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GoPro or Go Home
July 19, 2011 4:31 PM   Subscribe

MeFi has seen a GoPro camera attached to a sword, but after running across a video of one attached to a Hula Hoop (it'll make you dizzy) I decided to look for more and found a trove of sports, most of which are created by GoPro and as such may come across as advertising, but some are independently shot, so put that aside if you can. I'll probably never take up any of these activities, but I get an idea of what they're like via helmet or pole-cam. There's the Base Jump; the GoPro at 80,000 feet (near space); Boogie Boarding Surf; Surfing; Racing up Pike's Peak; Mountain Biking; a Kayak Competition; Kiteboarding; Longboarding; the 2010 Highlight Reel and many more. Damn, now I want one!
posted by bwg (51 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
You forgot hanggliding in 3D.
posted by atomicmedia at 4:42 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm totally strapping one of these to myself so people can enjoy 8 extreme hours of in-front-of-a-computer sitting.
posted by mrnutty at 4:48 PM on July 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


Didn't forget; just didn't list everything so you could discover some for yourself.
posted by bwg at 4:49 PM on July 19, 2011


Wait, what? YouTube has a 3D toggle option for 3D content?
posted by filthy light thief at 4:49 PM on July 19, 2011


mrnutty: "I'm totally strapping one of these to myself so people can enjoy 8 extreme hours of in-front-of-a-computer sitting."

Does that include porn?
posted by bwg at 4:49 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think I want one of these (GoPro) for shooting gigs. Anybody know how long the battery life is? I do need something that'll run at least 50 minutes or so: the length of an average set.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:51 PM on July 19, 2011


I'm totally strapping one of these to myself so people can enjoy 8 extreme hours of in-front-of-a-computer sitting.

Make sure you film in 3D!
posted by loquacious at 5:00 PM on July 19, 2011


Nerd poll:

Did anyone else happen to have a pair of 3D glasses handy? I usually try to keep a pair or two around ever since I discovered Fractint could plot 3D fractals back in the early 90s. That or a gel/transparency sample book for making my own kludgy ones.

The hang gliding video was cool but now I have a headache. I noticed some things. For one - pixel counts really show up because the aliasing doesn't match up, so you get a lot of haze around the really deep/contrasting portions of the 3D overlap. Another thing was that lens flares don't match from camera to camera, which really looks weird but it's only momentary in the hang gliding video.

And red/blue analglyphs are REALLY BAD at color, even when using the optimized versions. Active or polarized full color 3D is so much easier on the eyes.
posted by loquacious at 5:05 PM on July 19, 2011


I'm being sincere with this question, but I ask because I see all these videos all the time and they always mention the brand and it triggers my product-placement-anger lobe. I think I'm missing something.

What's the deal with these cameras? What makes them better than predecessors? Has the company been around forever and created this market or is their product an order of magnitude cheaper than a comparable high quality wearable/sports camera or what?
posted by polyhedron at 5:09 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I fully expect to see some Burning Man GoPro videos this year.
posted by mykescipark at 5:19 PM on July 19, 2011


What's the deal with these cameras? What makes them better than predecessors? Has the company been around forever and created this market or is their product an order of magnitude cheaper than a comparable high quality wearable/sports camera or what?

As best I can tell they are the first to get a small, durable, waterproof, extremely-mountable HD video camera out there at a very reasonable price point. I think their ubiquity lies in being just cheap enough that yuppies (like me, I just got one!) will see a video and go get one on impulse.
posted by ghharr at 5:19 PM on July 19, 2011


Makes sense. The form factor is a lot better than all the bullet style cameras I see on Amazon, the price is competitive and it looks like the video quality is a lot higher than the competitors at that price point.

I guess I'm just grumpy these days.
posted by polyhedron at 5:23 PM on July 19, 2011


Win a GoPro!
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 5:35 PM on July 19, 2011


What's the deal with these cameras?

Before you even asked I was going to mention how impressed I've been with the cameras without even using one, and I hate shilling for products.

Besides the quality of the video, the small size and the small price point they appear to be almost bulletproof. They seem to handle shock, vibration, water, mud, high winds, bright sunlight, dim light and more. They don't lag in high action. The microphones sound pretty good even when it's extremely windy.

Oh, and look at that balloon launch video. That camera dealt with near vacuum altitudes, extreme low and high temps and then hitting the ground at 50-60+ mph and it didn't even blink or lose a frame.

