GoPro cameras are lots of fun and have already started a revolution in sports film production – so why are there still so many people making really bad videos with them? The fact is that whilst it’s possible to get some great footage through luck alone – if shooting enough of it – getting something good out of the GoPro takes a bit of thought. These tips can make the difference between sporadic lucky shots and consistently great film.
Planning pays off
Whether mountain biking, roller blading, skiing or sledding, most action sports fans love to be spontaneous. Spontaneously captured footage can look amazing, but the best sports action film sequences are usually those planned ahead of time. The most exciting routes to use are not always the ones that look best on film and little things like choosing the right time of day, so the light is shining in the right direction, can make a big difference.
The right angle
People often talk about getting the right angle in a film when they mean getting the right mental perspective. With GoPro footage, that can be closely related to the physical angle of the shots. The great thing about GoPros is that they can be attached to all sorts of different things or worn on the body in different ways (tip: for a first person perspective, at the side of the head is better than on top). Getting creative and experimenting (before shooting!) can produce great results. Gaffa tape and string go a long way.
Keeping it smooth
When filming action shots, lots of people attach their GoPros to their bikes, boats or toboggans. This can be great for short dramatic sequences but it often gets so bumpy that it’s hard to follow what’s actually happening and watching for a longer period leaves people nauseous. Human bodies have inbuilt shock absorption so it’s better to wear the camera for a smoother look.
Sports footage isn’t all about rapid action. If you enjoy action films then you’ll appreciate the importance of the occasional slow motion sequence. 25fps or 50fps are the best settings for this on the GoPro but 50fps needs to be converted to work as slow motion in the finished film. The GoPro still isn’t perfect and 15fps tends to look rough.
Lots of professional GoPro films are shot using multiple cameras, but people who only have access to one can get similar results by using multiple takes. It may be that not every ride or run goes quite the same way, but skilled professional video editors can still splice them together into great films. Positioning the camera in different ways or having someone film with it from a distance can help to create a more exciting sequence.
Staying in charge
The more time that is spent on shooting a film, the more danger there is of the GoPro running out of charge. Smart filmmakers take a charger and plenty of batteries so they won’t have to stop sooner than planned.
Thinking through these things before going to work with the GoPro makes it possible to get much better results and make films everyone will be thrilled by.
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