GoPro's Karma is here: Our thoughts on GoPro's product launch and market alternatives for the amateur filmmaker

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GoPro's Karma is here: Our thoughts on GoPro's product launch and market alternatives for the amateur filmmaker

On September 20th, GoPro announced the release of the Hero Black 5, Session 5 and their all-new Karma drone. While the press release left much to be desired in terms of presentation, the new promotional videos and announcements were definitely worth the excitement. Above all else, we at Bombear Media believe this new product release from GoPro proves that the industry is moving in an exciting direction.

                                    Karma Drone ($799) / Karma Drone + Session ($1099) / Karma Drone + Hero 5 ($1199)                                                   Session ($199)                   Hero Black 5 ($399)              Session 5 ($299)                 

                                    Karma Drone ($799) / Karma Drone + Session ($1099) / Karma Drone + Hero 5 ($1199)

                                                  Session ($199)                   Hero Black 5 ($399)              Session 5 ($299)                 

First, what GoPro did right

The key element of yesterday’s product launch was pricing. In case you haven’t followed GoPro’s stock (NASDAQ:GPRO) closely, there’s been concern over its astronomical price drop over the last twelve months. Two years ago, following the company’s IPO, GoPro’s stock was the hottest thing in the market. The stock price soared from USD $24 to USD $86 in just 4 months. Since then, the stock has been consistently plummeting and currently sits at 14.97.

(Courtesy of Yahoo Finance)

(Courtesy of Yahoo Finance)

Initially, the stock was hurt after analyst started speculating that the main product offering from GoPro was easily replaceable by the likes of smart phones or cheaper devices. Then, news about a new Apple patent on a similar technology, further decreased confidence in the stock. Finally, though, the biggest blunder came from GoPro themselves. The price point for one of their most exciting product, the GoPro session, proved to be too high for consumers. This made GoPro miss earnings estimates and the rest is history.

It would now seem that GoPro has taken its time on a new release. Largely it was thought that much of the company’s future was expected to be placed on its new Karma drone, however yesterday’s news proved different. Turns out they have completely overhauled their product lineup with now significantly competitive pricing.

Second, what matters to the average user

In a LinkedIn article I published back in 2014, I mentioned that GoPro’s biggest challenge would be to integrate user friendly software that would make it easy for customers to use their recorded footage. Up until now, it would seem to me that more than half of people that have purchased their GoPro’s end up with enormous amounts of unused footage. You are not seeing the awesome video edits or photographs expected from gigantic increases in GoPro users.

Fortunately that problem has now been addressed. The GoPro Hero 5 now allows you to upload photos and videos directly to the cloud for easy viewing, editing and sharing on the go. The new app is apparently now sporting an overhauled editing software that lets you cut and add music to your video from your phone. Added image stabilization and 4k quality at 30fps will make it easier for the average Joe to dish out spectacular videos.

Now, let’s run through each product

New features for the Hero Black 5 that matter:

  • Voice Control: You can now talk to it. How do you like them apples now Garmin (Garmin has been boasting about this feature incessantly with its new camera launch)? Can’t think of how many times I’ve been riding my bike with the camera mounted to my helmet and fiddling with the buttons just before a jump is approaching. This feature can literally save lives.
  • 2-Inch Touch Display: Who cares? Apparently this is a big thing for consumers. I personally don’t get it. I can hardly miss a shot with such a wide angle, especially when you have the phone app that can also let you see what the camera can see.
  • Waterproof: They got rid of the case! Perfect. Less bulk and easier to manage. Not to mention the fact that it’s black. I had actually blacked out my Hero 3+ just for the sake of it being less intrusive and attention grabber.
  • Simple one button control: Sure, why not. Makes it easier to get it running.

New features for the Hero Session 5 that matter:

  • Voice Control: Same as for Hero Black 5.
  • 4k Video: This is now a worthwhile camera for $299, end of.

Karma features that matter:

  • Compact: Smaller and more practical than any other drone offering out there at the moment.
  • Ease of use: It all comes in a compact package that’s ready to plug and play.
  • Compatibility: Officially it’s compatible with the Hero 4 camera as well. However, since the Hero 3 and 3+ are the same size as the 4, it can be assumed compatibility is there as long as you get a tad bit creative on the mounting.
  • Price: I usually don’t get excited for drones, but at this price? You bet.
  • Extras: No additional price for the stabilization gimbal and custom backpack that come with the drone. Both items that would be considerably expensive on their own and can be used for other purposes. Win all around.

But, what actually matters for those of us amateur filmmakers?

The biggest upgrades in our opinion are as follows:

  • 4k Superview: To be honest, 4k is great. The Hero 4 camera could shoot 4k quality footage. However, only up until this new Hero Black 5 is the 4K available in Superview. The reason this matters is because Point of View (POV) footage significantly benefits from Superview, and its probably only worthwhile in that setting.
  • Form factor: Again, they got rid of the case. GoPro is particularly enticing because of its size. Its easy to carry around and use. The story is first, so the best camera you can have is the one that can actually capture the moment. Usually this means the most readily usable camera. The improvements on the new Hero Black 5 make it so its less bulky, faster to get going and ultimately requires less accessories due to its electronic image stabilization.
  • Raw: I shoot raw bro! You knew I had to. For those of us actually spending time on doctoring images after the fact, this is an essential and necessary improvement. This just gives more control to users on image quality, which you can never go wrong with.

What about alternatives?

This is where it gets interesting. Although GoPro has proven time and again to be ahead in of the pack in the POV camera segment, other strong players are quickly catching up.

Take Nikon and their Key Mission product lineup. Sexy indeed.

Garmin also has a POV camera that has some additional fun factor in terms of integrating captivating telemetry.

