GoPro and the Webb, a few of my findings.

dunnyrail

dunnyrail

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Last Friday whilst in Cambridge I visited Jessops and was seduced into buying a GoPro 7 Silver for what appeared to be a reasonable price. Well I had not got myself an Xmas pressy so I thought why not? I could have got cheeper on the net but I decided to stick with Jessops as the advice was fair, reasoned and quite knowledgeable. Not something that you can get with an indifferent Webb Site.

So what was the reason for my purchase? Well I have been musing one of these for some time, I think that I started this musing around the version 4! So a slow burn project. My need is to have some better Vids than I take using the phone or my Compact Camera and just chucking them on the net, also getting seriously into iMovie. I have used iMovie in the past as the Video linked below will show, but on an upgrade struggled with it big time. Clearly I just needed to spend time with the iMac and a boring 2nd of January was just such a day. One of the things that I intend to make is a Training Video for new Operators and perhaps some existing ones on how the DR works and should be run. Certainly as a YouTube Vid new comers will be able to watch and at least not arrive blind as it were, relying on their memory for all that I let them know on my pre running briefing. There is a fair bit to take in and we all have only so much Quick Ram.

So the first project was to make a Camera Compatible Wagon. Now the GoPro being quite small is much easier to sort in this regard. In the Box when bought are a couple of Stick on Gizmo’s that allow the GoPro to be put on and taken off a smooth surface. Thus one of these would be the starting point of the project. One of my Swiss 4 Wheel Flats Wagons was chosen as the carrying Vehicle as all of my Bogie Flats have an end load securing fence. But first I needed to be certain that having the GoPro in front of the wheels was not going to cause any lack of stability issues where said GoPro would sit on the Wagon. Thus I broke out the scales, the GoPro with base scales out at 155g thus having a few spare lumps taken out of a Train Line Loco one scale at 135g, I reasoned that one of these at the other end should sort things out.

Below can be seen the removable platform that I quickly made up this morning. The base is 20mm Foam Board with Gaps for the do-hickories that hold wood loads in place. By having these gaps and the Top with a full length of Hips at 10mm the platform is quite stable. I cut out a small spot out of the Hips for the weight to sit and stuck the Gizmo in place first drawing a line to ensure that it points directly forwards. The Foam and Hips were stuck together with UHU.
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Note I have felt tip marked the orientation of the platform, there are bits that it would not sit flat on that needed clearance underneath.
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Finally with the GoPro mounted.
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I have done a quick Test Vid and have found that there are some compatibility issue with my iMac. These have been resolved by loading the Cips direct from the Micro SD Card, opening them in QuickTime and saving. Thus these clips can be imported to iMovie for editing and making up a movie. There is nearly always a work around with these issues, just takes time to work them out.

So thus far what are my views? Well the GoPro is a well designed little beast, solid and even water proof. I will certainly be using that feature to try for some underwater clips of Newts in my Pond although that has no relevance here, it means that a bit of Rain will do no damage. I kind of wish I had gone for the Black as this has a removable Battery. Additional Batteries with these devices are a worthwhile investment and it does raise the issue with mine of how long will the battery last? But these days assuming no silly abuse a good few years seams a reasonable bet. However the Black was likely to set me back a further £100 and the series 8 Black another Ton or so on top of that. So I reckon my first foot in the water at just under £200 is a worthwhile punt. At least the Test quality looks superb.

More to come as I get used to the beast and try a few vids.
 
voodoopenguin

voodoopenguin

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i will be very interested to see and read how things go.

Paul
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

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Well I have made a short You Tube Vid (YT) using the GoPro, nothing of great merit just to try a few of the varying features. If anyone is really interested in my PM Railcar conversion I used it as power and there are a few still plus a vid of it running without shoving the camera At around 3.20 in the vid.

What are my views thus far? Of the 2 qualities on offer I can see little difference. The so called SloMo is quite fun and a good way to do a ‘London to Brighton run in 5 minutes’ Vid if you have a lengthy line as I have. Giving a much better preview than running a Train at high speed. Stills are pretty poor quality but sort of ok though they show up with that irritating Ken Burns effect that I hate. The Camera certainly does very well in loosing camera shake on the vids. Certainly this will now be my device of choice for on-board vids. One thing that I did manage to do was get iPhoto to import the Vids direct from my Hard Drive, the conversion process certainly looses quality which is a shame as does the upload to YT.

I had a lot of kerfafle with my YT Accounts, yes I have more than I realised and had a real job trying to find this Vid when I realised on my phone that it appeared there but loaded by my pc. Somehow I had loaded it up private view only which I never do so no wonder I could not find the blessed thing on the iPad. Big sort out required me thinks.

