Understanding GoPro Video Settings
There are various setting to consider when reviewing the video capabilities of your GoPro camera. For example, there’s frame-rate, aspect ratio, field of view (wide, medium, and narrow), white balance, and on and on it goes. Instead of break down what each camera can do (since each camera has a different list of settings and capabilities depending on its generation year), I’m going to discuss the main GoPro video settings and what they mean for you and your footage. It’s on you, bros and gals, to determine which settings pertain to your camera and which to use for any given situation (that’s right – I’m giving you homework – deal with it).
The one universal note I’ll make is these settings will always be located inside the “settings” menu on your GoPro. It’s then simply a matter of discovering which settings your camera has.
Frame-rate refers to the number of frames recorded in one second. Our eyes register 24 “frames” per second – as such, major motion pictures and most cameras are normally set default to this rate. Faster frame-rates create smooth footage and provide the ability for it to be slowed down later. For example, 60 frames-per-second (fps), has a smooth clean look and can be reduced to 24 fps for non-choppy slow motion.
GoPro cameras come with a host of options depending on your generation including 24fps, 30fps, 60fps, and even 240fps in some. Keep in mind that if you are looking for epic slow-motion, shoot at higher frame-rates. Also keep in mind high frame-rates will drain your battery slightly faster since the camera is processing more than 2x the information per second.
Aspect ratio is the size image your GoPro camera will produce. This is where fancy ratios like 2K, 4K, and 8K are thrown around to impress people. Most GoPros record 720p (the aspect ratio one finds on Facebook) and 1080p (the resolution of most Youtube videos for reference). The newest GoPro cameras do indeed support 4k filming (such as the GoPro Hero4 & 5).
The larger the aspect ratio, the more image you capture and the more you can zoom in and crop footage without pixilation (a bad thing to look at, let me tell you). With every new GoPro, this feature will continue to improve. Keep in mind these settings when shooting. Larger aspect ratios eat battery, but improve the quality of the footage. Large area = more pixels = higher definition image.
Field of View
GoPro cameras have a peculiar function of field of view whereby the camera can shoot in “wide, medium, and narrow” mode. These functions are a way to assist your shooting ability in lieu of not being able to switch lenses on the GoPro camera (unless you have a backbone attachment – then you can use any lens you want!). These modes signify the width and zoom of the clips and resulting crop factors on the image.
Narrow and medium have a zoomed in effect whereas wide helps the camera capture as much image as its little lens can capture. Medium acts as the “in-between” by retaining some wide angle distortion while also providing some zoom. Be mindful of this as it will impact what your camera can see and capture. Note to check this, especially if you own any GoPro other than the GoPro Hero5, as they will not have a back-mounted screen.
As the name suggests, this dictates how the camera sees the color white and subsequently all other colors. How this is set will alter the hue of the image to be warm (more orange), cold (more blue), or neutral – as well as everything in between. Most GoPro cameras simply operate in automatic mode whereby the sensor in the camera dicates and changes as needed. However, throwing it in manual mode allows you to set the white balance. This setting dictates how the camera understands true white and true black. Unless you’re attempting an artistic approach, it’s best to balance this to what you’re attempting to record for best results.
Challenge from a BroPro
My challenge for you this week is simple – get out there and practice using these settings in different environments. You can read all you want, but you won’t truly know squat until you practice it!