GoPro has come a long way since the ﬁrst version was released back in 2004. Until the last few years, the pint-sized cameras were use sparingly (if at all) in Hollywood and professional productions. But that all changed with the GoPro HERO 3 & 4 series. In fact, GoPros were the go-to camera for documentary ﬁlms like 2012′s ‘Leviathan’, which used GoPros almost exclusively to capture a commercial ﬁshing boat at sea.
Now these nearly indestructible cameras are being ﬁtted to just about everything, giving the audience a point of view we’ve never
had before. But the thing to remember: cinematographers don’t simply strap the GoPro to just anything and let it go. They plan and test certain shots to ensure the cams are being used effectively.
Here are four tips that will allow you to integrate your GoPro footage with cinematic footage:
Whether shooting for sports, nature, documentary, or feature ﬁlm, you’ve got to have a group of shots that give a sense of space that you can cut to, also known as coverage. With this in mind, many ﬁlmmakers are using GoPros, speciﬁcally in actions sequences.
Having the option of several angles in post-production allows the editor to ﬁnd footage that will cut seamlessly with the main cinema footage.
- Film Flat
The GoPro has a setting called Protune. The adjustments that can be made here are minimal, but really effective. You can adjust white balance, ISO, sharpness, and exposure. On top of this, you can set the color to ﬂat which captures more shadows and highlights detail. A ﬂat image can be matched to your cinema footage through standard color grading processes.
- Narrow and Wide
When setting your format, whether it be 1080, 2.7k, or 4k, you have choices. These options allow you to capture video in either a narrow, medium, or wide angle. Using a narrow or medium angle will allow you to mix your footage more seamlessly with cinema footage (Camera A), but even using 4k with the wide angle will work in many cases. As Wolf Creek 2 cinematographer Toby Oliver said…
“If you have a 4K ﬁle in post you can zoom in to ﬁnd a tighter frame and lose the ﬁsh-eye feel, without sacriﬁcing resolution.” In ﬁlms such as 2013′s ‘Into the Mind’, the crew used the GoPro HERO 3 alongside RED Epics and utilized both the narrow and wide angle feature. By using the GoPro they were able to capture intimate time-lapse as well as in-your-face action sequences. While the wide angle lens will usually reveal the GoPro’s presence to the audience, limiting its use can be extremely effective and work alongside cinema footage without issues.
- Let’s Clean Things Up
Another way to effectively integrate GoPro footage with cinema footage is to run post processes other than grading. For example, the GoPro footage shot in ‘Need for Speed’ was run through an After Effects plugin called Dark Energy by Cinnaﬁlm. This plugin allows for noise and ﬁlm-grain reduction or additive. Dark Energy was used speciﬁcally to clean up the GoPro footage and to bring in the natural grain look that’s closer to the Canon C500 and ALEXA footage that was shot for the rest of the ﬁlm. Currently, though, Dark Energy is only available as a plugin for the Windows version of After Effects.
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