By Eric Jackson


I never imagined that I would be comfortable staring in, filming, editing, and publishing my own videos until GoPro showed me how at my first GoPro Team Summit 4 years ago. It sounds like a daunting task to many people, and the whole thing seems out of reach unless somebody brings it down to the beginner level with some basic information that you can run with . I hope this does that for you! I have a video that you can watch embedded, as well as the written description below. If you are a visual learner start there.

There are several stages that you need some basic knowledge for:

1. Filming with a GoPro- which includes:

  • How to set it up and use it
  • How to mount it
  • What kinds of shots you will want to have and how to get them
  • Creating a strategy in advance so you already know the types of shots you will want

2. Putting the footage onto a Hard Drive which includes- how to label the footage so you can find it later and keep it organized

3. Editing the footage into a final file that you can watch on your computer

4. Loading the edited video onto YouTube or Facebook so you can share it with friends and family

Let’s start with the using of the GoPro Cameras:

Some basics:

1. Buying a Camera: I suggest buying a Hero 3+ or later… Hero 4 Silver is easy to use and amazing for beginners, as is the Hero Session. The Session is the smallest, lightest, and easiest to use, but more limiting and no screen on it. If you want the highest quality images get the Hero 4 Black.

2. Buy a Floaty for it so you don’t lose it if you drop it in the water!

3. Charging it: It comes with a Mini-USB cable and you can plug it into your computer, car charger (same as your phone), or the wall. When you plug it in a red light goes on, when it is done, the red light goes off. It takes a few hours from start to finish. The battery will last for many hours (all day) if you are turning it off when not using it)

4. Mini SD Card: card comes separately- Don’t skimp here, get a high capacity card like this 64 GB Sandisk card. You will NOT run out of card space with this card in a day or two of filming.

5. Other accessories you should go ahead and get now as they are awesome:

  • Jaws Mount: With this you can mount your camera almost anywhere to capture video or photos where you don’t want to be holding it. ACMPM-001_newmain1
  • The “Frame” for your Hero 4 so you can get really good audio and dry land shots without needing the waterproof case.
  • Jackson Kayak Levitar Mount for your kayak which gets amazing shots and worth having! D Levator__19826.1376146780.1280.1280
  • External Hard Drive to store your footage- this one is tough and 2TB of storage

Turning it on and setting the video settings:

  • Push the front button once and it beeps and blinks until it is on and ready. Unknown
  • Push the top button and it will start recording video. maxresdefault
  • The default settings are fine to get going with- it will be set at 1080- (size of the image) and 30 frames/second (best quality for normal speed video). If you want to do lots of slow motion- set it to 1080 and 120 frames/second for smoothest slow-mo. If you want the best overall image quality and have good light- you can film in 4k with the black or 2.7 with the silver and 30 fps. If that is stressing you out, just turn it on and go! Eventually you will want to play with different settings.
  • Getting a Time Lapse: A time lapse is a series of photos that your editing software (in this case the FREE software from GoPro called “Studio”) will piece together into a video and it will look super cool for things like loading up your truck, unloading, or even running down the river. For anything that takes a long time, use 5 or 10 second intervals (like a sunset). For kayaking action use 1-2 second intervals. Set your camera on Time Lapse mode and set the interval watch this 3 minute video for detailed instructions:

Strategy to get the video content that will make you happy with your efforts:

There are Four Key Elements to any good video that you will make:

1. “Establishing Shots”- this shows where you are- these are before you get in the kayak typically-

  • Time lapse of unloading your boats
  • Gearing up and getting ready
  • Close-ups of individuals on the trip
  • Documenting the travel

To capture these things- have your GoPro handy when you are loading up at the house- get a few shots of tying down the boats, putting paddles in the car/truck, and driving down the road (jaws mount). Using the Jaws mount or hand holding the camera, get the close ups, unloading, and some of the scenery at the put-in.

2. Character Introductions: Here you use the “Frame”, taking the camera out of the waterproof case so you can get some good audio. You can hand hold it as well, no frame or mounts needed.

  • Introduce yourself and have your friends do the same- short “hi, a smile, thumbs up, etc..
  • Introduce the place- “We are at the put-in of the Upper Gauley River, and we are all a little nervous of what is below….”
  • Introduce the purpose- “We are going to run the Upper Gauley for the first time and hope for a no swim day!”

3. ACTION SHOTS: this is what most people focus on and rarely forget. Here is where multiple mounting options are awesome-

  • Use the already supplied Bow mount on all Jackson Kayak boats to capture face shots while kayaking- this is best to focus on good light (sun in your face or sun at your back for backlit shots), and non-wavey rapids as the water will splash on the camera in the waves.
  • Put a sticky mount on your helmet for head-cam footage of rapids and following friends. This is a must for a few shots as it gives the POV perspective, but should not be the only angle- everyone is tired of seeing head-cam shots overdone. 25% of your footage on your head.
  • Paddle or wrist mount: This is good for when you are in an eddy and want to get the group in the shot. Aim the camera back at you on the paddle and hold it out far from you… try an overhead twirl of the paddle for a cool perspective.
  • Levitor Stern Mount: This is the best action position as you are shooting at shoulder height and you can see what you are doing, as well as the rapids. Best angle for the hard rapids.
  • Friend films you: Yes, you can give your camera to a friend who puts it on their paddle aiming away from them and they use the paddle to film you going over a drop by standing on the lip of the drop and putting the paddle almost in your face.