I've seen a lot of tiny portable "stick cams" or other flash based video boxes and none of them manage to do all of the above so well. They usually glitch out or permanently break when shocked, or they flare out when facing full sun, and god forbid you ask for waterproofing.

They're actually really affordable for what they do, and the video that comes out of them is incredible. It's better looking than the cameras that NASA mounts on Shuttle boosters. I'm pretty sure you could strap one of those things to the SRBs and it'd survive. (Err, assuming they were launching anymore. :( )
posted by loquacious at 5:45 PM on July 19, 2011


loquacious :( )

Collagen injections?
posted by bwg at 5:48 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Win a GoPro!

Pehaps I don't read the fine print on enough contests open to Canadians, but I was startled to see this among the rules:
Canadian residents must correctly answer a time-limited mathematical skill-testing question, if selected as a winner, in order to claim a prize.
Apparently, these skill testing questions are a Canadian legal dodge to turn givaways from an illegal game of chance to a game mixing chance and (just a tiny bit of) "skill".
posted by JiBB at 5:53 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you could strap one of those things to the SRBs and it'd survive.

On the off chance you're not joking, the shuttle goes really fast and therefore gets really hot...
posted by ryanrs at 5:55 PM on July 19, 2011


Man, if only I had enough Citi® ThankYou® Card points to get one of those cameras and attach it to a balloon. I could make the coolest, most original commercial.
posted by punkfloyd at 6:15 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


JiBB: Yep. We have to do some basic arithmetic just to claim a free cup of coffee at McDonald's.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:20 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


...a Canadian legal dodge to turn givaways from an illegal game of chance to a game mixing chance and (just a tiny bit of) "skill".

Alternatively Canadians can choose to demonstrate their skill and dexterity by rolling up the rim of a standard waxed paper beverage cup.
posted by Flashman at 6:22 PM on July 19, 2011


OK, this is Really Fucking Cool. Can't wait for the VR versions.
posted by googly at 6:32 PM on July 19, 2011


Warning: self link

Also shot on a GoPro (they're a sponsor) is some formula 1 sidecar racing. :-)

I'm the passenger, and yes, it is as crazy as it looks. Top speed on that track is about 160 mph.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:34 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I think this is cool too: F1 sidecar passenger first person POV: video from a camera stuck on the top of my helmet
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:41 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


googly: "OK, this is Really Fucking Cool. Can't wait for the VR versions."

This reminds me of Brainstorm, with Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood and Louise Fletcher.

It probably won't be long before we actually have the technology to transfer actual sensations and emotions from person to person as in the movie.
posted by bwg at 7:01 PM on July 19, 2011


bwq: that's the second reference to brainstorm I've heard today, after maybe 20 years of not even thinking about that movie.
posted by gofargogo at 7:05 PM on July 19, 2011


Why does every video that uses this brand of cameras advertise what kind of camera they use? Is there really only one camera this small out there? I can't watch any of this stuff without feeling like I'm being advertised at.
posted by floam at 7:13 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe that Cat Diaries, sponsored by a cat food company, used Go Pros too, once they realized this was going to be shown in a theater.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:15 PM on July 19, 2011


polyhedron: What's the deal with these cameras?

As said by others, they're tiny, tough, and relatively cheap. The 2.5 hour battery life is decent (considering it shoots HD video), but the type of batteries makes a difference. I wasn't sure about the hype until I saw one in person - they're TINY (not my pic, just a size comparison pic I found).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:19 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or to put another way, the cameras are small enough to hang on the necks of cats.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:23 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn, now I want one!
Why do you think the videos always point out that they were shot on a Go Pro! That's the whole point!

I mean, how many youtube videos are like "me playing music with my canon!" or "me talking into my logitech"?

Just means their viral marketing has been successful!
posted by delmoi at 7:25 PM on July 19, 2011


Just one little correction. It's not boogie boarding, it's called bodyboarding. A boogie board was a brand name. Otherwise, yeah I want one....really bad. Also these cameras are now being used a lot for POV footage on a lot of TV shows. Granted they are mostly reality shows but, just saying.
posted by WickedPissah at 7:26 PM on July 19, 2011


here's another hulahoop video that's actually even cooler, but it doesn't advertise that it was shot on a Go Pro (although it actually was, according to the description). And it has way less views. Part of it may be that people are used to seeing cool videos shot on that camera, so if they see "Go Pro on my whatever" they'll know what to expect.

