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How to use GoPro for filmmaking: Tips to make GoPro work

The need to show close-up and real shots of surfing to himself and his friends led to the invention of GoPro by Nick Woodman in 2002, a surfer, skier and Motorsports enthusiast. But what started as mounting a 35mm camera on the wrist using old wetsuits and plastic scraps is today a well-known international company that has sold more than 26 million GoPro cameras in over 100 countries. But GoPros’ didn’t meet an instant success. It took a while for cinematographers, vloggers and video makers across the world to understand the importance of GoPro shots and include these cameras as a part of their kit.

GoPro cameras come in handy for the following kind of shoot sequences and have proved their mettle time and again-

  • Action
  • Driving/Chase
  • Sports
  • Outdoor Videography
  • Underwater
  • Drone Photography
  • Tracking Shots

Here are 5 tips that you can keep in mind to incorporate GoPro in your cinematography:


1. Show Multiple Angles
One of the key aspects of cinematography is to show a sense of space. And this becomes more imperative in outdoor sequences. For instance, to showcase a thrilling car race or chase sequence, distant shots do not bring the required dramatic appeal and this is where a GoPro comes in the picture. A GoPro can never be the main camera, but it’s the perfect gadget to get some intense close-up shots. Its small size makes it easier to strap on almost anywhere and get some really engaging footage. Experts recommend setting up multiple GoPro cameras in order to get a picture-perfect scene with a real sense of space and action.


2. Use the Protune Setting
A GoPro camera footage does not allow you to enhance it dramatically, but to make it professional enough to be used in films, the protune setting creates the required magic. The protune setting not just gives you a higher level of colour image quality but also lets you adjust a number of features like exposure, ISO, white balance, sharpness, and more. The colour correction feature also allows you to capture highlights and shadows by enabling flat colour. On an editing table, a flatter footage is easier to enhance.


3. Shooting Resolution
To get the best GoPro footage at the editing table, always shoot in 4K. A 4K image is usually 4 times higher than the editing software versions that use a size of 1080p image. Shooting in 4K helps to scale down the image to 1080 without blurring or pixelating the same. The 4K image that you shoot in, doesn’t represent the 100% of the image when transferring to 1080 mode, thus scaling down an image which is still not 100% helps you retain its sharpness and colours while still giving you the final outcome in high resolution.


4. External Lighting
Lighting forms an integral part of shooting a scene, whatever camera you may be using. Although GoPro cameras are primarily used for outdoor shoots, cinematographers sometimes use them for indoor sequences as well to capture some extra angles. In case of doing so, external lighting is a must. One external light and potentially a couple of support lights like backlights, key lights and fill lights would be required to get the best out of the indoor shoot.


5. GoPro App
There is simply no way of avoiding this. When using a GoPro camera for cinematography, you need to get your hands on to its app as well. An app installed on an iPhone or iPad may not be anywhere close to the production monitor that a professional cinematography needs, but it would still be necessary to see the scaled-down version of your camera setting and the kind of footage you would be able to achieve with that setting. An iPad is surely not a calibrated monitor to give you a sense of accurate angles or colours, but it would help you see where you are getting fisheye distortions and vignetting. When shooting in 4K always try to overshoot by 15% or so in order to edit and crop out the fisheye distorted portions of the sequence.


Using the above mentioned tips will surely help you make the best use of the GoPro camera. WWI Virtual Academy’s Advanced Certificate Program in Filmmaking offers an in-depth learning about the various aspects of filmmaking. Learn more here.