If it’s Good Enough for Hollywood
I recently had a film project in Northern Norway. The project involved a lot of under water footage. I wasn’t thrilled about shelling out nearly $12000 in underwater housing for my mirrorless camera. So I chose to pull the trigger on the new GoPro Hero 7. I was convinced I made the right choice when I heard that the popular Hollywood movie, The Hobbit, had used a GoPro Hero 7 for an underwater scene. I figured if the GoPro Hero 7 was good enough for them, it would be just fine for me.
Stabilization Vs. Gimbal
I traveled with my Crane 2 Gimbal for my mirrorless camera. I intended on using most of my high action and fast moving shots with the gimbal. how ever, the GoPro Hero 7 had such buttery smooth digital stabilization. It kind of felt like a waste of time trying to set up my gimbal on our boat. Because a lot of the filming was out at sea, it was difficult to balance my camera on the gimbal for the setup. I also wasn’t super keen on getting salt water all over my gimbal, if I could avoid it. I can be pretty rough on my equipment, but salt water is nasty.
The trade off wasn’t between which stabilized shot I liked more. Both the gimbal and the stabilization were basically totally a draw. The GoPro Hero 7 won out on accessibility and ease of use in a real world “run-‘n’-gun” situation over the gimbal hands down. The only reservation I have with using the GoPro Hero 7 exclusively for stabilized shots, it’s the low light, and dynamic light capabilities of the GoPro Hero 7 versus my Sony A7RII.
Ultimately I ended up using both cameras and supplemented my final film of the Orcas with footage from both cameras, and stabilization setups. I was really happy with the marriage of the two. I think the shots worked together almost seamlessly.
Time-lapses and HyperSmooth
I shot a ton of time-lapses and hyper-lapses on this trip. I haven’t really used them for anything and they didn’t make it into my short film, how ever I really enjoyed them. The time-lapse and hyper-lapse footage would look really cool in longer documentary style films. Travel films, and travel recaps would also benefit from having cool HyperSmooth shots.
The HyperSmooth pretty much acted how I expected it would after seeing the digital stabilization. It only makes sense that the GoPro Hero 7 would also use the stabilization for hyper-lapse scenarios. For those of you who don’t know, the HyperSmooth mode is just a time-lapse, but it’s engaging the digital stabilization. The benefit of during time-lapses, is that you can move around with the GoPro and create really smooth hyper-lapses, right out of camera. No need for annoying post processing warp stabilization!
Everything About the GoPro Hero 7 was Great, Except for This
Swimming with orcas in Norway is by far the most unique and among the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. On our last day of filming and swimming with orcas, and humpbacks, the Go Pro Hero 7 failed me. In an epic, extraordinary way.
It was perfect, The sun was low in the sky, no other boats were in sight. Our Captain found a massive ball of millions of herring fish, which the orca hunt. There was a pod of a dozen or so orcas. I got into the water and swam with the killer whales for hours. I couldn’t believe how curious they were. For hours they would swim up to us, slowly swim by while clearly making eye contact. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was by far the best swimming session of all from the last four days, maybe twenty sessions total.
It was all going so well. Until I reviewed the footage.
I kept checking my GoPro Hero 7. I wanted to ensure I was capturing every moment. The red light was on, the entire time. I was elated. Until I got back to our Air BNB. I reviewed the footage. The entire session was recorded in time-lapse mode. I couldn’t believe it. All of the footage right before, and right after the swimming session was all in 4k, 60fps video mode. I somehow hit the “mode” button while in the water. The footage was unusable.
I felt like I was going to throw up. But I quickly got over it. Things happen. I’m just beyond thankful to have experienced such an incredible encounter with such an amazing predator, truly one of the most beautiful wildlife experiences I’ve ever had. I’ll always wish I had the footage to share with others.
I’m a massive fan. I’ll be investing in a few more GoPro Hero 7 cameras for a few upcoming action projects this year. Ultimately, my only bad experience was user error. I should have paid better attention and in hindsight I would have been better off reviewing the footage in the moment. It’s hard to balance filmmaking common sense, when you’re engaging in incredible, once-in-a-lifetime moments.
I would like to see a better way to switch the modes in the future. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has missed a shot or epic footage as a result. Otherwise I’m beyond stoked about all the new features. I couldn’t have come even close to creating the short film without my GoPro Hero 7. I’m super proud of how everything turned out and I would definitely recommend the new GoPro Hero 7 to anybody filming travel, adventure, and action sports.