How to set up your GoPro and action cameras for point of view videos

I know from personal experience, that setting up your GoPro or other POV camera for the first time can be a little overwhelming. There are many different settings and modes to choose from. It takes a lot of trial and error to figure it all out. So here I’d like go over some basic setup tips for POV cameras. I’m using a GoPro, but most of these concepts apply to every POV camera on the market


Understanding Resolution, Frame Rates, and Feild of View


These two settings are grouped together largely because on a GoPro, the resolution setting limits what FPS can be chosen and vice versa. When filming in low light situations, such as woods or at dusk, I will choose a resolution that allows for a lower FPS, such 30fps or 24fps. A lower FPS gives the camera sensor more time to absorb light in between frames which, results in a better picture. However if the desired outcome is Slow Motion, it is necessary to use a resolution that will allow for a higher FPS such as 48fps and above. However in low light situations the picture can be very grainy and dark, so I recommend using this only when there’s an abundance of light.

Frame Rates

24fps is used all across the film industry, and one of the reasons why movies have a distinct look to them. It also gives the footage a crisper image. I do find at very high speeds, 24 fps can result in a jumpy image.

30fps is the mode most consumer grade camcorders record in. The extra 6fps seems to get rid of the stuttering found at high speeds, but doesn’t have the film look. It still produces a vibrant and crisp image.

48fps is great for 50% slow speed video. However, at this frame rate you can start to notice that the picture isn’t quite as crisp as 24fps or 30fps. 48fps is great for high speed movement, but unfortunately it is also not a standard format. If a video shot at 48fps is uploaded to youtube, every other frame will be dropped so that the video will only stream at 24fp.

60fps is great for 50% slow motion footage on a 30fps timeline or even 40% slow motion footage on a 24fps timeline. The picture at this frame rate is much softer, and the picture in poorly lit environments the graininess is very noticeable.

120fps, only available at 720p, is great for super slow motion, but only useful when good light is available.

240fps if you don’t mind filming at 480p/WVGA, you can get some great super slow motion video. If you’re exporting your footage at 24fps, that means you can slow it down to 10% speed! On a 30fps timeline you’d slow it down to 12.5% While it may not be HD, you can have a lot of fun with this setting.

 

Field of View (FOV)

The next setting is Field of view. You may have different options depending on your camera make, and model. On all GoPro’s there are three options which are wide, medium, and Narrow. On some newer GoPro models (such as the GoPro Hero 3+), there is also a superview mode, which captures more of the picture on the top and bottom. For point of view filming, the widest setting will result in the most stable looking footage. I would not recommend using Narrow for POV shots.

Mounting


Chest mount

For POV footage, my personal favorite mount is the chest mount (aka the Chesty). GoPro’s have a super wide angle lense, and the further the camera is from the ground the flatter the image looks. The chest is the also the least restrictive, and gives a cool perspective of your bike. 

When using the chest mount, make sure the strap going around your back is as tight as possible this will reduce vibration. Another important step is to flip the camera so that it is hanging and use about 3 fingers to gauge the distance. The angle depends upon the trail. If it’s a fast DH trail I’ll point it more upwards, but if there are a lot of drops and jumps I’ll point it a little lower to capture where I’m going. 

There are 3 main areas on your helmet to mount the camera. Centered on top, on the side, or tucked under the visor (you need the skeleton mount for this.) If you watch the Redbull rampage they all were mounted under their visor, which looks more appealing to an onlooker, but I find the footage from that angle too look unappealing 

I don’t use helmet mounts much, but when I do I angle the camera so that part of the helmet is in frame. This gives the viewer a point of reference. Even though the background may be unstable the helmet will always remain in focus, and the footage doesn’t feel as shaky.

Other mounting options

Some other mounts to invest in are the handlebar mount, suction cup mount,  and tripod adapter. There are many third party companies creating helmet camera accessories and there’s virtually a mount for every situation you can think of

These setting are my basic settings and mounting tips. Experiment and see what works for you and what doesn’t. This should at least give you a starting point and help get you on track. Let me know if any of these tips helped you.

Do you have any tips and tricks for setting up your POV camera? Please share them down the comment section.

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