GoPro HERO3 Launch Video

Subject: GoPro HERO3
Filmers: Abe Kislevitz, Jordan Miller, Bradford Schmidt, Caleb Farro, Wes Nobles & more
Location: New Zealand, British Columbia, San Francisco, Tonga, Tahiti
Music: OVERWERK - "Daybreak" (GoPro HERO3 Edit)

The GoPro HERO3 launch video was the biggest undertaking in GoPro media history. It also required the most resources of any project we’ve done thus far. We started planning the video in early June but were at a standstill until we could get working prototype HERO3 units. We made a decision to base most of the filming out of Queenstown New Zealand due to the close proximity to good snow, surf, kayak, and diving.

By mid august we had working cameras and a firmware that worked well enough to film with. We didn’t have ProTune or some of the modes in the camera, but we reached the critical cut off time to create a video in time for launch. A team of about 10 media folk from GoPro jetsetted across the world to Queenstown to set up camp.

First up Caleb, Brad Schmidt (medias creative director), Tom Wallisch, Eric Willett, JT Holmes, Julia Mancuso and I hopped in a heli and took a 45 minute ride into the heart of the mountains near Mt. Cook. We had 3 days to capture some snowy gold and got extremely lucky. We had two very solid days of bluebird weather and perfect snow. We headed back to homebase with the first major section of footage in the bag.

As soon as we got back Bradford headed over to Tahiti to get the surf content out of the way. He met up with Kelly Slater and Anthony Walsh and went to town. They filmed at Teahupoo and captured what they could in the few days they had. Slater’s footage was mostly in stormy weather so not a ton got used, but they scored some rad barrels with Walsh and a few others.

Meanwhile we were in Queenstown shooting mountain bike with Aaron Chase and Kelly McGarry while Jordan Miller and Nich Lubson were filming the ski-BASE section with JT a few hours away. The BASE shoot took just one day – all went very smoothly. On the bike front weather was pretty miserable and very cold but we nailed a few key shots using an RC zipline cam we rigged up in the mountains just above Queenstown. We actually setup a whole action scene where Kelly and Aaron launch off a road gap over a moving truck but didn’t end up using the footage. We wanted a more forest feel in the end. To capture this, the 2nd half of the mountain bike shoot was done up in Squamish BC after the NZ shoot was finished. Caleb and Zak Shelhamer headed that shoot up.

I flew back to homebase to work on camera firmware at the end of mountain bike while the rest of the team relocated to the north island of New Zealand to film Kayak. Local Ben Brown (star of the Skrillex GoPro kayak commercial) showed the team around along with Pro Kayaker Rush Sturges. They faced a lot of rain but went down some of the gnarliest Kayak runs in the world – stuff few would attempt ever.

A few weeks later Caleb and Bradford flew to the Kingdom of Tonga where they would meet up with 3 of the world’s best freediving women. Knowing it was Humpback Whale season, they set out on boats and started freediving. All of the filming was done without any scuba gear. The girls would film for 2-3 minutes at a time with world renowned freediver Kirk Krack on the camera, along with Bradford. Caleb was along to help prep cameras and oil the ladies down. 🙂

The last segment to get filmed was the motorcycles, which was done in our backyard. We flew out our moto GP athletes and put them on brand new Ducati bikes. We closed off a road above the Golden Gate Bridge on the north end of San Francisco then had them cruise through the streets of Downtown SF.

Next up was the task of putting it all together. The editing process couldn’t have been done without the help of our resident loggers Sam Lazarus, Matt Linn, and Justin Whiting. They were on-site in NZ pulling selects as soon as footage came in. They logged all of our raw videos and prepped all the important moments into timelines in Final Cut so we could see the flow of shots for each vertical. Jordan Miller and I took to the edit bay back at homebase and worked on cutting the video down day by day. We had about 4 weeks to edit and 1 week to work on post production.

One of our biggest open questions was music. We searched endlessly for a song that would drive the video in the narrative we wanted but nothing was doing the trick. We looked to two artists to compose custom music for us simultaneously. There was a lot riding on this video so we went with two very different artists to make sure we had something we wanted in the end. OVERWERK came through and delivered a sophisticated yet driving song. Originally OVERWERK actually came to me in the middle of our music crisis and mentioned he was working on some new stuff we’d probably dig. He didn’t know about this project but it came at the perfect time and things worked out. His stuff was in the right direction and we helped him get it to where we wanted it in the end. Check out his new EP and website.

The edit process on big videos like this has a lot of input from the higher-ups at GoPro – mainly the CEO, Nick Woodman. He sat in twice a week to look over the progress of the cut and guided our eventual direction. Once Jordan and I finished off the cut I went clip by clip cleaning up any imperfections in After Effects. I took the video into Davinci Resolve to do final coloring. I hadn’t used Resolve until this project so I watched a few tutorials, drank some Red Bull, and locked myself in our edit suite. 4 days later, the video was finished. BAM.

