How to Make Your GoPro Footage Watchable
Tim Roberts, the Ski Utah video producer, here with some practical tips for getting the most out of your POV Camera.
You’ve seen the cameras on helmets, on poles, on chests, and attached to skis. But, in case you haven’t noticed there is a lot of unwatchable POV footage out there shot with GoPro’s and other POV cameras. So, if you want to come home with some stuff that’ll actually impress your friends and co-workers and maybe even get more than a dozen views on YouTube, here are some helpful tips.
Know your settings - With the Hero3, GoPro added way more settings than your average user is going to know what to do with. There are lots of great choices depending on what you want to do with them. Typically I shoot my Hero 3 Black at 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. Shooting at 60 fps allows you to do a nice smooth slow motion if desired. If you really want to geek out on all the settings that are available for your GoPro check out this great blog post.
Get the App - It is way easier to control your settings and preview your shooting angle if you use the app. It connects your phone to your camera via wi-fi. Nothing is worse than getting home and seeing you had the camera pointed too low or too high. Click here to get the app.
Change up your angles - Mounting your camera to your head produces footage that all looks the same. Unless you’re skiing something Alaskan steep, it’s not going to look as rad on-screen as you remembered in the thick of your line. The answer, change up your angles.
Get the camera out in front of you - Are you skiing down into something cool? If so, hold it behind you and capture your view downslope with you in frame. For these kind of angles you can get poles that are specifically made for a GoPro or you can use the GoPro seatpost mount and hook it up to your ski pole or avalanche shovel handle and you’ll always have it with you. Or if you really want to go crazy you could go with a homemade spinning head mount. If you’re a skier, the Chesty Harness will get you a steadier shot than having the camera mounted on your helmet. When it’s on your head it captures every turn of your head. But the Chesty will keep the camera pointed forward. This option does not work as well for snowboarders standing sideways.
Get some sound bites - Take that camera out of the case so you can get decent sound and have your friend tell you what you’re doing? Have them describe the conditions and where you are skiing. Or simply interview yourself. To avoid looking crazy, maybe wait until you’re on a chair by yourself. Don’t forget to capture some other stuff throughout the day that makes your day memorable. Was the road gnarly on the way up? Shoot 30 seconds of that or make a timelapse. Did your buddy eat a massive burger for lunch? Get a shot of him stuffing it in his face. In addition get some shots of the view, the inside of the tram. All this will help you break up your video in the editing phase.
Get All Kinds of Shots - Be sure to shoot your friends with your POV camera. Get some shots of your buddies going by. I find it’s usually best to take the camera off and hold it for these shots. Remember that a POV camera typically has a very wide angle lens, so, the closer you can get to the action the better. Communicate with your friends and tell them the shot you’re trying to get for the best results.
Edit - I’m sure your run was epic, but, it might not have been epic from the moment you stepped off the tram to the time you got back to the lift line. Viewers probably aren’t interested in the traverse to the top of your run or the cat track back to the lift. Editing is crucial to create a finished product that will hold your viewers' attention and allows you to choose the choicest sections. There are free editors that come with most computers these days. I personally use Adobe Premiere Pro, but the cheaper Adobe Premiere Elements is solid and has robust features if your looking for an upgrade from iMovie.
How to tell a good story - Have the video move in a linear fashion with a clear beginning, middle, and end. In general, the shorter the better. When in doubt, cut it. Don’t bore them, wow them, and leave them wanting more. Between epic shots of you slaying epic powder throw in those other random shots you caputured along the way to keep them wondering what's going to happen next.
Hopefully these tips help you turn your winter holidays shredding footage into something that will convince your co-workers you're cool, your family that you're crazy, and that girl or dude down the street that you're hot. Most of all, have fun.