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Old March 31st, 2014, 11:44 AM   #1
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Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

Part of my research into buying a multicopter for aerial videography involves settings for shooting with a GoPro.

In this thread...
FPV: Monitor or Goggles
...there was some good information about reducing/eliminating jello by using an ND filter (on sunny days). Good info, and easy enough to do.

I'm also wondering about best settings for the GoPro 3? Roger, you suggested shooting at high framerates. One thing that is obvious to me from all the videos I've seen is that slowing down the raw footage almost always improves the final aerial video. The slow-mo just gives shots that magical quality that is absent on normal-speed footage.

Take this video for example:

This was shot entirely with a Phantom 2 and a GoPro Hero 3. The videographer said he shot at 2.7K and 30fps...then conformed it to a 24fps timeline for final output, which slowed things down a bit. This video looks fantastic (I'd be delighted to achieve results this good!).

Any other suggestions/ideas?

Thanks!
Scott
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Old March 31st, 2014, 02:44 PM   #2
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

I personally always shoot at 1920x1440, 48fps.

I do this for 2 reasons. Firstly, 1440p is 4:3, so when conformed to 16:9 the top and/or bottom of the frame can be cropped to remove any pesky propellers that might be in the way.

Secondly, I almost always slow my aerial footage down as it smooths out any small bumps. 48fps lets me slow it down by around 50% and still get very smooth video.

2.7k is also beneficial for reframing, but I don't think it's worth losing the slow motion.

In saying all this, my GoPro footage never looks as good as in that video :(
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Old March 31st, 2014, 04:04 PM   #3
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

Ha---yeah, the footage in that video looks pretty good. In a comment, the shooter said he did all of that without an FPV system too---he was just guessing at framing, LOL.

Your point about 48fps makes sense. For our other (non-aerial) video productions we tend to shoot everything at 720p/60, which works fine for us when going to YouTube (and gives us pretty clean slo-mo if needed).

As with everything, I guess some testing may be required.

Your comment about "pesky propellers" is something I've noticed in a lot of videos---it's REALLY detracting. Since getting a bit of propeller in the frame seems unavoidable with a gimbal when flying forward at speed (copter pitched forward), I was wondering what the best way to avoid that is? (Seems many of the best vids I've seen just don't consist of any high-speed passes---everything is fairly sedate, keeping the copter more level...)

Scott
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Old March 31st, 2014, 04:52 PM   #4
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

Slowing down aerial footage does usually give smoother looking footage, providing of course that you use higher frame rates in the first place. It only works of course if you are not filming action that needs to be at normal speed. Even so, higher frame rates will of course tend to give you less jello as the shutter speed will be reduced.

Using as little panning as possible will also reduce frame jitter, or if you need to pan by yawing, keep it as slow as you can and again use a higher frame rate. I've reduced my yaw gains to minimum to slow things down. The video in this thread, is mainly steady straight line flying, which is the easiset to get steady shots.

Props in the shot is a common problem, and probably more so with a gimbal, as the camera is kept level while the quad is piching forward. You can get round it to some extent by using the manual pitch to tilt the camera down so that the props are out of shot. You can also mount the gombal a few millimeters further forward and also try flying slower. Using the medium field of view also gives a better picture in my opinion, although it seems to use less pixels to do that. as has been suggested, the video can also be shot in 4:3 and cropped, but again you are losing pixels.

I have a Hero3 Silver, and using protune restricts you to wide angle only, but i don't know if the Hero3 Black is the same.

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Old March 31st, 2014, 04:54 PM   #5
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson View Post
Ha---yeah, the footage in that video looks pretty good. In a comment, the shooter said he did all of that without an FPV system too---he was just guessing at framing, LOL.

Your point about 48fps makes sense. For our other (non-aerial) video productions we tend to shoot everything at 720p/60, which works fine for us when going to YouTube (and gives us pretty clean slo-mo if needed).

As with everything, I guess some testing may be required.

Your comment about "pesky propellers" is something I've noticed in a lot of videos---it's REALLY detracting. Since getting a bit of propeller in the frame seems unavoidable with a gimbal when flying forward at speed (copter pitched forward), I was wondering what the best way to avoid that is? (Seems many of the best vids I've seen just don't consist of any high-speed passes---everything is fairly sedate, keeping the copter more level...)

Scott
As I mentioned, shooting in 1440p and cropping the frame in your NLE to conform to 1080p is the best way to avoid the propellers. It gives you a lot of extra vertical resolution to play with. I've found it's pretty much impossible to keep the props out of the shots otherwise, unless you keep the GoPro tilted down.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
as has been suggested, the video can also be shot in 4:3 and cropped, but again you are losing pixels.

Roger

How is this method losing pixels? I was under the impression that once conformed to 16:9, the image resolution is 1920x1080.
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Old March 31st, 2014, 05:15 PM   #6
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

It looks like the Phantom only had a two axis mount (no pan axis). In several of clips you can see the video warping, bending or pulling depending on how you describe it from being post stabilized. Two axis mounts for professional work is a big no no. Multirotors or R/C Helicopters are nowhere near stable enough on pan axis in windy weather to use the machine as the pan axis. Multirotors in general whether they be Quads or Octos wander on pan axis quite a bit in turbulent wind conditions making a three axis camera mount essential.


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Old March 31st, 2014, 05:21 PM   #7
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jody Arnott View Post
How is this method losing pixels? I was under the impression that once conformed to 16:9, the image resolution is 1920x1080.
By all means correct me if I am wrong, but surely if you shoot in 4:3 aspect ratio then crop to bring back to 16:9, the cropping is removing pixels from the top and/or bottom of the picture. You can resize in software to 1920x1080, but are simply spreading the smaller image over more pixels?

