How to use your GoPro like a Pro

GoPro with PanasonicI have used the Hero3 Black edition camera for 2 commercials and a few videos and it always receives a “Wow” response from clients. Action photos are from the Massimo Motor spot. It’s versatility is limited only by your imagination.  It is waterproof and dust proof and can handle quite a lot of vibration. It fits almost anywhere and can be mounted to almost anything (the photo below shows the non-GoPro mount used to record the front suspension).
Superclamp and suspensionClips edited next to those shot with a Canon 5D MkII look great. One small drawback is that I found it necessary to use SpeedGrade for color correction, but this is only because the GoPro was recording under difficult conditions like shooting into the sun or under the chassis of a vehicle where contrast can be a problem. SpeedGrade made it easy to color correct using secondary controls. If you are not an advanced editor don’t worry. Most of the footage looks great using AUTO exposure and AUTO White balance; settings that pros seldom use.
GoPro splash 2 upSetup: First in the settings menu (the wrench) turn on “Protune”. Set the format to 1080. I used 30 fps because I prefer it when I am shooting action, and, I used the Canon 5D MkII for the commercials and I wanted to limit the amount of rolling shutter or strobing effect that can happen with the Canon’s CMOS sensor and a frame rate of 24. For slow motion you can set the frame rate to 60 (1080P 60) and process the clips in GoPro Studio 2 for a 30 fps timeline and your video will play smoothly at half speed. Then you can slow it down further Premiere Pro or whatever editing software you may be using. For very slow motion you can choose 720 P 120. At 120 frames per second your footage will play back at 1/4 speed with the option to slow it down further in post.

I have not used the 4K or 1440 formats however I did use the 2.7K format because, in the timeline, I can crop the video or do a slow zoom in while the clip is playing. First I adjusted the size to fit full frame, then I did the slow zoom in, enlarging about 30%. With the 1080 format you are limited to about a 10% enlargement of the footage before it starts to lose quality.

GoPro mounted on a mic boom pole to capture these images.

GoPro mounted on a mic boom pole to capture these images.

Wi-Fi: If you can’t afford a camera crane? No problem. To get high overhead shots put the GoPro on a mic boom pole. Use the free App on your iPhone or iPad to see what the camera sees and start recording right from the handheld device. This Wi-Fi enabled camera makes it easy to start and stop recording from the remote control or from a hand held device. It is also much easier and faster to navigate the menu on your iPhone or iPad instead of using the 2 button menu on the camera.

Playback while on location: You can use the LCD Touch BacPac on the camera or, as I prefer, use a portable, battery powered monitor to review your footage while out in the field. I use a Marshal 5″ monitor. You will have to open the waterproof housing to connect the micro HDMI cable or you can use the Skeleton Housing. More on this housing in “Audio”.

With the remote and battery BackPack we could control the recordings on the ascent.

With the remote and battery BackPack we could control the recordings during the long ascent from another UTV.

Audio: The GoPro was not made to record sound however, the Skeleton housing enabled me to record adequate sound for personal videos (bicycling). you will get wind noise even at 15mph. GoPro recommends using the Standard housing when mounted on vehicles going over 100mph. I have the 3.5mm Mic Adapter to connect an external mic but have not used it yet.

Software: The GoPo Studio software is easy to use but I will not get into it in this blog. There is a training video on their site. I use Version 2.* which has an easy check box to remove fisheye which I highly recommend using. I process all clips with this easy to use software and then import the “converted” files into Premiere Pro.

If you really want to know how to use your GoPro like a pro just go out and play with it. The newer Hero3+ Black is better in low light situations and has other improvements. Read more on

Watch the national Massimo Motor spot here. Special thanks to Frank Salle for great footage and technical input and to the producer/director, Jodi Deros of Atom Design; not to mention some great off road driving from the Massimo staff.