The Heli-Ski Blog

Ski guide tips for using a GoPro

Posted by Topher Donahue on Jun 11, 2013 7:36:00 AM

Be a Hero - or so says the tagline for GoPro’s wildly successful camera.  The little cameras have forever changed the world of adventure filmmaking, and added one more must-have item to the list for adventure traveller video buffs.

go pro technique

At CMH Heli-Skiing, we see the numbers of our guests using GoPros growing exponentially every year. It’s fantastic to see skiers and snowboarders leaving with their own footage of their Heli-Ski dream trip. Some CMH Ski Guides are also using GoPros, and a few have gotten really good at it. The CMH Revelstoke crew has been capturing GoPro footage and editing it into some fun clips (like the one below). So for a few tips on how to integrate the GoPro into your Heli-Ski trip, I tracked down ski guides Steve Chambers and Jeff Bellis from CMH Revelstoke.

Big Friday from Global Powder Guides on Vimeo.


Steve’s GoPro tips:

  • Consider your final product/video when shooting. Have a 'shot list' in your mind as to what you want to capture and how you can use these clips to compose your video. Think of it as a story you want to tell versus random footage you cram together in a lengthy piece. Which brings me to my next point...
  • Keep it short. Think of short segments linked together that might make a great 2-3 minute long film. Any longer than that and you'll lose your audience.
  • Mix up your POV. If all you shoot is footage from a helmet or chest harness perspective, it will get 'old' quick. Get shots from all kinds of angles and vantage points. Consider having your subjects ski by you as opposed to only having moving footage of yourself. The pole cam angle is a great one to mix into your repertoire.
  • Keep your subjects close. With the wide angle nature of GoPro shots, if your subject is not right there with you (front, side, back) or coming right at you, they'll just be a dark spot moving through the frame. I tell people to come right at me close (carefully of course!) to get the best shot.
  • Brighter is better! If your subjects are dressed in darker colors, forget about it - you might as well not shoot at all. The brighter the clothing the better considering the various POV's and wide angle nature of most of the cameras on the market today. Reds, yellows, oranges and light blues are great.
  • Consider the music you might use with your final video. Putting your footage together with a great soundtrack will make a world of difference. I've always had some piece of music in mind when I've started every short project.
  • Happy film making!

Jeff’s GoPro tips:

  • Be creative: You can put a GoPro just about anywhere. Try out any crazy idea you have for a shot, you never know how its going to work out.
  • Keep the GoPro easily accessible: I have often just captured a really cool shot because my GoPro is always ready. 
  • Try to capture video other than skiing: Flying, scenery, lodge life, and travel to CMH all make great footage to mix in to a short video. 
  • Take short clips: Don't leave your GoPro running for an entire run. It will be horribly boring to watch, it will take forever to download onto your computer, and it will drain your battery quickly. Try to look at the terrain ahead in the run and figure out if there is anything worth shooting. Not all ski runs look good on video.
  • Share your footage: A typical heli ski group in Revelstoke will have at least 5 GoPros (The Dutch Air Squad who shot the video below had over 20 in their group this year). If you are taking short clips its easy to share your footage with others in the group. Everyone appreciates some video of themselves and more footage makes it easier for you to get different shots into your video. 
  • Know your GoPro before you go: Every week it seems I am giving a GoPro 101 class. You will get more cool footage if you learn how to use your camera before you get to CMH. 
  • Change speeds: When you are editing your video mix up the speeds of the footage. If you have a really great sequence that is a little long, speed it up. If you have captured an amazing face shot, slow it down.
  • Don't focus on your GoPro all day: If you are on a CMH ski trip you are here to ski. Don't spend your entire trip fussing with your GoPro. Shoot when it’s going to look good or your friends are into it. 
  • Charge the Battery! Every Night!

Ski Paradise from Jan Willem Metz on Vimeo.

Last but not least, the most important GoPro tip comes from the mountains themselves. The tagline “Be a Hero” only applies to the camera’s capabilities – not your own behaviour in the mountains.  This most important of all GoPro tips for skiing and snowboarding has been an integral part of mountain wisdom for decades before GoPros were ever invented, still holds true today, and is ironically: Don’t be a hero.

Videos courtesy CMH Revelstoke and Johnny GoPro of the Dutch Air Squad. Still photo from CMH Cariboos by Topher Donahue.

Topics: Ski Heroes, Adventure Travel, Tricks of the Trade, Guides, CMH Revelstoke, ski videos, Ski Movie