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GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros

COW Library : Art of the Edit : Shane Ross : GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros
CreativeCOW presents GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros -- Art of the Edit Editorial


Los Angeles California USA
Article and all images copyright Shane Ross. All rights reserved.


GoPro Hero cameras are everywhere lately. It seems like there isn't a production I am working on that doesn't utilize this camera in some way. They are mounted in cars to either see the driver and passengers, or aimed at the road. They are mounted on back hoes as they dig, mounted on drills as they burrow into the ground. They are mounted on people as they do crazy things. They get angles that you normally cannot get.

First, let me mention the three models currently available from GoPro:

Hero 3 White Edition can shoot video at 1080p30, 960p30 and 720p60, and 5MP photos at up to 3 frames per second. It can shoot timelapse from half second to 60 second intervals. It has built in WiFi, and can work with the GoPro WiFi remote or a free smartphone app.

Hero 3+ Silver Edition does all that, but shoots up to 1080p60 and 720p120, and shoots still photos at 10MP up to 10 frames per second.

Hero 3+ Black Edition does all that the Silver Edition does, but adds 1440 at 48fps, 960p100, as well as 720p100 and 720p120. It also shoots in ultra-high resolution, going to 2.7k at 30fps and even 4k at 15fps. And it has an option called SUPERVIEW, which enables ultra-wide angle perspectives. It can shoot stills at 12MP stills, 30fps. All cameras have built in WiFi and work with the remote, or smart phone app, and all perform much better in low light situations than their predecessors.

For this post, I was provided with a Hero 3+ Black Edition camera, and a slew of accessories.  What is really handy about the Hero 3+, is that it can shoot in a wide variety of ways that might suit various aspects of production. For example, The ultra high speeds is shoots makes it great for smooth slow motion conformed shots.The ultra-HD frame size it shoots allows for repositioning the shots in post to focus on the areas of interest we want to focus on. They all can be controlled wirelessly from an iPhone or Android device with a free app...and you can change the settings in those apps, far easier than the in-camera menus.

OK, so the GoPro Hero 3 line of cameras prove to be very useful cameras, enabling you to get all sorts of useful footage. But the point of this post is to showcase workflows for ingesting the footage into various edit applications so that you can take advantage of these advanced shooting modes.

 

AVID MEDIA COMPOSER

Let me start with Avid Media Composer, only because that is what I have been using the most lately. If you set up the camera to shoot in normal shooting modes, like 1080p30 (29.97), 1080p24 23.98 or 720p60, then importing is easy. Simply access the footage via AMA, and then transcode to DNxHD...either full resolutions like 145, 175 or 220...or an offline codec like DNxHD36, DV25 or 15:1 so you can cut in low resolution, and then relink to the original footage and transcode to a higher resolution when you go to online.

First, go FILE>AMA LINK and you'll get the following interface. Select the clips you want to link to:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

Once you have all your clips in a bin, go to the CLIP menu and choose CONSOLIDATE/TRANSCODE:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

If you shot 720p60, so that you can use the footage either normal speed, or as smooth slow motion in a 29.97 or 23.98 project, then you need to first import the footage in a project that matches the shooting settings...720p60. Then copy the bin over to your main project and cut the footage into the sequence. You will note that the footage will appear with a green dot in the middle of it, indicating it is of a different frame rate than the project:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

The footage will play at the frame rate of the project, or you can adjust it to smooth slow...take all of the frames shot and play them back at a different frame rate. First, open the SPEED CHANGE interface, and then click on the PROMOTE button:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

That enables more controls, including the graph. When you open the graph, you'll note that the playback speed is different. If you shot 60fps and are in a 29.97 project, then the percentage will be 150%. Change that number to 100% and now the clip will play back in smooth slow motion.

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

If you shot at a higher frame rate and want it to be slow motion...say 720p 120fps, then you'll have to use the GoPro Studio app to convert that footage. The cool thing about that application is that it'll conform the frame rate, and convert the frame size to suit your needs. I'll get to that later.

NOTE: You can edit the footage native via AMA. When you bring it into the main project, and drop it into the timeline, it'll be 60fps, or 120fps (note the image above of the timeline and green dots...those are AMA clips, thus why one shows 119.8fps). So when you promote to Timewarp, and adjust the percentage, it will play in slow motion. But know that editing MP4 native in Avid MC is anything but snappy. It will cause your system to be sluggish, because there are some formats that Avid MC doesn't edit natively as smoothly as it can Avid media.

One trick you can do is to AMA the GoPro footage, cut it into the sequence, promote to Timewarp and adjust the playback speed...and then do a Video Mixdown of that. Then you'll have a new clip of only the portion you want, slowed down. The main issue with this trick is that any and all reference to the master footage is gone. If you are doing an offline/online workflow this might not be the best idea. It's a simple trick/workaround.

Now let's say you shot a higher frame size, such as 2.7K or 4K, and you want to reframe inside Media Composer. First thing you do is use AMA to access the footage. But DO NOT TRANSCODE IT. Once you transcode, the footage will revert to the project frame size...1920�xD71080 or 1280�xD7720. Avid MC does not have settings for 2.7K or 4K. I'll get to the workaround for that in a second.

