While this model is on the “entry level” end of the GoPro spectrum, it is simply perfect for my needs: filming mud running and other adventures.
Capturing the Mud
If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then what is a video of you conquering some of the word’s toughest obstacles worth?
That my friend is up for you to decide, do you want to tell people about your crazy experiences or do you want to show them? Personally, I want to be able to share my adventures with my family and friends and have the ability to enjoy them in the future.
With all sorts of cameras on the market, you need to decide what is best for you and your budget. I recently picked up a GoPro HD HERO 960 and couldn’t be happier with it. The camera features a small and lightweight design that is ultra-durable and portable. Most importantly, the Hero 960 boasts high definition video capture. While this model is on the “entry level” end of the GoPro spectrum, it is simply perfect for my needs: filming mud running and other adventures.
Specs from the GoPro website:
The HD HERO 960 features the same professional grade 960p, 720p and 480p (WVGA) video & 5MP timelapse photo modes, and incredible sound recording system as its big brother, the original HD HERO camera. Record up to 2.5 hours on a single charge and up to 9 hours total on a 32GB SD card (not included). Missing from the HD HERO 960 are 720p @ 60fps, 1080p video, and the HERO BUS expansion port in the rear of the camera that will let you take advantage of GoPro’s BacPac accessories.
Now let’s get into the good stuff:
How I use the GoPro HD Hero 960 camera to record my mud runs
I have used both the head strap as well as the chest mount and I have found that the head strap works best for all types of races. Using the chest mount, the camera is less steady due to your body constantly moving with the uneven terrain. Unless you are filming the next “Blair Witch Project,” there’s no need to curse your audience with motion sickness. (This actually happened to my better half, she couldn’t watch me take on a trail run due to the unsteady and shaky camera.) Another reason I would suggest wearing the head mount is simply due to the fact that you will be crawling on your stomach for a lot of mud runs. Why attach something to your chest that will alter the way you complete an obstacle? Instead, attach the GoPro to your dome and your worries are gone.
When attaching the camera to your head, you will need to angle your camera down toward the ground. Trial and error beforehand is your best method for finding the right position, which really depends on your height. I found that if I angle the camera around 60-75 degrees, I get the best visual image. Ideally, you want your camera to pick up exactly what your eyes see.
Battery and Memory:
The camera can record 2.5 hours in “normal” conditions. So far, I have yet to run out of battery life during a race. It’s a good idea to turn the camera off between obstacles to conserve precious battery time and to avoid a lot of editing out lengthy and repetitive shots of trail runs later on. If you want to leave your camera running for an entire race, I would suggest buying another battery pack to bring along. Depending on how big your memory card is and what mode you are shooting in, you might want to upgrade this as well. I use a SanDisk Extreme HD Video 16 GB, which I purchased because my 4 GB card was running out of space .
Depending on which mode you shoot in, also determines how much space you are taking up:
- 960p: 14 min/GB
- 720p: 16min/GB @30fps; 11 min/GB @ 60fps
I shoot in 720p, which is still considered HD and provides a clean crisp feel when viewing on my TV.
Tips and Tricks:
Since I had my camera attached to my head, I was able to take it on and off during the run. I was able to turn it off and save battery life when I was running. When I came to the obstacle, I turned my camera back on and fixed it back onto my head. In this way, I could ensure that my camera was recording as I approached each obstacle. You also have to remember that you will get muddy and dirty…so that means that your camera will get muddy and dirty as well. This is fine, as the GoPro is designed with nice protective shell that is also waterproof!
While the camera is probably the most durable you will find, you do need to remember to keep your lens clean. Every aid station I came to, I asked an aid to dump some water on my hands. Once my hands were clean I was able to pour water onto my camera and clear the lens of mud and dirt. Then by simply wiping the lens on my clothes I was good to go again. Doing this doesn’t really suck up time if you are trying to compete. I did all of this while running and still qualified for the WTM (top 5%). If an aid station is not in sight but your lens is dirty, even something like a clean puddle will do the job. Just remember to dry/rub off the water, otherwise you will have drops on your lens and in your footage. If you are concerned about battery life or memory, pack extras. I do, just to give myself the option of filming more if I decide to. I could have filmed the entire Indiana Tough Mudder, but since it was cold, I didn’t want to mess with changing a battery or memory card, so I stored everything in a watertight bag and folded that up into my SPI Belt.
Also, be cautious when jumping into water with the head mount. The force of the water could push off your camera and send it to the bottom of the lake/creek/dumpster and chances are it may be gone…FOR-EV-ER. So people have suggested securing it to your hand with weights and a harness, but my advice would be to take it off and simply hold it in your hand. You can even turn and hold the camera facing you, so the footage shows your reaction as you plunge into the icy cold water.
Soon, I will post up my videos of previous runs so people can see my experiences. Until now, there are plenty of other videos on YouTube that do a fine job of recording with a GoPro. They footage you get from this camera is incredible and most definitely a worthy investment. Learn more about Helmet Cameras @ GoPro.com.