Not to mention, DJI's rummored leaked image of a more compact drone in the make. DJI has been a strong player in this field and could potentially be outpacing GoPro soon enough.

Ultimately it will all come to how well GoPro executes these new features. It all looks well in theory for now, but how will it all fare up once users start fiddling with it? In the past, GoPro has delivered superbly so I believe it will still reign overall. However, although these other companies are lacking in many respects, they are also breaking ground with some features that might not be as important but can be quite fun. For example, Sony now has optical image stabilization offerings that would likely exceed GoPro’s electronic image stabilization, if not for the free gimbal.

bmmicro.jpg

We also like what other more sophisticated manufacturers are coming up with, such as Black Magic's Micro Cinema camera. If only it would offer more frames per second in video mode, this would be a true contender in sports photography.

At the end of the day, we like where this is going. The benefits of capitalism and a free-market working wonders for us amateur filmmakers. The more these companies fight for supremacy, the more inexpensive cutting edge technology we will become. Enjoy.

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Gear Talk: Its not what you have, but how you use it.

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Gear Talk: Its not what you have, but how you use it.

"Our lives have become digital. Our friends, now virtual. And everything you could ever want to know is just a click away. Experiencing the world through endless secondhand information isn’t enough. If we want authenticity, we have to initiate it." Travis Rice

Our story started with a Canon Power Shot. However, that's not really the point. The point is that it started. There is, in my opinion, a lot of great work out there that never gets published. Unfortunately, our own high standards and taste will discourage us from sharing our content. For us, that seemed to be the case, until we realized our content was just sitting there.

We are currently in the process of sharing our work. We don't know how well received it will be, but that doesn't matter. It gets us motivated to go out and create stories and document things we think are worth sharing. To kick-off our venture, we would also like to share some of our gear selection and what's behind our preferences, in hopes it will help guide some of you.

bbm5.jpg

We are first and foremost individuals who seek to capture footage in remote locations and with fast moving subjects in mind. Even if our library of content is not limited to action and adventure footage, our gear has certainly been chosen with those priorities in mind. We use light and durable equipment that can endure most of what nature and stubbornness can dish out.

That being said, our primary gear is comprised of the following:

  • Canon 7D
  • GoPro Hero 3+
  • Zoon H4N

The 7D

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This is pretty much a bomb-proof camera with a magnesium alloy body that renders it useless in terms of WiFi compatibility. It shoots 8 frames per second, which is pretty impressive for its value. The camera shoots full HD video and can record video at up to 60 frames per second at 720 pixels. As amateur sports and adventure videographers, frames per second make all the difference. In terms of photography, it will allow us to shoot crisp pictures even when the subject is moving at high speeds. Whereas that same capability in video can help us slow down footage just enough for smooth slow-motion clips. I've dropped this camera and even shot with it at -17 degrees Celsius with absolutely no problems.

The GoPro

This is a cheap versatile camera that can go anywhere with you. Its reliability is superb for its price. I would love to hate it, but its just too easy to use and carry. I've always thought that the best camera is the one you are able to quickly grab for a quick/spontaneous shot. This is more often than not that camera, that is, if you don't count your phone. Excels at time-lapses, spy shots, POV and wide angle photography. The downfall of this camera is the fact that you can't switch lenses and are stuck with a super-wide angle shot. It also did not pass my extreme cold test. The battery will fail at -17 degrees Celsius.

Zoon H4N

This is, simply put, the GoPro of sound recording. There are newer versions that are absolutely worth it to consider. Its light, small and durable. It can be used to record music, ambient sound, podcasts and interviews. Never leave home without it. All our sound design depends on it.

With that, you have, the primary components of the majority of our content. It's been a while since our repertoire has been updated, but to our earlier point, that's not what matters. What truly matters is getting out there and taking chances.

I now leave you with the wise words of Harold Brodkey:

“I distrust summaries, any kind of gliding through time, any too great a claim that one is in control of what one recounts; I think someone who claims to understand but who is obviously calm, someone who claims to write with emotion recollected in tranquility, is a fool and a liar. To understand is to tremble. To recollect is to reenter and be riven. I admire the authority of being on one's knees in front of the event.”

- Bombear

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Bombear Cinematic Storytelling

In an age where high definition image capture is within reach of average individuals, motion picture quality is left to depend solely on the producer’s creativity - regardless of skill. It used to be that in order to handle equipment capable of producing quality audiovisuals; you required substantial budget and technical skills. With the effects of mass production and technological advances in the industry, nowadays you just need to have something interesting to aim your camera at. Very much like the automatic transmission made driving more about driving, the democratization of cinematography is making it more about the content than whats behind it.

Because of these recent changes in the industry we have now seen some of the best and worst content in history. As we all become capable of capturing these quality images, we get to experience the cinematographer inside us. It is at this point that it becomes evident not all of us where meant for it.

Throughout this process, however, we get a rare opportunity to vary the way we express ourselves. We are now not only bound to the likes of literature and craft, but also of making films. With this opportunity, some of us have taken it upon ourselves to use cinematography as a form of art and expression. In doing so, we have found our own unique style and niche. For Bombear, the drive has come from one of the most basic desires in human nature – wanderlust.

When it comes to storytelling through audiovisuals, success can be measured in audiences captivated. All of us at one point or another have decided to venture into the unknown and have been rewarded with incredible adventure. When new exhilarating experiences are revealed to us after taking a chance, we are overwhelmed by a strong desire to share the high. We at Bombear have taken the challenge to capture this high, in a manner that engages and inspires our audience. Our belief is that there is much to learn from each other’s experiences through cinematic storytelling.

The content you will find throughout these pages is not limited in form. We have been able to tell stories through short films, point of view edits, documentary style productions and mixtures of all of the above. We hope our content inspires audiences to engage in exhilarating adventure that enhances their human condition.

-Bombear

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