Vail opening day 2011: Tiny cameras bring mountain fun home |

Vail opening day 2011: Tiny cameras bring mountain fun home

NWS GoPro 1 DT 11-16-11

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Bart Garton – or maybe his chiropractor – might be the best person to explain the popularity of tiny video recorders.

Garton, who’s been in the local videographer-for-hire business just about forever, used to pack more than one kitchen sink when he’d go out to on-mountain video shoots. He’d have a heavy, clunky camera, big, clunky tapes, big clunky batteries and a tripod to hold the camera steady.

“Altogether it weighed 50 or 60 pounds,” Garton said. “By the end of the day, you were really beat.”

Things are different these days. A few companies make tiny, digital, high-definition video cameras that can attach to helmets or ski poles, or be unobtrusively strapped to a user’s chest. Best of all, the little cameras are water-resistant enough that one can keep humming along after multiple face-plants in deep powder.

“I love them,” Garton said of the cameras. “I’ve used mine skiing, kayaking, diving.”

The most popular of these tiny wonders is made by GoPro. The company this fall has rolled out a new model, the HD Hero 2. With a retail price of just about $300, it’s already a brisk seller locally.

Venture Sports in Avon both sells and rents the cameras, and store employee Blaine Unicume said people seem to enjoy them.

“The new ones can do slow motion,” Unicume said. And it comes with a cord that you can plug straight into your TV so you don’t need a computer to watch.”

But you’re going to want to download your footage to a computer, of course. And that leads to the question of the best ways to use these tiny wonders.

Adam Hart of the Double Diamond ski shop in Lionshead has used a small camera for a couple of seasons. He’s posted video to his own Facebook page, of course, as well as the store’s Facebook page and website.

“It’s great media,” Hart said. “There’s nothing easier – there’s no software. You just plug the (memory) card into your computer and you can download it into iTunes.”

Hart said people using the cameras should focus more about the viewpoint of what they’re doing.

That viewpoint can come from a rider’s helmet, but Hart said using a chest mount can give viewers a better perspective.

Garton said he likes to have a camera in his hand or on a ski pole. That way, he can get shots of friends passing by, or something else on the mountain that it might be easier to point a hand at than a helmet-mounted camera.

Garton also said camera users should be selective in what they shoot.

“Don’t overload yourself with footage,” Garton said. “It’s tempting to just hit ‘record’ and go boarding all day, but that’s hard to edit down. You’ll just have so much.”

Garton said he tries to get a variety of perspectives – helmet, hand-held and so on – when he’s shooting.

Hart said he likes to edit a season’s worth of shooting into just a few minutes of montage from different days and different parts of the mountains. He’ll also try to get a few shots of nightlife in town.

The possibilities are vast, and limited only by a user’s imagination.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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