Cheat Sheet

GoPro Cameras For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From GoPro Cameras For Dummies, 2nd Edition

By John Carucci

The GoPro camera changes the way people make movies. It’s not only affordable and durable, but also offers features that seemed like far-fetched wish-list items only a few years ago. You can mount this camera on almost anything, take it underwater, and capture the most expansive video scene known to mankind. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, because the GoPro captures only 170 degrees. But you can put the camera in a tight space and still get an immersive view. When you couple the camera with the GoPro App on your smartphone, you don’t even need to be near the camera to monitor the scene and make adjustments.

Getting Started with Your GoPro

From the time you take your GoPro out of the box, you embark on a magical journey that transforms “impossible to capture” into your next video. To use the camera effectively, however, it’s important to have a basic understanding of how it works. Although using the GoPro isn’t rocket science, the instructions are a bit more detailed than what you’ll find on a bottle of your favorite shampoo, because the GoPro operates differently from every other camera you’ve used.

Here are a few pointers for getting started:

  • Take great care when removing your GoPro from the package. You could damage the camera or mount if you rip it out.

  • Be sure to set the correct date and time. Don’t make your camera the modern-day version of a blinking VCR.

  • Download the GoPro Apps. They let you control the camera with your smartphone, edit your movies, and share your masterpieces. If you don’t have the GoPro apps, go to GoPro.

  • Use a fast-enough media card. Nothing is worse than trying to capture video on a card that stops recording after a few seconds because it’s not fast enough. Use a Class 10 card or faster, and make sure that it has the biggest capacity you can afford.

Shooting Your GoPro Masterpiece

It’s hard to imagine moviemaking being more fun than when you shoot with a GoPro. All those “Do you know what would be really be cool?” situations can become reality, even if that means mounting the camera to your dog while he runs through a wheat field as the sun sets. If you don’t understand how the camera works, however, the sun will go down much sooner for your moviemaking spirit.

Here are a few things to do when shooting:

  • Use the Capture App. Without the Capture App, you can’t see what you’re shooting, and you may also have trouble controlling the camera, especially when it’s mounted on something far away, such as a surfboard. Use this app to compose your masterpiece.

  • Be careful of lens flare. On a sunny day, sunlight may hit the lens causing flare. Keep an eye out for it.

  • Watch those angles. With such a wide-angle lens, image distortion is common. Keep the camera’s back perpendicular to the scene to limit distortion (unless, of course, you want to capture distortion in the shot).

  • Keep the lens clean. If you love your GoPro, keep it in its case. Unless, of course, it’s a HERO 5, which has a built-in case. In any event, be sure to keep the lens area clean.

  • Double-check your settings. There’s no sense in beginning a new shoot with the settings you used the last time. Open the GoPro App before you shoot, and make sure that all the settings meet your needs for the current shoot.

  • Shoot a healthy variety of shots. A movie isn’t a single clip, but an array of clips that go together nicely. Shoot variations of each shot, and don’t be afraid to get creative by sticking your GoPro in unusual places, such as looking out of a garbage can.

Using GoPro Studio Edit

After you shoot your scenes, it’s time to put them together. Although you can use your favorite nonlinear editing software, having GoPro Studio Edit — a program designed specifically for GoPro moviemaking— is quite a bonus.

Here are a few tips:

  • Download GoPro Studio Edit for free. Go to GoPro to download your free copy.

  • Understand the software. GoPro Studio Edit is easy and intuitive, but still it’s a good idea to understand the basics, so you can import, convert, edit, add effects without missing a beat.

  • Save often. As the old saying goes, anything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong, and when it comes to computers, that usually means you’ll lose your project to a computer crash. That’s why you should save often. Save often, and all will be well.

  • Have fun with the templates. Templates provide the quickest way to make your own GoPro-style movie, complete with music and effects.