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8 Most Important GoPro Tips for Beginners

Everything you need to get better GoPro shots

GoPros are the perfect camera for capturing our adventures and telling exciting stories of people’s lives. It is so versatile that even professional productions and filmmakers use GoPro to help capture action scenes in their films. And they look so good!

While these may have used some professional post-production, there are still certain tips and tricks that anyone can learn and adopt in its own video making workflow. These 8 simple tips will help you turn your basic videos into masterpieces.

1. Plan your shots

Planning your shots is the first step to improving your videos. By planning your shots a little bit in advance (even if just in your head), the chance of telling a better story will be higher. So instead of rushing to press that rec button, first take some time to observe the area around with your own eyes. You may discover new camera angle opportunities or lighting combinations which could be used for your advantage. Taking this route makes the likelihood of creating a good video wishful thinking. If you commit to being a little more creative and to trying a little bit harder, your videos will be much better.

Plan your shots and re-watch the videos before moving on

How do you plan your shots?

  • Story is key! Make sure it follows a storyline with an intro, body, and outro
  • Think ahead about camera angles and camera movements
  • Think about light and choose the best time of the day to film (ideally sunrise and sunset)
  • If you are creating a complex video, consider creating a storyboard
  • If you have a specific shot in mind, don't be afraid to preview the shot on your phone or watch the recording to make sure you're totally satisfied before moving on to another location

2. Use the right GoPro Settings

After doing a little bit of planning, it’s time to get your GoPro ready and setup for filming.

While GoPro does not do a bad job in Auto mode (out of the box), we recommend learning its settings and adjusting them according to what you are filming. By mastering your camera settings you will be able use all of its potential.

If you're up for it, try enabling Protune from the camera settings menu. This will unlock GoPro’s manual settings and it will increase the recording quality.

Turning on Protune on the GoPro Hero 7 Black

At this point you can set custom values for every GoPro settings. These values will change based on a few factors, such as:

  • What you are filming (e.g. fast action vs slow action) -> Frame Rate Settings
  • Light conditions -> ISO Settings, Low Light Settings
  • Environment -> Field of View Settings, Stabilization Settings
  • Playback device -> Resolution Settings, NTSC/PAL

To make it simpler for you, I’ve created a free GoPro Settings Cheat Sheet with suggested settings for the most filmed GoPro activities. It has already helped thousands of creators like you hacking their GoPro Camera Settings. 

The table below was extracted by the GoPro Cheat Sheet. It gives you suggested settings for Resolution, Frame Rate and Field of View on 12 typical activities filmed with GoPro.

Activity

Resolution

Frame Rate (FPS)

Field of View (FOV)

Travel

1080p, 1440p, 4k

60fps

Wide

Cycling

1080p, 2.7k

60fps

Wide, Superview

Hiking

1080p, 4k

30fps

Wide

Drone

1080p, 4k

24fps, 60fps

Wide, Linear

Motorcycle

1080p, 2.7k

120fps

Wide

Sport

1080p, 4k

120fps

Wide

Ski

1080p, 1440p, 2.7k

120fps, 240fps

Wide

Surf

1080p, 1440p, 2.7k

120fps, 240fps

Wide

Underwater

1080p, 4k

30fps

60fps

Wide

Sunset

1080p, 4k

30fps

Linear

VLOG

1080p, 1440p, 2.7k

30fps

Wide, Linear

Automobile

1080p, 2.7k

60fps

Wide

 

3. Keep it short

How many times have you seen amateur films shot from the same angle for five long minutes? It’s painful. I’m not that guy; you shouldn’t be either.

Take a second to think about how long a shot lasts in an actual professional video. It’s seconds.

I challenge you to find a TV show or movie that uses the same camera angle for more than 10 seconds. It’s rare. 

So, why are you?

This simple tip will help you make your videos more dynamic by cutting out the unnecessary.

Shorter is better. Especially when it’s about fast actions.

Pro tip: Next time you’re shooting a video, record for no more than 10 seconds, then move. If you have a shot list like we’ve talked about, you’ll have a ton of great angles to choose from. With longer scenes, film the same shot from two or three different angles. It’s way more watchable!

The Spivo 360 selfie stick is an awesome GoPro accessory to capture different perspectives and keep your shots nice and short. 

4. Keep it charged

As new GoPro camera models come out, GoPro’s processing power increases along with new powerful features, but batteries remain almost the same. This could result in a shorter operating time per single battery. 

