Editing GoPro Mountainbike Footage before Hypersmooth

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One of my great passions nowadays is riding my Giant Reign Enduro mountain bike. I like to record footage to sometimes edit small clips and share them with friends and family and have a reference to analyze, where I did mistakes during riding and what I can maybe do to improve.

I have a GoPro Hero 4 Black, which stems from the time where GoPros were not particularly good at reducing shakiness in the footage out-of-the-box. So a friend and I experimented with different mounting positions, the two most popular ones being on the helmet or using a chest-strap. We figured, that the helmet footage is often way less shaky since the human body does a pretty good job with keeping as many concussions from our head as possible, but still the results were not quite satisfying.

Another issue was the permanently changing brightness when switching from the woods to exposed terrain in the sun and back. Also the GoPro Hero 4 has (similarly to the earlier models, I do not have any experience with the current ones) a rather yellowish look to the recorded footage using standard color profiles, ISO and other settings.

So I started looking for tips on how the mountain bike pros created quite stable looking, well brightness-balanced and color graded footage.

Disclaimer: I am a total noob in this area. This post intends to give a hint or two to others like me and have a reference for myself when I might need it again.

GoPro mounting Position

The first thing to consider is the approach of mounting the camera to the helmet. Some people like to attach it to the top or side of the helmet, with the effect that they have a constant vision of the visor or other parts in the recorded footage. For me, it works particularly good to mount the camera up-side-down under the visor.

This works only, since the visor is high enough, so that the camera does not obstruct my view. This way the helmet is not visible on the footage at all and the camera is mounted in a centered position. It is important to tilt the camera down a little (depending on your body and head position while riding) to have the right angle. You would want to go for a perspective where you see at least a bit of the bike as a visual reference point compared to the path or obstacles and the horizon.

GoPro Settings

The right GoPro settings are well explained in this video by ‚Radde faehrt Radd‘ on YouTube. These settings address the issue mentioned above, regarding frequent changes between bright exposed terrain and darker wooded terrain. Also, filming in superview mode (available since GoPro Hero 4 I believe), the fish eye effect on the footage is incresed, which will help with the shakiness of the final result (will come to that later).

‚Defish‘ Effect in FCPX

Next, we want to get rid of the superview fisheye effect and make the result appear like regular video recording. There are numerous plugins for Final Cut Pro X helping with this. However Sumagang Productions on YouTube explains how to create a custom distortion effect, which can be applied to any GoPro clip. The settings mentioned in this brief tutorial work like a charm on the footage I record.

Color Grading

To get rid of the bleached look the footage has thanks to the GoPro settings during recording, proper color grading is necessary. I like the approach to have adjustments title layers and apply the color correction to them instead of applying it to the clip I am editing directly. Ryan Nangle on YouTube shows you how this can be done and provides such titles as a free download. Since there were adjustments to color grading in Final Cut Pro X 10.4 (link to DuckDuckGo), I want to point out this video on color grading in the new version by Color Grading Central on YouTube.

Example video

I’ve prepared an example clip for this post showing unedited footage compared to the same clip with either the defish effect or both defish and color grading applied.

It should show clearly, that applying the defish effect on the clip reduces the shakiness, which makes the clip way easier to consume.

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