Adventures with the GoPro HD Hero2 - Ferrari Life
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post #1 of 37 Old 02-10-2012, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Adventures with the GoPro HD Hero2

I recently decided to purchase one of these POV cameras to take some in car video and capture the V12 music. (POV = Point of View if you're a dummy like me)

The Hero2 is the latest generation of POV camera from GoPro, and it does have some impressive specs and a fairly impressive price tag to go with them. I won't list all the specs here - you can go to Amazon or the GoPro site and study them yourself. It does appear to have cornered the market in amateur/semipro POV cameras, but I suspect it's been another VHS vs Beta type contest.

The first thing I discovered about the Hero2 is that the camera can't be purchased by itself - you must buy one of their "packages" for $299, which presumably gives you all the neat, specialised stuff you need for recording that particular action activity.

Second thing I discovered is the do-all end-all Motorsport "package" for $299.95 contains almost nothing of value for in car recording except the camera itself.

Even the standard case is rubbish for in car audio/video as it's a sealed case intended for underwater use! Well, OK, there is a 2nd "open" back provided for the case which allows the microphone to hear what's going on outside the case, but it's still impossible to connect any cabling to the camera even with this open back. What's really needed is their "optional" open "skeleton" case, which is another $40. Ka-ching.

Naturally there's no memory card with the camera, so that's another $50 for a Class 10 32GB SD card. Ka-ching, Ka-ching.

Then, in looking at the mounts, there's all manner of cute little clips and shoes included, along with a suction cup mount that really looks the business. Unfortunately the suction cup mount doesn't have any 360 degree ball swivels built into it, so to get "just" the right angle on the cam, you need a Panavise suction cup window mount. Ka-ching - another $25....

Then once you get all the bits you thought you needed, you suddenly realise the damcam doesn't use a standard 1/4" x 20 stud mount like every other camera in the world. It has its own little proprietary mount which is sturdy enough, but useless for adapting to the real world, or the Panavise mount you just bought, until (you guessed it) Ka-Ching - another $10 for a 1/4 x 20 "tripod adapter mount".

So here's the tally on where we are so far before the camera is even mounted in the car:

GoPro Hero2 Motorsports Kit:..........$299.00
Skeleton Case................................$40.00
32GB Class 10 SD Card....................$50.00
Panavise suction mount...................$25.00
1/4" x 20 Tripod mount....................$10.00

Total.......................................... $424.00

Now, I'm understanding from fellow GoPro suckers, I mean users, that the internal microphone in these things is just not that hot, and to get a really good recording of the V12's exhaust, I'll need a Zoom H1 mike, plus something called a dead cat (!!!!) windscreen, and probably another Panavise to fasten the mike and dead cat thingie to my rear bumper.... So I can see another $200 disappearing pretty quickly in the near future, not to mention what the ASPCA are going to do to me when they see this fluffy looking critter fastened to the back of my car with a suction cup. 5-10 for cruel and unusual treatment of an animal, methinks.

So after all this preliminary drama, here's the Hero2 finally mounted in the 550 and we're ready to R&R......except it just started raining
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post #2 of 37 Old 02-10-2012, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cribbj View Post
I recently decided to purchase one of these POV cameras to take some in car video and capture the V12 music. (POV = Point of View if you're a dummy like me)

The Hero2 is the latest generation of POV camera from GoPro, and it does have some impressive specs and a fairly impressive price tag to go with them. I won't list all the specs here - you can go to Amazon or the GoPro site and study them yourself. It does appear to have cornered the market in amateur/semipro POV cameras, but I suspect it's been another VHS vs Beta type contest.

The first thing I discovered about the Hero2 is that the camera can't be purchased by itself - you must buy one of their "packages" for $299, which presumably gives you all the neat, specialised stuff you need for recording that particular action activity.

Second thing I discovered is the do-all end-all Motorsport "package" for $299.95 contains almost nothing of value for in car recording except the camera itself.

Even the standard case is rubbish for in car audio/video as it's a sealed case intended for underwater use! Well, OK, there is a 2nd "open" back provided for the case which allows the microphone to hear what's going on outside the case, but it's still impossible to connect any cabling to the camera even with this open back. What's really needed is their "optional" open "skeleton" case, which is another $40. Ka-ching.

Naturally there's no memory card with the camera, so that's another $50 for a Class 10 32GB SD card. Ka-ching, Ka-ching.

Then, in looking at the mounts, there's all manner of cute little clips and shoes included, along with a suction cup mount that really looks the business. Unfortunately the suction cup mount doesn't have any 360 degree ball swivels built into it, so to get "just" the right angle on the cam, you need a Panavise suction cup window mount. Ka-ching - another $25....