Check out these photos shot by Sean Custer of me in action on production in NZ! Be sure to check his website as well!

  • Zach Rawson

    Very inspiring! I hope I get the opportunity to work with you guys soon.

  • I could watch the video everyday! great job

  • Peter Tran

    Any chance on getting more details on the rigging, custom mounts, etc.
    I’m guessing Julia Mancuso was wearing a 360° unicorn.

    • I’ll make a post about mounts soon – I don’t have access to all the tools at the moment, I’d like to photograph them all properly!

  • Amazing work, guys!! Congratulations!! I really would love to be part of the team!!

    • Thanks! Yeah it’s a good time on the GoPro team!

  • Ferran

    Nice work mate. I’d also like read an article talking about technical process.

  • George

    love the video…
    step #1 first watched it,
    step #2, (immediately following #1), pre ordered a Hero3 Black. now waiting anxiously for tomorrow (xMas day) as it is my xMas present from the family. Can’t wait to get onto the single track on the bike.

    • Hah awesome! You’ll love it! I take mine everywhere

  • Steve

    I definitely appreciate the technical aspects of your videos. Amazing work, your editing skills and eye for money shots are in a league of its own. I think the best advice you offer is that don’t get too attached to certain shots and try to vary it up.

    My question is how do you know after editing the same video for the last 2 weeks if it’s even interesting anymore? What looked great at first may seem like average joe after the 80th time viewing. Also, I noticed when I edit I have a tendency to have a great first half edit, and the second half kinda blows. Is there any advice you’d give for making the second half as interesting?

    • abekislevitz

      Thanks Steve! Yeah it’s hard to tell, even the HERO3 video we started to question the shots we had until we brought in some outside people to view it and critique it. They were all blown away so we knew we were onto something! As for making a whole edit great across the board – I don’t usually edit linearly which probably helps. Pick out your banger shots and build a climactic end straight off, then fill in the rest! For this video we had two of us working on it, and we’d outline entire sections of how the flow would go along with the song. Planning helps immensely. We watch the song and cut it up to things like “Setting – Setting w/ Athletes – Athlete Build & Getting Ready – Snow Action – Kayak Action, etc etc etc then plan out your sections of rebuilding, travel, climax, revisit sports, celebration”

      • Steve

        Awesome advice. Thanks!

  • I really LOVE this video – It is such an inspiration! I have watched it so many times on YouTube and got the music playing often on my iPhone just to remind me about the video.

    The next step for me is to win a GoPro in the daily giveaway – or buy one! 🙂

  • teahupoo not chopu.

    • abekislevitz

      haha … awkward … thanks

  • Hello Abe. It’s awesome to check your site. I didn’t know that you did this awesome video. I am a world traveler and I use a gopro as well. Check my videos on the blog:

  • Greg

    This is a bloody awesome video; both the footage and the editing; can watch it over and over.

  • Erik Foss

    So you are the Firmware guy 🙂
    Wish you could fix the freeze problems or at least release a firmware without wifi or Protune that makes the lates firmware not reliable.
    The world is waiting.

  • Ryan Harris

    Loved reading about this. Inspired my winter edit this year:

    Keep it up Abe your work has had a huge impact on my edits, thank you

  • grant

    that is so fascinating to hear about the production process, thanks for sharing!

  • Brian

    If OVERWERK hadn’t come through with a killer track, what was the next song in line to take it’s place?

    • We had another custom produced song lined up 🙂 It’s unreleased so you’ll never know! It was a rad track but didn’t have the same energy that Overwerk had

  • EC

    Absolutely amazing. Huge range of emotions from mellow beauty to heartstopping action. Me and a group of friends race a 30′ sailboat in Newport which I think will lend itself to a lot of great images — day/night/water etc. The first thing I did was send the team a link to the video. Now it seems our biggest problem is deciding who gets the fun of collecting the clips while the rest of us attempt to stay focused on actually racing! LOL A big thanks also for your super helpful blog! Insightful for us novices.

  • Awesome and very inspiring article

  • Seth Mason

    Of the millions of advertisements I’ve seen in my lifetime, this is one of the best. Without a doubt.
    On another note, Overwerk has taken over my ipod.

  • Epic work Abe, hopefully I have the chance to work with you sooner then later 🙂

  • Dan

    As someone who commissions & lightly exec produces launch films for Sony (Europe) camcorders, this is a very interesting read Abe. And as I said at the time of the launch, the end result was truly inspiring. Hats off to you & your team. You set the bar ridiculously high for the rest of us.

  • Jon

    Was this video protune mode? Ive tried to get my protune footage that sharp but its pretty impossible 🙁

    • Jon

      “We didn’t have ProTune or some of the modes in the camera” doooh 🙂

  • Antoine Truchet

    That’s amazing and very inspiring Abe! I wanted to know the settings you used on your camera to take a shot like this one? It is such a sick picture!

  • Coolhandluke11

    What are those scuba masks the swimmers are using, they look awesome!