Gopro is a famous action camera that comes with easy point and shoot automatic recording mode. That works on most cases, but however, not for snow scenes since the majority of the video will be white. Using automatic mode will make your ski/snowboard video looks underexposed. You wouldn’t want the snow looked faded gray instead of white. This can be fixed while enable Protune. I’ll walk you through all of the important settings.
Firstly, look at the example below.
Gopro automatic mode:
You’ll notice that the exposure histogram on the automatic mode is underexposed. Overall scenes looked dull, grey snow, and darker of yourself. That’s because all of the snow behind you tricks the camera to think that it is grey background. You need to tell the camera that the snow is not grey, instead snow should be the whitest thing in the scene.
Gopro with Protune manual settings:
Source: Official Gopro Channel
On the other hand, you can enable Protune and go for manual settings. Snow scenes settings are quit simple. You just need to compensate the exposure. As the results, your video will look bright, has white snow, has more details, and the most important stands out!
What is Protune?
Protune is Gopro’s advanced mode for pros and amateurs. Enabling Protune will grant you to advanced manual settings such as EV, WB, color etc. Protune will give you more color detail of everything: snow, background, mountains, and most importantly yourself.
However, enabling Protune has one downside. It uses more bitrate at some resolutions. That means Protune will produce bigger video file size and fill your memory card faster. You will need bigger or more memory card. For an example, an automatic recording at 1080p60 will use the bitrate at 3.8MB/s. By enabling Protune, the bitrate will rise to 5.6MB/s. It’s 47% more.
Exposure Value (EV):
You can set it anywhere from -2 to +2.
Try aiming for positive number for brighter video. You can tweak the setting for yourself what value you like the most. From my experiences, I like to set it at +0.5 or +1. However, that will depends on what you are recording. If you recording scenes with mostly snow, try set it to +1.0. When you take close up scenes with less snow, try set it to +0.5. Please note that Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We have different taste. You might not like what i like. Try it out yourself!
This will give you fuller color with great contrast. The downside is less post-editing flexibility. Recommended for most people.
2. Flat color
This will give you neutral color. Not good for watching it directly, but provide more flexibility for post-editing. It needs to be processed through editing to look perfect. Recommended for professionals.
Personally, even though I edited footage, I like Gopro color more. Because I only share the edited videos casually to friends, upload to youtube, etc. I don’t broadcast it nor want it to be perfect. I like it easy this way.
2.Medium – recommended for most cases.
Medium is what i like the most. Low will give you flexibility for post-edit since you can add sharpness later. High is too high in my eyes, and this can’t be fixed with post edit (come on Gopro!). You can try different settings and see what you like the most.
Max ISO should be at 400 for the best quality. Higher ISO will cause grain/noise that will significantly degrade your video. Remember that Gopro isn’t good at low light.
Frame Per Second (FPS):
Ski/Snowboarding is extreme sports with fast movements. You’ll need at least 60 FPS. That will make smoother movements and enable you to do the slow motion effect. I’ve seen some people using 120 FPS. It will allow even more smoother movements and slower slow motions. It’s a little bit too high for typical users. Moreover, that will produce 2x larger video. Don’t go too high if you don’t know what you are doing.
The resolution is less important than FPS. Get high FPS first, and then select either 1080p or 720p for your videos. 1080p is enough for me. If you own higher model that supports 4K, it is completely up to you if you know what you are doing. However, for typical users, it’s just too big. Stick to 1080p is enough for most cases.
White Balance (WB):
You can select desired color temperature in Kelvin. However, Gopro’s Auto WB does all the job very good. Manual mode will need you to change the setting every time the light conditions changed. Since we will focus on our rides or framing, we will forget to change it. At the end, we got too blu-ish or too yellow-ish videos. That’s the most common mistakes. I did that many times too. Stick to the Auto and let Gopro does the job.
Time of day:
Light has highest effect on video quality. Best case should be at the morning and the afternoon on sunny day when the sun is bright and at your sides. Don’t let the sun behind you, or you will get flares.
Try not to record at noon or when the sun is directly above your head, since it will cast a harsh shadow on you. It can not be get rid with post processing.
Evening and night videos might be of your interest, but those times have low light condition. Gopro is not good in low light at all. Using Gopro in low light condition will get you grainy videos. The quality is really sucks. There are few exceptions: such as if you have equipment with LED lights and you want to show them off.
Water Proof Case (Hero4 and below):
Good news for Gopro Hero 5 owners, your Gopro is already waterproof without any case needed.
For Hero4 and below, you need to use the water proof case. Snow is basically water, and you will find yourself falling or rolling into snow more or less. My Gopro rolls on the snow countless times. The best advice is, ALWAYS put it in water proof case that comes with your Gopro.
More tips: Don’t open the case to change the battery or memory card on the mountain. If only single snow gets in the case, it will cause the fog INSIDE the case. I did the mistake myself, and I need to stop using my Gopro for the rest of that day. Change your battery or memory card at base camp or cafeteria only.
Basically the stabilizer, known as Gimbal, is an electronic device that have motors that will keeping the camera steady on all XYZ axis. No matter whatever your movement is, the stabilizer will help you record smooth, close to zero shaken video.
Gopro Karma Grip is the official accessory from Gopro. It uses the same gimbal as the Gopro drone. It does the job really well.
Fei-yu G5 is number one candidate to the Gopro Karma Grip at the date I blog this on kainphoto.com. Splash proof, but the downside is it designed for case-less Gopros only. It can be used with Gopro Hero 5 perfectly. However, Gopro Hero4 and below can mount only the bare camera. Any waterproof case won’t fit in it.
Most pro video editing software will come with built-in stabilizer. However, it will sacrifice some of the footage borders to stabilize it. The video will be forced to zoom-in. You can’t avoid this, it how it works. Software stabilizer is not as good as the hardware stabilizer, but provide good results in many cases. I will write about this next time on kainphoto.com.