Don't Be The Guy With All The Gear And No Idea - Stab Mag
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Crisp Chippa flinging his tail into the flats. And yes, he stomps this.

Don’t Be The Guy With All The Gear And No Idea

Here’s how to make the most out of your GoPro for surf edits.

Words by Stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

When we first started shooting the film series ‘Wilson’s Foam and Rubber’ for Stab and GoPro I knew GoPro cameras don’t operate exactly like an SLR in water housing, but there’s also plenty of things they can do with ease that other cameras can’t or, if they can, it takes a lot of time and money to get the same shot (car mounts, steady cams etc.). These are some of the lessons I learned along the way shooting the four episodes:   

Do’s 

Think outside of the box with the shots you want to get. These cameras are so small and light you can do so much with them that you can’t with almost every other camera. For the driving scenes we would either trail or lead Chip in his car or moto and I had the GoPro attached to a long pole ($20 curtain rod from Spotlight) so we could manoeuvre it easily and get some unique angles you could only get with a really good drone operator. Another shot I was stoked on was when we clipped the camera onto Chip’s window (using this) and he climbed in and closed the door to start the car. Something you don’t see everyday because that shot would be hard to pull off without a professional car mount.

These cameras have incredible built-in image stabilisation so use it to your advantage. We shot a ton of stuff along bumpy roads with the camera bouncing around and all of the shots were crazy smooth straight out of the camera. Normally you would need a steadycam to get shots like those but you can get the same results with a GoPro just by turning on HyperSmooth.

If you want to shoot follow cam stuff in the surf be aware that it’s not as easy as it looks. Dan Scott is the master and makes it looks easy but when I tried it in Tassie with Chip I found it really hard to nail a shot perfectly from start to finish. Perhaps I just need to get better at surfing to keep up with Chippa. Make sure you get a floating grip or case so if/when you fall off and loose the camera it doesn’t sink to the bottom of the ocean

Making sure your settings are correct before hitting record can really make or break a shot. I always lock my exposure so it won’t fluctuate wildly in the shot if I move from dark to light also for a more cinematic look I mostly used Linear with Horizon Levelling, HyperSmooth some ND filters that help you shoot a lower exposure so you get some depth of field in your shots. I also put my sharpness level to low so it doesn’t get that pixelated digital look and I make sure the ISO doesn’t go over 400. To get professional sounding audio I used a wireless lav mic that I had on Chip and then used the in-camera audio to sync them up in post. (To download GoPro HERO10 Black preferred settings click here)

Don’ts 

Please whatever you do, don’t swim your GoPro out into a crowded line-up and post up in front of a professional photog or cinematographer. There should be jail time for doing that. Also if you can barely stand up on your board maybe practise your surfing skills first before you paddle out with a camera in your mouth and try and film yourself surfing for your Vlog. You’re giving the cameras a bad name and wreaking havoc in the line-up at the same time. 

GoPro has a fixed lens, anything far away looks minuscule, so don’t shoot surfing from the beach. It looks shit. Jump in the drink and shoot from the water (without getting in the way). 

This is an obvious one but don’t forget to charge your battery and download, then clear your memory card. It always pays to have backups of both. You might not need them too often but you’ll be glad you have them when you do.

Don’t lick the lens – it’s hydrophobic. Plus, you’re on camera and you’ll look weird.

Happy hunting.