It’s well known throughout the fly-fishing community that shooting on a GoPro camera is not only far from a unique filming method, but somewhat of an industry standard. However, have you ever tried to shoot on 6 of them at once?
For our latest fly-fishing adventure video, we met up with local guide, Colby Crossland, to create a cinematic experience following our adventure down the Green River. However, we told cinematographer, Preston Hoffman, to leave his expensive camera gear at home, because on this trip, we were going to capture everything on GoPro Gear. Normally, Preston would be shooting on thousands of dollars of equipment, the likes and capabilities of which would make the average anglers’ head spin. This time, however, the only camera gear he was allowed to use was what he could fit in the palm of his hand.
We followed up with Preston afterward to talk about his experience with switching up his style and deferring back to the roots of fly-fishing filmography. Here’s a behind the scenes look with Preston on filming “This Place Sucks”.
Preston Hoffman is a Director, Cinematographer, and Photographer, born and raised on a 5th generation ranch and farm on the Southeastern Plains of Colorado. His upbringing has instilled with him a deep-seated gratitude for the outdoors, and stewardship of wildlife conservation. He has worked as a cinematographer/DP for brands such as Patagonia, Toyota, and Coors Light, and has directed projects for brands such as Stetson, VSSL, Outback Trading CO, and many more. He currently resides in Colorado, documenting the West and outdoor adventures with storytelling through his filmmaking and photography.
Flylords: How was it transitioning from shooting with a cinematic camera to using just a GoPro?
Preston: It was great. I’m selling my entire cinema setup, and going purely GoPro from here on out. It’s the way forward. Haha. You know truth be told, I was definitely feeling a little vulnerable about it in the beginning, just because I was worried about not getting the exact results that I was looking for. Luckily, because GoPro’s have come so far since I last picked one up (Hero 3+) I was blown back by how many settings were packed into this little camera, and the ease-of-use with switching settings made it fun and easy to use.
For a run and gun project like this, while being in a rugged environment, the peace of mind of not worrying about gear getting wet or dropped was awesome. Coming from a background of being in rugged environments and worrying about gear getting damaged on the road, or on set, the transition was great. I felt I was able to think a little bit more about the creative side of the project rather than stressing out about damaging the camera itself while on the boat or in the water. Also, I probably wouldn’t put my cinema lens that close to sizzling breakfast patties, but the GoPro got right in there no problem.
Flylords: What filming techniques were you able to employ while using a GoPro that you wouldn’t normally be able to accomplish with a cinematic lens?
Preston: The amount of mounts that GoPro offers these days allows filmmakers and creative‘s to get really diverse and think outside the box. With a normal cinema set up, on a run and gun project like this, I wouldn’t necessarily be strapping the camera to the edge of the boat, or getting these POV angles that I would be able to get with this GoPro. Don’t get me wrong, there are mounts for cinema cameras out there that allow you to do similar setups, but the amount of setup time and money that goes into them, might not always be worth it depending on the project. So the fact that I can carry all the accessories in one small bag, and mount the GoPro nearly anywhere, was allowing me to accomplish and explore new creative ideas that I might not have thought of had I just been shooting purely on a cinema set up.
Flylords: How did you utilize the Zeus Mini in creating this video?
Preston: The trail to the bathroom at night was treacherous, and after too much of Colby’s hazardous hot sauce at dinner, let’s just say I was glad the Zeus mini kept me on the right path.
Creatively, I was able to throw it into nearly every situation to help provide extra accent and key lighting when needed. Not only that, but since the Zeus Mini is compatible with all GoPro’s accessories, I was able to use the hat clips, and magnetic clips to help with lighting certain situations at night. I really wanted at least one cooking scene in this piece, and since we had to cook in the dark, the lights helped bring that idea to life without any issue. Since they’re so small, they’re easy to keep in your pocket and also just use around camp as an all-around great camp light. The
Also, GoPro ISO capabilities were a lot better than I had anticipated. Especially when working in the GoPros “low light” mode. However, just out of habit I wanted to keep my ISO as low as I possibly could and that’s where the Zeus Mini really came into play.
Flylords: When people shoot on a GoPro, they’re usually not thinking about lighting. How was having the Zeus mini advantageous to adding lighting to the video? How did the lights stack up against traditional lighting?
Preston: Typically, traditional lighting can kind of be a little bit of a thing to set up. There are a lot of small lights out on the market, and although I think that professional lights are getting more and more catered to run and gun projects, the market is still somewhat limited, so having these little lights made a huge difference. I wasn’t worried about stands, cords, batteries, or stressed about them getting damaged while getting on and off the boat or at camp. I will definitely be keeping a couple of Zeus lights in my camera bag, and pick up, from now on just to help with adding little lighting effects on future shoots.
Flylords: How did being able to film underwater affect your creative process when creating this video?
Preston: Filming underwater is something I had always wanted to try. But, with how expensive underwater housing units can be for cinema bodies, I still haven’t pulled the trigger on owning one myself. So, creatively, this was a new avenue for me and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. I think having the ability to take a peek into this underwater setting and seeing these fish interact in their natural habitat is an incredible opportunity and only helps grow my overall appreciation for these badass fish and fisheries.
The ease of being able to film on dry land and seconds later dunk the camera into the water, allows so many people to see what they might be overlooking every time they’re around a body of water. In return, I believe this can open the eyes of many others, and with how easy it is to share images and videos these days — it’s only going to help educate and spark inspiration in people to help keep these wild places, beautiful and healthy. It’s awesome to have a small, portable, easy camera that has the ability to do that!
Flylords: With the portability of the multiple cameras, do you feel you were able to get a more diverse array of shots/ capture more action?
Preston: Absolutely. To have the ability of 3-4 cameras running at one time, and having people who aren’t necessarily familiar with cameras, be able to run them, was a dream. With the click of the button you can have someone who knows nothing about cameras immediately filming in 4K 60fps, 24fps, and 1080 120fps. Even if they’re a couple hundred yards away from you. Also, with GoPro’s Bluetooth capability and app, I was able to control the cameras just from my phone as well. So having them hooked up to an angler, I was able to turn the camera on and off and also record when I saw a moment happening downriver.
Flylords: What was your favorite shot to get from the whole production?
Preston: You know, that intro shot with Colby’s mustache might be my favorite. It’s not every day you get to shoot a glorious stache like that.
But if I had to choose a second one, I think it would be a tie between the night lapse shots I was able to achieve with the Zeus Mini, or the underwater release shots. As I said, the underwater world is still pretty fresh to me as far as getting creative with it, so being able to explore that a bit more is something I’m really looking forward to and had a lot of fun trying out. Also, there was a slow push-in shot through the tall grass of Colby walking towards the boat at sunset, and the colors and dynamic range that I was able to pull from the GoPro footage was really surprising and fun to work with. Most shots were refreshing to me in some way just because it’s so different from what I’m used to, and I will definitely be pulling the GoPro out again on future projects.
Thank you to GoPro for this amazing opportunity. Make sure to go check out their line of cameras and accessories, including the new Zeus Mini LED clip light. Also, thank you to Preston Hoffman for taking on this challenge. Lastly, thanks to Colby Crossland and the anglers that call the Green River home for sharing their amazing water with us.