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Running With Your GoPro: Video Settings for Mortals

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In the second installment of “Running With Your GoPro” I address the issue of video settings. It took me a while to land on what was right for me for the kinds of videos I put together. Once again, keep in mind I’m not a professional by any stretch of the imagination. I am an enthusiast but I’ve learned some things along the way as well.

I use three different cameras when I shoot. My “go to” has been the Hero 3+ Black Edition. But recently GoPro sent me a Hero Session 4 which doesn’t have as many settings to choose from as the Hero3 or 4 series but it smaller and lighter and easier to pack into something while I’m running, so it’s been my most recent device of choice. My third camera has become my back up, it’s a Hero 3 Black Edition which has a fewer settings than the 3+ and 4 series.

Here are the video settings that I’ve found to be optimal for capturing races while running with your GoPro

Resolution

In theory you would think “the higher, the better” right? I mean, you wouldn’t buy a TV with a 720 resolution when you can get one at 1080 would you? Well, conventional wisdom goes out the window when you’re running with a GoPro. What I’ve found is that 720 is optimal for filming while running. I’m not sure what the technical reason is, but when I shoot in 1080 and try to flatten out the bouncing in post production, it makes the piece seem like it was filmed under water. But since I want to retain some semblance of high resolution for my videos, I go with 720. This flattens well and captures at a high enough resolution that my videos come out crystal clear.

Field of View

I love how the GoPro distorts the image when shooting in wide screen and I’m not sure why anyone would use this camera to shoot in medium or narrow, but the settings are there so I assume some folks do. My “go to” is SuperView. It helps you capture more of what’s around you without panning the camera up and down too much. If you’re not shooting with an important focal point, meaning, if there’s not one specific area where you want the viewer to look in a given set up, SuperView is for you. It also gives you more options in post production (editing). When I shoot with a camera where SuperView is an option, it’s my setting of choice.

Screenshot from Superview
Screenshot from wide

While not the best example, these two screen grabs from the GoPro app illustrate the difference. Notice that there’s more surface above and below me in the center of the frame as compared to the second picture.Frames Per Second: Generally I shoot in the highest count available for a given setting. Again, this gives me more options in post production (for zooming or slow motion). The only exception to this is if I’m filming in a low light situation. I’ll set it to the lowest frame rate as it gives the camera more time to collect light for each frame which helps your video come out more evenly lit rather than make  some of the images too dark to see.

Spot Meter

In technical terms, spot metering uses a single point in the center of the frame for exposure compensation. This means that whatever is in the center of the shot will be properly exposed and will set the meter for the rest of the frame, even if other objects or areas in the frame are under or overexposed (think of shooting out the window of a car into the sunlight). I don’t find myself shooting in situations where the lighting is dramatically different across the frame so I usually leave this off. Almost all of my videos are shot outside and the biggest difference in light would be if the course took runners through a tunnel (which isn’t very often).

Protune

Turning on Protune causes videos to look less sharp, and the colors look more washed out. Technically this gives you more “freedom” to make all your footage uniform during post production. Let me reiterate here that I am not a professional. Nope, I want my footage to capture the essence of the race I’m running, or the event I’m attending. It needs to be good enough to play on a high end video monitor from the web. Protune is not something I’m interested in as I don’t want to take that much time editing. I use basic, consumer friendly software to edit my videos and while I’ve gotten adept at creating great videos, I’m no where near a professional and don’t want to take the time to.

All of these setting are easily accessible on the GoPro app for Apple or Android. I highly suggest downloading it!

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9 Comments

  1. Hi there! I picked up some tips from your posts. What video processing software do you like to use? I just picked up a used GoPro 4 Silver and am eager to play with it while I run.

  2. Awesome tips, this is exactly what I was looking for! I just got my first GoPro, so I am a newbie, and I was looking for some video tips. So far I found this: http://www.videostudiopro.com/en/pages/gopro/ that helped me learn how to edit the GoPro videos, but I couldn’t find some recommended shooting settings anywhere! So thank you very much for helping me find what I was looking for.

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