The market is filled with small 4K action cameras, but GoPro remains the best for two main reasons:

  • Manual settings: most of the action cameras out there don’t have the option to set the shutter speed, which is essential for cinematic usage.
  • Image quality: the GoPro video format has a good bitrate and great dynamic range, both perfect for post-production.

GoPro cameras are also used in the cinema industry for some special shots, including in movies like:

Two types of stabilization

In cinematic FPV, stabilization is essential to deliver smooth and professional footage.
There are two types of stabilization you can use:

  1. In-camera with Hypersmooth > GoPro Hero 7 & 8
  2. Post-processed with ReelSteady GO > GoPro Hero 6 & 8

GoPro Hero 6 Black

$178.99

Buy on Amazon

Stabilization: ReelSteady GO

GoPro Hero 7 Black

$298.79

Buy on Amazon

Stabilization: HyperSmooth

GoPro Hero 8 Black

$385.00

Buy on Amazon

Stabilization: HyperSmooth 2.0 & ReelSteady Go

A drone is a “vibrating machine” and the GoPro gyroscope can absorb a lot of incorrect data from those vibrations. The gyroscope installed in the GoPro 7 is more sensitive to vibration, which means the results with ReelSteady GO are pretty much unusable. The GoPro Hero 6 & 8 instead has a less sensitive gyro and works perfectly with ReelSteady GO, but you can still get some stabilization artifacts due to some unwanted vibration caused by external agents like wind or prop-wash (a current of air created by the action of the propeller).

Hypersmooth simply crops the source images and digitally moves the image in contrast to vibrations. Hypersmooth is very accurate, but you still have to fly smoothly to avoid strange digital artifacts.

Pros

    • no post-production processing needed
    • very accurate
    • more reliable in many cases

Cons

    • you need to fly smooth to get the best results
    • some fast yaw maneuvers can create weird stabilization artifacts

ReelSteady GO is a standalone software that uses the gyro metadata written in the GoPro mp4 files to stabilize the footage. Despite this simple and effective approach, you may get some issues caused by unwanted vibrations.

Pros

    • precise and adjustable stabilization
    • super fast processing also without a high-end pc

Cons

    • drone’s vibrations can influence the gyro data and degrade your footage
    • no options for the lens correction

Best GoPro Settings for Cinematic FPV

Hypersmooth
GoPro Hero 7 / 8 Settings

  • Resolution: 2.7K (GoPro Hero 7) – 4K (GoPro Hero 8)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • FOV: Wide
  • Frame Rate: 30 – 60
  • Shutter (Fixed!):
    • 1/60 or 1/120 for 30p
    • 1/120  or 1/240 for 60p
  • Stabilization: Auto
  • ProTune: On
  • EV Comp: 0
  • White Balance: 4500K – 5500K
  • ISO Min: 100
  • ISO Max: 100
  • Sharpness: Low
  • Color: Flat
  • RAW Audio: Off
  • Mics: Wind

ReelSteady GO
GoPro Hero 6 / 8 Settings

  • Resolution: 4K
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • FOV: Wide
  • Frame Rate: 30 – 60
  • Shutter (Fixed!):
    • 1/60 or 1/120 for 30p
    • 1/120  or 1/240 for 60p
  • Stabilization: Off
  • ProTune: On
  • EV Comp: 0
  • White Balance: 4500K – 5500K
  • ISO Min: 100
  • ISO Max: 100
  • Sharpness: Low
  • Color: Flat
  • RAW Audio: Off
  • Mics: Wind

How To Set Exposure?

Setting the exposure with the GoPro is not easy because you don’t have any light indicator. I usually point the camera on the lightest area of the environment and make sure to not have any pure white spots. Darker tones can be easily rebalanced in post-production while white areas are not recoverable.

Shutter Speed, Motion Blur and ND Filters

To achieve a solid cinematic look you need to control motion blur. Setting the shutter speed using the “180-degree rule” is crucial. In short, the shutter speed should be a multiple of the frame rate (1/60 for 30fps or 1/120 for 60fps). This is why ND filters are necessary to neutralize the light taken by the GoPro sensor in order to reach the right shutter speed value.

ND Filters And Motion Blur Comparison

GoPro Hero 8 ND Filter

$39.99

Buy on Amazon

GoPro Hero 6 & 7 ND Filter

$47.99

Buy on Amazon

ProTune and Color Grading

The greatest benefits of ProTune are the increased bitrate and the wider dynamic range of the picture. More range in the darker and lighter areas helps in the color correction and color grading, especially if you use some LUTs presets.

Check out this article: Quick GoPro Color Grading for Cinematic FPV

GoPro Hero 7 Upscaling: 2.7K 4:3 to 4K 16:9

Using the 4:3 aspect ratio gives you more room in post-production for fisheye correction and reframing. Lens Distortion also upscales your 2.7K footage to 4K. Upscaling is a common procedure in cinematography and doesn’t compromise the final look. In-depth article here: A Clear Look at the Issue of Resolution.

2.7K 4:3 Footage – UHD 3840×2160 Sequence
Lens Distortion not applied

2.7K 4:3 Footage – UHD 3840×2160 Sequence
Lens Distortion (-34) applied as an Adjustment Layer
The image is stretched to the size of the sequence

Stefano Rinaldo

Stefano Rinaldo

Hi, my name is Stefano Rinaldo and I live in a small town among the Dolomites. I started my journey in the drone industry about 8 years ago as a videomaker and aerial cinematographer in a company specialized in multirotor and RC stuff. Two years ago I dived in the incredible world of FPV. After months of trial and error, I figured out how hard it is. This is why I started FilmFPV to make FPV more easy and accessible for filmmakers, content creators, and drone pilots.

Leave a Reply