On top of recommending you to backing up your camera bag with a few extra batteries (assuming that you can change them) to ensure at least a full day of filming, the following simple tips will help you keep extend your battery life and get more recording time:

  1. Only turn your camera on when you want to film by using the Quick Capture function (from HERO5 above)
  2. Turn off Wifi, Bluetooth, Voice Control and GPS
  3. Keep GoPro batteries warm (pockets work well)
  4. Turn off the display (if not needed)

5. Use a fast SD card

Using a compatible GoPro memory card is very important to guarantee that all your media files will be stored correctly. Despite the large memory card choice that we have on the market, we encourage to use only GoPro’s tested memory cards.

SD card specifications

Generally, try to use only fast memory cards that can ensure 4k recording, otherwise your files may fail to get saved correctly. Therefore we suggest microSD cards with a speed rating of Class 10 or V30. The illustration below shows you the corresponding video formats for every video format.

6. Stabilize your clips

Unless it’s actually used as a filming technique, there’s nothing more dizzying than having to sit through a whole video that looks like it was shot during an earthquake. This is why image stabilization and hypersmooth was invented. This feature actually turned GoPro the best action camera on the market. And this is why you need to use it.

But the are certain times where the in camera stabilization does not perform well. This happens mostly in low light situations, where the camera’s algorithm struggles to recognize the objects in the frame, creating video artefacts called as jello effect, like shown in the image below:

So try to avoid Hypersmooth or any kind of camera stabilization if light is an issue. In fact, it’s better to use a gimbal stabilizer to shoot low light videos since the video is stabilized mechanically beforehand. If you don't have a stabilizer, using a selfie stick or gopro tripod will generally add a small amount of stabilization. 

Alternatively, if your video still looks too shaky, you may try to fix it in post production with professional editing software like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro using their electronic image stabilization effects. While this method won’t always smooth out every shaky frame, it’s always worthwhile testing it.

7. Think ahead to the video editing

It's easy to get caught up in filming and forget about completely about the editing process. For many beginners, editing can be a time-consuming and daunting task.

Video editing on your phone

For small/simple projects with only a few clips, we recommending downloading a video editing apps on your phone. We've compiled a summary of the best free and paid video editing apps specifically for GoPro enthusiasts. 

For projects with many clips and files, we recommend editing on your computer or using a video editing service like Spivo's. If you have the time, patience and a decent computer to work with, editing can be really fun. When you're starting out, there's no need to overcomplicate things, the most important part is always the story. If you're just getting started, this post is a good place to start: How to make a travel video in 3 easy steps.

8. Use the right accessory

Accessories let you mount your GoPro on almost anything, and take it anywhere you want. If you already own some GoPro accessories you surely understand how much these things make our filming workflow easier and better.

If you are just starting out I encourage you to firstly understand what are the activities that you shoot the most, and then creatively think how you could shoot those scenes. What camera angles could you use? Where could you attach your GoPro?

These questions will help you evaluate what kind of accessories you may need in your camera bag next time. 

There are accessories designed to take your GoPro on every activity you can possibly imagine. To help you find what accessories you need, here below I’ve listed a few popular activities along with suggested GoPro accessories.


Activity

Suggested GoPro Accessory

✈️Travel/Vlog

Mini tripod, Selfie Stick, Floating Handle Grip

🎿Sport

Helmet mount. Chest, head, Wrist straps.

🏍️MTB/Motorbike

Bar mount. Head, Chest straps.

🚗Car

Suction Cup Mount.

🌊Watersports

Floating Handle Grip, Selfie Stick, wrist mount, surfboard mount, Clarifii water repellant 

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5 comments

Apr 18, 2020 • Posted by Md Mahmudul Hasan Rasel

I avoid spivo advertisement several time but today I found it so much helpful after go through the website. Feeling guilty inside that if I saw it few of my video clips become more attractive and editable. Thanks for such initiative.

Apr 21, 2020 • Posted by Spivo

Hey Md Mahmudul, thanks for checking out our post! We’re always here to help if you need a hand :)

Apr 23, 2020 • Posted by Tom Poff

Thanks for the info. I have the Hero 3’s. Still going good. Batteries don’t last long. Have bought several. Same. Cost not cheap

Apr 23, 2020 • Posted by Spivo

Hey Tom! Wow, you’re still using the Hero 3! That’s amazing. The battery life has improved a lot on the newer GoPro models.

May 19, 2020 • Posted by surfing New Zealand

This article gives detail about 8 go pro tips for beginners. This article give suggestions on limitations and delimitation of such tips. I enjoyed reading while going through this article and this is the best link for gaining all the information about it.

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