How To Shoot and Edit Your Outdoor Adventure Videos - GoPro HD

This post is not necessarily only for GoPro HD owners but if you do have a GoPro cam and don't know how to edit those files, here's some advice:

If you can't import your GoPro HD clips in your current video editor then you can convert the MP4 footage with MPEG Streamclip, free video converter. The program can convert GoPro HD clips to .MOV, .AVI and other common video formats. Also you can batch convert your clips with MPEG Streamclip. Please note that you won't loose the HD quality after converting - that's a big plus!

I recommend you to use Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus for editing your GoPro HD outdoor videos. Why? Coz you can simply import your clips without having to convert them beforehand. The software handles MP4 in H.264 encoding and you can export your final video in either MP4 or AVI. 

GoPro Editing Software - Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus

Click Here To Get Magix Movie Edit Pro and Easily Edit Your Videos. It Works with All Video Formats: MP4, MOV, MTS (AVCHD), AVI, etc.

I'm not a professional editor but I am what may be called a serious amateur. The following advice is based purely on observing other serious video amateurs and on my experience implementing those video editing tips for my outdoorsy or extreme sports videos. A video professional has, I'm sure, a lot more to teach you so don't see this list as a comprehensive How To Edit Videos Guide!

How To Shoot and Edit Your Outdoor Videos
  • Don't use fancy transitions between scenes. Most editors allow you to add fabulous transitions between scenes but the only one you will impress with those 3D transitions between every scene is...yourself. Try using fades instead and keep those to a minimum. Most good videos out there have no transitions at all and this makes them easy to be viewed. Too many transition will only fatigue the viewer's eye. Also if you add complicated transitions you will put extra work load on your editor and computer - it will take longer to export and the final clip may not play as smooth as you'd expect.

  • Use short scenes. If you had a great road trip on your motorcycle and you shot the whole thing don't let those long scenes in the video! Of course the landscape is great but one can see that from 5 seconds scenes as well. It's all about not boring the viewer. Keep your scenes a few seconds short - 1 to 10 seconds - and you'll keep your viewer interested in seeing more. Showing to much of something will always wear off the viewer.

  • Slow motion and fast forward. It's simply fun to watch both slow motion scenes as well as fast forward scenes also called time lapse. This technique works best if the camera stays still while shooting - on a tripod or another stable support. It's the action within the frame worth watching in fast or slow motion not the frame itself moving. In other words, make sure you have your subject moving, not your camera. Shooting long clips and then rendering them in fast motion works great with weather phenomena - moving clouds, setting sun, moving shades, etc.

  • Intercalate scenes. Don't place scenes chronologically in your video. You can always take glimpses shot at a later time in your action and place them at the beginning of the video or even intercalate multiple later scenes with the chronological flow of the clip.

  • Make your videos short. I always have trouble here... Whenever I start the editor I say to myself "This is gonna be a three minutes video!" and I end up having a seven minutes soap opera episode. If you can concentrate your story in a shorter clip then it's all for the better. Unless you're filming documentaries, keep your videos as short as possible - under five minutes if possible.

  • Rotate your camera to capture the surrounding landscape. Doing 180° or 360° rotations with your camera will convey a better feeling to your audience about the space you're in. If your subject is moving, follow it from the distance as it comes closer until it departs again - all this as to describe a 180° arch view. You'll basically sweep half of the horizon capturing both the moving subject and the landscape it moves through.

  • Improvise a tripod and a glidecam. When I'm out, shooting on the mountains I improvise a tripod out of my trekking pole. For a glide cam I use a CD holder which I fill with heavy items (bolts, nuts, etc) - the effect is not impressive but it' s a camera stabilizer that works for me. If you have a tripod or a glide cam (even a DIY one) then use them both in order to accomplish a more professional looking video.

  • Shoot from unusual angles. Many great videos are watchable coz the footage was shot from unusual angles. As long as the human eye does not see that particular subject or action from that strange angle in everyday occasions, you will keep your viewers glued to the screen. Shoot from above, from under, close ups views, follow your subject at ground level, etc - all these views makes the footage more interesting and fun to watch.

  • Have two or more subjects in your scenes, one of which should be moving. This is a classic rule and goes very well with an action sports camera. For example you can have as subject No. 1 the road ahead and as subject No.2 the wheel of the bike (or car), the suspension fork and the road itself - all these elements of subject No.2 are in motion - the wheel spins, the fork glides up and down and the road runs under the view cone. You will create a dynamic clip which will also result from the unusual angle of the shooting - this rule overlaps with the previous.

  • Focus and/or blur your subject. Can be done best with semi professional (or higher) cameras. The usual handy cams or flip cams may not have this possibility but if you have a good camera use this technique in order to add extra drama to your movie. Have your subject focused and then blur it, focusing either further or closer on another subject (secondary) - a blade of grass, a rock, etc.

