I submit this recent travel documentary of mine, although I wouldn't class it as serious:
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Old November 13th, 2017, 12:25 AM   #4
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

The versatility of the GoPro can be greatly increased by converting it to use other lenses such as C mount and CS mount. There is a large number of these lenses to choose from. In addition there are lens adapters available enabling the use of Nikon, Canon and other lenses. It is also possible to use the original lens.

Backbone.ca can provide converted cameras or will convert a your camera or alternatively sell a DIY kit.

I have Backbone converted versions of GoPros 3,4 and 5. My main interest is close-up natural history subjects where the small size is a great advantage. I connect the HDMI output to a recording type Video assist that gives me the option of having some distance between myself and the subject as well as the ability to see and record what is going on.

Below is a photo of a mini-boom set up. The boom is fluid damped and the camera is mounted on a motorized slide that I use for focus. It is built on a 3 ball and is shown here mounted on a fairly solid low level tripod used both in the field or on a bench.

The other photo shows a GoPro 4 attached to 300mm Nikkor.

The C mount is not ideal but it does increase versatility.

http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...1&d=1510554127
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/attachme...1&d=1510554161
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Old November 13th, 2017, 06:23 AM   #5
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Thanks so much so such informative information.
Thanks for responding. As you get older dragging around a lot of equipment becomes less and less exciting. Thus little cameras. small lighting instruments and cleverly small mics become more attractive. I video old people like myself, the generation that likes privacy and hates intrusive media sticking in their faces, thus the use of a camera like the Go Pro. Is that a camera? Its cute. So small. And then they forget about me and go about their business, allowing me access to extreme closeups and some private moments. However, you are right no DOF which sometimes is over used and over rated since so many new videographers think the shot looks cinematic. Too many closeups destroy movie making these days and documentary work, placing people in their backgrounds seems more informative than a blurry background. However, you are right, I too like DOF and slider shots and drone shots all of which will maybe fade like the zoom of the 70s. Suddenly we will be back to the proscenium arch shot and Hollywood 3/4 shot with occasional stunning closeups. Of course, I am old . Thanks again for your input.

Ralph Bowman
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Old November 14th, 2017, 11:20 AM   #6
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Hi Ralph,

Like you I am old, and the constant use of fashionable techniques in so much recorded work does my head in too. However, after decades of video making I do appreciate that you have to have the right tools for the job.

I use a variety of different cameras including GoPros, but would never rely on a GoPro as the only camera for a serious or semi serious documentary.There are too many shortcomings as has already been mentioned. Yo mentioned in your last post about extreme closeups, but with a GoPro you will need to have it in an interviewees face to get an extreme closeup, not to mention the barrel effect of the lens.

You also mentioned about lights and mics, which are just as likely to be as intrusive as any camera in an interview situation. Your best bet would be a small camcorder or a bridge camera with a decent telephoto so at least you can get closeups whilst still maintaining a respectful distance. One of the current batch of 1" sensor cameras will give you pretty good fairly low light images in addition to having all the manual adjustments that you need or auto settings if you prefer. You will also be able to plug in a variety of external mics and have control over audio inputs. Along with other cams, I currently have 3 Panasonic FZ1000s in my wedding armoury and they do the majority of the filming work and are small enough not to be intrusive. They are also now pretty cheap although there are plenty of alternative cameras on the market.

If you just use a GoPro you are going to be severely limiting yourself for any sort of serious work in my opinion unless you are an extreme sports fanatic :-)

Roger
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Old November 14th, 2017, 12:51 PM   #7
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Like others said GoPro isn’t the right tool. DSLR is your best option. Pickup a used one that fits your budget. Throw in an audio recorder with a lav...
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Old November 14th, 2017, 01:15 PM   #8
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
Like others said GoPro isn’t the right tool. DSLR is your best option. Pickup a used one that fits your budget. Throw in an audio recorder with a lav...
I think Rainer's video shows that with some imagination, and work, you can use even a GoPro (there are better choices for an action cam now) without Alastair's add-ons, to shoot an entertaining documentary video. And, you can much more easily put a an action cam on a gimbal to add lots of pro camera motion to a video that would be expensive and cumbersome with bigger cameras, not to mention shots from water! My only criticism of it is the poor dynamic range exhibited in some shots (blown out skin in particular) - one has to shoot carefully with such cameras to avoid that ugliness.

I do not think the best alternative is a DSLR (not a good camcorder, FS5, FS7, mirrorless?).
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Old November 14th, 2017, 01:48 PM   #9
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Alistair's add-ons completely defeat the purpose of having the GoPro's diminutive size be less intimidating. Also, I fail to see how a "naked" GoPro would be given how wide of an angle the built-in lens is. You'd have to mount it really close.

I agree with Bill. Making people comfortable is your job as the director/producer of the piece, not the job of the hardware you're using. I have never had an issue with that shooting non-talent on my C300 Mark II because I have the skills to put them at ease.

All that said, I doubt anyone is doing "serious" work with a GoPro only, if by "serious" you mean "paid projects" or something you hope will have some money come your way in the end.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 01:51 PM   #10
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Mark has shown that you can get some nice footage with a small action cam like his Yi4k+ or a GoPro, but the OP was asking about suitability for documentaries, are I really think the limitations of that type of camera are far too limiting.

I also don't agree that a DSLR is the best bet if you are using a single camera, with camcorders and mirror less cams being a better option, again just my opinion.

Roger
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Old November 14th, 2017, 05:06 PM   #11
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

I made a sensible suggestion, honestly anything would be a better than a GoPro. OP probably doesn’t want to buy anything else. For hobby, non paying projects you use what you have. So I understand.
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Old November 14th, 2017, 06:02 PM   #12
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

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Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
For hobby, non paying projects you use what you have. So I understand.
Absolutely. If you must use a GoPro because it's either that or nothing, use the GoPro. If you have any of the newer iPhone models (especially 6-X) or a Samsung/Google phone, I'd use that before I'd use a GoPro, especially coupled with a Rode SmartLav.
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Old November 15th, 2017, 07:43 AM   #13
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

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Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
I made a sensible suggestion, honestly anything would be a better than a GoPro. OP probably doesnt want to buy anything else. For hobby, non paying projects you use what you have. So I understand.
Hi Pete,

Your suggestion was perfectly sensible and many people use DSLRs for video and documentary work. But it is a comparatively expensive option particularly when lens costs are taken into consideration. So I just don't think it is the better option compared with some of the others in this instance.

Roger
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Old November 15th, 2017, 08:22 AM   #14
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

When I said DSLR I lump all photo cameras with interchangeable lens that shoot video. A used gh4/d70 is around $500 and they often come with a kit lens. I’m not familiar with the lowest priced camera on the market. Maybe Canon Rebel. My point is there are many affordable options out there.
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Old November 15th, 2017, 09:38 AM   #15
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Re: Shooting documentaries with go pro etc

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Cofrancesco View Post
When I said DSLR I lump all photo cameras with interchangeable lens that shoot video. A used gh4/d70 is around $500 and they often come with a kit lens. Im not familiar with the lowest priced camera on the market. Maybe Canon Rebel. My point is there are many affordable options out there.
Quite agree, of course it is up to the OPs budget, useage and whether he wants interchangeable lenses or bridge camera/camcorder with fixed zoom lens. There are for and against for all types for video work and all can work well if used correctly and within their limitations. For the record I have 3 Canon DSLRs, 3 LUMIX FZ1000s, 2 Panny VX870s, 3 Panny SD700/750s 2 GoPros, 1 Yi4k and 3 SJ4000s, just mentioned because I use all for different things.

Roger
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