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 (74)

  1. Derek Barton

    Hi Just Tried this to fix a Stuttering Problem with a HERO3 Black. Downloaded the software on to my MAC and Every thing seemed fine until I got to selecting the Codec you recomended. It was not in the list and the List of Codecs seemed very short compared to the list that you showed in the Youtube Post any suggestions!

    • Vas Proud

      I put mine through a deshaker which fixes my poor camera shakes and also reduces files sizes. Do you post your made videos?

    • Derek Barton

      Vas Proud Did you have any problems with the footage as grabbed straight from the camera That is where I an Suffering

    • Derek i am in the same situation with my Go Pro Hero 3 black… anything shot above 1080p is jerky footage. I am surprised my macbook pro cannot handle the resolution.

    • Ciaran Brett

      Get a Proper PC 🙂 – sorry Derek couldn't resist…

    • Derek Barton

      Hve discovered that this is a problem if you copy the File from the Hero 3 to the MAC book and Click on the File and it plays in Quicktime. Then Jerky. I Think it is a CODEC problem for Quicktime. However if you import the Copied files from the camera in to IMOVE and Play there or Edit then no Problems

    • Martin Andersson Skoglöv

      I have some problems ewen in IMOVIE

  2. Joe Hendron

    I'm in the same situation as Derek. The codec you mentioned is not in the list anymore. Any recommendations? Other than that very helpful video. Thanks!

  3. MPEG Streamclip does not include the Apple Prores codec in the program itself. Apple Prores is a standalone coedec that has to be installed in conjunction with an Apple pro App like Final Cut, Motion or Compressor.

  4. Hi guys. Sorry, in hindsight, I really should have suggested a different codec as the first port of call. I've updated the page with a section entitled "But I Don’t Have Prores as an Option!" which explains how to download and use a similar codec, DNxHD. Check that out and let me know if it works for you.

  5. Jordan Patterson

    I tried with the Avid DNxHD codec and the video still appears choppy.

  6. I have followed the steps a bunch of times and still comes out choppy or the audio does not match video! still trying the dnxhd codec.

  7. Hey Ross,
    I have installed Avid and used it instead of presets but when I press go it comes up with an error in the status bar "can't open the compressor".i have tried a number of times but.?what do you suggest?

  8. Heather Down

    Hey Ross… when playing the original GoPro video side by side with the uncompressed that the uncompressed video has a duller, less vibrant "GoPro" hue about it. Does this sound normal and expected?

  9. To all those who've been having further issues with playback….try the software below.
    I had tried all other suggestions and found that none worked. So far this is working great for me.


    I will be doing extensive testing on this over the next few days but it seems to convert all video's (no matter what frame size and fps etc) so that they can be run smoothly on your computer!

    Please try this if your having playback issues and let me know how you get on!

    Hope it helps 🙂

  10. Just followed all the steps with the DNxHD Codec and it came out with no positive results 🙁 it was the exact same thing.

  11. Victoria Mckee

    fantastic, thank you, (I love the boobies and bum file ) haaaaa nice bit of humour there ;-).

  12. Victoria Mckee

    fantastic, thank you, (I love the boobies and bum file ) haaaaa nice bit of humour there ;-).

  13. Angus Prain

    Dear Ross, I have followed your tutorial successfully until the point of clicking "Go", including the downloading of the missing codecs and using DNxHD. When I click "Go" however, there is an error message "error: can't open the compressor".. I have tried using other codecs in the list from the AVID bundle, all with the same result. I'm on OSX 10.5 machine, and this might be the problem. Any suggestions? Exporting to mpeg-4 takes a very long time but works well, so long (20 mins for 300MB file) that it is not a feasible solution for me though. Help!

  14. I had the same problem with a jerky GoPRO HD Hero 2 video. After a longer internet search, I tried the video repair tool (www.grauonline.de) – and it helped me out – the reason wasn't my machine!

  15. Emma Inness

    Hey Ross, I used the DNxHD codec and followed your instructions and worked perfectly! Like you said the only down fall is the huuuuge file size it creates. A 300mb raw file became 5.2GB! Do you know of any software to make this smaller as I'm only using a Macbook Air with 64GB and it would be nice not to plug in an external HD everytime (and I'm sure this will fill up in no time at that kind of capcity).. Thanks again for posting such a useful video!

  16. Joe East

    Your the man! worked perfectly. Even with the DNxHD codex! Even helped me learn a bit more about videos and there settings. Cheers for the help!

