GoPro BTS – Getting the Shot for HERO6 Launch

Here’s a behind the scenes look at capturing just one of the many shots that made it into the HERO6 launch video. This particular shoot was in Baldface, BC in Canada. We had some of our best snow athletes present: Travis Rice, Torstein Horgmo, John Jackson, and Chris Benchetler. How can you go wrong with that list? On the video capture side your OG USC crew was holding it down. Chris Farro was producing the shoot, I was directing and drone piloting, and Caleb Farro, Matt Cook, and Kyle Ohlson were shooting. Kyle isn’t from the USC crew but he can be honorary member since he was following our antics since he was like 14.

We spent 7 days in Baldface knocking out a whole host of different assets from long pow runs, camera handoffs, to drone let go shots. The BTS features a hit where Matt Cook was tasked with doing one of his famed follow-cams that would inevitably look as if it was shot with a drone. You might wonder why we don’t just use a drone in the first place – well even with the best race drone pilots, you most likely won’t nail the shot the way that a good gimbal follow can. For a shot like this, it would have to be shot with a race drone because typical film drones like the Karma can’t descend fast enough to keep up with the slope of a steep cliff. You could get away with a mellow run, but anything steep will drop away from you pretty quickly.

Next, Matt has to figure out his line so he can keep up and get the best shot. In this video he decides to ski from the side and slightly underneath Torstein’s line because he knows if he tries to follow off the jump, Tor will fall away out of frame too quickly. There are two modes in the gimbal – lock and follow. Follow means that you set your starting angle in relation to the angle of your gimbal, and then it’ll tilt up or down depending on how the gimbal is tilted. Locked gets you a more drone-like shot, and looks less like it’s following the contours of the mountain. Matt likes to use lock at all times, where he sets the angle of the shot, and keeps it that way for the whole run. So knowing he’s going to come in from the side, he knows he’s got to get the gimbal really high at the beginning to account for the pop off the jump, and bring the pole down as low as he can go on the landing in order to keep Torstein in frame the whole time. The first time he went off he underestimated how high Torsten would pop, so he didn’t have the pole up as high as he should have. When we’re on production we always check our shots in-between takes to see if we nailed what we were after. Watching back on the GoPro screen is fine enough for a quick check.

Let’s talk about Matt’s pole. Yes, this was an expensive GoPro production, and yes, we could have probably had a solution that looked less jenky than his setup. As shown, the main pole Matt usually uses is the combination of the Karma Grip and GoPro’s new extension pole – El Grande. He uses that bright orange heli strap because it’s quick and easy to pull on and off; however, if you get the Karma Grip, the kit comes with a nice little GoPro branded velcro strap that can function the same. While the duo of the Grip + El Grande looks a little less great than having say, a 1/4-20 mount on the bottom of the Karma Grip, it’s actually really versatile having the ball-head on El Grande. The ability to rotate the whole setup every which way enables a ton of different types of gimbal-pole shots. For this particular day Matt wanted something much longer than the El Grande extension pole so he could get the type of shot we see in the video. We actually usually have a good long mono pod from SIRUI; however, we completely spaced and didn’t bring any on the shoot. The bottom of the El Grande extension pole actually has a 1/4-20 thread, so you can extend the length with a typical monopod. We made-do and stripped the broom head off of a broom in the closet and taped it up! Sure it didn’t look great, but it definitely got the job done – and in the end, that’s what matters.

Hope you all dug this behind the scenes, and feel free to ask any questions below! Let me know if there are any other aspects of production you’d like to see the BTS of!


GoPro Karma Drone

HERO6 240FPS with Tom Wallisch in Mammoth

GoPro HERO6 Black

  • Paulin Toneguzzo

    Amazing job Abe ! Your pictures are always beautiful ! Thanks to sharing your knowledge ! What settings do you use for follow cam and drone shot ?

    • With the HERO6 definitely either 4K-60 or 2.7K-120.

  • Erwan

    Amazing job ! Love BTS ! Super stoked !
    I seriously want some information about a way to become filmaker at gopro, where can i contact you about this ? Thank you !

    Is the HERO5 session still good enough or should i definitly go to HERO5 black or HERO6 in your opinion ?

    Thank you Abe !

  • guyrudder

    I could watch a BTS of your work every day, so damn interesting!

    I was wondering…more and more GoPro content is becoming linear, either through the mode or in post. Would you like to see cameras being made with a flat FOV? It must take quite a bit of time to correct. Don’t get me wrong, the fisheye does have it’s place so I wouldn’t want to see it go all together! Is it even possible to have both FOV on the hardware side of things?

  • Reagan Simmons

    Thanks for the follow up blog post after the video came out Abe. Always appreciate your in depth knowledge about getting the most out of your GoPro. How do you get those panoramic-esque photos that you have shown above, to be shown that way? Does it have something to do with your Fisheye removal tutorial, but with photos somehow? Would love any insight on the matter. Keep up the killer content!

  • Bobby Stevenson

    Hey Abe quick question were any ND/polarizer filters used when droning or follow caming during this session?

    • I have the same question. I just used Polar Pro Cinema Series on a shoot and wasn’t all that happy with them. They added an extra flare I thought was dust on the lens and also created a light gold colored vignetting in the corners at times. I’m really curious as to who uses them and which ones produce the best results. I cannot avoid shooting toward the sun so I’m starting to get the feeling GoPro video may be better without. Would love to hear Abe’s take on this.

  • Loved this. Great work!

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  • mouflo

    I just discovered your site, it is an incredible job, we often look at the skier but we always forget the quality of the cameraman and his talent to edit, you are incredible!
    I love your tutorials well explained. if ever one day you can do one to explain the zoom effect in the control screen it would be great. keep up the good work