I have learnt several important lessons during this process:
- THERE IS NO “ONE SIZE FITS ALL” SOLUTION. A variety of tools and techniques is required.
- It is not worth taking hand-held GoPro video while standing still, e.g. by putting the camera on the end of a pole, holding the pole above your head and rotating it 360 degrees. The result is shaky and it appears to be impossible to stabilize it and get a satisfactory result.
- It is most efficient to cut a long video into sections in GoPro Cineform Studio before stabilizing it or importing it into Lightworks. By cutting out only the sections you want right at the beginning of the editing process, you avoid working with any more video than you actually need. For example, it doesn’t make any sense to stabilize a 10 minute clip, when you only want to use 1-2 minutes of it for the final video. When cutting out sections it is a good idea to make them 5-10 seconds longer than you need in order to have some flexibility with the final cut in Lightworks.
- Cineform Studio does a great job of converting video in MPEG-4 format from 30 fps to 25 fps. After much Googleing and trying several tools including MediaCoder, I finally gave up and tried Cineform Studio as a last resort. To my great surprise and satisfaction it works perfectly – far better than any other dedicated video transforming tool.
- MediaCoder is also a reasonable tool. I tried to use it to change the frame rate of a video in MPEG-4 format but the result was jerky and unusable. It did however do a descent job in changing the frame rate of a Quicktime video from 30 to 25 fps.
- Turbo Video Stabilizer does a descent job of stabilizing GoPro video when there are no awkward motions in the frame which it cannot distinguish between rolling, panning or tilting. If such motions are present, way too much of the picture gets cut off at the boarders. It’s other major drawback is that it has no user adjustable settings – it’s a black box without any way to tweak the output.
- Other tools available for video stabilization are proDrenalin and the Deshaker plugin for VirtualDub. I have tried both of these out with mixed results and I am yet to find a solution I am happy with (or willing to spend money on).
- EyeFrame Converter is a tool from the Lightworks community aimed at doing some of the import and export tasks that Lightworks is not so good at. It provides a small size file with descent quality for uploading to the web.
My current workflow for processing GoPro video goes something like this:
- Convert image sequences to time-lapse video by using XnConvert to batch re-size the images to the desired video resolution and Cineform Studio to create an MP4 video from the results.
- Use Cineform Studio to cut the required sections from the source GoPro video and export the sections as AVI video.
- Stabilize any clips that require it.
- Import the results of the above 3 steps into Lightworks.
- Arrange the clips on the timeline in the desired order and trim where necessary.
- Import additional audio tracks and arrange the audio on the timeline.
- Create effects, then transitions, then cross-fades.
- Tweak as necessary (but preferably stop sometime – otherwise this can go on forever).
- Export as uncompressed YUYV AVI.
- Use EyeFrame Converter to convert the result to a file suitable for the web with H264 MP4 Profile High.