GoPro has unveiled a sample of footage captured with a GoPro Hero4 action camera mounted on a prototype quadcopter drone. It’s been known for a while that GoPro is working on developing a drone quadcopter, but information about the product’s specifications, designs, and feature set have been tough to come by aside from a release date in the first half of 2016.
The video begins with this statement: “The following video was captured using a developmental prototype of GoPro’s quadcopter and stabilization system. This footage has not been stabilized in post-production.” That sentiment strikes us more like an excuse than an explanation. But the video looks pretty much stabilized as expected. The location seems to have delivered ideal conditions for capturing a stable video, as there’s no sign of wind, which means the drone was able to fly smoothly without any turbulence.
In recent years, the usage of drones for photography has increased substantially, but this is the first time a GoPro camera has been used for direct aerial shots — aside from being carried by a bird, or attached to a third-party drone, that is. The quadcopter drone in this case has been outfitted with a gimbal, which provides much-needed stability for shooting video.
At 1440p resolution, the video looks pretty sharp and smooth. The footage is a compilation of breathtaking shots of the countryside, and mountain forest. The location has a striking resemblance to the Santa Cruz Mountains, which aren’t far from GoPro’s San Mateo headquarters. The video also captures the dusty trails of an ATV riding in the forest. It’s pretty clear GoPro wants to make its mark in developing drones for capturing aerial shots.
Even though the video gives us a good glimpse of what GoPro has been up to, it’s brought plenty of negative comments, with some calling it “premature” and “badly planned.” Then again, GoPro is only calling the quadcopter a prototype; the final product could deliver improved video quality down the road.
“No post-production stabilization was implemented; this is an example of the incredible image quality we are already able to capture at this advanced prototype stage,” the company said. Many consumer drones such as the 3DR Solo and the Phantom 2 are already equipped to carry the Hero4 action camera, though there’s room for improvement; we’d love to see an easy folding mechanism for gliding, for example. It will be interesting to see how GoPro differentiates itself from what’s already available.