Capturing Your Live Performances with GoPro HERO3+

The struggle is real. Without hiring an expensive videographer, photographer, and social media manager, most bands struggle to scrounge up enough money to create quality videos for the net.

GoPro might have your solution.

GoPro has created a new generation of affordable cameras that are portable and powerful. Whether you are capturing a live performance, creating scratch tracks for your next recording, or even shooting playful videos for your YouTube channel, a new camera could be the perfect addition to your musical collection.  

Pros: Lightweight, variable settings, crisp 1080p video
Cons: Low battery life, decent audio quality, no display/monitoring

Where To Shoot, What To Shoot

Shoot crisp & clear HD, or get wild with effects.

It’s hard playing new venues in unfamiliar cities, but a quality GoPro makes it possible to document your adventures with ease and flexibility. The Hero3+ specifically boasts a few key photo settings (like burst and time lapse) to bring variety to your media. Surprisingly clear 1080p video (up to 1440p) makes any dive bar look magical with crisp detail and adjustable fps (frames per second). I recommend using a higher fps rate when shooting energetic activities, then edit and replay half speed for a cool slow-motion effect. On the other hand, if your goal is a time-lapse compression video, try setting a low fps and watch hours of footage melt into seconds.

As well as resolution and frame-rate, field of view (FOV) is an important component to consider while bringing your music to the masses. Field of view refers to the perspective assumed by the viewer, i.e. wide-angle, narrow, ultra-wide, etc. When setting up your shots, be sure to think about the way actions are being framed by the camera. It might be nice to see the entire band for a couple of songs, but one single shot makes a boring video. Mix it up and take this small camera into those hard to reach places on stage for a unique look. After the show, decompress and unload your video experiments with native video editing programs like iMovie, Windows Movie Maker. 

Choosing the Right Accessories

Use your smartphone as a camera display.

Half the fun of getting new toys is buying more new toys to accessorize. A single battery for the Hero3+ will grant you a meager hour of precious battery life. Granted that isn’t very much, with an extra $18, Amazon will supply 2 extra Wasabi rechargeable batteries and a wall-mounted charger (see here). If you’re smart, you can manage to cycle your active batteries and run the camera forever. The included water proof case is nice for protection, but the amount of sound dampening it causes makes it a less than ideal. I recommend removing the protective case exclusively while shooting safely from home. 

Before upping the ante and purchasing the HERO4 with built-in LCD display, consider downloading the GoPro app on your smart phone or smart device. The apps literally transforms your device into a live video monitor and remote control. With the power to change all settings, switch between photo and video modes, and take snapshots all from your hand, this little camera becomes conduit of creative camera work. 

A word to the wise, don’t skimp out on your storage space. High quality video can take up your included SD card in minutes; so don’t get caught in a tight spot with great material and no memory remaining. Purge and archive those old videos and start fresh each performance. With high quality footage, I recommend using at least a TB hard drive with backup options and security features.

CHOOSING THE correct Model

The HERO3+ is a solid little camera. It's really all you need if you are looking to post quality band videos and live performances. Keep in mind, however, there are other purchasing options from GoPro. If you have extra cash to burn, The HERO4 or the HERO Black will grant you precious shooting options like Pro-time mode and 24 bit rate refresh or a wi-fi remote.

For a more affordable option, consider the original HERO, which also supports 1080p high-def video. On the flipside, it has fewer video capture options (no 1440p) and also does not support the GoPro app for external viewing on your smartphone.

All in all, the HERO3+ gives you the best balance of features and price. It's an ideal choice for a dedicated band camera.

Author: Joe Archer
Joe is a musician, a freelance writer, and an English Teacher in South Bend, IN.  His current musical project is called Letters From Earth. Their first EP, Planet Nine, is currently available on Bandcamp