Then once you get all the bits you thought you needed, you suddenly realise the damcam doesn't use a standard 1/4" x 20 stud mount like every other camera in the world. It has its own little proprietary mount which is sturdy enough, but useless for adapting to the real world, or the Panavise mount you just bought, until (you guessed it) Ka-Ching - another $10 for a 1/4 x 20 "tripod adapter mount".

So here's the tally on where we are so far before the camera is even mounted in the car:

GoPro Hero2 Motorsports Kit:..........$299.00
Skeleton Case................................$40.00
32GB Class 10 SD Card....................$50.00
Panavise suction mount...................$25.00
1/4" x 20 Tripod mount....................$10.00

Total.......................................... $424.00

Now, I'm understanding from fellow GoPro suckers, I mean users, that the internal microphone in these things is just not that hot, and to get a really good recording of the V12's exhaust, I'll need a Zoom H1 mike, plus something called a dead cat (!!!!) windscreen, and probably another Panavise to fasten the mike and dead cat thingie to my rear bumper.... So I can see another $200 disappearing pretty quickly in the near future, not to mention what the ASPCA are going to do to me when they see this fluffy looking critter fastened to the back of my car with a suction cup. 5-10 for cruel and unusual treatment of an animal, methinks.

So after all this preliminary drama, here's the Hero2 finally mounted in the 550 and we're ready to R&R......except it just started raining
LOL, welcome to my life trying to film these cars.

There is good news here: you really don't need the "dead cat" for a mic to pick up the great V12 exhaust note. Just suction cup the camera to the rear bumper near one pair of pipes and let her rip. The natural aerodynamic effects of the car create a quiet bubble of air at the rear where it is easy to get a great audio recording without anything special.
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post #3 of 37 Old 02-10-2012, 05:25 PM Thread Starter
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Rick, thanks for the tip - I was really hoping to keep the camera itself in the car and pick up the exhaust note from there, but apparently that's not the best solution. Good for the video side, but the audio results are pretty poor? I'm fast coming to the conclusion there must be lots of tricks and techniques going on "behind the scenes" in these YouTube videos.

Q for you, if you don't mind? While trying the camera out inside the house this morning, I noticed it produces quite a "fish-eye" effect in its videos and stills vs, say a normal digicam or camcorder. Is this normal, and/or what can you do to reduce it?

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post #4 of 37 Old 02-10-2012, 05:31 PM
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I bought one, and are looking for a mount to secure it to the roll bars on the spider. I think behind the driver would be a great view!!
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post #5 of 37 Old 02-10-2012, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Ryan, I think you're right, and I may move mine there after I experiment with it a bit. That location would surely make it easier to turn on & off, too.

The next thing on the list (when it becomes available) is a remote control for this thing.

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post #6 of 37 Old 02-10-2012, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
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Rick, thanks for the tip - I was really hoping to keep the camera itself in the car and pick up the exhaust note from there, but apparently that's not the best solution. Good for the video side, but the audio results are pretty poor? I'm fast coming to the conclusion there must be lots of tricks and techniques going on "behind the scenes" in these YouTube videos.

Q for you, if you don't mind? While trying the camera out inside the house this morning, I noticed it produces quite a "fish-eye" effect in its videos and stills vs, say a normal digicam or camcorder. Is this normal, and/or what can you do to reduce it?
It's normal - it's trying to give you as wide an angle as possible. I guess maybe I got used to it or maybe my HD Hero (Rev 1) has a less pronounced "fish-eye" effect. It does a remarkable job for what it is but there are definitely some drawbacks. That's a big reason why I only have 1 of these in my arsenal of 5 HD cams. And yeah, as you experiment with the camera, angles, etc etc you will learn all kinds of stuff. Then there is the editing...more fun!

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Ryan, I think you're right, and I may move mine there after I experiment with it a bit. That location would surely make it easier to turn on & off, too.

The next thing on the list (when it becomes available) is a remote control for this thing.
This sucker has a remote and a LCD to see what you are actually framing in the video. I plan to test one of these out sooner or later.

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post #7 of 37 Old 02-10-2012, 11:45 PM
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Great post, thanks, although a bit too late as my Go Pro arrived yesterday :-)
I guess I'll also have to buy the rest of the stuff mentioned. Plse keep this thread going so we can share experiences! Eeehhmmm what's a dead cat??

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post #8 of 37 Old 02-11-2012, 02:04 AM
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Cost is actually quite reasonable compared to the Chasecam Solid State Digital Video and Data Recording Systems | ChaseCam I picked up a couple of years ago.

Quality of the video is quite good, but the audio is not great.

Here is an example:

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post #9 of 37 Old 02-11-2012, 02:34 AM Thread Starter
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Great post, thanks, although a bit too late as my Go Pro arrived yesterday :-)
I guess I'll also have to buy the rest of the stuff mentioned. Plse keep this thread going so we can share experiences! Eeehhmmm what's a dead cat??
Yea, I'm having a bit of buyer's remorse now too Jeroen, after seeing those Drift Innovation cameras that Rick pointed out. If the output quality is pretty much the same on both cameras, then the Drift models would be the ones to buy.

