Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tips for aspiring GoPro Film Makers (updated)

I watch a lot of videos. In part to find good things to show here, but also because I just like watching a well crafted video. Well crafted being the key, there is nothing that upsets me more than watching a poorly crafted video that has a great premise.

I recently watched two videos shot on GoPros - I am not going to show them here - One was summiting a mountain, a big mountain. The other was a commute to work. Both should have been great videos, but at the end of the day they had some problems. Let me stress, I love both of the people who created these videos, and they are great in concept, but they made a few mistakes that took great concepts, and winning ideas and killed them. So what follows are some tips for making your GoPro videos better.

#1 - Time. You have a max of about 4 minutes to get your idea across. People watching videos online have a very short attention span. I try and make my short films between 3 and 5 minutes. If your video is 7, 8, 10, 15 minutes... people aren't going to commit to that kind of watching time, unless it is spectacular. If it is ten minutes all from the same camera position you don't have a prayer - unless you happen to be in an f-15 dogfighting aliens. Don't for a second think that your footage is so great none of it can be cut.

#2 - Multiple Camera Positions - I mentioned camera positions, you need a lot of them. You need to be constantly moving the camera to a new shot, a new position. Some static, some moving. This is an utter pain in the bottom, because it takes time to keep moving the camera around. You need to stop, move the camera and then go again... and then stop, move the camera, repeat. This is where having multiple cameras comes in handy.

#3 - 4 seconds! - You are going to use those camera positions to give yourself something to cut to. Looking forward off your chest, then you need a reverse angle looking back at yourself, then it would be good to have the camera on an obstacle as you move past it. Each of these shots should be under 4 seconds.

#4 - Have a plan - Go into your shoot with a plan of what the final piece is going to look like. Don't forget that you are telling a story, and a story has a beginning a middle and an end. You have to have all three. If you have a plan, and know the shots your are going to need, it makes editing much easier, and faster. If I am going kayaking I always include a driving shot with the boat on the roof, and an unloading the boat shot.

#5 - No filler - There are no filler shots. Every shot is contributing to the story or the action. If you are adding shot to fill time, you are making a mistake.

#6 - Good Audio - Don't forget the audio. If someone is speaking, it needs to be loud and clear. Frequently I will record the audio separately, and sync them up when I am editing.

#7 - Be a rule breaker - There are always times to break the above rules. Just be sure you know why you are doing it.

If you watch the above video, and start counting seconds every time they cut you will see that they rarely go over 4 seconds.

21 minutes, all the same view. No good.

Paddle North (teaser trailer) from Paddling Otaku on Vimeo.


It doesn't get any better than Devin Supertramp, and yes he only occasionally uses GoPro, but he makes excellent concept videos like this one. And while he may not plan every shot, he is creating an environment were great shots present themselves.

The biggest tip I can give, Keep shooting, keep making videos, and be constantly watching other videos and think about what makes them great.


Like Casey Neistat was reading my mind!

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