But yeah it's annoying.
posted by delmoi at 7:32 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "Why do you think the videos always point out that they were shot on a Go Pro! That's the whole point!"

Um, yes, I know. Hence the framing of the post, where I mentioned the advertising aspect.

"Just means their viral marketing has been successful!"

Regardless, the videos are so fun I feel like it would be neat to try shooting with one of these cams.
posted by bwg at 7:43 PM on July 19, 2011


PepsiBlue?
posted by obscurator at 7:43 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


You also see these things being used a lot in professional applications too. Mythbusters use them all over the place for "the camera that very well might get blown up."

The video's definitely good enough to use for broadcast purposes on the occasional shot.

That's nuts for a $300 device. In the world of TV and film, $300 barely buys you coffee for your cameraman (a slight exaggeration, but it really is an industry with extremely high capital costs). Why wouldn't you keep a few of these on hand to get an additional unusual/dangerous angle for the scene you're trying to shoot?

My roommate's a professional videographer. He got a GoPro a few weeks ago, and has so far strapped it to the wing of a small airplane, a rowboat, a horse, and quite a few other bizarre locations that you would Never want to (or be able to) mount a "real" camera. He got some great shots from it too. You wouldn't want to produce an entire film or show with it, but the shots that he got were completely usable, which again, is astonishing for a tiny, cheap camera.

Heck. Ignoring everything else about these little devices, the fact alone that a decent sub-$300 waterproof camera exists is revolutionary in and of itself. The rest is just icing on the cake.

That said, there are one or two drawbacks. The GoPro uses a rolling shutter. This becomes *very* obvious in the skydiving and aerial shots. Fortunately, there's software that can fix this, and presumably, the devices will eventually be able to correct for it themselves.
posted by schmod at 8:23 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's us "gopro-ing" through the Mauritanian Sahara. Not really so extreme, unless you consider bribing corrupt police with tea and sugar extreme.
posted by iamck at 8:35 PM on July 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


OK, surfing is cool, but for my money, the recent footage of a battle in the Libyan civil war posted by Gizmodo is where the GoPro really shines. Amazing, jaw-dropping, and chilling all at once. It allows for a level of documentation that was far more difficult previously.

Part one. Part two. Part three. Part four.

Extreme sports are neato and all, but I'm more interested in this as a tool of journalism.
posted by incessant at 9:25 PM on July 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


On the off chance you're not joking, the shuttle goes really fast and therefore gets really hot...

I was mostly joking, but it's not something that couldn't be solved with a lot of duct tape for an ablative shield.

I do think the small polycarbonate armor box used for the GoPro could handle a brief amount of supersonic airstream if it didn't blow to pieces or get ripped off the mount, but, yeah, MACH 4 is a bit much.

Though the video of it getting ripped off the booster would be cool if the memory/recording survived. It's not likely that it would continue recording after getting sucked into the exhaust flow.
posted by loquacious at 9:28 PM on July 19, 2011


I chose a contour GPS over gopro for snowboarding helmet cameraness, and I've been wondering if I made the wrong choice. I mean, I like that it tends to make you look more like a space marine than a tool (I hate the way top mounted gopros look. shallow, I know, but aren't we all?), and the GPS part is neat, but the lack of a waterproof case (it's water resistant enough for snowboarding, but it's not waterproof like the shockingly cheap gopro case is) means I can do a smaller range of silly things with it.
posted by flaterik at 11:27 PM on July 19, 2011


Is it my imagination or are those cameras stabilized?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:03 AM on July 20, 2011


I've also got the ContourGPS, flaterik, and the waterproof case is now available. Also, if you haven't, the latest version of the firmware has fixed the bluetooth issues and vastly improved the image processing on the jpgs. (I mainly take timelapse with it).

One thing that many like better about the GoPro over the Contour is the chest-strap mounting. Contour is designed for side-of-helmet mounting. GoPro is good for on the chest.

I'm not a Contour fanboy by any means. They shipped a camera that did not do what they claimed. They screwed up and made the battery compartment too tight. When I got the camera, the entire system crashed if it didn't get a GPS fix. They seem to think that it's okay to not have the real time on your photos, except Universal Time, if you do have GPS on and synced. It worked both poorly and unreliably. That is MUCH MUCH improved...16 firmware versions later, and far too many missed photos/sets.

