9/01/2015

Get more out of your GoPro with these tips and tricks


Ever since Nick Woodman sold his first GoPro camera way back in 2004, video and adrenaline junkies all over the globe consistently flocked to the extremely durable and incredibly portable camera line. Perfect for strapping to one’s wrist, leg, arm, or otherwise, GoPro cameras became the perfect tool to shoot POV videos, especially in the world of extreme sports. However, due in large part to its sheer portability, even ordinary people began snatching up a GoPro to make all kinds of videos like home movies or even cinematic features.

Suffice it to say, you’re not alone. You got a GoPro camera to film the exciting portions of your life and so far, you’re happy with it. But what about all those nifty GoPro videos you see online that have the production value of a Martin Scorcese film? While chances are good some of those might actually possess a bit of professional post-production, there’s still a few tips and tricks we recommend employing to turn your averagely shot videos into masterpieces. These won’t necessarily make the Academy come calling but hey, you need to start somewhere, right?

Use a mount


This is perhaps the single easiest way to spice up a GoPro video, capable of turning a regular filming session into something exciting and thrilling. Luckily, there are literally hundreds of different mounts available on the market, with even thousands more options available for where to place them. Whether you opt for a helmet or chest mount for filming mountain bike and snowboarding excursions, or decide to procure a tripod for stable shots, a mount is always a good idea. We also recommend testing out different places to mount the camera to determine which spots work best for producing smooth shots, correct angles (more on this below), and all of the desired action. GoPro makes a variety of mounts (a reason why they are so popular), but there are plenty of third-party accessories as well.

Keep angles in mind


Want to shoot compelling, exciting videos? Change up the angle you periodically film from to give viewers a comprehensive view of what’s going on, rather than just sticking to one viewpoint. Perhaps this means changing the position of your mount from time to time or getting creative with how you hold it; however it boils down, it’s incredibly effective to alter the field of few often. New GoPro cameras even offer a selection of field of view modes such as the classic wide view (130-degree view), a medium view (11o degree view), as well as a narrow view (75 degree view). Making use of the built-in fields of view contributes greatly to allowing your videos to stand out.

Real filters are key


Photographers and filmmakers alike utilize an array of filters – and we aren’t referring to the color-altering filters in Instagram – to improve the final version of any photos or videos. For instance, using a neutral density filter works wonders when filming a video in incredibly bright environments while a red filter drastically improves the quality of video while filming underwater.

There exists a host of available filters to choose from, so the sky is literally the limit when it comes to giving your videos a unique look and feel. Don’t go overboard with these, however, because you don’t want your viewers to feel like they’re on a bad trip.

Stabilize the shot by holding it against your face


While actual stabilizers are no doubt effective in keeping GoPro cameras nice and steady, they do tend to be a bit on the expensive side. So while this next tip may seem a bit odd, it does allow you to keep some hard-earned dough in your pocket. To achieve a consistently stable shot, simply press your GoPro camera against your face – yes, your face – while tracking whatever it is you intend to film. Obviously this method of stabilization works best when your surroundings don’t require the use of both of your hands, as we wouldn’t recommend trying to pull this off while, say, mountain biking. Still, if you’re looking for a cheap, effective way to record stable video, sticking a GoPro against your face is as good as it gets. This tip works with any type of digital camera too.

Manually adjust the settings


Though there isn’t anything wrong with a GoPro camera’s automatic settings – it’s actually incredibly useful for those new to shooting video – manually tinkering with your camera’s settings helps you get things like lighting and exposure perfect. Most higher-end GoPros, like the Hero4 Silver and Black, let you select the kind of resolution you wish to shoot with and we recommend playing around with different resolutions to get a feel for what works best in different situations. The Hero4 Black, for example, can do 4K at 30p and 2.7K at 60p. These ultra-high resolutions might be overkill, but you can future proof your videos when ultra-high-definition TVs become the norm; you can also downscale to great-looking Full HD 1080. If you stick to what’s standard today, 1080 at 60p will give you a reality TV quality, 30p is normal, and 24p has a more cinematic look. The Black and Silver also offer an advanced mode called Protune, which gives you greater adjustments to things like white balance, ISO, etc. Once you get a feel of what the camera can do in its default settings, play around with Protune to see what else you can do.

Unleash your creative side


Obviously this varies wildly from person to person, but harnessing creativity and imagination is the backbone of any entertaining and compelling video. While there’s no specific tip or trick for being more creative, or how to guide your imagination, this boils down to just trying anything and everything when you shoot. Whether it’s trying out a new way to storyboard for your video, holding the camera differently, or messing with angles and perspectives, there are literally an infinite amount of ways one can play around with being creative. You can even mount one onto your pet and get a POV of its day-to-day.

Plan out a good story


Similar to being creative, telling a good story has the uncanny ability to grip your audience from start to finish. Before even picking up your camera it’s imperative to come up with the idea behind what you want to shoot. Maybe it’s just a simple day at the beach or maybe something a bit more complex, either way it’s important to start shooting with a clear direction. Creating a proper storyboard helps immensely in this regard while also keeping you on track with what you hope to accomplish. Armed with a distinct vision and a plotted outline, shooting your video should prove to be a much easier task to accomplish.