In November 2013 I visited St. Kitts in the Carribean to see my brother and ended up shooting a short video for fun. I was really surprised by the response to it, gaining nearly 20,000 views and personally receiving numerous messages from past, present and future residents on the Island saying how much they had enjoyed it. I was approached by the visitor channel and after discussions the video ended up being played on rotation 22 times a day for 3 months. I was chuffed.
At the end of last year I had the opportunity to return to the island so I was keen to take it up. I decided I had to put together another video and I was also lucky enough to be offered some commercial work whilst out there from local businesses.
I’d recently got my hands of the new GoPro Hero4 black edition as well as a handheld gimbal from Feiya Tech. I use GoPro’s quite a lot with work but I’ve recently wanted to get to grips with the Hero4 specifically and see what I could get out of it alongside the G4 gimbal. I was keen to shoot entirely on GoPro on this trip for two main reasons. Firstly I really wanted to push the camera to the max and see what I could get out the 120fps slow motion setting, and secondly for much more practical reasons. It’s small and compact and in a lot of situations (when not on the gimbal) – it's entirely sandproof and waterproof. It makes a big change from lugging around a much heavier bag of camera kit and lenses for them to inevitably end up waterlogged and full of sand!
I knew I would have to for-go depth of field in my shots and that much of my footage would have the typical GoPro ‘look’. Putting these aside, my curiosity wanted to see what I could achieve by experimenting with 120fps and the narrow setting on the camera to see if I could attain shots that didn’t shout ‘GoPro’ at all.
This was also my first proper use of the new Feiyu Tech G4 gimbal which meant I would now be able to take a huge amount of shake out of my movement with the Hero4. I hoped it would let me achieve some really cinematic shots not typically associated with GoPro.
The island itself lends itself hugely to filming and I was lucky enough to have some awesome things on offer: hiking, diving, snorkelling to name a few. These activities, in addition to the awesome people I met out there meant I had plenty of fun times; and of course, plenty to shoot.
In addition I was put in contact with Jeff, the owner of a water sports business (St.Kitts Water Sports - awesome check them out) on the Island who was able to setup all the aerial filming and water sports without direct cost. This was a huge plus for me, and for shooting. It really made the trip.
It’s fair to say both the Hero4 and G4 performed well beyond my expectations and I was seriously impressed with the results. I shot mainly in 1080, 120fps with the Hero4 as I knew I wanted to use a fair bit of slowmo in the edit. The main downside of doing this was that when I did want to use shots played at 100% normal speed the result was very jittery. This was due largely to the fast frame rate coupled with subject and camera movement. Setting them to 80-90% speed however meant the result was much less jittery and the footage still looked (to the average viewer) as if was real speed.
The edit was cut to song I’d found just previous to the trip. I’ve come to find that music is probably the most important element of edits of this style. In my opinion it is the single one thing that brings everything else alive and gives it feeling. I was able to get in contact with Unity records, the label behind the song and promptly was given clearance for non-commercial use. It was a great result.
As it stands a day after posting the edit I’ve had some great feedback from Island residents as well as those further afield. I’ve also been contacted by a number of businesses for follow up commercial work, which is really excellent.
Whilst this always was just a ‘fun’ edit, it’s what allows me to push myself technically and creatively, without the constraints of a brief or budget. I guess the only downside is that it can take a lot of time.. but I’m enjoying it immensely so it can’t be considered work. I’m always really grateful to have feedback on stuff I do, and so far it has been really positive.