4. Conclusion-Payoff- After a big rapid, or at the take out of the river- let your camera roll! Getting your final reactions to the run are the special shots that you’ll want 5 years from now, more than the run itself.

  • Get the “in the moment” reaction- high fives, hugs, smiles, fist pump, etc.. you see these shots on all of the good videos that you remember-
  • Authentic celebration of your run, rapid, or trip- it can be a single shot, smile- or “whoo hoo”… whatever you do when you are fired up!

Here is an example of a video of Dane with all of these elements, edited by GoPro called “Chasing Waterfalls”

Transferring your footage onto a Hard Drive

Copy and paste your footage using a Card Reader that comes with the mini-SD card in one USB slot onto the hard drive plugged into the Thunderbolt or USB slot on the other side of your computer. It might take 10 minutes if you have a ton of footage.

Labeling your footage properly is KEY so you don’t lose it: Here is how I do it, as prescribed by the GoPro Media House pros who log more footage than any other brand in the world:

1. Date, trip description on the main folder: 9-14-15 Bow River GoPro Summit

2. Create three folders inside of that folder: Raw, Photo, and Selects

3. Copy all video into the RAW folder (drag and drop) or Copy and Paste

4. Copy all photos into the Photo Folder

5. Selects will be described soon

Editing your footage:

1. Download “GoPro Studio” from the GoPro Website- it is free!

2. Download the “GoPro App” on your phone for viewing footage, controlling your camera, and loading short clips/photos online from your phone

3. Preparing your footage to edit: Open GoPro Studio and connect your hard drive with the footage to your computer. Click on “New Project” and “Save As” and save it to your hard drive in the folder you just created: 9-14-15 Bow River GoPro Summit

  • Click on “import new files” button and select all of the video clips you have in RAW
  • Click on each video clip one at a time and review it… set the “in and out” markers- easy to find on bottom of clip to only include the parts of the video you think you want to use.
  • Click on Advanced settings and move the needle to “Best” quality and “save settings for future clips”
  • Name the clip in the box- I like to do it chronologically and start with “1” and then the name and the second clip is “2” and the name that keeps the files in order for later
  • Click on “Add clip to conversion list” and it will start converting the footage to a file format that you can edit it with and you cut the file to only include the parts you want
  • Once you complete this with every clip you have, you now have what you need to edit a video, and I will give you the EASIEST way first

4. Creating an edited video

  • Click on “Step 2 Edit” and your ready to go video clips will be listed on the left.
  • The program will ask you to “first choose a template”- you can choose one of the ready to go ones, or make your own- I will teach you how to use one of the ready to go ones, you can figure out how to make your own easily enough if you can do this step.
  • Pick “Dubstep Baby” for example- a 30 second- 8 clip video with music ready to go…
  • Click on any video clip on the left and drag it into the clip you want to replace on the template. If it is a 30 second clip you have and the template only has 4 seconds, you have to choose what 4 seconds of your 30 second clip you will use. Just drag the yellow bar on the video above the timeline until you like the 4 seconds it has selected.
  • Repeat until you have all clips replaced from the baby video to your kayak video.
  • Watch it to make sure you like it, play with it until you do like it.
  • You can adjust the video with more exposure, color, etc. if you want with the tools on the right.
  • If the sound in your video is messing up the edited video, turn it off on each clip by clicking the speaker button on each clip to show it “off”

5. Completing your edit into a file on your computer and loading it on youtube or Facebook.

  • Click “Step 3 Export”- choose a name for the video and choose the resolution- I always choose “youtube” as that is where I am going to send it next. Let it export, which will take a few minutes.
  • Open up and click “upload files”… if you don’t have an account, make one. Select your completed file from the previous step and click upload. Name video again on YouTube and you can “tag it” I recommend using your name and the location of the video for tags. Tags help people find the video (including you) by searching.
  • Once it is done uploading, it will “process” for a while, which is just a fancy name for YouTube staff to make sure it is not offensive, porn, etc.. and they will make it public. If you used music you don’t have rights to on your own template, that is fine for the USA as they have sorted that out so that there will be a link to buying the music on your video.
  • Once it is processed, you can share the link with your friends.

6. Final Step- Sharing your Video

  • Copy the link of the video (copy from url bar at the top of the screen) and paste it on a Facebook post, twitter post, or email to friends so they can watch it.
  • You can also upload the video directly to your Facebook timeline which will get more initial views, but will be buried and hard to find later.

You are ready to rock!!! Let me know if this was helpful and send me links to your cool videos so I can watch them!

See you on the River,


Eric Jackson