  17. Richie Roche

    Hi..I've down what you suggested but the new Avid codec doesn't show up in my list……any ideas please…

  18. Thanks Ross, well put together video. As with some of the others once I've processed the file I keep it in a gopro post stream-clip folder. However if I look at this file in Quicktime, it's worse. If I try and import it into iMovie for editing or even the GoPro, it is greyed out. Surely there must be peolple out there who just want to import GoPro video into iMovie? Any help would be very much appreciated. I only bought it for our Florida trip in 2 weeks and I'm afraid it's a waste of money!

  19. Followed you to the letter and just plays a black screen on converted vids (audio works) Got any clues?

  20. Thanks for the information. I trust that just because I shot my video at 720/120pps and narrow that this.
    procedure will benefit me too.

  21. Rodrigoandkerry Dos Santos

    Hey Ross, thanks again for taking the time to post this tutorial, I followed it to the T, I had to use the Avid DNxHd codec, but when in Mpeg streamclip batch list I get a error cannot open comp, PLEASE HELP!

  22. I have the Hero 3 Black, I just tried this process, went and downloaded the DNxHD and my 15second clip went from 91mb to 1.6gigs. As well it play far choppier than before, not sure what's going on.

  23. I'm using the DNxHD codec and following your instructions exactly, but it is still choppy 95% of the time. What am I doing wrong? I feel like this gopro was a huge waste of a LOT of money!

  24. Martin Andersson Skoglöv

    I do not have a coise to selekt Apple PR 422, that's is not an option! Have do I get that as an option? (sorry for my bad Eglish).

    • Martin Andersson Skoglöv

      oooh, i see now that a lot of peapole allredy askt that!

  25. Hi! Just wondering if the GoPro CineForm Studio does this same process? Is doing it the MPEG Streamclip way better?

  26. Jessica Homan

    Just picked up a Hero3 Black after my Hero3 Silver was lifted by some sticky fingers. Was feeling depressed about the circumstance, then double depressed by the choppy footage. All sadnesses have been remedied, thanks to your glorious tutorial. I have transformed into a Master GoPro editor. You are the catalyst to happiness, infinite hugz n kissez.

  27. Nicholas Ullo

    maybe my computer just sucks as its a 5 yr old HP laptop. but I did everything you said and it still is all choppy! just completed tough mudder and would really like to watch all this footage!

  28. It worked for me like magic…just when I was at the verge of a panic that my videos would never play nicely! Your tutorial is clear and simple to follow. Excellent job! Thank you.x

  29. Hi, ive just bought the infamous HERO3 black. ive had it for a few weeks and spent quite alot of time trying different settings videos , time lapse, photos, thinking it would be point and shoot not so in my opinion, maybe a computer that's out of date dosent help. I am actually at the point of throwing the towel in and selling up not as user friendly as go pro make out sorry maybe not enough patience ITS NOW A NICE PAPER WEIGHT.

  30. João Loff

    MPEG Streamclip is brilliant and your tip is valid, but I run my videos in VLC player (instead of Preview file) and it runs smoothly!

  31. hi, i have a macbook air and was wondering whats the best compression to use for converting my gopro hero 3 videos to the mpeg streamclip. thank you..

  32. Jamie Senz

    Thanks for this Ross. Just got a GoPro and Phantom 2 and encountered this requirement on Day 1. Great little side joke too ; )

  33. My Prores Option don't comming up even if a have downloaded youre Avid Codescs thing :/

  34. Carly Flatau

    When I downloaded the convertor and the avid download, I put all the info in and then pressed batch and then go. The video started to covert and then it said error cant open the compressor. What should i do?

  35. Thanks for the help! Would you use ProTune on the GoPro or since you are going to covert the video, save the file size and don't record with PT? I would have rather seen you use the file you deleted, 😉

    • Haha. Personally, I always use Protune. Converting to a higher bit rate is great for smooth editing but, if the file contains artifacts due to it being overly compressed (more likely when not using Protune), those artifacts will still be there when you convert it.

  36. I downloaded the AVID package, and used "AVID DV 100" instead of DNxHD.
    Worked way better 🙂

  37. Hey Ross, thks for ur tuto. Q: how would you rate the loss of quality of the original footage after such process? thks.

  38. Anna

    Hi there, awesome tutorial! Can this work with the footage from a Panasonic HC-V720 Camera? Or is the file import a little different? All my files that I load onto my computer are smooth as on the camera and so jerkey when they are imported into iMovie.
    Thanks heaps

  39. *HELP!* When i go to watch the video i just uncompressed it only plays the sound! (Alot better)

  40. 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?

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