Anyway below is the YT vid, be interested to know hat you think about the Filming not necessary the content which is pretty well 3 runs on the same route.

 
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PhilP

PhilP

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I think the first of the two runs was 'better'? But it may have been more sun into the lens on the second run??

The conversion/upload process can cause degradation. - Depends on how the software doing it is set, of course.

Impressed with the video with you holding the camera. - It does seem to get rid of a lot of 'camera-shake'. Was also impressed the way the auto-focus coped with distant/near objects as you moved along the line.


About the only thing I do not like, is the 'fish-eye' effect of the wide-angle lens. I personally find this a little distracting.

Thank's for posting, very useful.
PhilP.
 
JimmyB

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Jon, very interesting, and as I am considering a similar move, watching your progress, comments, same as Phil's above.
 
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Paradise

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I only get 480 option on your YotTube vid. So 4K is not happening for me here in Australia. Yes, YT does crunch things though their re-compression process too.
One thing to consider is that the GoPro is probably not the best in lower light situations than some other cameras. I can see you are mainly in the shadows. That milky washed out effect can also be due to plastic used in lenses or a finger smudge on the lens. The dullness may just be the lighting conditions for the day. Some cameras boost up the colours/contrast and some don't, just depends. GoPro may be more designed to be used out in full light action.
I'm sure you can get a lot better results with some more experimentation. Try doing on bright days with very light cloud cover for maximum clarity, contrast and colour with soft shadows without extreme contrast which can blow out highlights and blacken the shadows. A common problem here in Australia with our scorching midday sun. It's what photographers call 'quality light' and takes much patience to find. Morning and afternoon are usually preferred for better texture in scenery with the sun low. Perhaps some post processing to lift the dullness would help on the more 'drab' days.
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

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I only get 480 option on your YotTube vid. So 4K is not happening for me here in Australia. Yes, YT does crunch things though their re-compression process too.
One thing to consider is that the GoPro is probably not the best in lower light situations than some other cameras. I can see you are mainly in the shadows. That milky washed out effect can also be due to plastic used in lenses or a finger smudge on the lens. The dullness may just be the lighting conditions for the day. Some cameras boost up the colours/contrast and some don't, just depends. GoPro may be more designed to be used out in full light action.
I'm sure you can get a lot better results with some more experimentation. Try doing on bright days with very light cloud cover for maximum clarity, contrast and colour with soft shadows without extreme contrast which can blow out highlights and blacken the shadows. A common problem here in Australia with our scorching midday sun. It's what photographers call 'quality light' and takes much patience to find. Morning and afternoon are usually preferred for better texture in scenery with the sun low. Perhaps some post processing to lift the dullness would help on the more 'drab' days.
Thanks interesting comments, the first experiment was with the wagon just hand shoved along the track possibly at an earlier time of the day. I have not posted this to YT. The start of those vids posted does indeed lurk in a shaded all day part of the garden till the house is cleared. At this time of the year the sun is of course very low so perhaps the sun is not as good as it could be though it was a fairly bright day. You may have noticed between the first and second vid only minutes apart that the shadows had changed quite a bit, surprising how quickly the light can change even with clear blue skies as were present on the day in question. There could have been some finger smudges on the lens, the GoPro is a bit of a battle to get out of the casing and this could be causing finger smudges.

Taking on board Phil's comments about the ‘fish eye’ effect. Never noticed that till he mentioned it and I looked at the vid again. Will have to research to see if that is fixable in some way, though not by any post running through software!

Thanks for your comments and thoughts guys, I will be doing some more experiments.
 
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Paradise

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Dunnyrail. After having a second look, there should be plenty of light. I can see the sun shining on the station where you stop. There is a real lack of contrast for some reason. No black tones at all. The brighter the day the more contrast you should get. Your signature video is better looking in that regard. Maybe it is an exposure issue. Generally, consumer digital cameras do a good job on dull days anyway. Can you do spot metering on your model? Maybe your metering is set inapropriately. I's like it is overexposed and hazy for some reason. I'm sure you can get it a lot better. As far as the fish eye look goes there are resolutions/aspect ratios that are not so fish eye. I have the first model GoPro so the options will be different on your more recent model but I suspect you will have a greater choice. Try pointing the camera down more so there is not quite as much sky in it and see if that improves things. I can see a smudge on the lower right so keep the lens clean too.
 
Greg Elmassian

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I looked at the video, max resolution offered is 480p... did Jon state it was in higher resolution?

His signature video is max at 360....

There's some other factors that can limit a video's resolution with uploading or conversion... noticed that in the last few months.

