6 Ways to Bring Your Action Footage to the NEXT LEVEL

 

Action cameras can do things that is never done possible by other cameras before. You can strap it onto your chest, your helmet, your shoulder, anywhere. The possibilities are endless.

This makes it very easy to film, just strap, mount, switch on and go right? While that may be true to some extent, chances are it’ll just end up with a boring footage that no one wants to watch.

So how can you up your game and create cool videos that look professional and makes people yearn to watch?

Below are 5 ways to create a entertaining yet appealing action video.

1. Eliminate the shake

I realise the key problem with most of action footages is that it is very shaky and this is perfectly normal due to the nature of the environment of filming.

If you’ve seen GoPro commercials or any footages, you would have realised that they are super smooth and immersive. It’s not because they are using some special, top secret cameras with built-in stabilizers but instead, they use either post editing techniques or gimbals to stabilise their footage.

If you’re looking for a quick way to lessen the shake on your videos, you can try using a selfie stick (any pole or stick works actually as long as you can mount onto it). It’ll reduce the shaking by quite a lot as compared to direct hand holding. And although it’s a little inconvenient, it allows for cool shots with unique perspective to be taken.

Other than that, if you want better, more effective ways to stabilise your action videos, you can use things such as post editing or gimbals to stabilise your footage by a marginable amount. If you want to read more about this, feel free to check out my article on it here.

2. Using The Right Frame Rate at the Right Time

what are frame rates?

Frame rates are quite a cool concept because many cool shots can be played around with it and it also allows for many possibilities in filming.

If you are new to this whole frame rate ‘thing’, simply said, it is basically the number of frames captured per second.

Most videos are taken at about 24 – 30 frames per second. In other words, the camera takes 24 – 30 pictures per second so that when played back, it seems realistic and like a video.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of it, it’s time to learn how and when to use the right frame rates.

I found action cams mainly film in 3 frame rates, 30fps, 60fps and 120fps.

General Guideline For Frame Rates:

30fps:

This is the normal shooting mode and most films and videos that you watch uses this video frame rate. Of these 3 frame rates, this is the most storage space saving.

60fps:

This is the smoother version of the 30fps and it is quite noticeable when you compare them side by side although 30fps is already smooth to watch.

At this frame rate, you can slow your video down to 2x and it will still remain smooth. However, the drawback of this is that it takes up a little more storage space than the 30fps.

120fps:

This is the frame rate you’ll want to use if you were to use slow motion as it can slow down the video by 5x (to 24fps) or 4x (to 30fps) and still remain smooth and crisp.

However, other than it using it more storage space, it also does not perform very great in low light situations as the video is dimmer and more noise will be present at high frame rates.

Now that you’ve got an idea of what frames rate is, it’s time to apply what you have learnt into actual filming.

Capturing at high frame rate for Slow Motion

Filming in slow mo actually requires filming at least 50 or more frames per second so that when slowed down, it’ll still look smooth.

You can actually film anything you want in slow motion and it’ll still look cool. However, it’ll look even better if you film fast moving objects as watching them slowed down really presents a whole new perspective of your everyday life.

Many of the action cams do actually offer a slow motion video mode. Thus, it will already produce a slowed down video directly from the camera.

However, if you prefer to have more customisations and want to slow down only certain portions of the videos, check out my full tutorial on it here!

Capturing at low frame rate for Time-lapse

 

If you do not know what timelapse is, it is a process whereby the video is played super quickly, similar to fast forwarding. You can also think of it as the opposite of slow motion, where it is fast forwarded instead of slowed down. Hence, it’ll take a really long time to film a timelapse video.

Timelapse, unlike slow motion, does not actually require any certain frame rate and will work with any camera.

However, in timelapse, the ‘frame rate’ of it actually refers to as time interval.

Above is a rough time interval guide you can set your timelapse to capture it at the best rate.

Some examples of how you can film timelapse would be sunset in holidays, crowds, traffic, etc.

