Your First GoPro Video: Making an OCR video people will want to watch

Submerging into water is the quickest way to lose your camera. Instead take a beautiful selfie.

Okay, so you want to get yourself a GoPro and make videos that showcase all of your obstacle racing adventures to show your friends and family just how awesome your life is. In this article I’ll talk about what to think about when shooting video and how to edit it in a way that people will want to watch it.

Which GoPro should I buy?

GoPro makes a variety of different versions. Here’s the main thing I always tell people to keep in mind: The more options they cram into that tiny action cam, the shorter the battery life.

For most people I just recommend getting the cheapest one—which is exactly what we use at ORM for our own videos that use GoPro footage. The one exception to this would be the fact that the latest entry level GoPro Hero doesn’t allow for expanding to a larger battery back pack, so getting the next step up may be worth it for you. Other bells & whistles of the higher end GoPros include more timelapse options and higher frame rates—stuff that most people will not use.

As far as whether to get the chestshoulder, or head strap, I always recommend the head strap. The head strap will track pretty close to where your eyes are looking and won’t get covered in mud at the first barbed wire crawl like the chest harness will.

How to Shoot

1)Have the camera pointed slightly downward.

If using the head strap, in most cases if you have it nice and flush looking straight ahead the video tends to capture tops of peoples heads and a lot of sky. Pointing it slightly downward will show more of the full bodies and the obstacles you are approaching, rather than just the upper portion. (This rule doesn’t apply to the chest harness).

2)Occasionally check for the lens being covered in mud.

I once lost the first half of a race simply because someone in front of me kicked up a tiny bit of mud that landed directly on the lens. It’s hard to clean it off without smudging it all over the lens, so if you can, wait a moment for the mud to dry and occasionally dip it into water to wash dirt off.

Muddy FrameI’m sure whatever was happening here was awesome. Too bad the lens was covered in mud.

3)Hold onto it when you are in or near deep water.

Whether you’re jumping off a 15 ft plank into deep waters, going down a slide or swimming across a creek, your knee jerk reaction to hold onto that sucker. With high jumps like Davy Jones Locker at Savage Race I like to hold it in my hand and record a selfie as I drop down.

Selfie ExampleAnytime you submerge yourself in water is a great time to hold onto your headcam and take a beautiful selfie

4)Don’t record everything.

Do yourself a favor and save yourself some battery life by turning off the camera during the long stretches of running. With the exception of the starting line and approaching the finish line or perhaps a really significant mountainous climb, most people understand that the course involved running and it’s not that interesting to watch—even if you use that fancy speed tool and speed it up 4000%.

5)Record the obstacle.

Stop and take off the GoPro once in a while and just hold it in a position to get the obstacle in frame. Don’t try to pan the camera or follow along with somebody. Just sit there, hold still and record. Record a few people completing the obstacle. Get the front, back and side of the obstacle. Again, just and hold it still while few people pass through. It will feel like FOREVER, but trust me it’s worth it.

6ft WallA  clean steady shot of the obstacle will help the viewer understand how awesome you are.

6)Make Friends.

You know that group of girls wearing fairy wings and tutus? Run up far ahead of them, stop, turn around and hold the camera in front of you to get a shot of them passing by. Take a selfie video of yourself and that one lonely runner whose friends all backed out saying “woo hoo!” in the camera. Yeah, I know it might feel silly, but you’re running around with a camera and they’re wearing tutus, so everyone looks pretty ridiculous at this point anyway.

TutuGirlsThey dressed up, they want you to notice them, don’t be shy.

How to Edit

1)Keep it short.

If your only audience is your mom, then I’m sure she won’t mind watching a 45 minute documentary of your experience, but if you want the general public to watch it and enjoy it, keep it under 5 minutes. Two and a half minutes is even better.

2)Mix up the shots.

Cut between wide and close shots. For example, start with a shot of someone approaching the monkey bars, as they’re about to grab onto that first or second bar, cut to the footage of your headcam capturing your hands somewhere in the middle, then cut back to a shot of people exiting the obstacle that you so patiently waited for. And because you were so patient, you have a nice variety of people to choose from, you don’t (and shouldn’t) need to include everyone, but choose the most interesting people.

3)Include the fails.

Including shots of yourself and others failing or struggling helps communicate how tough OCR is. Plus everyone thinks it’s funny when you fall and cry, and humor is guaranteed to ensure people watch.

Worst MomentsIncluding your worst moments can communicate everything from badassness to humor.

Jeff Marier

Starting out as a video professional in the corporate world, Jeff, filmed his first obstacle race in 2011 – the Tough Mudder in Georgia. After the experience of watching his buddies kick, slide, crawl, pull, and fight their way to the finish, he became intrigued, and set out to train his body for his own OCR experience. Jeff is the video geek for ORM.
1 comment
  1. Thanks for the advice. I am recording my first mud run next week and will be recording my first Spartan Super in March. So these tips will help. Thanks

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