One of the disadvantages of GoPro and DSLR video setups is your inability to use them in a broadcast setting. GoPro attempted to address this with their HEROCast system to the tune of $7,500, which is out of the reach of most average consumers. So when the guys behind FREECAST reached out about having us check out their new affordable wireless transmission system, it was a no-brainer to give it a go.
The FREECAST system is incredibly straightforward: stick your GoPro HERO3 or HERO4 (or HERO5 if you get their Universal bundle) into the transmitter case, attach antennas, power on, and connect to the Wi-Fi network created by the receiver. Launch the FREECAST app, and that's it: you're connected and ready to stream. The FREECAST Universal works with any HDMI-equipped camera, so live streaming from your DSLR or similar setup is absolutely possible.
The guys over at FREECAST sent me a pre-production unit to try out, and it was a little surprising just how simple it was to use. Everything powered up and connected seamlessly, the app was straightforward and intuitive, and (perhaps the most impressive of all) broadcast lag was almost non-existent. I was able to modify settings and begin capture and streaming all from the smartphone app without ever having to open up the GoPro app or beep through the on-camera menus.
(Quick shout-out to my friends over at Photo Rental Source for hooking me up with a GoPro on short notice for this preview. I don't actually own one, but they had my back. They're a local shop here in Houston, but they ship nationwide and are an awesome group of guys to work with. I highly recommend them!)
The receiver will look familiar to anyone who has worked with wireless audio, as it looks like a standard wireless mic transmitter pack. This little beauty, though, is what makes the whole system tick. It creates a wireless network you can connect your device to and then connects to the transmitter through which it passes the video feed. It has an HDMI-out port, so you can also use it to plug directly into a monitor or capture system.
I've run a lot of live event video setups, and my lament for the longest time was that I wished I could just throw a bunch of GoPros up on the stage and integrate them into my live video mix. While I haven't been able to test FREECAST in a multi-cam setup yet, my immediate thought when I read about the system was that this might be the answer to my live event woes. I would love to be able to drop a GoPro above my drummer, wirelessly send that back to my video switcher, and utilize it as a standard live camera.
Another big selling point for FREECAST is the live stream capability. Freeing yourself from the shoot>edit>upload>share workflow and going live for your videos is a hugely desired feature for many users, and FREECAST has made the process pretty damn simple. Their system should appeal to anyone who has a desire to up the quality of their live stream efforts or give it a shot for the first time. Their Kickstarter has two weeks left and is well on its way to being fully funded. Check out the kit options available below.
Oh, and remember how the official GoPro solution costs thousands of dollars? FREECAST's Universal kit will retail for $599 and is available through Kickstarter for only $499, with the Standard kit going for only $299! So basically, you could order ten of the FREECAST Universal kits for less than what one of the HEROCast systems would cost you. That's what we call a no-brainer.
I was very impressed by my time playing with FREECAST and am looking forward to the features and functionality of the final production unit. Check out the FREECAST Kickstarter page here.