Drifting into the action camera market: chatting with Drift Innovation’s head of R&D

drift innovation profile q a billybacon

Check out our review of the Drift HD Ghost camcorder.

One of the latest digital camera trends getting a bit of attention are action cameras that can record video and still from the user’s point-of-view (POV), and in 2013 we can expect more companies to get into the, uh hum, action. One such brand in the space is Drift Innovation, which recently unveiled their HD Ghost Camera. The camera offers a two-way remote control for easier access, Wi-Fi to connect to smartphones, continuous loop recording, and a tough Gorilla glass LCD. We spoke with Billy Bacon, who not only heads up R&D for Drift but is also a video editor and photographer (that’s him in a photo he shot with the camera). He gives us some background about the company, where Drift sees itself in the industry, and some tips for snowboarders on capturing great video footage on their next run.

DT: How did Drift come about? Where did the name come from?

Billy Bacon: Two gentlemen from the U.K. who sold actions cameras decided to build a camera to answer the shortcomings of other brands. The very first camera they introduced had a LCD, rotating lens, and remote control as standard. It was a name that could cross over multiple sports and categories. 

When you mention other brands, we assume you are including GoPro, the darling of the action camera space at the moment. With so many other companies getting onboard, where does Drift see itself in this space? 

Simplicity, ease of use, and innovation that is truly beneficial to the end consumer.

drift innovation profile q a productshotSo, then, what is Drift doing that makes itself unique?

Overall, Drift updated its design with the new HD Ghost to address some of the biggest issues in the action camera market today:

  • Never missing a shot because you know the camera is on via 2-way remote. 
  • A built-in 2 inch LCD screen for editing on the fly, the only action cam that currently has this.
  • Improving battery life to be the best in the category through a RF remote and built-in screen.
  • Offering a FlashBack/continuous loop recording feature so you don’t have to leave the camera on for hours resulting in too much footage to edit/share. This is not offered with any other camera in the game right now.

What features of the HD Ghost do you think consumers will find the most impressive?

Industry-first two-way remote control and the Gorilla glass LCD.

What is something most unique about the product that people may not be aware of?

FlashBack video tagging, and photo burst mode.

What type of consumer is the HD Ghost camera designed for?

The person jumping off the tallest building in the world, a kid in the terrain park, and everyone in between. It’s designed for adrenaline junkies to families looking to captures moments in a unique way.

drift innovation profile q a skydiver

A skydiver outfitted with Drift cameras.

What is the most outrageous activity Drift cameras have been used for, to your knowledge?

In the mouth of a record-size snapping turtle, capturing point-of-view footage of the world-famous Isle of Man Motorcycle Race.

Do you see Drift focusing solely on the action camera segment, or can we expect more in the future?

Drift will continue to focus on the action camera market, but attention is being paid to the needs of production studios and broadcasters. We will continue to drive innovation in the POV camera category.

You’re a snowboarder. What’s the best way to shoot POV footage?

The camera mounted to a helmet is always a great shot, but I personally like to use a monopod to get the camera as close to the action as possible. I need to stay ahead of the rider or skier I’m shooting.

Pointing the camera backwards as I focus on where I’m going is the technique I call lead cam (as opposed to follow or chase cam.) We want to see the athletes’ face as they grace or destroy a rail or jump.

Can you offer a few tips for people who want to film their next run?

Get good establishing shots on the way to the top of the run. Show getting ready in a time-lapse, or show the clouds passing by so we know what the weather was like that day. Try and get good commentary on the lift ride up. After shooting the action, use the playback on the large LCD to ensure that you got the shot before heading home. Shoot as much as you can and pack a ton of shots into a short video. Keep the length of the final video edit down to under 2 minutes. Keep having fun, as that keeps people watching.