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Forums Cinematography GoPro Hacks?

  • GoPro Hacks?

     Blaise Douros updated 1 year, 4 months ago 4 Members · 8 Posts
  • Todd Terry

    June 21, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Honestly I’m not a huge fan of GoPros (I think I’m the only one who isn’t), but I have a situation where they might be the best choice. I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to make them a better choice though.

    We’re doing a commercial shoot that will be not a little bit unlike James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” bits that he does. We’re thinking of rigging out a car interior with anywhere from five to nine GoPros to cover all the bases.

    Corden’s show uses the GoPros for car interiors very successfully, as does Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” I have to admit that they are very suited to that… but the one thing that drives me craaaazy about GoPro footage is the high shutter speeds. This will be especially noticeable in the situation we are working on, since they will be daytime exteriors in broad daylight (the car being a bigass vintage convertible), which will no doubt shoot the shutter speeds sky high and give the footage way too much of a staccato look.

    Does anyone here use, know, or know of, or have heard of any hacks to allow any shutter speed control with the GoPros? I’ve found lots of hacks online that offer a bit of control, but they all seem to be for time lapse shooting where the goal is really slow speeds. I’m just looking for good ol’ standard 1/48th, or something in the neighborhood. We’ve put third-party GoPro ND filters on the cameras in the past in an effort to force the shutter speeds lower, but they don’t seem to help all that much in full-daylight conditions. I don’t mind voiding the warranties if it gives us the control we need. I’d even gladly brick one or two if it led to us getting what we need (although obviously I’d rather not).

    I’d love to be able to control the shutter speed (and probably just use variable NDs to combat overexposure)… but that may be asking a lot. Then again, at one time people thought 24fps was a lot to ask of GoPro, until it finally happened.

    I have to admit that I’m very GoPro ignorant as to what all the possibilities are… I really don’t like the look so I avoid using them, but this time they might be the best choice.



    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

  • Blaise Douros

    June 24, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Unhelpfully, I have never been able to find a guide to controlling shutter speed on GoPros. I wish they would just add a “professional mode” to their dang smartphone app.

    I’ve used the ND filter trick on GoPros when shooting aerials; it’s extremely effective for that. How many stops of ND are you putting on it? I’ve found that I need at least two stops to get pleasing motion blur with aerials, so you might need more than that with the camera pointed at the sky. Maybe a two-stop combined with a graduated filter to really knock the sky down?

    One (extremely non-optimal) solution would be to shoot at 59.94, and enable frame blending on a 23.98 or 29.97 timeline; you get a motion-blur-like effect from the frame blending which helps to soften the stutter.

  • Rich Rubasch

    June 28, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    Also I found a pretty cool lens shade that is also a polarizer and it really helps with glare but also gives the shot a lot more color and reduces overall light.

    However I also removed the fisheye stock lens and put in the 15mm third party lens. A bit tricky getting it mounted right, but the thing looks way better than the stock lens. But not as wide either so maybe not a good fit for the very close up car shots.

    Why not a bunch of A7s’s?


    Rich Rubasch
    Tilt Media Inc.
    Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage

  • Todd Terry

    June 28, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks for the ideas. Yeah, we’ve used polarizers and ND filters with the GoPros with less than satisfying results. I’ll try the faster frame-rate and frame blending idea… but almost invariably any blended-frame footage doesn’t look that great to me. It is definitely worth a test though.

    [Rich Rubasch] “Why not a bunch of A7s’s?”

    Well a secondary reason is size, even though the A7s is a small camera, it’s gigantic compared to a naked GoPro and might not easily mount in all the nooks and crannies where we want to put them. But the primary and obvious reason is the fact that a GoPro is $400 and a A7s is $2000+, body only. That’s no big deal if you need one, but we might be running as many as nine of them, simultaneously.


    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

  • Blaise Douros

    June 30, 2016 at 12:10 am

    You’re definitely not going to see any magic with the frame blending method, but…you never know.

    Would your budget support renting some Blackmagic Micro Cinema Cameras? Or even buying a few less, to be used more judiciously? They are smaller and cheaper than A7S, though with lenses…

    I’ve never used one so can’t comment on them, but I remember thinking when they were released that they’d be a good solution for getting a better action camera look.

  • Todd Terry

    July 25, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    This project has had a bit of a delay… so I thought I’d update on some specs in case anyone was curious.

    We still need to do another round of testing, but I think we are going to forego the GoPros and shoot instead with DJI OSMO cameras. They are only a couple hundred bucks more than GoPros, and in side-by-side comparisons (at least to my eye) the OSMO looks infinitely better than the GoPro. It just has a more “legit” and non-GoPro-y look to it, if that makes any sense. Plus, there’s the stabilized gimbal, and we should be able to use them basically as remote heads. But best of all, the OSMO camera has manual control of shutter speed, the one thing that I think the GoPros are sorely lacking… that feature alone is enough to make my decision for me.

    True the OSMOs are not as small and easy to tuck away as GoPros, but I think the image trade-off is worth it.

    Will report back, if and when this project ever happens. These are actually PSAs (although paid, so technically commercials) funded by government money… and those wheels turn slowly which is what has been holding us up.


    Todd Terry
    Creative Director
    Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

  • Ted Irving

    March 26, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    I”m looking for GoPro tips. Our office has six of them and even with the app they operate mysteriously. I’d like for them to run timelapse until the 128GB cards run out. Most I’ve gotten is about 9 days of timelapse even with the setting sat non-stop. Most of the time they only record for one day. Anyone know how to get a GoPro to consistently record on blank cards for up to 10 days?

  • Blaise Douros

    March 26, 2021 at 10:45 pm

    Five years later, this thread comes lurching out of the grave, heeding the call of this necromancer demanding its fealty. It groans its anguish at being called back to life, but its new master is unrelenting.

    GoPros aren’t really any more professional in their control scheme today than they were five years ago, though the image quality has improved. They suck for professional work, and offer very little useful control. They are good enough for consumer use, and frustrate professionals to no end because they could be fantastically useful with a bit more attention from the development team.

    If you want to do a long-term timelapse, I’d suggest doing it with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, preferably with a lens that allows focus to be locked off, and an intervalometer. But, since you’re willing to resort to the Book of the Thread Dead and risking the wrath of the Council of Wizards with your necromancy:

    The main issue is power: if you can power the camera, then that’s 90% of the battle, since the batteries are tiny. A small housing that shields the USB port from moisture will be key–you’ll want it plugged into something. After that, it’s a matter of setting the shooting interval.

    Also, this:

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