We are a Production Company named Dorsey Pictures. We do various Reality Television such as Tiny House, Big Living and The Treehouse Guys for HGTV and DIY (among other shows). For our latest Production we are tasked with a bit of a challenge for a Network called the Outdoor Channel. Without getting too involved with the Narrative for the show we are doing a major Production mostly based in Small Helicopters that will already be housing Pilots, Veterinarians, And a Mugger. What this means for the Production is we will need to rely heavily on GoPros for the in Chopper Footage.
GoPro Batteries are notoriously small (1160 mAh) and cannot hold a charge for more than an 1.5 hours under normal conditions. We could always add the GoPro BacPac which will add an additional 1100 mAh, which roughly equates to possibly 1 hour and 15 mins (these are all estimates as GoPro will not release power consumption data which I will discuss later). Since we will be in Production in the winter and in fast moving choppers, we will assume that we are not under normal conditions/temperatures. It will be cold and therefore the batteries will not last to the equations above. Also, We will need to have a charge on these GoPros for potentially the whole day. We will only have time to rig these Choppers with GoPros in the morning and when they land we will have minimal time to replace the 64Gb cards. Adding a battery change to the process will not work for our situation. So we needed to find alternate power sources.
GoPro Power Consumption:
To do this we needed to attempt to crack the code of GoPro’s allusive power consumption. We found out quickly that (In my humble opinion) GoPro Support either did not know what I was asking for and when I did get someone who could answer the question, they were advised not to give out that information to their customers. But the information we did receive was that the internal battery was 1160 mAh and it would last for approximately 1.5 hours. I’m no mathematician, electrical engineer, or generally a sciencey type of guy. But I did have a problem on my hands with a ticking clock that was getting closer and closer to our production. My approximation was to divide the milliamperes by three, in which third would roughly equate to 30 mins.
What we came up with was:
1160 mAh = 1.5 hours
1160 mAh / 3 = 386 mAh
Approximately the GoPro consumes 772 mAh per hour (or 386 per .5 hour)
*We understand that this isn’t generally how Battery Consumption works, but again, its a starting place.
so our 1160 mAh internal battery in normal conditions will last 1.5 hours. But we will be in a cold unstable conditions, so we will need to round down considerably to be safe, as the last thing we want is to have our GoPros run out of batteries and stop filming. We decided to cut their time in half.
45 mins for the Internal Battery
Maybe 30 mins for the BacPac
*Did I mention I’m not a mathematician?
Regardless, Now we have something to go off of!
So GoPro’s Batteries will not work for us as a standalone solution. We knew that if we attached the Bacpac on to the GoPro with their “Skeleton Casing” it left an opening for the usb port on the side of the battery. We had a few external chargers laying around the equipment room for some cheap time lapse cameras that were around 12,000 mAh.
Based on our tests it would keep the GoPro Internal Battery Charged all day as expected.
The one problem we had at this point, was the Charger that we used had “Power” button that unless it was checked multiple times, in some cases the battery would intermittently turn off, which was a no go for us for obvious reasons.
I’m a fan of Anker Products (Full Disclosure) and had a PowerCore 20100 that I keep for emergencies or when I travel abroad. It turned out to be a good solution power-wise, as it gave us a multiple day charge and was easy to outfit in the chopper, gaff taped to the floor and connected to the GoPro’s with a ten foot usb cable.
The only issue with that model was that the charging time is 12 hours. We have long days and early mornings before we need to be back out there where there is zero power supply. We decided to go with the PowerCore 26800, as it cut the charging time in half and gets us back out in to the field.
We’ve gone through all the controlled environment testing and mounting and all seems to work great. We head out to the field in a few weeks and will update our results, but if there’s anything you all can think of or where I’ve made a mistake or where we could improve our workflow (This is the internet after all, the best place in the world for critiques), please let us know.