How to shoot (and edit) a great GoPro ski video

So you’ve got a new GoPro, mastered the menu system and stocked up on mounts. Even more importantly, you’ve got a ski trip booked and you’re planning to put the GoPro into action and make an awesome ski video! But how to go about it? And how best to ensure that the finished product is indeed awesome rather than just something that people watch while stifling a yawn? Have no fear, we’ve pulled together our top 10 tips for planning, shooting and editing a truly great GoPro ski video – read on then go forth and film!

1. Planning – While it is possible to just go out and shoot footage and then only think about editing it later (and indeed, we suspect this is what most people do), a little planning goes a long way. In particular, it is a good idea to think about the type of footage that you will be able to shoot, what mounts you plan on using, and whether there are any key “set piece” shots you really want to include (see below). You can then make sure you don’t miss anything out. At this stage, it is also worth considering the soundtrack, which brings us on to the next point…

2. The music – Chances are, you’re going to want a pumping soundtrack to accompany your video. The internal mic on the GoPro is not great at the best of times (especially when sealed inside the waterproof case) and generally all you get at speed is a rush of wind noise. So for most purposes, it’s best just to mute the GoPro sound, and overlay it with the song of your choice. While it’s clearly personal preference what that song should be, if we had one tip it would be – go shorter rather than longer. Not only does it give you less editing to do, it also tends to make for a punchier, more focused video. Between 3 and 4 minutes is about ideal.

3. Learn about the shooting modes (and use the right one) – It’s definitely worth spending a bit of time working out what the various shooting modes of the GoPro are and which one is best for the purpose. For most skiing footage, you’ll probably want the ultrawide angle settling in the highest framerate available (see below) However, for some applications the narrower field of view can be useful – for example, shooting more natural-looking footage out of a moving car. Also, the GoPro’s time lapse settings can be used to great effect – for example, to capture clouds scudding across a mountain, or the sun setting.

4. Shoot lots of footage – It sounds like an obvious point, but it’s worth reinforcing – the more footage you shoot, the better the odds are that you will capture something really good. Now that the cost of large capacity storage cards has come down dramatically, it is not such a problem to keep the GoPro running for large chunks of time. However, this will undoubtedly eat into the battery life, so it may be a good idea to pick up a spare battery and keep it with you, to avoid running out of juice before some really nice skiing!

5. Shoot from several viewpoints (and not always POV) – In our experience, a common error when using a GoPro is to concentrate solely on point-of-view (POV) footage – either from a helmet mount or a Chesty. It’s completely understandable – you want to be able to re-live the great skiing you’ve been doing when back at home. However, excessive POV footage is rarely particularly interesting to others in an edited video, unless you’re hucking off a large cliff or otherwise doing something similarly extreme. By all means shoot POV footage so you can put some edited highlights in, but be sure to utilise plenty of other views as well – for example – mounting the GoPro on a ski pole or on the GoPro 3-Way mount to get shots of the person actually skiing. Also, do consider including some non-skiing footage – from your car, or on the lift, or in the restaurant – stuff which puts the skiing in context. Which brings us onto our next point…

6. Tell a story – OK, we know that in 3-4 minutes you’re not going to produce a snowy remake of The Wire. But even so, it can be great if you can get enough footage and put it together so that it give a real flavour of your trip and the characters on it. Plus, if you break up the skiing with some non-skiing footage, it tends to give the skiing stuff more of an impact.

7. (Nearly) everything looks better in slo-mo… – In general, it’s worth shooting at the highest HD framerate available on your GoPro model (either 60fps or 120fps) as this gives you the most scope to slow down the footage during the editing process. Happily, lots of things that don’t look that exciting at normal speed can be transformed into beautiful slo-mo works of art – we particularly like the effect of slowed-down snow spray.

8. Don’t hold back on the crashes – If you wipe out with the GoPro running, the footage can really work well in a ski video. Firstly, as above, a crash can take on a certain balletic beauty when replayed at a slow speed – all limbs flying and skis gracefully detaching… Secondly, it’s a real audience pleaser – people love to watch other people falling over! We’re not saying go out and crash deliberately, but if it does happen while the GoPro is running, don’t delete the footage!

9. Pass the GoPro around – Although it may be hard to hand over your favourite new toy to someone else, it is great to get footage taken by other members of your skiing group. It means that different people (including you!) can be seen in the background, and it creates more interest in your audience – especially with those who’ve had a role as cameraman! Just make sure whoever has the GoPro takes good care of it…

10. Cut to the beat – Once you’re back from skiing, it’s time to settle down with a cup of coffee and get all the footage ingested into your video editing package of choice. We’ve tended to use Apple’s iMovie, but for Windows you could look at using Movie Maker – both packages are free and come bundled with the computer – if you get really into video editing then you might want to step up to something like Final Cut Pro. In any event, the first step is to review the footage you’ve taken and identify the good bits that you want to include in your video. Next, have a good listen to the song you’ve chosen and think about how the footage you’ve captured will work with the music. Pay particular attention to the transition between the different sections of the song, and work out which bits of footage will work well with each part of the song. In general, it tends to work well to cut between the footage exactly on the beat. It’s also worth considering whether you have and particularly good footage that can be aligned with the ‘key’ section of the song  – be it a guitar solo or a drum break. But like everything, there are no hard and fast rules so unleash your inner creative and let rip!