The 100% GoPro Coverage of Goodwill’s 50% Off Day

Published On October 15, 2017 | By Mike Carroll | GoPro, KCRA-TV, Mike's TV News Stories, Shooting News

The books and music section of the Goodwill store on Watt Ave. on Half-Off Day.

I love Goodwill Industries. As a kid my folks would occasionally take us to a Goodwill back when I was growing up in St. Louis. My dad went looking for old things that would take him nostalgically back to his youth. I always went to the old books. I still do!

A few years back I did a profile story on how Goodwill was taking advantage of the Recession of 2008 to expand, putting up stores in great locations where businesses had failed. The number of Goodwill stores in Sacramento have more than doubled in the past ten years.

A year ago I discovered that on national holidays like Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and more, Goodwill stores have a 50%-Off Sale. I started going and—yes, scored more books!

But what really grabbed my attention was how packed the place was and the great diversity of people, of all ethnicities, of all ages, of all economic ranges. A true melting pot. A slice of America in one place. This struck me as another news story.

Hillary Ward, Goodwill employee for six years now. Goodwill changed her life.

I set about shooting this as how the Half-Off Sales bring people together in search of a deal and the funky types of things people look for. One person’s junk becomes someone else’s treasure.

But in the process, I discovered something more.

While interviewing Mark Klingler, the Sacramento regional director of Goodwill Industries—who I first met and interviewed for my first story—I learned how much Goodwill had expanded into the community and in working with the very large homeless population in Sacramento, trying to get people into programs, jobs and housing.

This took the original story I had started shooting to a much more significant level. It also meant that I wanted to do some more shooting with some of these other organizations that Goodwill was working to show viewers where their spending money was going.


When I shot my first story I used my Canon 7D with the super-wide Tokina 11-16mm lens for filming unobtrusively in the narrow aisle of Goodwill.

This time I wanted to go further and do the entire story on the GoPro Hero 5 Black and the GoPro Karma Stabilizer.

The GoPro Hero 5 Black and Karma Stabilizer. Both purchased at Best Buy.

Interview sound was recorded using the Zoom H4N with either a Sennheiser wireless mic or a Sony stick mic and synched up on the Adobe Premiere timeline.

In addition to shooting this story with my own gear, I also shot the story, wrote it and edited it entirely on my own time.

The reason I did this was to be able to shoot the story my own way, at my own pace, and to not have to worry about having it done the same day for the news. I wanted to try something different and see how it worked. If it didn’t work, then I would have just made it into a smaller story, or just posted it to Youtube.


The plan was always to run this in Common Ground, the once-a-month news magazine program that runs on KCRA-3 on the third Saturday of the month, immediately following the 6 O’Clock News.

But the October edition of Common Ground aired on the second Saturday, a week earlier than I expected. So my last week was a rush!

I worked on Sunday, October 8, on a night shift, getting off at midnight.

8 AM Monday morning—I was scheduled to meet up with Rachel Wickland, with Goodwill & Next Move, to visit Francis House Center, one of the homeless & community centers that Goodwill contributes to.

That afternoon, I logged and started writing the story.

Tuesday morning, October 10, I finished writing & started editing—on my day off. This became an all-day project as my story, that I originally pitched as a 4-minutes story, finally clocked in at 6-1/2-minutes.

Worked till nearly 11 at night & realized I needed one piece of video to cover an 8-second track about Goodwill and the 2008 Recession.

Terreng Biggers buying a new wardrobe for his new career. Shopping at Goodwill saved him a bundle.

I did not want to use any archival file footage. I wanted everything to be new and all-GoPro.

As I was laying my head on the pillow I decided to use a tracking in shot of the front of the Goodwill store that I shot in.


The next morning, Wednesday, October 11, was the day that we were rolling up Common Ground!

I was due in to KCRA at 9:30 AM. So I left my house at 8, drove in morning rush hour traffic, that seemed to be blocked at every turn with road construction. To get to the Goodwill store at 9 AM, just as the store was opening.

I took 5 minutes getting various walking up shots. Then got a great one as a car was turning in and a bird was winging across the sky over the store.

Then into work!

Got to the station exactly at 9:30 and dropped the shot in. The story was done!

My favorite section–the book section. What I love about Goodwill’s Half-Off Days are that you can find so many different people from all walks of life.

Then had to record the anchor intros with KCRA anchor Kathy Park.

The new wrenches that arose was that we were shooting in a brand new set and it took a little while to figure out how to make it work. Then we received a corporate package with a format and new effects, titles, etc. for the show. This took a good day just to sort out and figure how they worked.

And we only had TWO DAYS for the whole show!

IN THE END, it all got rolled up.

And the new Goodwill story became the Lead Story for Common Ground.

All shot on my own time, on my own GoPro, with my own mics.

As excited as I am about the dynamic possibilities that the GoPro offers, I also want aspiring journalists, filmmakers, documentarians and others to see that you don’t need a big, expensive camera to make a story that becomes the lead on KCRA, the #1-rated TV station in Sacramento.

You just need an idea. The time. And a camera. Even one that only costs $400.






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About The Author

Mike Carroll joined the digital revolution in 1999 with a Sony TRV900 camcorder and Final Cut Pro, when it was only Final Cut Pro and not version 2, 4 or a Suite.

One Response to The 100% GoPro Coverage of Goodwill’s 50% Off Day

  1. JYJames says:

    Some stylish teacher friends do all of their fashion shopping at Goodwill. Classy. And thrifty.

    Another friend, French and relocating, decorated her new home from shopping at Goodwill. Oh là là, vraiment chic.

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