Both of the video techniques (slow-mo and timelapse) are used in many commercials and professionals as they can really spice up and the video.

Now that you know what these settings are for, be sure to film it when possible!

3. Is it clean? Check, CHECK AGAIN!

Moving on, check your lens and waterproof housing every time to see if it’s clean whenever you start to film!

This is especially useful for action cams because the nature of it actually put your action cam in dirty situations many of the times and it’s very easy to dust or some smudge on the lens and for the whole filming, you do not even know it’s there.

I have been a victim of dirty lenses and even a little speck of dirt will ruin your whole day of filming.

Hence, the point is to remember to check your lens is clear before filming.

4. Can’t hear what’s going on?

improving audio in action cams

The audio in action cams honestly sucks quite bad because the waterproof housing actually impedes the microphone from getting clear audio.

However, most of the time, audio doesn’t matter much since most of the time it’s just wind blowing onto the mic, practically recording the same thing as if you blow into the mic.

Having said that, some of the times, for example, if you are using it to vlog, audio does matter.

Hence, if audio does matter in your case, some ways to improve your audio quality would be to use external microphones or editing (quite difficult, some examples are wavepad).

5. Know What You Action Cam Is Capable Of

Credits: nosemonkey

You might be thinking, aren’t you already using your action cam to its fullest?

Well, yes, maybe no.

What I mean when I say fully utilise is to learn your settings and know what your action cam can do.

There are a couple of basic settings you should know about which most action cams do have, such as exposure, white balance, frame rate/resolutions, and field of view (narrow vs wide).

If you do not know what any of them mean, go ahead and read my article on them here! <>

Knowing the customisations and settings of your camera can really make a difference to the footage you take because many of the times, the auto settings in action cams aren’t able to adapt very well and hence you are better off adjusting the settings by yourself. (Don’t get me wrong. Some action cams do have really good adapting ability but most do not.)

6. Editing Tips

To improve your editing and create a more enticing and appealing video, it is mostly trial and error and the only way is to edit and play around with the different filters, transitions and music. Not to mention, plan your shots beforehand by envisioning it as it will really benefit you later on during the editing.

However, I have come to realise that the best action videos or even holiday vlogs usually follow these rules:

  • Change the angle once in a while, don’t keep filming it from the same point of view
  • Show only the highlight of that particular film
  • Each clip should be around 2-6s long in order to keep the video entertaining and unpredictable, especially in videos such as holidays vlog where many events happen.
  • Remove fisheye distortion if you wish to.

Summary

To summarise, stabilise using a gimbal or mount (stick or pole works too), use the right frame rate to get the most from your shots, check for dirt, know what your action cam does and lastly, play around with your
to see what works and what does not for you.

So there you have it. If you have any other questions about anything about action cams or you feel that I have left out something, feel free to leave a comment down below and I’ll be sure to reply to it!

Lastly, thanks for reading and have a nice day! 🙂


–> Want to learn how to film and edit a good timelapse? Check it out here! <–

–> Click here to learn how you can remove the fisheye distortion in 3 easy steps! <–

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5 Comments

  1. This website is very informative. I learned so much about action footage, cameras, etc. reading the pages of your website. I love the variety of various different camera choices and all of the camera accessories necessary for a great shoot. All of the information about camera frames, slow motion, etc. was so interesting. Thank you!

    1. Glad it helped! 🙂

  2. Thanks for this really helpful article.

    My wife got me a GoPro over a year ago, and to be honest, I haven’t used it very much, mainly because my physical activity generally consists of walking (boring) and lifting weights (also boring). But I would like to take it with me on vacation and maybe get some good jet ski, zipline, or snorkeling shots.

    I will definitely bookmark this page and come back to it for future reference.

  3. very interesting information you provided i’ve always been interested in buying a GoPro cam but never really did it, i guess i thought it wouldn’t be as efficient as they make it seem but the way you put it here it has to be nice, thanks for this article now I think I’m really gonna buy one!

    1. Sure no problem, buying one would definitely be a good investment!

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