Contributed by Christina Wiech (@ChristinaWiech)
Strapped to the family dog. On the helmet of a fearless freeskier. At the edge of the atmosphere. These are just a few of the places you may have seen footage shot with a small, boxy, silver camera. Known as a GoPro and synonymous with action footage, that small silver box – diminutive in size only – is revolutionizing filmmaking and media sharing by putting an affordable, versatile, and high-quality camera in the hands of the people.
Initially developed in 2002 as a 35mm wrist camera for surfing, GoPro has since expanded exponentially as a company and now offers a line of high-definition digital video cameras with a wide variety of mounts and accessories. CEO and founder Nicholas Woodman touts the GoPro as “the world’s most versatile camera,” and he encourages its users to “Think it. See it. Do it…GoPro.” With annual revenues in 2012 of more than $500 million and an expected doubling of sales for 2013, plenty of consumers, filmmakers, and action junkies alike have taken Woodman’s words to heart. GoPro even won a technical Emmy this year for its Hero3 POV camera and its contributions to filmmaking.
Right: The petite HERO3 Black Edition is packed with features, including shooting 4k video and capturing photo bursts and timelapses.
GoPro’s runaway success doesn’t mean they are without competitors: for a similar price ($150-$350), consumers can pick up a Sony Action Cam, a Drift Ghost, a Polaroid Professional Action Camera, or a Garmin VIRB—just to name a few. What propels GoPro past its competitors is the unique way in which its users produce and share content. The company maintains Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo accounts where users can post their pictures and videos, and many people upload content to their personal social media accounts. With so many outlets for socializing content, GoPro’s popularity has been buoyed through word-of-mouth advertising and the power of viral videos.
GoPros and other affordable action cameras are providing a society already versed in camera phone filmmaking with a way to take their personal videos to another level. Action cameras can go places you wouldn’t necessarily want your smartphone to go–mounted out the car window, for instance–and can capture engaging and shareable content.
GoPro is also finding a place in the professional film industry. In 2011, NLP producer Lenny Rotman and cinematographer Jesse Beecher took a GoPro to Guam where they filmed net fishing with a local Chamorro for the War in the Pacific National Historic Park. Since GoPros are waterproof (and nearly indestructible), they were able to place one on the shore and capture shots that simultaneously showed above and below the water.
Above: GoPro’s iPhone app lets filmmakers preview their footage (image from EOSHD.com).
At the Hyperion Environmental Learning Center in Los Angeles we created media for an exhibit that raises awareness of the impact of human activity on the environment in natural and urban settings. For “A Day in the Life of a Driver,” we mounted GoPros to several places on a recycling truck to film a sequence of the truck emptying a recycling bin, footage that we couldn’t have safely shot otherwise.
NLP recently created several exhibit pieces for the History of Armor and Cavalry Gallery at the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, GA. For a projection about the use of Sherman Tanks in WWII, we mounted GoPros inside a tank and on its steering column to immerse museum visitors in the experience of driving and being inside one of these vehicles.
GoPros and other action cameras enable filmmakers to capture shots they normally wouldn’t be able to get with other cameras at a price that doesn’t break the bank. So join the revolution: strap on your action cam, and go tell a story!
Above: All images from “22 Crazy Perspective Photos Taken With a GoPro Camera“
Source: “GoPro’s IPO Isn’t about Selling Cameras, It’s about Creating a Media Empire.” Accessed March 5, 2014. http://www.engadget.com/2014/02/14/gopro-media-empire/.
For more insanely cool GoPro content, we recommend checking out the following:
YouTube Channels:action camera > exhibit media production > GoPro > interactive media > interactive media production > museum exhibits > museum media production