Everything about GoPro screams style and cool. How great it looks in the store and in its box. Those amazing videos you see. The potential seems limitless. You imagine yourself creating something incredible, whether as subject or director. And after messing around with it, getting used to its functions, taking a few test shots, you’re still energised, still convinced. And then…..
…..well, I was actually relatively happy with my first proper GoPro project. “Be a Hero” might be pushing it, but I regarded it as a respectable enough effort, a 7 and a half minute spin through a two week trip to Panama and Costa Rica. However, there’s a few things I learnt along the way, at every stage of the project that could have helped the end product. There’s loads of advice out there from people with expertise in filming, editing or with the GoPro itself. But here are a few thoughts by a first-timer for first-timers.
Every chance you get. Particularly if you have been or will be filming a lot. I got the Hero 4 Black, and it eats the battery alive. Have extra battery supply available, I got the battery bacpac to double life. And don’t forget to turn it off when not using, and DEFINITELY turn off the wifi as much as possible (except for QRS below!).
Have the story you want to tell in your mind. Mine was a (roughly) chronological tale, but there ways of telling it and having that thought out, some of how I wanted it to end up appearing, made sure I got the shots to make that possible.
File if using
As a first-timer, not just with GoPro, but with film editing at all, I said to myself “those guys who made such a great piece of kit no doubt have a great piece of editing software to back it up.” GoPro Studio will threaten your sanity, will make you question your belief systems, a bug-ridden head-wrecking mess.
An example – my main example. I had just finished my opus. Over 50 different clips edited, transitions worked out, titles overlaid, music on top. I save it again – look at that helpful little autosave! I go to export…. “A problem occurred while exporting.” That’s ok, it’s been a bit fiddly, it’s probably my laptop anyway.
I try again. It happens again. Shut it down and start it up. That worked before. It’s all that content. Over 50 clips, of course it’ll struggle. “A problem occurred while exporting.” Off and on.
Open project. Wait a minute. Where is it? WHERE IS IT??? I searched the error message shown and found that GoPro Studio, from time to time, will wipe every bit of work you’ve done. The main file and the autosaved version. The lot. I don’t mean the clips, I mean how you treat them, where you choose each clip to start and end, the music and titles. Everything. And then it did it again.
At which point, I started saving the project five different times in different files. File, file and file again. And find a better piece of software. By all accounts Vegas Pro is recommended.
Help on the
Every issue you’ve encountered, someone else has. A lot of questions were answered on the GoPro website’s support pages, but many more weren’t (like the Studio issue above), but a quick search produced useful info every time.
See what would make a good shot – eyes open at all times. And not just what you can see, but what’s seeable, because it’s those angles that you’ve never had the chance to get before which bring the GoPro into it’s own. Which is also why you should always keep in mind what are the….
When I went ziplining, I had my selfie stick and a head mount. I completely forgot to pack a Quick Release Buckle, which would have been really handy as the zipline company had adhesive mounts on their helmets. As had the surfing instruction company on their surfboards…. that time I didn’t bring the GoPro at all. You should also think of what might get in the way, which a Floaty backdoor will with certain mounts, like the head strap or the chesty. And as well as not forgetting mounts, don’t forget….
I probably got a little over-focused on video clips, and while I took a few photos (as well as timelapses), there were opportunities for more, which can also be used as part of your video.
And don’t think that the photos from your regular camera can be used, because in many cases, GoPro Studio doesn’t accept those. For taking both photo and video, make sure you….
The lack of viewfinder is strangely liberating – you get to experience what it is you’re seeing rather than obsessing about how it looks in a viewfinder. However, it is worth switching on the wifi for a moment to see how the scene looks through the app (I used both iPhone and iPad apps). I didn’t film with it on, for Battery reasons as outlined above, but that initial check lets you work out how any changes will affect the shot too.
If there’s one thing I’m short of, it’s ordinary street scenes. The main town in Bocas del Toro (Bocas Town, helpfully) will win no awards for beautiful streetscapes or urban vistas. But it reflects the life of the place. Criminally, I likewise omitted to take Panama City Casco Viejo shots outside of timelapses.
So carry it with you as you walk. It doesn’t matter if you look like a dork. You didn’t worry about that when wearing it on your head in the water.
What’s different. Be it an angle, something you or your viewers won’t have seen before. This is the GoPro – the hype demands something other than just another home video.
Yes, you can zoom in the shot in the editing process. But you’re losing resolution. So just get close. You are the zoom on the GoPro. You and your selfie stick.
There’s more thoughts of course, more little things I’ve forgotten since but will remember again. But they these are the ones that stand out (and the ones I could force into a contrived A-Z format!).
The end product is below! I’m hoping from these lessons and a few more yet to come that the next one will be better. Feel free to add your own below, or to reblog and share, if you’re a GoPro owner, if you know one, or if you plan to be one!