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 (70)

  1. Phrancko

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial. I have just converted my first video using the method you described and it works without jerking. I am relieved to know that it isn’t a problem with the video produced on my new GoPro Hero3+ camera, but rather the ability of the computer to uncompress it in real time.

    There was one unexpected result however. I converted the video to Avid DNxHD as you suggested, producing a .mov file that was 1.27GB. When I started it in QuickTime, the next thing that happened was QT converted it again. There was no other information, just a simple box saying “Converting” and a progress bar until it completed. Then it proceeded to play the video and it looked great. When I closed the QT window, it asked if I wanted to save the converted video, so I did that and found that the new saved file was 78.6MB.

    Do you know why QT did its own conversion? Is there some way to get MPEG Streamline to produce the output that QT wants without converting it again?

  2. Dave

    Thank you great pictorial. Can you tell me
    were I can find prores codex

  3. Dave

    downloaded file for Prores in you list of codecs but can not receive it . Help.

    • Dave

      how do you download and install the DNxHD codec. winzip file.

  4. Stephanie

    I did everything that you said to do, and at the very end when I pressed ‘go’, all the videos came up with the status “error: can’t open the compressor”..

    If it helps, I ended up having to download the Avid DNxHD to use that as an option.

  5. Jasna

    Is this the same for making a time lapse? I tried this and the files do not then go into go pro studio to be able to make the time lapse and so then i tried making it first then converting it and the result was a two minute long picture of most probably the first camera shot.

  6. Lacey

    Is the tutorial the same for using a windows vista? Or is there somewhere I can find another tutorial for that?

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