It started on the waves just over a decade ago and was a revolution in adventure film-making.

Californian surfer dude Nick Woodman wanted to capture high quality images of his sport and realised the equipment required was out of the price range of most people.

The search to find a way to 'go' anywhere and capture these 'pro' images, within the financial reach of everyone, inspired a company and its name - GoPro.

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A digital mini-camera quickly became a must-have accessory – and not just because everyone's suddenly a film-maker.

GoPro initiated the trend just as digital camera technology became smaller, lighter and more sophisticated. At the same time - like most electronic and computer equipment - the prices plummeted in inverse proportion to the level of technology crammed into cameras not much bigger than a matchbox.

Nicoli Rogatkin, Slopestyle, Crankworx Rotorua. Two weeks to go. Photo/Crankworx Media
Nicoli Rogatkin, Slopestyle, Crankworx Rotorua. Two weeks to go. Photo/Crankworx Media

These cameras have democratised adventure film-making, putting the creative decisions in the hands of anyone with $500. All in full resolution HD and with features like 240 frames per second slo-mo.

Here's a bit of perspective on that. On old school and very expensive 35-millimetre film, the camera has to be 'over-cranked' to shoot slo-mo footage. The film goes through the camera, mechanically, at up to four times the normal speed in a loud, high-pitched rattle. When I was producing TV commercials, in the early-90s, this always sounded like money burning to me.

Back then, mounted rigs were pencil cameras (hard wired to mini-record decks, stuffed into back packs) or small Hi-8 tape cameras. Two things these had in common were they were heavy and the picture quality was rubbish.

Well before the arrival of GoPro, Rotorua photographer and video producer Graeme Murray decided to up the ante.

He got a mate to attach a bracket to the side of an open-face motorcycle helmet so he could mount a SONY mini-DV tape camera to it.

The video quality was a big leap. But the camera was a small brick and Graeme needed a Formula 1 driver's neck muscles, like steel cables, to wear it while riding his bike.


Now, anyone can attach a GoPro (or any number of other mini-cams on the market) to their bike or helmet and capture the ride. Former pro racer Claudio Caluori's previews of world cup and champion downhill course are must-see TV, not only because they are spectacular, but also because of Claudio's breathless, humorous and very entertaining running commentaries.

I started in TV and film more than 30 years ago. All the equipment we used back then looks gargantuan and Jurassic compared to what's available now.

The real miracle is what I can shoot on my phone. That includes eight times slo-mo at 240 frames per second with no real drop in quality.

A couple of years ago I shot and cut a few videos at Crankworx in slow mode. This really illustrates the skill level on show, especially with the Slopestyle where the complex moves the riders are pulling happen very, very fast in real-time.

Two weeks to go until Crankworx Rotorua 2018. Excitement builds. I'll be taking the phone.