The Ultimate GoPro Gear Guide For 2020

Guide + Podcast + Video

Go Go Gadget Production

This journal entry was inspired by the Watch Time Podcast Episode 14 (Getting Started With GoPros) on 6/11/20. It's my first-ever time appearing on any podcast and working with the great folks over at Flex Media in Cleveland, Ohio!

Do any of these searches sound familiar? "Best Cinematic Camera Setup Under $1,500" or "Best Audio Setup Under $200" or "Camera A VS Camera B Comparison". I've been there and I'm done with that. Instead of wasting more time figuring out which photography camera I wanted to shoot video on, I opted for a go-anywhere, be-anything action camera that makes content creation fun. Give the Watch Time Podcast a listen for an introduction to creating content with GoPros.

My First Watch Time Podcast Appearance

One of my goals this year was to be on a podcast relevant to the creative and marketing industries as a subject matter expert. I want to personally thank Bill and Kathie, the hosts of the Watch Time Podcast, for having me on and helping me achieve this goal. I genuinely enjoyed working with them and am looking forward to future collaborations.

Inspired by the podcast, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my extensive knowledge about GoPro production. My hope is this information will help you create quality content too. In the video, I review my gear piece-by-piece while discussing how I use it on set and why it was chosen over other offerings. Many of the products listed were used to produce the video.

What's In My Gear Bag?

So you're interested in creating professional videos for a fraction of the traditional costs? Then you've come to watch the right video. Over the next 24-minutes, I'll show you the best gear to start with and explain why. For your convenience, I've included a full list of the products featured and links where you can buy them. Please note that some purchases made through these Amazon affiliate links may provide me with some compensation. Although I appreciate any support, I first-and-foremost respect your right to choose. Either way, thanks for watching and best of luck creating quality content!

So how long does it take to make a video like The Ultimate GoPro Production Gear Guide 2020 By Nathan Rafter? One that takes place on a single set, stars 1 person, utilizes items on hand, captured with the gear listed, and that consists of 24 solid minutes of information. If you've never made video content before, the amount of time it really takes to produce a quality finished product may surprise you. If you have, you'll likely be a lot less surprised. Truth is creating content requires much more than investing in gear, it requires intangibles. A proactive investment of time into crafting the ideas you want to express and the execution of assembling them into a message worth sharing. To that end, I wanted to share how much time went into this particular production over 5 days.

The Unseen Costs Of Creating Content

Pre-Production: 1 Hour

Most of this time is spent cleaning and setting up equipment just the way I like. I mentally plan the script and identify key points I want to share while working. I also do a little bit of self-care (clip and clean my nails, wash my face, lint roll my shirt because I have 3 cats, etc) before recording so I look my best on camera.

Production: 3 Hours

For videos like this where I have a lot to say and cover, I tend to set the camera up and do a few very long-winded takes. Pretty much going through my planned content 2-3 times at length. Toward the tail end of filming, I'll import and briefly review my footage. Looking for any missed points or poorly delivered sections needing retakes. Then shooting those retakes along with any B Roll. I ended up with about 45-minutes of solid, usable content. Most of the filming for this project was done on 6/5/20.

Post-Production: 16 Hours

For every video you edit, you will end up watching the raw content in its entirety over, and over, and over again. The longer the raw content, the longer the editing process. To put that in context, a simple 1-minute video could feasibly be edited within 3 hours. While a more complex 1-minute video could take upwards of 10 hours to edit. That's only editing time by the way. It does not account for logging content, any color grading, motion graphics, music, and rendering time. Which on more complex projects, I've experienced day-long renders. That's why projects, even ones as straightforward as this can take literal weeks or even months to complete. Most of the editing time for this project went into cutting down 45-minutes of raw content to a compelling 25-minute narrative. I completed this edit on 6/10/20 and exported out the final render on 6/11/20.

Deployment: 4 Hours

To release a piece of content and do it justice takes time. How this content is shared tangibly impacts the outcomes it can achieve. So be thoughtful and purposeful when deploying it. Everything from writing the video description, to setting up helpful affiliate links, to posting social and blog content matters. Handling each of these with care is the foundation of a successful launch. This video was uploaded to YouTube on 6/11/20.

Support: Ongoing

Once content is out there the work doesn't stop. The goal shifts to sharing that content, remixing and leveraging it, consistently engaging with the audience, and striving to gain more. Below are some examples related to this project.

