The Go Pro camera has become a lifestyle. I have been testing the limits of a the GoPro 4 Black camera and thinking about all the applications for feature films and cinema. The camera is amazing for its size and quality. You can put the camera anywhere with all sorts of cool mounts. The waterproof housing protects the camera flawlessly and lets you go underwater. The Go Pro app lets your smart phone control every aspect of the camera. The Go Pro 4 Black offers some amazing settings, 4K video in fisheye mode, time-lapse modes, their own "raw" format called "protune."
I shot the above driving video with a GOPRO 4 BLACK, 4K mode, 24p Time-lapse mode one frame every 2 seconds.
The big question is: Can the Go Pro be used as the primary camera in a feature film?
The camera is used all the time as a "B-Camera." Many filmmakers who have cut Go Pro footage into feature films to great success. An action shot, an underwater shot, a POV shot, an establishing shot used economically when mixed with an A-Camera is what we see all the time.
In a week, the first Go Pro shot movie: HARDCORE HENRY is being released. HARDCORE HENRY is billing itself as the FIRST POV ACTION MOVIE. The film is coming off a great deal of buzz it created at the Toronto Film Festival. From the trailer it looks to be a wild joyride. Since the film is a POV action film, the Go Pro seems to the perfect camera tool for that project to give a the viewer an immersive POV experience. Special 3D rigs were created to shoot the film where you see exactly what the hero sees.
But most films, especially indie features are not action POV films. We deal with emotions and dialogue. When it comes to story based filmmaking, the real issue is the fixed fisheye lens that is the Go Pro's signature. While the fisheye projects a sense of urgency, it also distorts reality and images. Some use software to correct the fisheye effect, using After Effects or the Go Pro Studio program, however, it doesn't do a complete job and distortion still exists within the image in software based correction. The Go Pro 4 Black has a "narrow" setting that takes out most of the fisheye effect, but it only works in HD and not 4K mode.
Some filmmakers are taking matters in their own hands, altering the GO PRO with lens mount systems and replacing the fisheye lens. In most cases the altered cameras will no longer fit in their waterproof cases. There is a BACKBONE modification system that give the camera a c-mount lens port. This is a solution that offers varying results, I've tested the Backbone system, and sometimes finding correct focus can be a challenge. Moreover, if you are going to go to the trouble of altering a camera, perhaps another camera would be a better solution for your needs.
I think that the Go Pro can be a great tool for indie filmmakers when used correctly. Perhaps new versions of the camera will allow us to do even more.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!