unhappy with gopro 11 footage? try this

I very quickly realised that gopro 11 footage is not what I’m used to. I set up the camera my usual way, which matched what internet recommended and went out shooting. The result was ok until I looked a bit closer. The codec bit rate is clearly not enough to capture very detailed shots and aggressive noise reduction is not helping to preserve the detail either. Here is a frame that is totally missing any detail (1:1 crop). The paraglider is relatively sharp but the forest it a mush. Everything that is dark is very heavily compressed, smoothed and lacks any detail.

here is the whole video that is not bad until you try to extract frames to use as photos:

 

Gopro Labs

Luckily gopro provides alternative firmware that allows changing bit rate and all sorts of other settings. https://gopro.com/en/us/info/gopro-labs

Bit Rate

The first thing that can make gopro footage soft and mushy is video bitrate. The sensor and the lens are quite good and we get plenty of detail on the photos. Default bitrate is a bit low if we shoot full 5.3k square frame. Lets increase it to the maximum the camera can handle.

with a simple QR code we can change the bit rate to something higher. As far as I know 190mbit is the maximum the gopro can handle without crashing. I opted for a safer option of 180mbit:

https://gopro.github.io/labs/control/set/?cmd=!MBITR=180

 

 

 

The results are a bit better but not much in the dark areas.

Noise reduction

I still don’t like the mush we get in the shadows, bitrate helped a bit but not much so the next possibility is aggressive noise reduction. After turning it off finally we get something in the shadows!

1:1 crop of a dark area (lifted) from a test image:

QR code to disable noise reduction:

https://gopro.github.io/labs/control/set/?cmd=!MNR01=1

if you need to reset all custom labs settings use this QR code:

https://gopro.github.io/labs/control/set/?cmd=!RESET!10

 

LOG

there is a lot of talk about the new gp-log format. it uses different gamma curve to the flat profile and it can be set on hero 11 too:

https://gopro.github.io/labs/control/set/?cmd=t!MLOGB=400

hero 12 is underexposing gp-log format by 2 stops. This doesn’t work well on hero 11 as we get a lot of noise and mushy shadow detail (evenĀ  with noise reduction turned off). If you want to use this gamma instead of flat (that seems to be perfectly fine) I recommend underexposing it by -0.5, the same as flat.

 

a handy tool to generate protune log profiles:
https://www.desmos.com/calculator/sfxqtunzty

I tested a few different log curves to preserve more of the shadows but there was not much I was able to squeeze from the camera on top of what the flat profile already offers.

If you prefer to use this log curve I have prepared an IDT and LUT for it too and you can download it from my github:

https://github.com/p0las/protune-transforms/blob/master/IDT/GoPro_Protune_Native_ACES_WB_logb400.dctl

https://github.com/p0las/protune-transforms/blob/master/LUT/protune_to_sRGB_logB400_WB.cube

both are designed to use native white balance

Other protune settings

the rest of the protune settings are pretty standard: native white balance (to get wide gamut) with flat gamma curve, max iso 400 and slight underexpose to preserve highlights:

IDT

since the footage with the above settings looks unnatural we need a LUT or IDT to correct it (grading it by hand is not recommended). Here is an IDT for davinci resolve that makes it look correct:

gorpo-protune-native-IDTs-nopixels.net_.zip (446 downloads)

copy it to resolve idt folder (on windows):

%APPDATA%\Blackmagic Design\DaVinci Resolve\Support\ACES Transforms\IDT

 

 

if you prefer Adobe lightroom rendering of gorpo images here is another IDT that mimics it:

 

 

it is more punchy in reds and I like it for videos of nature. A bit oversaturated maybe but this is easy to correct.

all my IDTs use protune matrix obtained from colour-science.org website as the base. The first one is exposed up and white balanced to around 5000K. Since gopro exposure is not very reliable this is done a bit by hand to get nice looking footage. The second one uses an additional matrix that was calculated by comparing two charts (resolve and lightroom). Again this one is meant to look nice and is less accurate than the first one. If you need one that is scientifically accurate please download it from github (link below)

you can also download the IDTs from github if you prefer:

https://github.com/p0las/protune-transforms/

 

 

LUTs

since not all of us can use IDTs (that require resolve studio) and probably don’t want to deal with advanced colour management in davinci resolve here are simple CUBE LUTs that will work in the free version and default colour management.

nopixels_net_gopro_protune_native_to_sRGB_LUTs.zip (260 downloads)

 

copy the files to (on windows):

c:\ProgramData\Blackmagic Design\DaVinci Resolve\Support\LUT\gopro

here is the LUT in davinci resolve on the default sRGB timeline:

 

Sharpening

the last thing is the in camera sharpening. I always recommend turning it off or as low as possible. in case of a gopro I’m a bit torn. If we set it to low then we need to apply sharpening in post and we have two problems:

  • we apply it on top of the heavy compression which may make it more visible
  • we apply it in our timeline resolution (probably 4k) not in the native footage one (assuming you shoot full sensor 5.3k).

I feel like I can get a bit more detail with the camera sharpening set to medium but at the same time the codec seems to be more stressed creating even more artefacts. on my 4k timeline low+post sharpen looks almost the same as medium sharpening in camera. some areas looks more detailed and better while some others got more compression. I picked this very detailed plant to stress the codec as much as possible. Personally to get more “cinematic” look I use low.

1:1 crop from a test image (left is medium in camera sharpening, right is low with the best match I was able to do in resolve)

 

Compared to other cameras

with the IDTs we can get results that are comparable with professional cameras below is the same scene shot in panasonic V-Log and flat+native+my idt on GoPro11. I only slightly colour corrected the gopro to match white balance.

(gorpo footage zoomed 1.8x and undistorted to match 24mm lens on my panasonic)

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