Creating GoPro Superview out of 4:3 footage

The content of this article is ongoing.. if you’re here because I published it early.. sorry about that. I’ll make an announcement when it’s finally posted..

I’ve been a huge fan of GoPros for a long time, as I’m sure you can tell. As I’ve found more and more ways to incorporate them into my filmmaking process, I continually want to improve the image that I’m getting out of them. While they aren’t bad, they certainly don’t always perform up to snuff. Thus, I’ve just been tinkering around with some ideas.

Because I just got a “Squirt” from Shendrones, I recently recorded this clip in GoPro 4:3 2.7K @ 60fps. Recording at 4:3 @ 60 seems to be the best case scenario for pulling the footage into ReelSteady, which is an awesome tool for stabilization of footage, making for some unique effects. This is the final product that I got from doing that recording:

When I was done with that project, I still had this original footage left over that I also wanted to play around with. Before we go on, here’s the original footage with no stabilization, color correction, or otherwise.

 

The next step that I wanted to take with this was to take the information and convert it back into superview, so that it would better suit drone flying. In my opinion, superview is absolutely necessary for FPV drone footage, because the wider FOV and the scaling process that superview does to the footage makes everything more watchable. It makes the user feel as though they are part of a bit of a dream sequence. Footage without superview can absolutely be watchable, but I think that superview gives it the best case scenario. Now — what exactly is superview doing that makes it so good for fpv videos? Well.. it’s a bit complicated, but here’s the bullet points:

  • Record a 4:3 video on the entire sensor, rather than cropping down to 16:9
  • Take the 4:3 information and stretch it into 16:9
  • When stretching, exponentially stretch it across the available frame
  • Retain the “shape” of content in the middle of the frame, but stretch at the edges to create the dream sequence feeling

So the short version of this is that superview is recording 4:3 and then using a magical stretchiness to make the 4:3 footage into 16:9 without making everything look like garbage. Well — it turns out that it’s actually quite possible to digitally re-create that effect after the fact with different plugins for your favorite video editing applications, including Premiere and Final cut. Check out Elastic Aspect tool, part of FxFactory, a plugin installer/manager for Prem/Final Cut.

Using this software package, I can convert the 4:3 file that I recorded, convert it to superview, and retain an awesome image despite that I filmed in a way that I didn’t intend to be the final product:

 

There are obviously some things that aren’t quite right with this final product (i.e. watch the street sign very closely when I fly by it — see that line?) — but I’m really happy with how this is turning out so far.

But Paul, why would you shoot with in 4:3 when you could just shoot in 4K 30 Super?

That’s a great question. Let’s explore it.

  1. There are some shots that benefit from 2.7K 4:3 @ 60fps, especially those that will be run through Reel Steady at some point in their future. Reel Steady does its best work when it has the most information possible to work with. Thus, if you give it the full sensor information at a higher frame rate, you’re going to get a better result than a slightly deformed image (superview) at a lower framerate (30 fps). Reel Steady then takes that footage and outputs the correct 16:9 aspect ration and restores the SuperView-esque footage that you expect.
  2. There are cameras that don’t support superview. GASP! Yeah there are other cameras on the market for FPV like the new RunCam 3s, and the Foxeer box. I think that there could even be a potential application for this for products like the RunCam Split which have even less control over the final picture. Thus, if a camera like the RunCam 3S could support 4:3 full sensor recording, we could take the footage that it exports, run it through a software like this, and create better “clone” of superview which would better appeal to the eyes of drone enthusiasts, and “feel” more like the product we expect

So.. how do you do this magic? Well.. luckily I’ve made a video for that, so you should go check it out.

 

Just kidding — well definitely go watch the video, but here are the written instructions on how to make this image.

  • OSX Only 🙁 I couldn’t believe that this is only supported on OSX, but unfortunately the plugin installer FxFactory is OSX only, and there’s no way to manually install the Premiere Plugin apart from that as far as I can tell. If that’s not correct, somebody please let me know because it would be insanely helpful to have it be OSX/MS compatible.
  • Download and install FxFactory
  • Within FxFactory, install the “Elastic Aspect” plugin. It’s free.
  • Then follow these instructions here to modify footage that you’ve recorded to stretch it to superview aspects.

Recommended GoPro Recording Settings:

  • For Reel Steady:
    • 2.7K 4:3
    • 60 fps
    • GoPro Pro Res Flat Color Profile
    • Sharpness Medium
  • For full control 4:3 to be adjusted later with Elastic Aspect
    • 4k 4:3
    • 30 fps
    • GoPro Pro Res Flat Color Profile
    • Sharpness Medium
  • For ease of use combined with the best possible image
    • 4k superview
    • 30 fps
    • GoPro Pro Res Flat Color Profile (if you will not do any color correcting/you just shoot for instagram, consider using GoPro color just to make it easy on yourself)
    • Sharpness Medium

If you’re interested to learn more about some of my thoughts about how to make the best possible GoPro footage by exposing properly, check out this whole video detailing why I use ND filters, and set up shutter angles for the footage I’m shooting.

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