We spend a lot of time working on the interoperability between our products and GoPro Cameras. In doing this we uncover some features that may or may not make it into future products. Here are some of the bigger points:
The camera's firmware enables multiple GoPro HERO4s to be synchronized (genlocked) to prevent inner-frame latency issues between cameras. This enables bullet-time and 360deg cubes to capture the exact same instant on all cameras. It also simplifies the post operations since all cameras are started at the exact same time. Without genlocking, each frame can be up to 1/(fps*2) seconds off. This appears as a nasty stitch artifacts while filming fast moving objects.
It should be noted, that the timing also syncs up the horizontal scanning of the fields. It may be possible to invert the sequence of this sync field between cameras to better prevent rolling shutter when two cameras images intersect.
At HYPOXIC, we recreated the multi cam mechanism and are currently testing its viability for 3rd party bullet time and 360 rigs. It should be noted, that externally providing genlocks at high frame rates, has the tendency to overheat the camera. An external heat dissipating solution may be necessary for these customers.
The multi-cam protocol is different than what the GoPro Dual Hero Accessory uses. Customer's wishing to use this device will need to wait for a firmware update, a GoPro Software update, or may just be SOL.
(UPDATE: Appears Dual Hero Accessory update will come soon!)
Above is our test board sourcing HSync and VSync to a GoPro HERO4 over the HeroBus. GoPro Odyssey and their new GoPro 360 array, will most likely runs off of this mechanism. Patents: 9,196,039 9,197,885 9,262,801 9,204,041
APPC - API / Generic BP
There is a whole new protocol (YY/ZZ) on the GoPro HERO4 for talking to external devices both wired and wireless. This controls all the settings, start and stop capture, broadcast modes, streaming, and wifi commands. Some features are missing from this protocol such as getting the bluetooth pin and set the SSID of a camera, but feel its a great start.
We don't own one, but assume this is the protocol the 3dSolo uses on it's Gimbal for GoPro Cameras. It should be noted that the GoPro HERO3+ uses a protocol similar to the Wifi commands.
It doesn't look like GoPro Inc. will open this protocol up anytime soon, but you never know.
Electronic Steady Shot
There has been a couple of patents submitted by GoPro Inc. for steady shot principles. With the preview of the GoPro Karma, some steadyshot is definitely being used. In some modes of operation, the Ambarella DSP definitely has enough pipes to carry out electronic stabilization calculations. We foresee an update for the GoPro HERO4 to coincide with the Karma Introduction. Patents: 9,237,271
The next flagship GoPro Camera, lets call it GoPro HERO5, will not be out until October. This will allow the team to work with the new Ambarella core and sensors that can stabilize and maybe even focus to provide depth of field. We feel the 8K number going around, is over zealous, but a good clean 4K @ 60fps is what the'll settle upon. If 8K is seen at all, it will just be for marketing and not at any usable frame rates.
The power of the next generation GoPro Camera will be with it's imaging controls. This is not yet seen on a POV camera, and will blow away the competitors. Fine adjustment of the aperture, shutter speed, focus, iso and white balance is likely. Auto follow focus may come into play. Steady shot is 100% going to happen. All of these settings will be adjustable by a tablet or smart phone.
On the photo side, bracketing and auto HDR in photos is likely. Auto stitched sequenced shots may also make an appearance.
Over-the-air (OTA) genlock of multiple GoPro Cameras will be added. This enables high-speed 360 and bullet-time video to be captured without stitching artifacts. With their recent purchase of Kolor, 360degree and Stereoscopic Panoramic capture and processing will become turn-key.
It is possible GoPro Inc. will trade the Ambarella core for a Samsung or a different imaging processor partner. Ambarella and GoPro's stock being so tightly coupled should scare investors when the new camera gets released. Only time will tell!
( Full Disclosure: We own a couple shares of GoPro Stock but not Ambarella)
On their employment page was openings for "maker" engineers to head up these initiatives. The latest protocol is super in depth and an external device will be able to adjust, control and update almost everything from the 30pins "herobus".
This has been in the works forever, but it appears fairly close to release. This feature would allow you to automatically stream to gopro.com or your server. This feature would also stop the ad-hoc wireless and allow you to connect multiple cameras via your wifi access point. Patents 9,142,257
Live View over Herobus USB
This feature has been around for a long time, but its opening up for companies using the API. We have not recreated this feature in the lab.
External Bluetooth Microphone / Audio In Accessory
Seen this in the code for a bit. It may come one of these years.
There is some support for Bluetooh Low Energy. BLE is nice since it allows your smartphone to connect within the app vs. having to pair it with bluetooth within the settings. It can also run in a super low power mode barely using any battery power.
Distributed File system support for automatically writing files over network. Take a photo or video and allow it to be automatically posted to your server. We assume this is for multiple cameras (GoPro Odyssey) to automatically upload content to Google Jump. This may also work for real time recording, but we have not explored this concept.
We've tried for a long time to work with GoPro Inc. and recently we had a few conversations with management. Unfortunately, talks went no where, so we decided to just open up what we find.
In order for our Turned On product to function properly we constantly have our nose deep inside every GoPro Camera. We haven't published our findings in the past since we've been so busy implementing but feel its about time we start.
- Find out what's inside and how to root the latest camera from GoPro Inc: GoPro HERO4 Session Undocumented.
GoPro Inc, GoPro HERO4, GoPro HERO5, GoPro Odysssey, Sony, JVC, Samsung, Ambarella are all registered trademarks of their respective companies. We are not affiliated with GoPro Inc.