Using a GoPro HD Hero to Create Stunning Videos

helmet cam

The GoPro HD Hero is a revolutionary camera because of it's size, weight, price, and last but not least it's quality. It's capable of creating amazing results in many different environments, but ending up with the best results isn't always as easy as you think.

Over the past 10 years I've been creating extreme sports videos. I've learned a lot about shooting and editing and the most important thing to know is that video creation is a trial and error process.

Here is how I use the GoPro to create my videos.
Before I even begin shooting I try to create a vision in my mind of what I want the video to look like. The clearer the picture of the final project, the better, so if you have a particular song in mind then include that in the vision.

Try to think about the location you are going to and what features stick out. Are there any jumps, gaps, untouched powder, obstacles that will make the video more interesting? If so, figure out how you can incorporate them into the video and what angles will make them stick out the most. One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to always shoot multiple angles at each spot you ride. Showing one angle doesn't always give off the best view of the location but if you can edit together a sequence of the same trick with different camera placements, you're set.

With the GoPro you not only have the option of placing the camera on the ground or on a tripod, you also have tons of self-mounting options. I tend to stay away from the helmet cam (although this seems to be the #1 camera placement for amateurs) because it doesn't show what you're doing. My favorite mounting options for Snowkiting are on the board using the suction cup mount [See figure 1.1], on the bar using the seat post mount [1.2], on the lines using the KiteHero Mount [1.3], in the hand [1.4], and on a tripod or the ground [1.5]. You'll notice from my videos that the angle I use most is with the camera on the ground because it shows a full-body view of where I am and what I am doing.

helmet cam helmet cam helmet cam
Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos

helmet cam helmet cam
Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos

Now that you have an idea where you're shooting and know what angles you'd like to get, you're ready to go out and ride. Of course you're going to explore new spots to shoot each time you ride and sometimes you'll be hitting a spot for the first time, but at least you'll know exactly what's possible and which angles will turn your vision into reality.

Since the GoPro doesn't have a screen, you need to become familiar with it's field of view and keep framing in the back of your mind at all times. Although there are no set rules for framing shots, there are some general guidelines to follow to make your video more viewer friendly.

Headroom: When shooting yourself, keep in mind how wide the lens is. If you point the camera directly at your face, you're probably going to have too much headroom. [Figure 2.1] Point the camera down a little bit to ensure that your head is near the top of the frame rather than in the centre.

Leadroom: When shooting yourself from a profile perspective, try to frame the back of your head against one side of the frame so that the direction you are looking has empty space in front. This space shows that you are moving in this direction. [Figure 2.2]

helmet cam helmet cam
Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos

Proximity: To make the video more editing friendly, always try to shoot multiple proximity's so you can edit from one to another. It always looks better cutting from a wide shot to a close up rather than a wide shot to a wide shot. Variety is priceless.

Now that you've shot all your footage, you're ready to begin the edit. Stay tuned for my next blog describing the editing process I follow using footage from the GoPro.

Check out one of my latest snow kiting videos featuring GoPro HD footage using some of the mounts mentioned above like the suction cup mount

The Ordinary Days of Winter from Big Fall Productions

Thanks for tuning in.

Brendan Schnurr
~Big Fall Productions

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