Make a long extending GoPro pole

One of the mistakes that is often made by beginners when filming other people is not getting close enough to the subject. Sometimes it is because you underestimate the wide angle lens, and no screen (on most models) means that it is a guessing game.

The footage that you can get being right up close to someone is much better, but it can be a bit more dangerous. The majority of filming that I do with a GoPro will be following snowboarders, skiers and skaters. Close filming of them looks great, but there is always the chance that they come off a feature a little awkwardly and it is pretty easy to get taken out trying to get the best footage.

The best way to get around this is to use a pole with a GoPro mounted on the end.

There are two main advantages of using a pole:

  1. They let you get close or into more dangerous situations where you don’t have to worry (as much) about getting hit by someone spinning on skis, or getting hit with a sharp edge of a snowboard.
  2. The further that the GoPro is from your body, the less shaky the footage will be. The pole does a decent job at smoothing out small bumpy vibrations that are common on follow cam footage, and turns them into bigger, slower movements.

I had been using a smaller pole that was made out of a ski pole for a couple of years, which was fine, but I wanted to make something that was a bit more versatile.

I didn’t really want to buy a pre-made pole like this one, but wanted to make something a bit cheaper.

I went to the hardware store, and bought a plastic (so that it is light) extending cobweb sweeper broom thing. I cut off the cobweb bit so that I was left with just an extending pole.

If you don’t want to cut it off you can just buy a pole by itself from Amazon here.

Rather than choose a combination of mounts, I only used the Tripod Mount because it keeps the weight of the GoPro closer to the pole than any other mounts.

I just drilled a hole through the end of the pole, then used a screw and a couple of washers to connect the Tripod Mount to the pole. The tripod mount has a few good advantages, mostly that it is quick and easy to turn the GoPro so you can swap from filming someone else, to filming yourself.

tripod mount

The reach of an extending pole is where it really shows how helpful it can be. My versions doubles in length to around 140cm (about 4 1/2 feet). You can get really close to the action, without having to worry about hurting yourself in the process.

gopro pole extended

Extra additions

One of the worst things about filming with a GoPro pole is having to carry it around. I am constantly in two minds about whether I should bring a pole, because I know the footage is much better, but I don’t want to have to lug a pole around all day.

gopro pole tripod mount

gopro extender pole

bolt connecting tripod mount

To slightly solve this problem, I tied a piece of elastic around the pole (when it is retracted) so that I can wear it over my shoulder. It is easier to ride around with the pole over your shoulder that it is so ride around carrying it, and you also get to have your hands free.

It is a pretty good investment for about $15 and a little bit of your time.

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GoPro Hero4 Black and Silver

Once again, the promo video for the new GoPro Hero4 is amazing, just like all the previous launch videos.

The range has changed slightly from what it was before, with 3 main models available now. The top of the line, Hero4 Black, then the quite similar Hero4 Silver and the GoPro Hero on the more affordable end.

new gopro models

As a quick run down (i’ll go into detail on the specifics in another post), the black can film at 4k @ 30fps, the silver can record 1080 @ 60fps but also has a touchscreen, and the standard Hero can record 1080 @ 30fps.

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Quick Tip – stable GoPro pole footage upside down

While having your GoPro mounted on a pole normally produces much nicer (smoother) footage, there is a little tip to help smooth it out even more.

If you have a simple mount like this one, a couple of tiny changes can make a good improvement to your footage. If you turn the pole around, so that the camera is mounted under the pole, you eliminate some of the left to right rotation that you get from a top mounted GoPro on a pole.

This is because the weight of the GoPro under the pole helps slow its own movement, in a much simpler way than a proper stabilizer works.

Of course, this will mean that your footage will be upside down, but there are some simple options to fix that in the GoPro settings.

Go to the settings, and cycle through the options until you get to the Up settings. In there you can change it to upside down, which will mean that your video will be up the right way around, as soon as you import it onto your computer.

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What type of SD Card should I buy for the GoPro

Depending on which model GoPro you have, you will need a different type of SD card.

GoPro 960

The GoPro 960 version uses SD cards.

GoPro HD Hero

The original HD Hero uses SD cards, and I have had no problems with using as low as a Class 6 SD Card.

GoPro HD Hero 2

With the HD Hero 2, and the new larger photos that can be shot in burst modes, it needs a faster SD Card. Stick with at least a Class 10 SD Card.

GoPro HD Hero 3

For all the GoPro Hero 3 models, you will need a MicroSD card that is at least Class 10.

I have a couple of cards that are 32gb each, but even that size is a bit of overkill. You will be draining the battery on the camera way before you come close to filling up a 32gb card.

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new GoPro Hero 3

GoPro Hero 3

new GoPro Hero 3

With the recent price drops for the Hero 2, it is no surprise that the new GoPro Hero 3 is coming out.

Apparently is is going to be a much smaller, lighter and will come in 3 different models, with the top end having some crazy video features. Officially being announced tonight, it looks like I might be will get to start a whole new set of experiments when I get my hands on one.

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GoPro pole mount

Simple and strong GoPro pole mount

GoPro pole mount

One of the best things about a pole mounted GoPro is the quality of the footage it produces. Rather than the standard POV helmet mounted view, a pole mounted GoPro lets you film smooth footage, and get close to your subject so you can really take advantage of the wide angle lens.

There are a few options for mounting your GoPro on a pole, after making lots of different versions for people I have found the easiest and strongest way.

Grab an old ski pole, if you don’t have one try asking around at a ski hill, rental and repair shops normally have lots of odd ones lying around that they can give you.

The length is up to you, the longer the pole, the smoother the footage and the closer you can get to the person you are filming without risking being hit by them. The shorter the pole, the more convenient it is to carry around and is a little bit less annoying.

I like to keep the weight of the camera as close to the end of the pole as I can, so if you buy the Tripod Mount, it is the simplest way to connect the mount to the pole.

You need to find a screw that will fit the thread size of the tripod mount, which is a little thicker than most screws, but should not be hard to find. If you wanted to get professional looking, you could buy something like this – D Shaft D-ring Screw 1/4-Inch Camera Tripod Qr Stainless Steel -2 pack.

Tripod mount on the end of a ski pole

Depending on the length of your screw, you might have to squash the end of the pole a little. If you have an aluminium pole, you can use a rubber hammer to slowly flatten the end. Be careful, if you hammer it too hard/fast, it can crack, so take your time.

Drill a hole through the end of the pole, and then put the screw through the pole to the mount and tighten it. Easy pole cam.

Bottom of tripod pole mount

One of the reasons that I like this setup is that as long as you put the tripod mount right near the end, it will allow you to jam the pole in the snow, and flip the camera so you can use it like a simple monopod. Can be handy for filming features in the park.

 

 

 

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