How to Fix GoPro Footage

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I know they say it's not the camera that makes the video. But it's hard to buy into that when I've been so spoiled working with excellent videographers with top-shelf cameras. GoPros are excellent, affordable, portable cameras. We strap them to bikes, fly them through the sky, dunk them in water and let our dog run around with one on her back. They're just...fun! But the footage needs a little love before you drop it into a professional video.

Here's one clip along with a breakdown of the ways I treated it in post. You will need Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro. And a GoPro.

There are countless video tutorials showing you how to make GoPro footage look better. I'm still learning as I go, but these are a collection of gems that helped me along the way.

 

Step One: Fix Your Camera Settings

This tutorial gets into post a little bit as well, but it's really best for camera settings. In short:

  • Protune > On
  • White Balance > Native
  • Color Profile > Flat
  • ISO > 1600
 

Step Two: Reduce Noise

Thanks to the instructions in this very helpful tutorial, I bit the bullet and bought the Neat Video Noise Reduction plugin for After Effects. For this particular shot, noise wasn't as big of an issue. But the footage we took at dawn and dusk had some serious artifacts. Here's a split screen before (left) and after (right). It's subtle but satisfying.

 

Step Three: Optical Compensation

GoPros have an option to turn off fisheye. Don't use it! One of the best features of the gopro is how it captures sweeping landscapes that feel immersive. Instead, I fixed it in post. Use the Optics Compensation effect in After Effects. You'll have to fiddle with the Field Of View (FOV) a little bit depending on how far your camera is from the subject matter. But anywhere between 50 and 70 should do the trick for GoPros. The result will give you a curved edge at the top and bottom of your video. You can either scale it up or add cinematic black bars later on in Premiere Pro.

 

Step Four: Stabilize

Some of the newer GoPros have in-camera stability. If you don't have that option, there's Warp Stabilizer in After Effects or Premiere Pro. There's a bit of give and take on this particular feature as the overall quality of the footage degrades the more you stabilize. A 20% smoothness will get rid of some rough edges without

 

Step Five: Masking

I was amazed at how simple it is to create custom shadows in After Effects. Especially if the shot is still. If the camera is panning around, this motion tracking tutorial is indispensable. However, if the camera is still, you simply make a solid layer with a feathered mask.

The yellow line is the rough mask created with the pen tool.

The yellow line is the rough mask created with the pen tool.

 

Step Six: LUTs

This is by far the most transformational step in the process. Ground Control offers a free GoPro LUT along with a very extensive LUT guide and plenty of premium LUTs made for GoPro or any other camera you may use. Here's the final side-by-side comparison with and without LUTs.

 

Step Seven: Music

This track from Acoustic Bro lends a lot of energy to this cut. I also incorporated a bit of ambient noise from the actual footage.

 

Final Video for the spectacular South Playa Sports

Gracias to Toni and family at South Playa Sports for the opportunity to make this video...and have so much FUN in the process.

Bonus Step: Wiggly Text

There was so much energy in the shots, but I wanted to add a little more with the text. Here's an easy way to create this effect while keeping the text editable.