TV journalism & GoPro : interview of Trevor Lloyd (BBC)

TV journalism & GoPro : interview of Trevor Lloyd (BBC)

It’s very surprising to see how GoPro cameras are used in various ways : creation, sport, drones… And its versatility doesn’t seem to have limits. The little cameras from Woodman Labs are now providing images for the most professional channels in the world. Trevor Lloyd is a BBC cameraman who’s using the GoPro 3 Silver edition with LCD touchscreen as a second camera. Read his brief resume and very interesting GoPro tricks :

I’m graduated with a degree in English literature from Leeds University, stayed on to do post-graduate diploma in Broadcast Journalism. I joined the BBC World Service in 2008 after a number of facilities, technical and studio jobs in the UK independent sector. I left the studio work behind 3 years ago when the opportunity to become a shoot edit came up. It’s the job I’ve always wanted, it just took 10 years to get there! I work mostly for the BBC’s foreign language services (Arabic, Persian) and shoot news, docs, lifestyle features, music and magazine programmes. I’m based at New Broadcasting House in Central London, but work wherever they send me!

B_Q1rzaUwAMQ-Xv.jpg_largeSo, the GoPro is the second camera I always have tucked away in the box.

There are two main ways I use it. Mostly it is mounted on the hood of my main camera and in its widest setting. This gives me a synchronous wide shot that I can use cut into the main shot I’m taking on my shoulder camera. This can be particularly useful in busy news events, where the chances of getting a wide shot are limited. I’ve mounted the camera as near to the centre as possible to allow for as much variation as possible. Sometimes the composition of the shot is a bit compromised, but because it is so wide, it doesn’t matter so much. I’d like to use some sort of ball mount for the camera so I can easily bias the shot to the left or right, but so far I haven’t found one that is lightweight or reliable enough. It’s one thing to reach out with one hand and tilt it up or down to adjust the horizon when you’re filming, but another to adjust it in all planes and then lock it off.


The other way I use it is to offer a wide shot in interviews. I often mount it on a lighting stand with the camera set to its narrowest field of view. Often I will position it opposite the main camera to give an over-the-shoulder 2-shot favouring the interviewer. This way it can be used for questions, reactions and to show the location of the interview. If we have the luxury of two cameras, then the GoPro can be used to offer a more traditional wide shot. However, even on its narrowest setting, the image is still very wide, so either the camera has to be quite close to the subjects, or you use it to show all the lighting and other behind the scenes elements of the shoot. Sometimes this isn’t appropriate to show, but in recently I’ve seen more of these types of shots being used, so I think attitudes are changing. I recently saw a fairly high profile interview between the president of Iraq and BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet where this was the case. A few years ago this would have been limited to lifestyle/youth features, but deemed inappropriate for high ranking political figures. I think this change is interesting in its own right. A decade ago, producers and engineers were very concerned with having matched cameras for these kinds of shots. Having a handheld DVcam as a cut away was limited to MTV. Now I think audiences are more attuned to this. Leaps in the affordability and capability of things like DaVinci Resolve or even the colour correction tools in Final Cut Pro X mean it is easier to manipulate the images to cut together well.


I tend to use the GoPro more when I am cutting the piece I shot myself. On a practical level, getting pictures into the BBC’s video server (it’s called Jupiter and is based around Quantel systems) from a GoPro, or anything else that uses a h.264 codec, isn’t straightforward. Since FCPX can deal with it without the need for transcoding, and then can quickly and easily sync it to the shots from the other camera, it makes it very easy to use in the edit. Just to explain, I create a multicam clip in FCPX consisting of just 2 clips, my main PMW400 and the GoPro. I then treat this as though it is just the main camera when I review with the journalist and cut it for editorial content. Once this is done I then have sync’d cutaways available at the stroke of a single key! I find it much quicker to work this way, than to go back and find the shots and then drop them in.

My main complaint about the GoPro, and I’m not alone in this, is that you can’t lock the exposure. The camera is at its weakest in low light, where it tries to lift the exposure and gets pretty noisy very quickly. It would be a real help to override the auto exposure in situations where you are lighting creatively.

We hope that the next GoPro will be able to lock the exposure. Nevertheless, one thing is sure : the camera stimulates people to increase its possibilities, for instance the Canadian rib cage from Back-Bone or the French stabilizer from Slick. Created in 2002, the little camera has changed the routine production in a few years, it’s maybe just the beginning.

Stève Albaret

Tag: Nessun tag

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