Once you add the clip to the timeline, you'll notice it has a BLUE DOT in the middle of the clip. Similar to the GREEN dot, except where green indicates a frame rate difference, blue indicates frame size difference. If you then open the EFFECT MODE on that clip, FRAME FLEX will come into play.

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

You can then use the Frame Flex interface to reposition and resize the shot to suit your needs. If you shot a nice wide shot to make sure you captured the action, Frame Flex will allow you to zoom into that action without quality loss. Unlike zooming into footage using the RESIZE or 3D WARP effects on regular 1080 footage.

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

One drawback is you cannot rotate the area of interest. The other is that you cannot convert the footage to an Avid native format...something I mentioned earlier. So you can either work with the 4K MP4 footage native...which might prove to be difficult as Media Composer doesn't like to work with native MP4 footage natively, much less at 4K. So one workaround is to do your reposition, and then do a VIDEO MIXDOWN. This will "bake in" the effect, but at least the footage will now be Avid media:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

 

ADOBE PREMIERE PRO CC

The workflow for Premiere Pro CC is by far the easiest, because Premiere Pro will work with the footage natively. There's no converting when you bring the footage in. Simply use the MEDIA BROWSER to navigate to your footage and then drag it into the project.

The above picture has my card on the Desktop. This is only an example picture. I do not recommend working from media stored on your main computer hard drive.
(The above picture has my card on the Desktop. This is only an example picture. I do not recommend working from media stored on your main computer hard drive.)

But I highly recommend not working with the camera masters. Copy the card structure, or even just the MP4 files themselves, to your media drive. Leave the camera masters on a separate drive or other backup medium.

So all you need to so is browse to the folder containing the media, and drag it into the project, or drag the individual files into your project. Bam, done.

CHANGE IN FRAME SIZE

Ok, let's say you shot 720p60...but you want to use your footage in a 1080p project. When you add the clip to the timeline, you'll see that it is smaller:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

That's an easy fix. Simply right-click on the clip, and in the menu that appears select SCALE TO FRAME SIZE.

But what if you want this 720p 120fps footage you shot to play in slow motion? Well, that's very easy too. Right-click on the clip in the Project, and in the menu select MODIFY>INTERPRET FOOTAGE:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

Then in the interface that appears, type in the frame rate you want it to play back as. In this example, I choose 23.98.

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

Done...now the clip will play back slow...even if you already have it in the timeline.

 

FINAL CUT PRO X

Importing is really easy; File > Import > Media. You can either work natively, or choose the OPTIMIZE MEDIA option. Optimize media will transcode the footage to ProRes 422.

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

You get a nice box to import with an image viewer.

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

Now, as I said before, you can work with the footage natively, but I've found that GoPro, because it's H264, it likes to be optimized. I haven't worked with GoPro native extensively in FCPX so I cannot attest to how well it works compared to how it does in Premiere Pro CC. Premiere has the advantage of the Mercury Engine and CUDA acceleration with the right graphics cards.

OK, so to transcode all you need to do is right click and choose TRANSCODE MEDIA:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

Get these options:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

You can create ProRes master media, and proxy media at the same time if you wish. Or just full res optimized media (ProRes 422), or just Optimized Media (ProRes Proxie) that you can relink back to the masters when you are done editing, that you can transcode to full res Optimized Media when you have locked picture. When you create the optimized media, or proxy, the frame rate of the footage is retained.

When it comes to speed changes, unlike FCP 7 and earlier that required you to use CINEMA TOOLS, you conform the GoPro footage internally in FCPX. As long as you set the timeline to the desired editing frame rate, 23.98 for example, then you can conform any off frame rate clip to it by selecting it and choosing Automatic Speed from the retime menu.

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

OK, lets say you shot 4K, but want to use it in a 1080 or 720 project. FCPX has what is called Spatial Conform. When set to NONE the clips go into a timeline at the natural resolution. For example, a 4K clip will be at a 100% scale, but will be zoomed in. All you need to do is scale back to like 35% to see the entire 4K image.

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

 

GoPro STUDIO

All right, let's take a look at the tool that GoPro provides free of charge...GOPRO STUDIO. I use this application quite a bit, not only to pull selects (only portions of clips), but also to convert the footage into a easier to edit codec. H.264 works OK in Premiere, better if you have CUDA acceleration. But my laptop doesn't enable that, so I choose to use the CINEFORM codec that GoPro Studio transcodes to. I also use it to convert higher speed rates for use in Avid Media Composer...like I mentioned earlier. If I have a 120fps clip, I cannot bring that directly into Avid and transcode it to that same frame rate. So I will convert it here first, to match the frame rate of the project....then AMA link and transcode.

Importing is easy. In the main window, on the left side, simply click on the "+" button, that allows you to import the clips. Grab as many clips as you want to. And then when you click on a clip to select it, it opens it into the center interface, and that allows you to mark IN and OUT points…if you only want portions of the clip:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

To adjust the speed of the clip, click on the ADVANCED SETTINGS button. You'll be presented with the following interface:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

In here is where you change the speed to what you want. Simply click on the frame rate drop down menu and choose the one you want:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

You can also remove the fish eye distortion from the footage if you want.

