17/08/2012 Ross Fairgrieve

Fixing Jerky GoPro Footage For Smooth Playback

A lot of people have contacted me recently, concerned that the video footage from their GoPro HD Hero or GoPro HD Hero2 camera is jerky or choppy. All of them have complained of the same problem; the video footage appears to jump from frame to frame rather than playing smoothly, as it should. If you’ve been experiencing this, there’s good news. Your camera isn’t broken and there is a way to fix it. In fact, there’s even better news as the method of solving your jerky playback GoPro playback woes uses great software that is completely free! [For clearest viewing, hit the cog in the bottom-right of the player and select “720p HD” and pop it in full-screen mode too]

The problem isn’t with your camera, it’s actually with your computer. If you’re working on a beast of a PC or Mac, you might have never run into these problems and your GoPro videos may appear as smooth as Miranda Kerr’s bottom (I can only assume). However, even fairly decent computers can struggle to play back the raw GoPro footage smoothly. The problem lies with the codec; the method of COmpressing and DECompressing the footage. The GoPro HD Hero and HD Hero2 cameras use some clever methods to compress the footage very heavily. This means that they take up less space on the card but, on the flip side, makes them very hard for your computer to play back.

Imagine that you’ve just got a new job as a quality controller for a sleeping bag company. Sleeping bags come to you on a conveyer belt and you have to take them out of their stuff-bags, check them over and then put them back in before the next one arrives. The GoPro’s native video footage is like a sleeping bag with a tiny stuff-bag. It’s great for taking up very little space in your rucksack but is a right pain to get in and out of it’s little sack. When you’re testing these, you have to quickly get them out of the tiny bag, do your checks and then wrestle them back into the bag before the next one comes along. As this isn’t easy to do, you start to run out of time and you’re not ready when the next bag comes. Maybe a REALLY good checker might be able to cope with this (just like a REALLY good computer can cope with heavily compressed GoPro footage) but you can’t, so it all goes a bit wrong. Going back to the GoPro, the video frames are a bit like these sleeping bags. Now, if the stuff-bags were bigger, you wouldn’t have to struggle as much to get the sleeping bags out and back into them. This would make your job a lot easier and would give you plenty of time to check each sleeping bag before the next one comes.

So, the way to make GoPro video footage a bit easier on your computer, and therefore play back much more smoothly, is by changing it to a less compressed, more easily worked format. The video at the top of this page shows you how to do this on a Mac using the brilliant (and brilliantly free!) MPEG Streamclip program.

But I Don’t Have Prores as an Option!

I made this video a while ago and I really should have explained what to do if you don’t have Prores in you list of codecs when using MPEG Streamclip. Sorry about that! Well, it’s still the same process, there’s just one extra step. Instead of using Prores, the codec to use instead is Avid DNxHD (this probably won’t be on your list either but bear with me!). Before you open MPEG Streamclip, head to Avid’s site, HERE, to download and install the DNxHD codec. Once you’ve done this, open up MPEG Streamclip as usual and, as if by magic, Avid DNxHD will be an option on your list.

And That’s It

I know that sounds kind of complicated but, once you’ve done it a couple of times, it’ll seem really simple. If this helps you out, let me know in the comments below and, if there’s anything else that you need a hand with or want me to post about, just give me a shout.

Ross Fairgrieve is a freelance video producer, videographer, cameraman, video editor, and photographer based in Reading, Berkshire. His clients range from start-up charities to large corporate businesses across Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, London and abroad. If you would like to enquire about his services, head over to the CONTACT page.

Comments (78)

  1. Samer

    Thanks for the information. I have been able to convert the files to Quicktime, however, I am now unable to upload the videos into the GoPro Studios App. Is there a way to do this with the uncompressed video files?

  2. ashley

    Ive followed all that you have said but only seem to get audio and no visuals on my finished videos!! im using windows and have the hero 4. please help.

    • Aarawi

      I had this issue too, in case you’re still looking for a solution, I used Handbrake and converted the file into .mp4 and I the picture came back(the reason why it was not playing is because Quicktime doesn’t read .mov files or something like that). The quality was still bad though for me… Anyways I hope it can help :)

  3. ryan price

    just done what you, thanks for the video and information but this hasn’t really made much difference it is slightly better. just wondering if the memory can make a difference? I have ordered a faster card. currently got a cheapy in the gopro(but plays fine on my phone)
    also my laptop is around 4 or 5 years old now just wondering if it could just be the fact this laptop has no power compared with the laptops of today?


  4. Stuart

    Hi Ross, thanks for your video tutorial. I am a complete newcomer to making movies and I have just gone out and bought the new Hero GoPro 4, but I was completely frustrated watching playback through iMove or iTines – just so choppy. However, I’ve now followed your process using MPEG Stream Clip and imported the Avid Codecs and all working great, viewed through Quicktime. I’ll now need to buy some more disc space and learn how to editIt takes a while but if you have a batch then just run them all together when you head to bed! Thanks very much for your help! Stuart

  5. Colin

    Everything worked except when i clicked on the video it just says converting.. and i can’t watch it because it isn’t loading

  6. Erin Rosenbaum

    Hello, and thank you for the informative video. I have a 2009 Apple 24″ iMac. When I go to the Compression drop down menu, I don’t get the Apple ProRes 422 options. Any suggestions?

    Thank you

    • Erin Rosenbaum

      Nevermind, sorry. I just saw the paragraph I need. Thanks, again

  7. Thanks for this! Recently bought our Go Pro 4 Black ! Got some great videos that always skip at the best point. this works a treat!

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