More than 100 amateur filmmakers, participants, their friends and family packed the Terrace Theater on James Island Oct. 18, axiously awaiting the chance to see their home-grown videos projected on the big screen.
Shane Clevenger, The Charleston Angler’s graphic designer, stood in front of the silver screen, patiently hushing an energized crowd of inshore and offshore angling spectators.
“This is by far a bigger turn out than we expected for the first Charleston’s Angler GoPro Film Festival, and we want everyone to know that we are going to have another one next year,” Clevenger, the festival organizer, announced to the crowd.
Two intermissions and 16 videos later, the top three winners are announced. First place went to Ian Bowers, whose video chronicled a speargun building project and subsequent dive trip off Charleston. Other winning videos took viewers on high resolution journeys into the salt marsh and flats of the Lowcounty (winners can be viewed on The Charleston Angler’s YouTube channel).
When the lights finally dimmed nd winners were announced, the angling filmmakers had learned a lot about their strengths and weaknesses. Back to the drawing board for next year.
The festival’s frenzy epitomizes the GoPro HD camera’s splash into the local recreational fishing industry. The waterproof, insanely adaptable little video camera has taken the local fishing community by storm.
Clevenger has worked with GoPro cameras since they began selling the HD Hero Naked at The Charleston Angler almost two years ago.
“It definitely exceeded my expectations,” Clevenger said. “The camera angle is so wide it’s hard to miss what you’re trying to film. It’s a lot easier to use than I thought it was going to be.”
Choose from six options, starting at $199.99.
The HD Hero 2 offers outdoor, motorsports and surf editions, along with 1080 pixels, and a peripheral-bending 170-degree view. The new HD Hero 3, launched in October, is available in the white, silver and black editions. It’s lighter, faster, and offers built-in Wi-Fi for remote access from a smartphone with the GoPro app.
And don’t forget about the cornucopia of aftermarket and GoPro brand attachments to leverage any filming angle on the water.
“The suction cup is convenient, but if you get a rod attachment, you can have it facing all the way down the eyes and that’s a cool perspective while you’re casting,” Clevenger says. “You can see that line burning off there. They’re the two most convenient if you’re going to be fishing.”
John Irwin, a Charleston Angler-endorsed guide of Fly Right Charters, uses the HD Hero 2 and prefers two attachments.
“I use the little roll bar attachment a lot, and I hook it up to the front casting deck,” Irwin says.”
Irwin, who completed a product knowledge test on the HD Hero 2 for a review company, separates himself from the GoPro filming community by mounting his camera to objects that provide his favorite shots.
“One thing I think about videoing is you get redundant shots with the helmet cam,” Irwin says.
“You have to do something different than what everybody else is doing. I’ve hooked it to the push pole, and all kinds of stuff. With the suction cup mount, you can hook it up to the motor. It’s also good to use a telescoping broom handle and you can hook that roll bar to the telescoping handle.”
How to Use
The 3.3-ounce HD Hero2 (HD Hero3 weighs 2.6 ounces) is hailed as intuitive, but Irwin and Clevenger discovered the myriad of extra features through how-to videos and their own investigation.
“I did look at some YouTube videos to get over the basics,” Clevenger said. “There are 100 features you wouldn’t know about.”
Two buttons dictate the dozens of setting options.
“You can change the view from ultra wide to narrow,” Clevenger said. “The camera cannot only shoot stills, but 10 still shots. If you’re jumping a tarpon you can take 10 shots real quick and watch the progression.”
Irwin, first introduced to the HD Hero Naked about four years ago, took a more rigorous GoPro learning path.
“I have a thing I did for a pro staff for GoPro,” Irwin said. “I had to go on and take a test to get the pro staff. It was not easy. You had to read, and know how to use it, so I could get half off the camera.”
Irwin still learns something every time he uses the camera.
“We were in the Keys a couple of weeks ago with my girlfriend and we got some insane footage with some reds,” Irwin said. “We got some shots releasing fish, with me above the water, and it’s almost like a divided lens. … It was really cool. The best stuff we’ve done with the GoPro is down there.”
Planning and set up don’t always precede the highest-quality video and photos.
“I also took quite a few still photographs that have come out really well,” Irwin said. “Most of the time, it’s by accident, and they’ve come out pretty sweet.”
Clevenger, though, a graphic design major from Francis Marion University, always uses deliberation when deciding the best time of day to film.
“In photography, it’s called the golden hour,” he said.
“The first hour when the sun’s rising and the last hour while the sun’s setting is the best. If you can shoot real early in the morning it definitely gives you some golden light. If you’re going to be doing a lot of release shots, you definitely do want to shoot during the middle of the day so the light penetrates the water.”
The GoPro HD cameras create .mp4 file format, allowing users to produce videos on Mac, PC, and free software-based editing programs for upload on YouTube or Vimeo.
The Charleston Angler GoPro Festival required a flash drive submission.
Mac offers iMovie, and PC features Windows Movie Maker, which both, according to Clevenger, present user-friendly options for amateur and intermediate GoPro film makers.
Clevenger stresses the importance of audio quality for the final product.
“You don’t really get any audio with the waterproof housing,” Clevenger says. “But that’s when I end up using music in the background.”
Comparably-priced HD cameras are on the market, but Clevenger’s favorite product is no surprise.
“There’s definitely a reason National Geographic and Red Bull are using this camera,” Clevenger says. “You can get an HD camera for $70 today, but it’s just not going to be as good.”
“I think it’s the best thing out there for outdoor sports,” Irwin says. “I don’t think you can do any better for basic, end-user, simple stuff.”
Advanced users, though, can take advantage of creating 3D videos with two HD Hero cameras side-by-side, in one housing, only available through GoPro, and created in their CineForm software program.