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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.