On the other hand, one of the selling points from Contour, for me, were the wide variety of mounts they made available. Some I don't even think they make themselves. I got a "roll bar" mount to fit on the center column of my bike, that is fabulous. Both the Contour and my Flip cam are happy riding on it, with 2 rubber ball joints isolating the camera from excessive vibrations, even riding on dirt paths.
posted by Goofyy at 3:51 AM on July 20, 2011


I really enjoyed the films from these GoPro cameras and had a nice side trip into an old Swedish martial art, involving swords and bucklers. Bucklers are very small shields.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 4:55 AM on July 20, 2011


Advertising as something that is not going away anytime soon. So for me, I'd much rather have viral advertising in the form of awesome videos, rather than idiotic singing chipmunks and talking babies or whatever crap they come up with these days. Most ads make me specificallly note to avoid the company forcing them upon me, but there actually make we want to be the camera. Take note, advertisers - show your product in use, doing what it does well, rather than trying to sell us with beautiful people and cutesy songs that tell absolutely nothing about the product itself.
posted by Hargrimm at 7:06 AM on July 20, 2011


I'm totally strapping one of these to myself so people can enjoy 8 extreme hours of in-front-of-a-computer sitting.

Amateur. I can do 12. In a row.
posted by desjardins at 8:27 AM on July 20, 2011


I totally get why people bridle at perceived advertising (particularly viral) but I can't hate people mentioning what kind of camera was used in some of these shots (hell I pointed it out in a recent post...) if only because my first instinct as a photography hobbyist is to think "Hmm, that was awesome! How can I do that myself?" and at the moment, it seems like only this one company is putting out hardware tough enough to get these shots, at a cheap enough price point that they can be in the hands of almost anyone.

I don't own a GoPro, and when someone else comes along with a device that can do the same thing, I'll likely get just as excited, but for the moment, I don't begrudge them the attention they are getting. They are making it possible for us to see things we've never been able to before, and that's pretty damn cool.
posted by quin at 9:28 AM on July 20, 2011


I whitewater kayak, and these cameras have probably quadrupled the amount of whitewater kayaking videos out there. I think I've seen someone using a camera from another manufacturer once, maybe.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2011


What's the deal with these cameras? What makes them better than predecessors? Has the company been around forever and created this market or is their product an order of magnitude cheaper than a comparable high quality wearable/sports camera or what?

In 2006 I wanted to buy a waterproof camera I could use to take pictures of myself and friends surfing on our once in a lifetime trip to Costa Rica. I was there to surf, and GoPro provided a super durable, wearable waterhousing, and bundled it with a super cheap 35mm point and shoot camera. It stayed out of the way when I didn't want to take pictures, and it was right there when I did. Home Run!

I've since gone back to Costa a couple of times, each with the newest model, and always with amazing memories captures by a little wearable camera.

I think they got where they are by coming at this market from the "wearable sports camera" angle, and introduced better and better camera hardware as the demand grew.

From my perspective as a consumer of this device - if somebody else had come along who did it better, I'd have jumped ship. But for me, GoPro is becoming one of those words that describes the product.
posted by ElGuapo at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I whitewater kayak, and these cameras have probably quadrupled the amount of whitewater kayaking videos out there. I think I've seen someone using a camera from another manufacturer once, maybe.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2011


After just watching the Pike's Peak clip I thought, well, I have the camera. Only mountain, car, courage and driving skills are missing.
posted by debagel at 11:31 AM on July 20, 2011


Aside from the video, I really do find their audio quality amazing for what they are. That you get anything beyond just wind noise on some of these is a nice little bit of engineering.
posted by meinvt at 6:12 PM on July 20, 2011


Is it my imagination or are those cameras stabilized?

I didn't watch all the videos in the FPP, but no - probably not. You can stabilize them of course, but typically if you mount the camera to something fairly large then the movement is dampened a lot. If you can mount it so that a reasonable part of the thing it is mounted to is visible in the frame then it looks a lot more stable thanks to the static component in the frame.

I tend to think that body-mounting cameras to the chest actually gives a better result than the head in most case, because the head makes a lot of little movements making video more unstable, while the body tends to me more 'attached' to the bike/skis/kayak etc.

That's one of the things I think that counts most heavily in favour of the GoPro vs other "sport cameras" - it's flat profile lends itself well to a variety of mounting options. The more tradition "bullet" profile ones aren't well suited to chest mounts and a range of other mounting options.

There's a video here that demonstrates some interesting variety of angles and mounting options: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmrSMnyIbRg

There are some very interesting mounting options well away from sports too, like on a guitar,
posted by sycophant at 3:26 AM on July 21, 2011


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