The GoPro Film Pole

Subject: DIY Official Abe Kislevitz GoPro Pole
Filmers: Abe Kislevitz
Location: Mammoth, CA

Having a good pole for GoPro follow-cam filming while skiing/snowboarding is absolutely imperative in my eyes. No matter how steady you think your hands are, handholding a GoPro will never yield good stable shots. Also, the name of the game for dynamic GoPro shots is getting as close as you can to your subject. Having a longer pole will help you with that extra 3 feet of length which could be the difference between a mediocre shot and an amazing shot!

If you watched the video, you’ll see my pole has a couple of extensions to get it up and away from the pole a bit. I’ve found that if the camera weight is directly in line (or close) with the axis of rotation of the pole, you’ll get more rotational jitter in your shots. The same deal goes for hanging the camera upside down vs. upright. If you let the camera hang whether you’ve got extensions or not, you’re letting the camera freely rotate around the axis of rotation (straight down the pole). This results in very fine jitters rotationally that you’ll absolutely pick up if you look in any of the corners of your video. The subject may look alright in the center but the corners will be shaking pretty violently. It’s better to get the extensions up away from the pole at an angle, and use your muscles to keep it upright and steady. As far as actually getting smooth shots once you’ve got a good pole built, using two hands whenever possible will help tremendously. Be very deliberate with trying to steady the pole as you ski/snowboard. I’ve had a lot of practice so it comes without thinking too much for me.

It’s true there’s a lot of options of poles and monopods out there; yet I always come back to this same pole as getting the best shots. I’ve tried a lot of stuff but when I know I need to get the right shots I’ll show up to a production with my trusty old ski pole. It’s pretty funny showing up to a 40 person production with Shaun White and busting out an old scratched up, duct taped pole.

The Full History

I first got this pole as a pair with the first skis I ever had. I was 13 and ordered a pair of Salomon 1080s off Ebay. The person selling them included this fine pair of blue Scott World Cup poles. They were a little used and scuffed but I was so excited to have my own setup of skis and poles. I used them all through high school at Mt. Hood Meadows, picking up skiing pretty quickly and going every weekend I could. They appeared in my photos when I was just learning how to use Photoshop and in artwork when I started to paint. When I graduated high school I started skiing at Mammoth as soon as I moved down to LA while I attended USC. The poles made it all the way until my junior year when Chris, Caleb, and I were at the Collegiate National Championship in Colorado (we won!). Chris Farro had one of the poles in his hand and he was pretending to snap it in half. It snapped in half – and then there was one.

For whatever reason I kept the single pole around. It sat in the ski team house’s garage collecting dust for a spring in Mammoth, then a summer, and then another fall. By February I set my hands on my first GoPro (2009). We started off just putting them on our heads, then on our boots and skis. School was out by mid-may and Chris, Caleb, and I spent the following month in Mammoth skiing every day. The jumps were huge and we weren’t getting close enough in our shots. I remembered the lonely pole, collecting dust and said “Hey, let’s try putting the camera on the pole, maybe then we can get better shots!”. The rest was history.

From there it went up to Oregon that summer. The pole met the GoPro HD for the first time. At the time only 4 prototype GoPro HD HEROs existed. Chris Farro and I met up with 1/3 of the employees at GoPro (3) and filmed the first ski video uploaded to the Official GoPro YouTube. Fall of 2009 meant it was my last semester at USC. The GoPro HD HERO came out in October and GoPro sent me my very own. I filmed everything I did that fall – skiing, ice skating, more skiing. That pole came with me everywhere. By December I had successfully graduated from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. I was invited to the Winter Dew Tour at Breckenridge to help out GoPro. The pole arrived in Colorado at its first major competition/event. I met Brad Schmidt, the only person doing media things at GoPro. For the first day or two I was the ski athlete, letting him strap every crazy mount he could think of to me. I filmed myself with the pole on a few backflips. He asked if I knew any skiers in the actual Dew Tour to film and I thought of one old friend – Tom Wallisch. I had met him 2 summers earlier when I posted on a forum asking if anyone needed a ride from Portland to Whistler. We all drove together and hung out all week in Whistler. Back at Dew Tour I called ol’ T.Wall up and he said he’d be stoked to take a couple laps with me. The GoPro Tom Wallisch Dew Tour Edit was born.

I spent the following winter and spring living in Mammoth, living the dream. Wake up, ski, build fire, edit, sleep, repeat – on the weekends 50 of my best friends would show up from USC. When the snow melted in the spring it was time for me to get a job. I moved to San Francisco and started full-time at GoPro in July. From there it was a whirlwind of events, travel, and a new life. Things moved fast, but the trusty pole came with me in my ski bag, everywhere I went. I was able to make it out to Mammoth more weekends than I thought;  not having much of a social life in SF gave me the time I needed to crank out edits in 2010 & early 2011. Fast forward to the end of 2013 and the pole is still alive and well. I’ve had to re-apply duct tape once but it’s holding strong and still traveling everywhere I go. There’s a lot of history in this single little pole… it may even hold some strong GoPro powers.  The next time you stumble across a GoPro video that has my traces, keep an eye out for that blue little pole with duct tape.

First Video using this Pole Cam

Most Popular Video using this Pole Cam


Insider’s Guide to GoPro HERO3 Black

4:3 GoPro Footage Explained

GoPro Photo Shooting Tips