Posts Tagged ‘GoPro’

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Great Behind The Scenes Look At How GoPro Videos Are Made

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

GoPro’s marketing videos are awesome. We all love them. They show incredible people doing incredible things in incredible locations, with incredible camera angles (and incredible editing).

What the official GoPro videos DON’T show you is what goes in to making those videos, and personally I’ve been somewhat disappointed that GoPro seems to actively try to hide the details, tactics, equipment and (most importantly) talent that makes them so incredible. This isn’t surprising: the goal of those videos is to sell cameras to consumers by giving them the illusion that by buying the camera they too can create videos as mind-blowing as GoPro’s official marketing videos. Showing the consumer all of the professional-level (and often big-budget) production that goes into those videos would shatter that illusion of attainability.

For people who use the cameras though, it is incredibly helpful to see how some of those incredible shots are captured. This morning I stumbled on a video on the New Yorker’s website (thanks to Cameron Davidson for the find!) interviewing one of GoPro’s sponsored professional athletes and showing some of the tricks and gadgets that allow some of those incredible shots to be captured (the video doesn’t go into any of the extensive editing and post-production that makes GoPro’s official marketing videos sparkle, but it does pull the curtain back on a bit of the filming process).

If you like (or want) to shoot point-of-view action video, this is a good thing to watch.
(click the preview below to go to the New Yorker website)

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Rolling Shutter vs. Global Shutter: Just Learned Something New About My GoPro

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

On this rainy Sunday morning I was just sorting through images I shot during my recent trip to Greece, and I learned something new (and surprising) about my GoPro camera: even when shooting stills, its electronic shutter is rolling, not global. If you just thought “huh?”, then read on.

On a short flight from the island of Milos back to the Athens airport I set up the GoPro on a suction cup mount pointing out the airplane window to do little timelapse of the flight. Looking at one of the still frames from the timelapse, I saw this:

GoPro still frame shot out the airplane window. Well, I guess that answers that question!

The above image is not Photoshopped in any way (other than the watermark). “What in God’s name is going on with that propeller, the blades are split in pieces!” you might say. Photographers, videographers and some others knowledgeable about electronics will know immediately what is happening here. The propeller blades did not, in fact, break into pieces during my flight (thankfully); the blades appear this way in this image as a result of a curious side effect of the way certain digital camera sensors work called “rolling shutter.”

Digital cameras’ sensors are composed of millions of individual pixels arrayed in a grid of rows and columns. DSLR cameras have a physical, mechanical shutter that starts and stops the collection of light hitting the sensor, but other types of cameras (point & shoots, cellphone cameras, and cameras like GoPros) do not have a mechanical shutter, and instead start and stop the process of collecting light on the sensor electronically rather than mechanically; essentially the circuitry in the cameras tells the pixels in the sensor when to start and stop “looking.” On many cameras, the pixels start and stop “looking” the way you’d expect: all at the same time. Cameras that behave this way are referred to as “global shutter,” because the “shutter” (which is in fact just an electrical signal) acts globally, on the entire sensor at once. Some other cameras though (notably, most digital video cameras) use what is referred to as a “rolling shutter” in that instead of reading the entire grid of the sensor’s pixels at once, they read the pixels one row at a time: the camera records what the first (top) row of pixels “sees,” then the row below it, then the row below that and so on, on a “rolling” basis until it reaches the bottom row. This process happens in a fraction of a second, so it is usually fast enough that it isn’t relevant to the image, especially when recording individual, still frames instead of video.

But when photographing something that’s moving very, very quickly (like an airplane propeller at full throttle!) that fraction of a second during which the camera moves from recording the top of the image to the bottom matters: by the time the camera gets around to recording the bottom of the image, the subject recorded at the top of the image has already moved, so in the finished image you’re seeing the same subject recorded in different positions. With a spinning propeller, that results in images like the one above, distorted by the passage of time.

Many cameras use a global shutter when recording still images (as opposed to video) and I thought my GoPro did too. I knew the GoPro used a rolling shutter during video recording (that is quite common on all but the highest-end professional video cameras), but it turns out that it uses a rolling shutter during still frame shooting as well.

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Sometimes Setting Up GoPro Timelapses Yields Funny Images

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I was shooting a timelapse in for a client in Portland, Maine last week, and for one of the camera angles I attached a GoPro Hero2 to the side of a sinkable dry dock (check back in for the resulting underwater timelapse!). If you’re not familiar with the GoPro cameras, their settings screens are on the front of the camera, such that when you’re configuring the settings, you just might catch a couple of images of yourself. This was one such image.

©2012 - Chris Conti Photography

(this is why photographers stay BEHIND the camera!)

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My Thoughts on the Canon 5D Mark III Camera

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Canon finally announced the long-awaited 5D Mark III camera body early this morning. My thoughts?

I’m sure it’ll be a nice upgrade when my 5D Mark II dies.

That’s right, I will not be rushing out to buy one of these. I was waiting with as much anticipation for this camera as anyone, and was ready to hit the “preorder” button as soon as the listing came up on B&H. But after reading about the camera it does not appear that its features will be worth an immediate upgrade.

There were a few things I was hoping Canon would include in this camera:

1) a faster continuous shooting still frame rate

2) faster video framerate(s)

3) a better autofocus system

4) higher-quality video recording

1) and 4) were improved slightly, but not much. The 5D Mark II’s continuous shooting framerate is 3.9 frames per second. The 5D Mark III’s is 6fps. This is an improvement, but only by about 50% and still doesn’t even match the 7D’s 8fps. As far as video recording, the 5DmkIII uses a new interframe compression scheme and additional processing which may improve the quality of the video, but it still uses the same old 4:2:0 sampling scheme. 2) was not improved at all (the 5D3 can shoot 720 60p, but so can the 7D and, for that matter, so can a $200 GoPro camera… I wanted 1080 60p, which I think is very reasonable*). 3) really is the only one of these four things that was significantly improved. The 5D Mark III was given the same AF system as the 1Dx, Canon’s flagship camera body. It is a 61-point AF system with something like 40 cross-type AF points (the best kind). Also, it uses a tiny, 1.5% spot metering area (the circle is only 1.5% of the total area of the frame) which is great if you want to expose the shot very precisely for a specific area of the image.

Anyway, again, all in all, not worth buying immediately.

*: The 5D Mark III is equipped with one of Canon’s newest, most powerful image processors, the Digic 5+ (the same processor that the 1Dx contains, except the 1Dx has two of them), so it is very possible that the good folks at Magic Lantern will be able to engineer some third-party firmware for the 5D3 and if so, it is possible that they’ll be able to squeeze additional performance out of the camera. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

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