White Balance, Field of View, Protune and GoPro Studio
Visual Tech by John Kopec
Once we power up our GoPro, it defaults to the video mode, which we can see by the picture of the video camera.
If we tap the power/mode button, we can cycle through the Photo, Burst Photo, and Time Lapse modes to get to the Settings menu, signified by a wrench.
To get in the menu, we are going to push the top/record button on the camera. It takes some getting used to, having only two buttons to navigate the menu, but with practice, you’ll be able to move around quickly and get where you need to go.
Our first window asks us to choose our resolution, frame rate and field of view.
For those that missed the last article, let’s start with 1080p for a resolution. Not only is it the HD standard for broadcast television, but also it’s a manageable resolution for file sizes. You will find that shooting at 2.7k will quickly eat through your memory cards. If you have access to a computer and can quickly and easily offload your card, this may not be an issue, but if you are on vacation with your family and are trying to squeeze every last second out of your card, 1080p is a solid choice. The choice between 24p and 30p is purely stylistic one; provided you aren’t going to be using your footage for broadcast TV, in which case you’ll want to use 30, or most commonly spoken as 29.97. If you have the newest GoPro Hero3+, you’ll have four options for your field of view: wide, medium, narrow, and the newest option being “ultra wide,” with a claimed 170 degree field of view. While this is an impressively wide angle, know that you are going to have some “barrel distortion” on the outer edges of the frame, which will manifest itself by having images “stretched out.”
If this is undesirable to you, go ahead and switch to wide, medium and for little or no barrel distortion, narrow. The next several windows will take us through our photo resolution size, burst modes and time lapse settings, but for now we’ll skip ahead to Capture Settings.
Our first option here is if we want to flip the image, in the event we filmed upside down. I usually don’t bother with this option, because this can easily be done inside of video editing software with a single click.
The next option is Spot Meter Exposure. This is a pretty cool option because it’s giving us a little control over the exposure. Normally, a GoPro camera takes a look at the whole frame and picks the average amount of light coming in to expose for. Most of the time this will work fine, but sometimes you’ll want to switch this option ON to get the best image. For example, if you are shooting from inside a car and you have the interior of the car in the foreground, you may find that everything outside is overexposed, or “hot,” as we say in the business. This is because the GoPro made the decision to expose the inside properly, and it let the outside go hot. To fix this problem, we are going to tell the camera to just look at the center of the frame and ignore the edges when exposing. Now, when we point it outside, we should get a nice,properly-exposed image. If we were to spin it around and frame someone up in the middle, the GoPro will adjust to the person’s face. It is a pretty cool option if you want to get the most of your camera. If we keep scrolling, we’ll see the option for Protune. GoPro heard the requests from the professional community and added this very cool option. What Protune does is that it allows the camera to capture a wider dynamic range of light. Without getting bogged down in the technicalities, just think of it as the camera being able to capture more information in the highlights as well as the darks. However, what happens when you copy the footage and begin to watch your clips? They are all washed out and grey-looking. What happened? Well, for those of us in the business, we call this a “flat” image. A flat image, used in these terms, means that more information was captured than normal, but we are going to have to do some post color correcting to bring back the sharpness and colors to where they should be. GoPro provide some LUTs, or Look Up Tables, in the preset portion of the GoPro Studio. We’ll go over this later and what steps should be taken. Now in theory, shooting in Protune and coloring your footage should equate to a more detailed and accurate coloring of your footage. However I should warn you, some trial and error will be necessary. You can easily get your footage looking oversaturated and just plain wrong if you incorrectly color your footage. Once you learn how and what the process entails, you will most likely shoot most things in Protune.
While there are other options you can go through on your camera, that’s all we need to go over before we start shooting. Now that you’ve had some time to shoot that next viral, underwater, skating, slow-motion skydiving video with a screaming goat? Great, let’s start editing!
What you’ll want to do is connect your GoPro via the included USB cable into your computer and power it up. An alternative way is to pop out the microSD card and use a card reader attached to your computer. Either way, you’ll see the card recognized by your computer. Go ahead and copy the whole card onto your hard drive, you’ll want to make sure you are editing the footage when it is located on your computer and not from the card. I should also mention that it is not only wise, but considered default that you keep a second copy of your footage on a separate drive for backup. Should you encounter a drive malfunction, theft, fire or any other incident, you’ll want to make sure you have it safe. Some moments are not only expensive but also impossible to recapture.
Ok, once you have the files on your computer and safety backed up, let’s start editing. To do so, we are going to launch GoPro Studio, a free application that you can download from their website. It’s a rather simple application, with three tabs to go through, or “Steps.” We can start by clicking the button: “Import New Files” on the left side. Navigate to your folder where you copied your card and select all the .mp4 files you want to edit. You’ll notice also there are .lrv and .thm files, but don’t worry about selecting those. They stand for low-resolution-version and thumbnail files, but are not necessary for what we are doing. Once the files are imported, you have options for changing where they get sent for the first process, if you want to flip and mirror the image, reduce barrel distortion and other options. Once you’ve chosen all your options, go ahead and press the “Add clip to conversion list” button, and click “Convert.” Once your clips are done converting, we can move on to the second step, “Edit,” which is where we can manipulate the speed, color, audio and even make some rough edits of our videos. We can also apply presets, or our LUTs, to our Protune-shot videos to get them looking colored and sharp from their native flat and soft image. Once we’ve finished tweaking, we can do our final export by clicking the Step 3 button called “Export” and pick a preset for where we’d like the video to go: Vimeo, YouTube, etc. Once that long progress bar finishes up, voila, we are done. Time to upload online and get those likes!
In Case You Missed It: Using Your GoPro – Part 1