If the speed change is all you need to do, then click on ADD TO CONVERSION LIST and be done with it. But since the 120fps frame rate is only available at 720p, and most of my projects are 1080, you can also up convert the size to 1080 in GoPro Studio as well. And the conversion is pretty good. For that you go into the Advanced Settings again, and in the Frame Size drop down menu, choose the frame size you want:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

If you want to convert 720p 120fps to 1080p 23.98, then the settings would look like this…I also removed FishEye:

Shane Ross Broadcast Editor and GoPro edit workflow image

So there you have it. Some of these workflows are just the basics, others go into more detail. But I'm sure there are lots more tips and tricks out there that some of the more "power users" of the edit systems employ. My hope is that these tips will enable you to use your GoPro Hero cameras to their fullest.

(Thanks to Scott Simmons (@editblog on Twitter) of the EditBlog on PVC, for helping me with the FCPX workflow)

 

A GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition was provided to enable me to test various aspects to the workflows. GoPro was kind enough to let me keep the unit, enabling me to shoot family activities in super slow motion, or in "Ultra HD" resolutions.  It was used to shoot a sledding outting, including a couple crashes…and a couple cat videos. They weren't interesting enough to post…my cats are boring.









Thanks to Shane for letting us reprint this article from his blog, Little Frog in High Def.


Comments

Re: GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros
by Mat Lee
The other purpose I see in shooting 4K at 15fps is to capture 4K stills from the footage. I find it usefull at times and easier to review the video clip then to review hundreds of photos to find the shot I want to keep.

Mat
http://bestgoproeditingsoftware.com/
Re: GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros
by Kevin Hedin
Thanks, but I was hoping (based on your title) that it might include things like: lens correction, noise reduction, scaling, stabilizing, grade matching, and the sort. These are the "workflow" issues I deal with when working with GoPro cameras. Perhaps you can address some of these in a followup post?

Kevin Hedin
Digital One, Inc.
Anchorage, AK
@Kevin Hedin
by sam lazarus
Check out Abe Kislevitz's blog, he is on the GoPro media team and knows his stuff. Alternatively, you can nab the new book out from the Creative Director of GoPro that covers some post workflow stuff.
Re: Article: GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros
by Shannon Stegall
Hey everyone. I use my GoPro to film all the time, from surfing to starting to play around with more film type things. I've had some trouble with editing but I just found out some news I thought I should pass on to everyone. Apparently they have a new app coming out end of July called Prizmia that is exclusively for editing GoPro footage. Not sure if any filmmakers here are Stage32.com members but they are getting an exclusive use of the app 2 weeks before it is available to the public. I found this out yesterday and signed up for stage32 (free woohoo) and Prizmia is freaking awesome-so many cool filters and gradients and such. Just thought I'd share the knowledge.

Reply if you know of any other wireless editing software for GoPro; I'm addicted.
Re: GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros
by Eddie Potros
I just wonder about scale to frame size on Premiere. How much quality loss do you get when you do that and what's the best/easiest way to make it sharp again (obviously sharpen tools but anything else)?

Cheers,
Eddie11
http://eddie11.com
http://eddiepotros.com
http://e11world.com
@e11world
@Eddie Potro
by Shane Ross
Actually, the scaling engine in Premiere Pro is top notch. In some areas, better than After Effects. I use that to scale up SD to HD for other editing needs. No need to sharpen after.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
Re: GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros
by Dave Fleming
Thanks for the informative article, Shane. I would love to see an article/tutorial on quick color grading of GoPro Protune footage! I'm nobody's colorist, and I've been handed a bunch of Protune footage. Googling gives me sparse results.

Dave
@Dave Fleming
by Shane Ross
I'd think you grade it like you would anything else. ProTune allows it to be flat, so you can draw the colors out. Just like grading any flat footage from a RED or ALEXA.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
Re: GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros
by Ed Hecht
Nice article, Shane. Thank you. Just curious if I am alone in thinking that videos shot at 120 fps at 720p look a bit soft (Hero3+)?
Thanks.
Ed

Re: GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros
by Mike Cohen
is there a use for 15fps 4k? I was puzzled when I used a GoPro last year that they promote 4K, yet there is no 15fps video in need of 4K. Or do you just interpret that at a higher frame rate? I would think it would be jerky.
Mike Cohen
@Mike Cohen
by Shane Ross
One purpose is to be able to mix with regular 4K shot with a real 4K camera, I suppose. And being from a GoPro...meant as a POV or "crash cam", the frame rate doesn't need to be smooth all that much. OR...another reason would be to shoot a huge area, and choose the region you want to focus on. Yeah, it'll be jumpy...double frames at 30fps...but again, it's a crash/dash camera...not an Alexa

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def
Re: Tutorial: GoPro Workflows for Editing Pros
by Rebecca Sales
I use my GoPro to film me sailing. I am very interested of editing software. I like to take snapshot of my videos. Some of my snapshot on the Sailability Port Stephens facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/SailabilityPortStephens


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