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Old March 31st, 2014, 05:25 PM   #8
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

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Originally Posted by Roger Gunkel View Post
By all means correct me if I am wrong, but surely if you shoot in 4:3 aspect ratio then crop to bring back to 16:9, the cropping is removing pixels from the top and/or bottom of the picture. You can resize in software to 1920x1080, but are simply spreading the smaller image over more pixels?

Roger
I'm not 100% sure either but this is my thinking:

The frame from the GoPro is 1920x1440, which is a 4:3 image. If you crop the top and the bottom, you're only cropping the pixels between 1080 and 1440, and you're left with a 16:9 1920x1080 image. So I don't think anything is being stretched in this case, just cropped.

See attached very rough (not to scale) image to illustrate my point. Again, I could be wrong.. just my best guess.
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Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?-untitled-1.jpg  
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Old March 31st, 2014, 05:33 PM   #9
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Mann View Post
It looks like the Phantom only had a two axis mount (no pan axis). In several of clips you can see the video warping, bending or pulling depending on how you describe it from being post stabilized. Two axis mounts for professional work is a big no no. Multirotors or R/C Helicopters are nowhere near stable enough on pan axis in windy weather to use the machine as the pan axis. Multirotors in general whether they be Quads or Octos wander on pan axis quite a bit in turbulent wind conditions making a three axis camera mount essential.


Wayne Mann
HeliCam Aerial Media Services, Aerial Video, Aerial Photography
Absolutely correct, but if you are really looking to shoot serious professional aerial video you are going to be spending more than a few hundred dollars on your quad, gimbal and camera. For those looking for an entry at less than professional level though, footage of the quality linked to can give very satisfactory results.

Roger
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Old March 31st, 2014, 06:16 PM   #10
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jody Arnott View Post
I'm not 100% sure either but this is my thinking:

The frame from the GoPro is 1920x1440, which is a 4:3 image. If you crop the top and the bottom, you're only cropping the pixels between 1080 and 1440, and you're left with a 16:9 1920x1080 image. So I don't think anything is being stretched in this case, just cropped.

See attached very rough (not to scale) image to illustrate my point. Again, I could be wrong.. just my best guess.
OK I've got to the bottom of it :-) The figures you are quoting are from the GPH3 Black version, which does indeed give a 1920 x 1440 pic at 4:3. This means that you can crop down to 1920x1080 still retaining the full 16:9 pixels. the bad news though is that the 4:3 pic is already reduced from the higher 2704x1440 17:9 resolution. I was puzzled because I have the GP3 Silver, which has the highest res at 1920x1080 16:9, whereas the 4:3 pic is at 1280x960.

So basically, the 4:3 is a reduced pixel count, but on the black version you have a higher starting point.

Roger
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Old March 31st, 2014, 08:11 PM   #11
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

With respect Wayne, the footage in that video above would absolutely thrill and please a vast number of people in our target audience. :-) Which is certainly not to say that it couldn't be a lot better---just that it's better than "good enough."

As I might have mentioned above, 99% of our videos are viewed in small windows on YouTube---never on a big screen, never on a high-quality 4K or HD flatscreen TV. Just a little window on the web. (For better or worse, that's how a HUGE percentage of video in the world today is viewed.)

As for wind, I'd only ever fly a Phantom (or probably any multirotor RC platform) on calm days (winds at 5mph/4 knots or less). Thankfully, I don't make a living from aerial videography, so I can be patient and wait for those rare calm days. But I can certainly see how if you make your living doing it, you need to be able to fly in stronger winds.

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Old March 31st, 2014, 09:01 PM   #12
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

There was a time when I would have been thrilled with that footage and it is very good footage. I guess what I am trying to say is that with DJI releasing the three axis Zenmuse mount for the GoPro and the Phantom it doesn't cost that much to have really clean footage without the issues that are present in the posted video above. There is no worse feeling to me than to be somewhere filming something wonderful and all the while knowing how much better the end footage would be IF I had used a better camera or had had one of the new style three axis brushless gimbals. Some of the things we get to film are a once in a life time deal and I do not want to be kicking myself later because of what ifs. Sometimes you only get one chance at capturing something amazing.


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Old April 1st, 2014, 05:42 AM   #13
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Mann View Post
There is no worse feeling to me than to be somewhere filming something wonderful and all the while knowing how much better the end footage would be IF I had used a better camera or had had one of the new style three axis brushless gimbals. Some of the things we get to film are a once in a life time deal and I do not want to be kicking myself later because of what ifs. Sometimes you only get one chance at capturing something amazing.
Great observation---I can't argue with that, because I've been there too (incredible things happening in front of the camera...and only a cheap camera in hand).

Last fall, I was in the tough position of making the go/no-go call for a chartered helicopter with a nose-mounted gyro-stabilized camera---all to the tune of $13,000. (We were getting our first HD aerial footage of the university.) I was sweating bullets over the weather forecast, and even when it looked promising and I made the "Go!" call, I was still panicking that the weather would go bad on us and we'd waste $13,000! (Thankfully the weather held and we got some great footage.)

That's what's astonishing to me about the march of innovation and technology: the footage we got with a broadcast camera in a gyro-ball under a huge helicopter really, when you get right down to it, wasn't much better than a lot of these Phantom videos I see. (Not least of which because you can't exactly cruise at 50 feet between campus buildings in a Bell Jet Ranger, LOL).

Scott
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Old April 7th, 2014, 08:58 AM   #14
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Re: Optimal GoPro settings for aerial shooting?

I haven't seen anything in a while about replacing the wide angle lens in the gopro with a "normal" lens like a Sunex. That should solve the issue of the props being visible when accelerating forward. Oh, i forgot about Ragecam lenses.
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