Greg
 
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Paradise

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Greg., One shoot was shot in 4K and the other in a lower res. Obviously both shoots are being edited together in one vid so will get reduced to the same resolution whatever the editing software is set to prior to uploading to YT. That's why they look the same with no difference in quality.
Dunnyrail. What's the highest resolution you get when viewing on YouTube after clicking the gear icon? If on auto it will change depending on your connection speed. I think you need to set the output of your editing software to a higher res if you want that. 1080 or even 720 are usually fairly good. Broadcast quality 360 often looks better than higher res consumer cams. Studios don't pay mega bucks for lenses for no reason.
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

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Aha I remember in the manual there is a Spot Meter option, next try I must remember to use that and yes pointing down a little will also help. The sun was mostly only showing up after the old fashioned Semaphore Signal, it was around here that my silhouette started to appear in the shots in places. All a learning curve and I will take on board the YT points. Just checked and my upload quality is set at 1080p, perhaps I should change this to Full Quality? I see now how to look at where Greg got the 480 from, perhaps I need to mess around some with iMovie Groan this is a pain!
 
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Paradise

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Dunnyrail, From memory I think there are a few different meterings on the GoPro. You could try setting the spot to the lower part of the frame where the roadbed is ahead so the sky is ignored. It may not be the best. Perhaps weighted averaging and pointing down a little more would be better which is probably is set to by default. Maybe you accidentally changed it. Experiment. Without a screen, the multi function buttons are very cryptic on the GoPro. Like talking to R2-D2 from StarWars in morse code. :D

You are editing the two shots together in one video. iMovie? The edit software will output it to file in a particular resolution which you need to set to the maximum resolution you wish to store or upload to YT. Somewhere your resolution is being crunched down. iMovie must be the culprit. 1080p should be adequate.

You could shoot at 4K if you wanted to crop later to reduce the fish eye look therefore still having a hi res at say 1080. Resulting in the same as a longer lens but now I'm digressing from the basic exposure and res issues.
I don't mean to be a nagging critic but it should do much better. A matter of ironing out the bugs on the rails. :)
 
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dunnyrail

dunnyrail

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What
Dunnyrail, From memory I think there are a few different meterings on the GoPro. You could try setting the spot to the lower part of the frame where the roadbed is ahead so the sky is ignored. It may not be the best. Perhaps weighted averaging and pointing down a little more would be better which is probably is set to by default. Maybe you accidentally changed it. Experiment. Without a screen, the multi function buttons are very cryptic on the GoPro. Like talking to R2-D2 from StarWars in morse code. :D

You are editing the two shots together in one video. iMovie? The edit software will output it to file in a particular resolution which you need to set to the maximum resolution you wish to store or upload to YT. Somewhere your resolution is being crunched down. iMovie must be the culprit. 1080p should be adequate.

You could shoot at 4K if you wanted to crop later to reduce the fish eye look therefore still having a hi res at say 1080. Resulting in the same as a longer lens but now I'm digressing from the basic exposure and res issues.
I don't mean to be a nagging critic but it should do much better. A matter of ironing out the bugs on the rails. :)
I am going to do is bullet point all of the suggestions and work out how to try them. Indeed the GoPro settings all done by swiping one or another part of the screen can be a bit tricky to master.

There is a GoPro editing suite that I have down loaded but I am not sure if there is an all time free element to it or just a 30 day trial before one has to go subscription, not that I am too poor to do that I just object to Software that demands an annual subscription. Not something a Yorkshireman will be involved with! The other problem with the GoPro suite is that there does not appear to be any way of adding Captions as I can with iMovie, something that will be important on the Training Vid that I intend to produce.

At the moment I have nothing that I am aware can crop with, perhaps iMovie can do this but not noticed it.

Early days yet and yes I expect that better can be achieved with the GoPro and the words I am getting on here should be pointing me the correct way.
 
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Jem73

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I have a gopro too. I have’t used it for my trains yet as I am still at concept and domestic permission stage in my railway. I do use it for mountain biking though which is fairly challenging for a GoPro when you go in and out of trees as it struggles with the mix of shadow and highlight.

I can recommend a youtube video for you to help with settings and such like. Google ‘your GoPro footage sucks Let’s fix it’. That is not a wind up! That is honestly the name of the video. It’s produced by someone who calls himself The Loam Ranger’. Although it’s about mountainbiking the principles are still the same.
 
voodoopenguin

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At the moment I have nothing that I am aware can crop with, perhaps iMovie can do this but not noticed it.
There is a straight crop function in iMovie as well as a 'crop and fit' option that will resize your cropped footage back up to the normal size so no black sides or top or bottom.

Paul