Making Your GoPro Footage More Cinematic

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Have you ever seen those cool clips from a GoPro footage and thought … “why doesn’t my GoPro footage look like that?” Well, it’s not because you don’t have the tools. You do, but you may not be aware of them. Here are a few tips that can make your GoPro footage more cinematic.

These tips come from one of the fastest rising stars on YouTube, professional photographer Peter McKinnon. In just 9 months, McKinnon has grown his fledgling channel to over a million subscribers, and counting. McKinnon is a Canon guy, but he’s also been using GoPro action cameras of late, because they have the uncanny ability to be put just about anywhere.

GoPro Settings Image

GoPro has gone a long way with the new HERO6 and its GP1 sensor for improving dynamic range and HDR color gamut, there are some settings that many shooters don’t take advantage of.

Set your shutter to “Auto.” This will allow your GoPro to change the shutter speed on the fly as the lighting conditions change. White Balance to Auto is also a good idea for the same reasons. Sharpness: Set to medium. McKinnon says that setting sharpness to its maximum setting will make the footage far too sharp, almost like that soap opera effect. Using medium will give you a bit of motion blur and that’s cinematic.

There are two different field of view settings on the GoPro HERO: Standard and Linear. Linear takes that fish eye like GoPro look and straightens it out. This will save you from removing it in post afterwards. And with a little extra work in post, it makes his footage look less “GoPro ish” and more cinematic.

Select ProTune. GoPro’s proprietary codec known as ProTune, gives the footage a more flat color profile, enabling you to squeeze out every bit of color and dynamic range when color grading. It comes turned off by default, so if you turn it on, you can take advantage of what ProTune gives you.

Stabilization. Cinematic footage doesn’t look shaky, unless you’re going for that war photographer like vibe. Walking vary carefully can give you a little more stabile look, but using a stabilizer like the GoPro Karma Grip can make it glide like a Steadicam. I tested the Karma Grip and found it to work as advertised, but when you push the stabilizer to the extreme ends of its envelope, like extremely low angles, it can get a bit shaky.

Adding letterbox matte bars. This one is more of an optical illusion, but adding those gives an anamorphic-style look that is more cinematic automatically. Lastly, mounting the camera anywhere and everywhere you can will give you the creative options for viewpoints you’ve never seen before, and GoPro has a mount for just about anything, and the rest can be handled with a judicious application of gaffer tape.

By using these settings, you can give your GoPro footage the best possible look that will also make for fertile ground when you go into color correction, and that will make it look about as close as it can to those GoPro clips you see on the commercials.

SynBac PRO

In other GoPro news, the company has announced a partnership with TimeCode Systems to create the SyncBac PRO for the GoPro HERO6. Out of the box, the HERO6 doesn’t offer frame accurate timecode all by itself. That’s where the SyncBac PRO comes in. This accessory will plug onto the back of your HERO6 and will provide timecode and other metadata that post production workflows can use to search right down to the frame.

“By enabling the GoPro camera to generate its own frame-accurate timecode, the SyncBac PRO creates the capability to timecode sync multiple GoPro cameras wirelessly over long-range RF,” states the announcement.

The SyncBad is now available for preorder for around $300 from Timecode Systems and will ship in December.

About James DeRuvo 801 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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