Previously on the blog, I mentioned that I bought a GoPro for use during concert productions, and I thought I'd take the time to highlight the specific needs that this purchase addresses. While there are certainly some drawbacks to the overall ease of use with this device, I think the advantages outweigh them.
So let's get those negative aspects out of the way. First of all, the camera's relatively expensive for what it is, and accessories are ludicrously priced. Fortunately prices are well below MSRP, and in cases where they are not you can often find third-party solutions that fit the bill. There are also some battery life and heat concerns, especially when recording and streaming simultaneously. I've been able to address battery life, but haven't had it long enough to determine whether heat will be an issue, especially on multi-hour productions. The WiFi control and setup is a bit of a pain and not always the most stable, especially when reconnecting to the device, but maybe there's some software limitation I'm unaware of causing that issue.
Generally I'd avoid a product with a cons list that long, but as I mentioned, the advantages and opportunities for creativity and outreach make it easy to overlook.
One area that just has to go off without a hitch is integration with my live stream setup. That means transferring a clean video signal at 1080p60 to my switcher, and having it be stable. The GoPro performs this admirably. Although I hate relying on HDMI, let alone micro HDMI, beggars can't be choosers on a device of this size. I've tested the video output straight into the switcher as well as being transferred wirelessly via a Paralinx Triton unit, and both work very well. While the fisheye effect can be off-putting on final products, I think it adds a pretty neat aspect to the stream, and if I really don't like it in certain situations I can switch the field of view on the device to medium or narrow, though I realize that this will slightly lower the image quality.
The GoPro also has the ability to receive stereo audio through the use of an adapter, so when I'm close to the production site I can get a feed from my interface, and when I'm not close I can use an IEM to supply high-quality audio that will help when I sync the video in post. While the settings for this are very limited it does the job just fine, and is much better than the built-in microphone.1
This is all well and good, but the real reason I invested in this device was the recent announcement that you can integrate the camera into Periscope streams. For those unfamiliar with Periscope, it's a product owned by Twitter that allows anyone with a Twitter account to live stream from their mobile device. People can watch and comment during the streams, but because of software limitations I've only been able to get the app to stream mono audio, even when using a separate stereo interface for the audio. I'm happy to report that in my findings, Periscope, when using a GoPro video signal, streams stereo audio.2 While the video could be better, my business depends on great audio, and this is finally a way to deliver that to those watching via Periscope.
Best of all, the GoPro seems to be able to handle all of this simultaneously: output over HDMI, stream via Periscope, and record internally.1 So while it may add even more wires and devices to my already complicated setup, the resulting footage, perspective, and ability to reach a new audience make the GoPro well worth the trouble.