Getting up close and personal

It’s no secret that I’m kind of a geek. It’s kind of what my job is all about really. I get to seek out and test new technology. Web Content Producer Katie Combs and myself are always looking for new ways to tell stories on We’re always looking for something else to give us an edge, whether it be in design, multimedia or video.

But I can’t take credit for one of our recent equipment additions. I have Record Photo Editor Craig Sanders to thank for it in fact.

Introducing, the GoPro HDHero 2.

We acquired two of these little cameras recently. One for the online department, one for photo.  You wouldn’t believe how many times we’ve said to ourselves “I wish we could do helmet cam video for that!” Seriously. Because that’s what geeks often think about. At least I do.

We’ve tried other ways to get similar footage, including the use of a pocket-type camera.

The video for that is from Lathrop at Dell’Osso Family Farm. I took a trip down the snow tube mountain in 2009.

The GoPro, though, elevates what we can do. It comes equipped with head-band style contraption that secures it, nicely, to a source. It’s pretty snug too. I can shake my head back and forth and it won’t flinch.

Thanks to Roger Phillips for getting a shot of me with it on. I’ve been wearing it around the newsroom a little lately as I test some things.

The best part of the GoPro is that it really gets our viewers a birds-eye view of what some of our video sources are actually doing. We were able to use the camera for the first time on July 14 when sports reporter Scott Linesburgh, Sanders and I ventured to Stockton Indoor Sports Complex for the Port City Roller Girls recent home bout.

Marcella McCraw, also known as Marcella Masticate, donned the head gear for two jams during the event.

What I love about the footage here is that you really get a sense of what she’s going through in a bout. She grunts after the hits. When she falls, you see the after effects. Plus, you can see how she kind of took a beating when the camera gets adjusted. And the camera doesn’t move easily. She took a pretty hard hit.

The best part is when you see her eyes toward the end of the video. You can read her face.

You’ll also notice an increase in resolution and playback from one camera, for the snow tube mountain, to the next.

Since we began shooting video for in 2007, we’ve striven to give our readers “more online.” The “more” changes constantly as we explore new technology and reinvent the way we do things every couple months. When we hired on Combs in early 2011, I told her there was no definitive training guide for her position because technology moves so quickly we’d have to update it constantly.

The GoPro is a nice addition to our stock of equipment in fulfilling the aforementioned mission.

It’s also made for some awkward, yet awesome, photos of us doing our jobs. We have to cue up the camera and start it before the footage we want to get.  That’s my head at the top of a shot when I started the camera. The GoPro is so small that it doesn’t have a screen showing what we’re shooting. So it’s a lot of guesswork to mount and make it right.

That leads to looks of confusion too.

That’s Sanders, getting ready to mount the GoPro on a referee for the bout. We got video of that too, but due to the production turnaround of five videos and a project, I couldn’t get the sixth video finished.

And then there’s me.

My preferred shooting camera, the Canon XHA1s, is over my left shoulder in this shot. It’s the first screen of the 24-plus minutes that Marcella Masticate wore the camera. I edited that to under three minutes, our standard.

The GoPro shoots in high definition. It will go widescreen 1080, which fits with our HDV video format in our larger cameras. It comes with a sturdy protective body too, which means it can take a roller derby hit pretty well. It also has a waterproof backing we’re hoping to experiment with too.

The only downside is not so great sound. But the picture quality is awesome enough to add it in to other footage.

We’re looking for chances to use the GoPro more in the future. Maybe you have some ideas? Let us know at or

The possibilities with this camera are limitless in many ways. That makes this geek pretty happy.

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