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This sucker has a remote and a LCD to see what you are actually framing in the video. I plan to test one of these out sooner or later.

Action Camera - Drift HD170 - Drift Innovation
Thanks Rick, just checked, and at $159 on Amazon, that HD170 looks like a real bargain compared to the Hero2. Even their high end version: Drift HD Action Camera - Drift Innovation the Drift HD for $369 looks to be a better value than the Hero2. At first glance the Drift HD is $69 more than the HD Hero2, but by the time you finish "adapting" the Hero2 to work in the real world, the Drift HD is quite a bit cheaper, since it already has a standard 1/4" x 20 mount, and you have full access to all the ports without having to buy an extra case.

Plus, the Drift models already have remote controls, and an onboard LCD viewfinder, both of which are optional extras with the Hero2 and will probably add at least another $100-$125 to its bottom line.

And their lenses even rotate 300 degrees, so if your mount doesn't adjust to the exact angle you need, the lens can.

Comparing the two Drift models; for more than double the price, I don't see that the high end HD model brings that much more to the table than the HD170 you pointed out. The high end HD has a replaceable lens and can do 9MB stills instead of 5MB, and full 170 degree shots in 1080p mode, but these seem like minor improvements for more than double the money.

Regardless, these really look like the cameras to have for in car video - the Hero2 might be better for scuba diving or shooting in a downpour, but for those of us that just want to shoot from inside the car, the Drift models look a lot better just on a spec for spec comparison. Maybe the Hero's have much better lenses or other redeeming qualities that make them worth the extra $$$, but if I had to do it over, I think I'd buy one of the Drift models.

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Very cool stuff - I am sure it won't be long for one to have an iphone slot.
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post #11 of 37 Old 02-13-2012, 01:40 AM Thread Starter
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First video clip from a cruise around the neighborhood. I did wind up getting the external Zoom H1 mike and a dead cat screen to go over it.

The background noise is really annoying. To me it's wind, but some say the AGC circuit in the Hero can cause this too. In this clip the mike was mounted on the rear vertical part of the trunk lid, and was tucked in very close to the car (see pic below). I've tried it in 2-3 locations, including down on the rear bumper near the license plate, but so far the results are all about the same.

Next is to try mounting the camera itself down there, and using its internal mike to see if there's a mismatch of some sort with the external mike.

Comments and suggestions appreciated.

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post #12 of 37 Old 02-13-2012, 03:22 AM
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First video clip from a cruise around the neighborhood. I did wind up getting the external Zoom H1 mike and a dead cat screen to go over it.

The background noise is really annoying. To me it's wind, but some say the AGC circuit in the Hero can cause this too. In this clip the mike was mounted on the rear vertical part of the trunk lid, and was tucked in very close to the car (see pic below). I've tried it in 2-3 locations, including down on the rear bumper near the license plate, but so far the results are all about the same.

Next is to try mounting the camera itself down there, and using its internal mike to see if there's a mismatch of some sort with the external mike.

Comments and suggestions appreciated.

John,

I see what you mean about the fish-eye. I don't have my camera or manuals with me but you should take some time to go over yours. The fish-eye will be less pronounced in certain resolutions/filming modes (I just don't remember the particulars). IIRC, I always film in 720p HD. You also need to pay attention to what focal mode you want the camera to be in - I think it is something like "near" and "far". I'd used "near" for a cockpit camera and "far" for anything pointed out the window or outside the car.

I'm not sure what's going on with your sound in that video. Did you have any windows open?

Here is one of my first GoPro videos. I used a Flip inside the cockpit and the GoPro was on the rear bumper. I laid down the audio from only the GoPro. I hope you'll agree it's fairly good sounding!

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post #13 of 37 Old 02-13-2012, 04:02 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Rick, I'll try adjusting the resolution to 720p and see what happens - that does reduce the screen width from 170 degrees to 127 which should help a bunch with the fish eye.

I did have the driver's window open in the clip, but it shouldn't have made any difference with an external mike plugged into the Hero?

Your 355 clip is awesome! It also looks like you had a lot more fun making it than I did with my leisurely little neighborhood cruise Unfortunately, I was in either a 30 or 45 mph zone the whole time, and that area is renowned for being heavily patrolled. One of our local 355 owners (and a "senior" fellow like me) nearly lost his license going through there last year.

I heard some occasional wind or road noise in your clip, but nowhere near as bad as mine was. I'll definitely try mounting the camera back on the bumper and using its internal mike and see what that does.

Dumb question, but how did you manage to get the Flip and the Hero so well synced? Is that some software magic, or did you simply have the Hero plugged into the Flip as an external mike?