One big question remains: why make a GoPro Hero 8 review recommendation video 9 months after release? I don't find first impression videos very helpful. They can be informative but are often tainted by early release hype and promises of future features coming soon. With the complexity and versatility of products today, you have to test them before giving away the stamp of approval. Pleasant-looking vaporware products are too prevalent to do otherwise. I can't stress this enough, the GoPro Hero 8 lives up to the hype and is the most fully realized action camera experience on the market.

Why The GoPro Hero 5 & Hero 8 Are In My Gear Bag

I started back in late 2015 with the GoPro Hero 5, which at the time of release was a significant step up from the GoPro Hero 4. I skipped upgrading to the GoPro Hero 6 because it wasn't all that different from the GoPro Hero 5, it even uses the same body. So does the GoPro Hero 7, but it offered a whole lot in terms of software and hardware performance gains. Especially the introduction of HyerSmooth 1.0 stabilization. However, I skipped this one too in favor of waiting for the inevitable GoPro Hero 8. One reason was that GoPro as a company was in a bad spot and I didn't want to invest in tech that may have support and supply issues. Secondly, the user experience still had a ways to go. Instead of seeing the GoPro Hero 7 as the definitive action camera, I saw it more like a glimmer of promise. One that made it clear the best action camera was coming and soon. With companies like DJI and Insta360 putting forward solid offerings, GoPro Hero really needed to nail the Hero 8. And they did.

Even 9 months later, the GoPro Hero 8 is still one of the best action camera experiences on the market. One way to think about your gear on set is: your the coach and they're your team. You can tell them what plays to run and what their roles are, but ultimately it comes down to each player working together to get the shot. As a coach, I want the best players within budget. That's why scouting and vetting gear is so important.

Don't Believe The Hype, Rigorously Test It Instead

Case and point, I originally bought the GoPro Threeway Grip thinking it would be awesome. I was very excited about the 3 different functions: stow away tripod base, collapsible extension arm, and breakaway handle grip. All that on top of the fact it easily fits into the GoPro Hero Casey case. The same thing can't be said for the GoPro Fusion Grip. Which is well worth that minor inconvenience because it really is that much better! So, while the GoPro Threeway Grip had a lot going for it and I would have given it a favorable review early on, I grew to loathe it after 3 weeks of actual use. The tripod base isn't reliable and gets stuck when screwing and unscrewing it enough to become a dependable frustration. The collapsible plastic extension arm doesn't fully lock unless you torque down the thumbscrews. Even then it flexes and bends out of place from moderate movements. The handle can only fit the GoPro Hero 8 with the Media Mod at one front or rear-facing angle that's very awkward to use. In short, it just didn't do anything well enough. At least for what I needed. Interested in other products I'm excited about? Then check out my Get A Grip On Stability journal entry.

That's why I prefer to thoroughly test products and only keep those that pass. That's just the way I am and one of the reasons I'm finally beginning to work on my review of the Respawn 110 Gaming Chair. I've been using it for a few months now and can articulate what I do and don't like about it. So stay tuned!

Other Content I've Created Using GoPros

Become A Master Builder

Here's my review and speed build of the 70831 LEGO Set, Emmet’s Dream House/Rescue Rocket. Which was an awesome gift from my wonderful wife. For a bit of fun, I decided to record myself building it. After a touch of post-production in Adobe Premiere, it's finally ready to share!

2020 Sea-Doo RXT X-300 Commercial

My goal was to capture the vibe of a fun day out on the water while telling the full story. Everything from loading up the LINQ cooler to blasting tunes on the built-in Bluetooth sound system. All while promoting Seminole PowerSports' March 2020 "Splash Cash" promotion.

If your considering making a video or want to explore how collaborating could grow your business, simply connect with me now. I'd love to learn about your goals and help you grow beyond them.

My Partners Prosper

The best part of growing business is working with my phenomenal partners. We grow together, challenge one another, and share in success. Sound good?

I'm so happy with our new websites from Nathan! He always puts forward the best solutions for each of our communities and exceeds my expectations.

- DLS Partners

I love the new look! I feel like our website is finally cool. We even have a secure employee portal now to better support our team. That's really exciting.

- EMI Guide Rail

Nathan's one-of-a-kind marketing efforts were instrumental to the Hudson's Furniture team winning the HFA Furniture Retailer Of The Year Award.

- Hudson's Furniture

Nathan makes our showroom inventory look amazing and our customers love it. Especially all the new ones that these videos bring into our store.

- Seminole PowerSports