Just get a swanky GoPro over the holidays and looking to get the most out of your footage (or just use the darn thing!)? Let us help…
Though I may not be the best snowmobile rider, I have an extensive background in mountain biking, skiing and general mountain play-time. I am also a millennial who has relied on his understanding of technology and content development to impress the opposite sex (pro tip: this isn’t the best strategy). What I’m getting at is my own narcissistic delusions of grandeur have helped build a strong understanding of how-to-use a GoPro and build content that people actually seem to watch (even though I’m far from a stud on a bike, skis or sled).
If you opened this post, chances are you own a GoPro and were less than impressed with the results. Fact is, for as prolific as the GoPro may be, they really kind of suck. They are hard to use, have short battery life, utilize an operating screen that looks more like code than it does the King’s English, are very time consuming to deal with once you’ve actually shot with them…Come to think of it, I could make this entire post about “how much I hate my GoPro”, but the fact is, they are still the best POV oriented camera in the world.
The author with an example – this saw upwards of 40K views on “the book”
The idea behind this post is to help ease the learning curve and give you something of a goal when you go out shooting, so with that, the tips~!
- Get the camera settings right: We’ve found 4K superview in protune to be the best setting. Obviously, this only applies to the 4 and newer cameras. In our opinion, more important than resolution is the “superview” setting. It gives the best look to the footage without overly fisheyeing it or skewing the perspective. There are a thousand websites that get into the details of all the different modes. If you are a camera nerd, knock yourself out. If you are just looking for a solution to ‘what do I film in for sledding/sports’ – just trust us. Again, this only applies to the Hero 4 Black and up… (which is also what we suggest anyone buy)
- Shoot with a goal: 99% of GoPro users just turn it on and hope for the best. This leads to hours of boring footage and a ton of time in the editing room trying to find that “one” moment. Instead, be aware of those “outliar” moments and shoot them, be it a cool air, great light, perfect snow or your attempt at a line you’ve been trying over and over and over again. This will help keep the time in the editing bay to a minimum and may even help sketch out the outline to a “story” if done right…
- Mount it steady: Remember the Blair Witch Project? Yeah, we wish we could forget that movie too. If the camera is shaking, you’ll notice it and you will have unusable footage. Especially at higher resolutions. Make sure your mounts are steady. Nothing ruins a shot like shake.
- Gimbal it! What is a gimbal? Its an electronic stabilization device for the camera. This will take your footage to the next level, though it’ll also heavily prone to failure, not that waterproof and kind of costly. But if you are after the best, its the best option. PS: This is the only way to successfully use the chest mount.
- Buy extra cards and batteries. For about $50 on Amazon you can have backup cards and batteries to keep the camera going 3-4x as long as you would out of the box. This is one of the biggest no-brainer “upgrades” if you are really going to try and shoot with the thing.
- Get creative with mounts: POV stuff is great, if you are Burandt or Evans good. If you aren’t, showing a different angle can actually help keep the user engaged.
- Shoot the small stuff. High fives, beers clinking, getting stuck. If it made you smile, it’ll probably make the audience smile too. Just don’t go overboard with this stuff.
- Organize your footage. Create an organization system and stick to it. Though mine isn’t the best, I always am sure to tag the activity, the location, the mount, the quality and any other “notes” in the title. This makes it easy (ish) to find footage later. We use GoPro studio to isolate the cool moments and output them onto an external hard disk in the appropriate format. We don’t edit the footage from the card.
- Tell a story. There are a number of amazing stories told with low budget cameras. Don’t let the fact you are only using a GoPro get in the way of this idea. A story can be “one raw line” or “trying to conquer a hill I’ve been trying for years”. What doesn’t seem to work is a 3 minute video set to music. What are we? A bad MTV music video from the early 90s?
- Leave the shitty music out of it. Just like I said above. Music is awesome, but it needs to fit the scene. If its just your favorite jam, leave it out. It’ll probably get the video pulled from YouTube or Facebook anyway (if you don’t have rights to it).
- Correct your sound. Bring the levels down so you don’t hurt my ears. This is pretty easy to do depending on the editing program you are using. Just google “YOUR EDITING PROGRAM and sound level adjustment” to learn how.
- Only show the best stuff. That doesn’t mean it has to be the most rad. Funny works, feel good works, embarassing works. But boring does not work. Don’t forget, just because you thought it was rad doesn’t mean the camera “saw” the rad.
- Put your dog in it. I am half joking in this, but honestly, any video with Tucker in it gets viewed. He’s a show off, and the people love him. So what I am vicariously living through my pet’s internet stardom…
- Color Correct. This can be very time consuming, or really easy, depending on your goal. For us, we just try and make sure the white looks white. Not awful gold or blue. This simple adjustment can make a big difference in how pro the footage looks.
- Have fun. Be real. The audience can tell if an edit was forced and “trying to hard”. So just have fun, be yourself and see what happens…