Since the introduction of action cameras, it has become much easier to capture some great memories while out and about. When you throw water into the picture it can become a little bit tricky, but with some tips to keep your gear safe and capture better footage you will be ready to make some cool videos - like this one.
The first thing to consider is the protection of your cameras, as it is not very easy to film when you lose your GoPro. Being around water, it is crucial for me to always have a secure way of keeping my GoPro safe. By far the best option is to never let your GoPro drop into the water, but I can almost guarantee it will at one point or another. In order to prevent you from dropping your GoPro, always make sure that you have it mounted securely. The first thing to consider is where you want to mount your GoPro. A flat spot is always best, but you can mount them on curved surfaces as well. When mounting your GoPro to your kayak, canoe, or whatever you might have, it is crucial to well prepare your mount. The included GoPro adhesive mounts work great, but only if applied properly. Make sure to clean your surface that you plan to mount your adhesive mount to very good. I usually use a water/soap mix with only a tiny amount of soap, or my favorite option, rubbing alcohol. Just make sure that you do not touch the surface after you have cleaned it as the oils on your hand can cause problems when attaching the adhesive mount. After you have removed the backing from the adhesive mount, securely and firmly press the mount onto the mounting location for several seconds. Leave the mount untouched overnight for best results.
The next thing you can do to secure your GoPro around water is buy a floaty back door kit. For only $20 you can pretty much guarantee your GoPro will float if dropped into the water. I have used this $20 investment a few times and I am very glad I spent $20 to save a $400 camera. The floaty back door kit is very easy to install and can be found at any dealer that sells GoPro stuff.
Tethers are another option you can implement. The recent floaty back doors even come with some, so this might be another reason to buy one. I have never used tethers, but they are a good way to have a back up protection for your GoPro.
Now you have to find the right spot to mount your GoPro. If you can't find a good spot to use an adhesive mount, your are left with fabrication. This takes a little imagination and ingenuity as there is nearly endless ways to mount a GoPro, but they are not always easy or well defined. You can always drill into your kayak or canoe, but I never suggest doing this unless you absolutely feel great about doing so. Clamps are a popular method, as you can use spring clamps with attached GoPro mounts to place your camera. Clamps work great on canoes, as you have gunnels to attach a clamp to.
Another popular way to securely mount a GoPro is with a pole mount - most commonly by using integrated fishing rod holders. This is really where you have to use your engineering and construction skills to build a custom pole mount. There are some pole mount kits out on the market, but it is just a matter if it works for your kayak or canoe. Be careful of how long you have your camera pole, as the weight of the GoPro on a ten foot pole can cause damage to the mounting location of your pole. I ran into this problem with my Jackson Kayak Big Tuna, as I was using a 6-8 foot pole in one of the integrated flush rod holders, but there was some flexing that was concerning. I decided to utilize both rod holders and made a mount which eliminated much of the flexing that the kayak was experiencing.
Head strap mounts and chest mounts are another great option to really get some first person point of view footage, but this can be a little shaky and spastic depending on how much you are moving.
To get some third person point of view angles you can use a tripod. I like the Jobi Gorillapod because it is light and can attach to tree branches and conform to many different objects
Mounting your GoPro really is a subject that is endless as it is up to the user to decide how to best utilize their GoPro, but the previous ideas are just some of the possibilities.
Mounting your GoPro and securing it is very important, but knowing which settings to use is very important as well. These are some of my most commonly utilized settings.
Anytime I can, I shoot 1080p 24fps. 1080 provides the ultimate display of full HD, while not taking up the massive amount of space that 4K video does. There are also very few 4K displays out right now, so you are kind of wasting your time filming in 4K. a 24 fps frame rate works really well, as it allows your camera to provide the ultimate settings of shutter speed to allow for the best image possible. You might have noticed that I said I shoot 1080p 24fps when I can...when can I not? The primary situation is slow motion. You can shoot 1080p 60fps very easily and get some crisp slow motion, especially if you are only slowing down by 50%. If I need some really serious slow motion, I have to go to 120 fps, which in most cases means 720p. 720 still provides a great image, but not quite as clear as 1080. You can experiment with 720 and 1080, but I would suggest 1080 whenever you can.
As for if you should use protune or not, this is a tricky question. Depending on what model GoPro you have, the bit rate can be drastically different. For example, my Hero 4 Silver has a standard bit rate that is twice that for the Hero 3 Silver. Since I still film with the Hero 3 Silver, I most often shoot it in protune to match the bit rate of my Hero 4 Silver. However, the Hero 4 Silver in protune has three times the bit rate of the Hero 3 Silver in non-protune. What I do is film with the Hero 3 Silver in protune and the Hero 4 Silver in standard non-protune. This allows me to have similar looking footage with matching bit rates. Something to consider with protune is that protune takes up more space on a sd card because of a higher bit rate. Protune also allows a user to place some specific settings on your GoPro to achieve a more personalize look, but this should only be used if you are familiar with post production footage editing. I love protune, but use it sparingly, as once again it takes up a ton of space.
Some things to consider is the field of view and color setting. Although the GoPro signature wide field of view captures a lot of one particular area, it does have a lot of fish-eye distortion. I like to shoot at a medium field of view most of the time, but if you have a more recent GoPro, give the superview setting a chance. It really does a great job of providing a large field of view with minimal distortion. Narrow field of view is great, and I use it quite a bit to get some 'cinematic like shots'. Now that the Hero 4 has a high bit rate, you can really use it to take some DSLR like shots. However, I always try to shoot important shoots with a DSLR whenever I can. The major factor that leads me to use a GoPro is the weight and waterproof capability. When I take a DSLR with me out on the water, it not only adds a lot of weight but also risks losing a thousand dollars worth of film gear... at least. I will say that the Hero 4 has a great look for a $400 camera though. You can also choose between GoPro color and a flat color. Most video editors have a color corrector, and if you use this shoot in the flat color. If you want the footage ready to go right when you shoot it, then use GoPro color. I use both options, but I have found that even when I shoot with GoPro color I still have to do a little editing to get a crisp view.
These are the ideas I try to focus on the most when shooting with a GoPro. I do use other options such as the time lapse mode and photo mode quite a bit, but these really require a little more depth to discuss fully. There are a lot more things to consider when filming with a GoPro, but these are some of the most important ideas to consider. If you would like to know more about using a GoPro comment on this post or contact me through the contact form. Below are two videos shot entirely on GoPro cameras...enjoy.