  • Zoom out on the subject. It's preferable to leave in the video only the scenes where you zoom out on your subject. This will look like you're revealing more to the viewer, again making the video watchable. It's just like copywriting - make your reader/viewer wanna read/see more.

  • Choose 16:9 proportion format. I prefer the 16:9 format just coz it's the norm (most of the times) in cinema moving pictures and in professional videos. I also think 16:9 looks better on a computer screen - on YouTube and Vimeo as well. What this means is that the video is rather wide than tall unlike 4:3 format where the video looks more like a square - this is the regular TV format.

  • High Definition? Not necessarily. Don't you ever think you won't be able to create nice videos because you lack the perfect camera! Start with what you have at first and then you'll surely get a better camera. Even your phone camera can be a great tool. But as long as you have good light you can do the job with a compact digital camera that shoots in 640x480 pixels. Many great videos on YouTube are in this resolution and nobody complained.

  • Use copyright free music. Well... I was warned a few times by YouTube because I used music by Everlast, Manowar, Hammerfall and others without having permission to do so. Now I try to use royalty free music as to not be banned from YouTube or have my account closed. They told me my videos may not be displayed in some countries and that there's no action required on my part. We all want to have our favorite songs on our videos but we should refrain from using well known music without permission... I download free music from here and here.

  • Edit scenes synchronized to music. This is a wicked thing to do if you have the patience and the inspiration for it. It's a technique of great effect that creates prints in the visual and auditive memory of your viewers. I wish I would do more of that.

  • Use or improvise a helmet camera. Point of View (POV) footage is simply the best way to show your viewers what was the action like. If you don't have a proper helmet cam then improvise one and do your thing. When you want to switch from helmet cam to hand held cam (handycam), just take your helmet off and film pointing the helmet&cam rig to your subject. That's how I filmed the Critical Mass clip - international biker's movement.

  • Film elevating your camera from ground level to a few feet in the air. If you have an obstacle obstructing the view at ground level and then you raise the camera above it, showing the subject in full view, then this is even better! Again - you reveal the subject, you don't just show it. The movement of the camera adds a theatrical touch to your clip. Works great with a glidecam.

  • Show your weak (weakest) moments! Hey, we all love heroes - even GoPro named their POV cameras "HERO" - but what's a hero really? A hero is someone who fails gloriously over and over again before accomplishing greatness... Yes! Practice can beat talent. Showing clips of your awesome bike trick or your sickest bouldering move will get you some applause but what we really wanna see is how you got there. Show your fails, crashes, mistakes, accidents. Your viewers connect better with you when you show you are as human as everyone else. Also fail clips become viral on the Internet almost instantly. Failblog is built entirely on funny videos where people fail at doing things - action sports included. I like this clip shot by a fellow blogger and mountain biker from Brasov - Mihai Siman.

  • Shoot a lot! The good guys can only shoot what they need to include in the final video. They basically do the editing while shooting but for the rest of us amateurs it's not that easy. So if you want to have plenty material to choose from then shoot as much as you can and as diverse as you can. You'll exercise more, make more mistakes and inherently learn more this way. Shoot and edit heavily as you can only have a good result after a few failures.
This is not a complete list and you're invited to add more or to correct me in the comments. I will be more than happy to find out more about video editing. If you have a blog or article on this topic please link to it - also link to your outdoor action videos. My last advice is to not follow all rules and to even break a few just to be able to stay fresh and come up with new ideas. Shoot your outdoor adventures!

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  1. Great tips! I have a few projects in mind for the summer and these tips will come in handy.

    Thanks! - Manny

  2. You're welcome Manny! If you think you can add something else to this list, please do.

  3. You've got some very interesting points in you tutorial Gabor. Now I'm reading it through again, because I wanna get every piece of information. You made a good job writing it to be concise(just like your video suggestions are). I can tell that there's a lots of work and adventure went into this amature video hobby you have.

    Here's a link to another great tech amateur:

    Watching videos and reading his reviews convinced me to get GoPro HD instead of VHoldR.

  4. You have amazing videos. I'm starting to like the GoPro HD.

    Excellent job!

  5. Thanks for sharing the video. I love the tips, especially the transition one. I see this so often and it get so frustrating when transitions happen all of the time. Thanks!

  6. great tips! thanks for sharing

  7. like everyone said: great tips!! some of them i realized watching some other videos, but always is good to have them wrote somewhere! thanks constantin!

  8. Thanks for the kind words, Raul! This list is not exhaustive. If you have any other suggestions please leave them in the comments!

  9. Hi there,
    Thanks for your post and your DIY. I recently discovered where you can find also a lot of free music under Creative Commons.
    Just bought a GoPro HD and will soon try your Glidecam...

  10. Thanks for your words, Seb! Let us know how the steadicam project goes.



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