Using a GoPro Hero Camera to Film Underwater

The GoPro is a great camera to shoot action footage of surfing, skiing, and mountain biking. However, there are lots of other ways to use this versatile, little camera. If you are a student or scientist studying the marine environment, you will find this camera useful in capturing underwater footage in tide pools or tidal creeks.

I just finished a new tutorial to show how to set up the GoPro to film underwater in a tide pool or other shallow water setting. I also cover three ways to approach filming in a tide pool as well as some safety suggestions to avoid damaging your camera.

Here it is (direct link to video in case the player window is not visible)–be sure to select 1080p quality setting and full screen for best viewing:

What Happens When a Squirrel Grabs Your GoPro?

The GoPro camera can be used to capture unique footage such as aerial video filmed with a Quadcopter, time-lapse movie of clouds, and a slow-motion video of a hummingbird.

Here are a couple more examples of interesting videos shot with a GoPro.

Apparently, the videographer baited his GoPro with bread; the squirrel carried it up a tree to dine in safety, then dropped the camera when it finished eating (direct link to video uploaded by Viva Frei). I’m not necessarily recommending anyone try this with their camera….

And here is a video of baby owls, filmed by AS Goprod, a group of French GoPro enthusiasts (direct link):

GoPro in a Water Bubble

Here’s something you can’t do with your GoPro on Earth: Suspend it within a floating bubble of water. Astronauts on the International Space Station created a large water bubble in the microgravity environment and then slipped a GoPro Hero camera inside to film from within the floating bubble. They were supposedly studying surface tension in microgravity, but produced a really neat video in the process. Take a look:

GoPro Hero 3+ Slow Motion Tutorial

You can shoot a lot of neat action footage with a GoPro. To create a really interesting effect in a video, you might want to slow that action down. For example, you might want to film a fast-moving animal such as a flying insect or bird but be able to slow the film down to see movements more clearly. My subject was a hummingbird, which you can see in the short clip below (footage was shot at 120 fps and slowed to play at 30 fps). If you can’t see the player window, here is the direct link.

How did I do that? Well, I’ve created a tutorial that shows how to set up a GoPro Hero 3+ (Black Edition) to capture footage at 120 fps (frames per second) and then how to convert the footage in GoPro Studio (free download) to produce a slow motion film. Here is the direct link to the tutorial in case you can’t see the player window on your device.

You can set up the GoPro to shoot at 240 fps, but you will no longer be able to shoot in HD. Anyway, I had great fun filming the hummingbird and am looking forward to using my GoPro in the future to produce slow motion action footage for my science videos.

Want to learn more techniques like this? If so, you may be interested in my ebook, The Scientist Videographer, which covers everything you need to know to produce an effective and professional video. Available in iTunes Store (fully interactive version for iPad, iPhone, & Mac), Smashwords (text version), and Amazon Kindle (text version).

On My Wish List: A Quadcopter Drone for Aerial Filming

Some of my science videos contain clips filmed from a helicopter, which I’ve used occasionally to conduct research in the Mississippi River Delta (this video, for example, showing aerial footage of both the Mississippi River Birdsfoot and the Atchafalaya Deltas). Such opportunities are rare for the average scientist (or videographer) because helicopter time is quite expensive. However, an aerial perspective can really add to a science story about an unusual or extensive landscape or a remote ecosystem.

We now have a viable alternative to expensive helicopters: remote-controlled quadcopter drones outfitted with cameras. Filmmakers are beginning to take advantage of drone technology to capture stunning aerial footage at a reasonable cost. In the video below, a film crew shot an unusual video in ice caves that riddle the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska. They apparently were able to fly the drone (a DJI Phantom) into the caves and crevasses by using the GoPro Hero 3 camera to see how to maneuver. A wireless link between the camera and a viewing screen (on a smartphone or tablet) allows real-time viewing as well as camera operation.

I would have been pretty nervous about sending a drone and my camera into a deep hole from which recovery would have been impossible…..but they got some quite spectacular footage. Read more about the making of the ice cave film here.

From what I read, setup and operation of these quadcopters is not that easy. Several commenters on one site selling the Phantom described how their drones flew off (with the GoPro Hero camera attached) never to be seen again (even though there is supposed to be a fail-safe return mechanism). That would be quite disappointing, to say the least.

So, the quadcopter is on my wish list, but I may wait a while and do some more research before purchasing.