Tips For Using the GoPro Video Camera

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Tips For Using the GoPro Video Camera

Postby Tawmass » Tue Feb 21, 2012 7:05 am

There has been many requests on what is the best resolution to shoot the GoPro Camera in, where is the best location, etc. I figured I'd write up a post that would be a good spot for people to refer to. Here are a few tips that I use when running the GoPro. Keep in mind, this is what works best for ME and is by no means the end all rule for setup and operation. Plus there are other great video cameras out there, but I have no experience with them. In fact, my good friend Joe uses a Cannon point-and-shoot camera mounted to his helmet chin piece and makes great videos, so there are options!

* Video Setup: I run in R3 = 720p @ 60fps mode. I run this mode for a few reasons - the end result can be compiled or rendered in high-definition (HD) mode, plus at 60fps you can do slow-motion mode if you want the option. The negatives to this is that it uses more battery and more space on your memory card.

* Audio Setup: from within the clear, plastic enclosure, the GoPro is well protected. It is also well protected from recording true audio. With that, I select the high-audio mode because it has to record sounds through the enclosure. Cons on this is that the sounds are somewhat muffled, and when anything rubs the case, it is very loud. However no water gets inside and the camera is safe. The ideal setup would be no enclosure and the normal audio recording mode.

* Case Setup: inside the case - I always delicately clean the camera lens with a soft, non-abrasive piece of cloth. I do the same for the lens protector inside and out. I then get a no-fog cloth, steam up the lens and wipe it off with the cloth. Do the same for the inside of the lens protector.

* Case Setup: outside the case - after cleaning the external side of the lens protector, I go over it with Rain-X. You will get water on the outside of the lens, so this allows the water and muck to bead up and run off when possible.

* Camera Location: (chest mount) my favorite location still is on the chest. This is for many reasons such as less back-and-forth body movement, plus it shows great action with the bar movement in the lower part of the display and everything else in the distance when aimed properly. Cons is that it must be aimed properly or you might lose distance when standing versus sitting.
*******Helmet Mount: A great location to cure the aiming problem of chest mount, however you get a 'bobble head' view that can make some people queezy due to the rider looking around constantly, plus the camera is prone to getting banged up or damaged by low limbs or in the event of a bail.
*******Other Locations: There are plenty of videos out there where people mount the camera on the front fender (aimed at the rider) or on the rear fender aimed backwards, chin mount on the helmet, or on the side of the bike frame aimed forwards or backwards. All good stuff, the variety is great, but there is a lot of vibration and exposure. I would be concerned about fogging on the chin mount, but perhaps not an issue as long as you keep moving.

* Battery and Memory: I run the GoPro HD and carry a spare battery with a 4gig memory card. This is because one battery (depending on ambient temperature) gets me about one hour of recording (around 2gig of memory use). The second battery is easily popped in and the second hour of recording can commence. [Note: the previous non-HD GoPro camera uses two AAA batteries and will go through them like Oprah eating Twinkies, so carry spares and preferably the expensive lithium-ion batteries or the highest Ah number rechargeable batteries you can get (hopefully 2500Ah or better).]

* Compiling and Rendering: You MUST have a newer computer with a lot of horsepower, as the video editing will use every bit of it. Plus your hard disk drive (HDD) will start filling up like a Heppner mosquito on your forearm. I don't do Macs, so cannot comment, but assume the same deal. I started out using Windows Movie Maker and, for short, simple videos, it works okay. But if/when you start into more quality video production, you might not be happy. It kept locking on me, therefore losing all my edits up to that point - frustrating. There are better movie programs like Sony Vegas and PowerDirector, of which I now use PowerDirector (thanks KR). They are much more robust and have better features - worth it in the long run in my opinion.
******I suggest to ALWAYS RENDER IN HD MODE as Youtube and Vimeo both will store in HD now online. It is frustrating to watch a low-res video and its associated blur, so do everyone a favor and record/render in HD when possible. I use Vimeo as an online upload/storage location, but many people are also happy with Youtube, but I think Youtube has a limit of 15 minutes or so total.
******That brings up another point: movie length. Most people can stand about 5-10 minutes before their baby blues roll to the back of their heads, so try to limit the movies to that length if you want to keep people's attention. I'll admit I am the worst on this, so am falling on the sword here. Sometimes it's difficult to limit items to just the highlights.
******Background Music: a good enhancement, but mute the tunes when there is some important conversation or some great braaappping going on. IF you decide to incorporate tunes, choose your music wisely - one man's good music is another man's angst. [Do ME a favor and don't use bad rhyming and pathetic music - aka Rap. :) )

Tips:
* For my chest mount, I used the black plastic base that the camera comes in new, rounded off the corners, drilled a few holes and zip-tied it to the front of my chest protector.
* Get a very small mirror, mount it to your handlebars so you can look at it to see if your camera is actually on or not. Otherwise you'll be constantly asking your riding the buddies the following infamous words, "Is it blinking?"
* Wipe often! You WILL get spooge on the lens, which is annoying and will block the view, especially in moist locations. I try to wipe every few minutes or so, when I remember.

That's a summary of my experiences and notes and I hope that helps the many of you that keep asking about what is best. Again, this is what seems to work best for ME and you may have a better suggestion of which I hope you'll share.
Happy recording,
-Tom

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