The GoPro camera is first, and foremost, the best action video camera on the market. The possibilities with this tiny device are endless, which can be witnessed through the #GoPro on any social media platform. But what is it that sets your video apart from the epic videos that GoPro.com releases? How come their videos, no matter what the subject is, seem to be bigger, better, and more extreme?
I will lay out a few helpful methods to boost your videos and create better content.
- Camera Shake
This is the #1 issue I see with most videos created with GoPros, including my own. Because this camera is so compact and light, it is susceptible to camera shake more than most other point & shoots and DSLRs. That epic shot that you think you caught, can be all for nothing if your hand was shaking (even slightly) during the entire clip. It becomes hard to focus on the subject when it looks like it was filmed during an earthquake.
How to reduce Camera shake? Don’t run off and buy a $300 Steadicam Stabilizer, when there are plenty of options before that. Step 1, never shoot without your camera being mounted to something with a handle. So what are your options? My recommendations in order of best bang-for-your-buck:
Along with using one of these devices, make a conscious effort to keep your hands still and your breathing steady when holding your GoPro. This will go a long way when you sit down to edit your clips.
- Frame Rate
Depending on the model GoPro that you own, you have the capability to shoot anywhere from 15 frames per second (fps) up to 240fps, over various quality ranges.
How does fps work? Imagine you shot a video of a person running across the screen at 30fps. The playback will look normal and fluid. If you slowed the clip down 50%, your playback would be 15fps. This will look glitchy and you will see the gaps in frames as the person runs across the screen. So what would you need to shoot in to capture a fluid shot in slow motion? 60fps. So at 50% speed, the clip is still playing back at 30fps. Which means you can slow a 120fps clip down to 25% speed and still have it look normal and fluid.
Check out Part 1: How to Get The Perfect GoPro Shot: Part 1
The biggest takeaway that you need to leave with is, “Only shoot with as many fps as you need.” Don’t go overkill and shoot a video of your cat sleeping at 240fps. Simply wastes space and will be a hassle when editing. Hollywood movies are shot at 24fps which allows smooth and fluid transitions between all the movements on screen. When you shoot in higher frame rates (48,60,120fps) you will notice a “soap opera” like quality about your videos at real-time playback. Instead of your eyes naturally blending the movements between frames that you see on screen, the higher frame rates show each detail for you. Almost like there is too much information being displayed all at once. Only shoot at higher fps when you know that you will slow the clips down for a slow-mo scene.
Obviously, anytime you are shooting action shots, especially aerial sequences, you need high frame rates to capture something that happens in an instant. 60fps will be sufficient for most amateur athletes’ shots and 120 will be able to capture 99% of action shots for super slow-mo playback. If you want the epic shots that you see in the GoPro promo videos or in the masterpieces like Art of Flight, you will need to shoot at the highest frame rate as possible.
GoPros are famous for shooting in a wide angle lens that captures pretty much anything in front of the camera. Pros, you never have to worry about where you point the camera. Cons, in most cases, too much is captured on the screen. I highly recommend shooting in Medium or Narrow FOV. This allows you to focus your shots much better and draw the audience into specific parts of the shot, not the entire room.
When to use Wide angle? If you want to capture yourself performing maneuvers when skiing,surfing, or anything that is complex and you are constrained with the distance between you and the camera. Rule of thumb: if your subject is more than 6 feet away, do not use a wide angle lens setting.
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.