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post #14 of 37 Old 02-13-2012, 04:19 AM
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Thanks Rick, I'll try adjusting the resolution to 720p and see what happens - that does reduce the screen width from 170 degrees to 127 which should help a bunch with the fish eye.

...

Dumb question, but how did you manage to get the Flip and the Hero so well synced? Is that some software magic, or did you simply have the Hero plugged into the Flip as an external mike?
The change in resolution and resulting screen width will help big time. You won't miss the extra 43 degrees...trust me.

Not a dumb question at all. Since I had no real training, I just invented a method on my own of isolating the sound track from the GoPro and then painstakingly dubbing it onto various other camera angles by matching down to the frame level. I would use cues from the Rev counter, watching the pedals, shifter, etc to get a good match. When I got a little smarter, I would have the driver honk the horn before beginning the drive. That would leave a very distinct "audio marker" on all cameras and would make it easier for me to synch things up. Short answer: it was a huge pain in the keister but the results speak for themselves.

Now, I am working mainly with Final Cut Pro X and they just released a multi-source synching SW update about 2 weeks ago. I can't wait to shoot a new 5 camera video and see how the new features will make my life easier.
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post #15 of 37 Old 02-13-2012, 04:55 AM Thread Starter
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Rick, which editing program would you recommend for an amateur, and someone who has a very short fuse with learning new software?

My philosophy is that if you have to open a book or a PDF to learn how to use a program, then it's just not intuitive enough.

BTW, I just stumbled across this site: GoPro Hero2 Authorized Dealer - EyeOfMine Action Cameras and the guy seems to have some very cool accessories for the Hero's.

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post #16 of 37 Old 02-13-2012, 05:37 AM
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Rick, which editing program would you recommend for an amateur, and someone who has a very short fuse with learning new software?

My philosophy is that if you have to open a book or a PDF to learn how to use a program, then it's just not intuitive enough.

BTW, I just stumbled across this site: GoPro Hero2 Authorized Dealer - EyeOfMine Action Cameras and the guy seems to have some very cool accessories for the Hero's.
iMovie is dead simple but you'll need a Mac. Final Cut Pro X used to be crazy expensive but now is only $300 (again, you need a Mac). Final Cut is more sophisticated than iMovie but not much harder to learn.

Whatever you can't figure out, somebody has generally already recorded a YouTube video showing "how to". It's pretty amazing. No more manuals and PDFs.
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I use Sony Vegas Pro for editing and I'm very happy with it. I stepped over onto it from Adobe Premiere (which I found very difficult to use, and please note that I've used complex software for the past 25 years so I don't think it was me) and PowerDirector which was easy but a bit too limiting. The Vegas family starts at about $40, the version I use is $500 I think.

Rick's tip about YouTube is absolutely spot on - it is amazing what people put out there. Some guy made a great set of titles with sound effects and stuff, and then he made a movie about how he made them. I found it HUGELY helpful!


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post #18 of 37 Old 02-13-2012, 08:04 AM
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BTW - thanks for posting all the experiences with the GoPro, I am looking for some better solutions than I have and I am reading this with interest!


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post #19 of 37 Old 02-13-2012, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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Discovered that in the 1080p setup, the field of view can be adjusted from Wide (170 degrees) to Medium (127 degrees) to Narrow (degrees not specified, nor is this option even shown in the manual!) The Narrow view makes things look "normal", ie no fish eye effect.

Also discovered that a Rocketfish 2.5mm cell phone to stereo headset cable: Amazon.com: RocketfishTM - Stereo Headset Adapter for Most Cell Phones - Black: Electronics

works fine to connect to the 2.5mm "composite" port so that you can adapt a set of headphones with a normal 1/8" (3.5mm) stereo plug for checking audio levels. This 2.5mm composite port has video as well as audio, but no one but GoPro sells the right A/V cable for it, AFAIK. It must have 3 rings plus the tip and be 2.5mm.

There are a couple of 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapters at Radio Shack that look like they'd work too.

Also found that if you remove the memory card, and start recording without it, it effectively turns the Hero into an HD webcam and it outputs a live audio/video feed on both the composite and HDMI ports.

Now if it would just quit raining........
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'99 550, Rosso Corsa / Nero, S/N:114654, Assy: 31836, Engine: 52084

High mileage, low compression, and missing on a few cylinders.....just like my cars.

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post #20 of 37 Old 02-29-2012, 06:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cribbj View Post
Discovered that in the 1080p setup, the field of view can be adjusted from Wide (170 degrees) to Medium (127 degrees) to Narrow (degrees not specified, nor is this option even shown in the manual!) The Narrow view makes things look "normal", ie no fish eye effect.
How did you do that?

My wife bought me a GoPro Hero 2 for xmas with all the attachments including an extra battery and the rear LCD screen but haven't used it yet. Haven't had time yet...and the car is stored for winter....



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