Watch: How to Make Your GoPro Footage More Cinematic

If you want to take your action camera game to the next level, here are a few super easy things that will help you out.

Do you ever look at GoPro footage on YouTube and wonder why yours doesn't look as good? Don't feel bad, we've all been there. Luckily, there are a number of super simple things you can do to increase the cinematic quality of your action cam footage, and they won't take a whole lot of time or money. In this video, Peter McKinnon explains how he gives his GoPro footage that lovely cinematic look with a few tweaks to the settings and a little magic in post. Check it out below:

The first time I ever shot something on a GoPro I was a little disappointed. I stupidly expected to see footage that looked like all those awesome, beautiful, cinematic videos I'd been viewing on YouTube for years, and instead, I got—not that. It wasn't the GoPro's fault, though. It was my fault for not knowing how to use the camera, accessories, and post-production tools to get what I wanted, which was something cinematic. That's why McKinnon's tips are so great because if you're wanting cinematic, they'll definitely help get you there.

Here are his tips from the video:

  • Don't use SuperView: Getting a wide-angle view is great for a lot of action cam footage, but if you want to shoot something cinematic, shoot in Linear FOV. Your edges won't be as distorted and you'll get a most classically filmic field of view.
  • Stabilize your footage: Steady hands can be a very powerful stabilizer, but using an actual camera stabilizer is even better (if you have the money for it). You can also try using Warp Stabilizer in post to make your footage smoother.
  • Shoot in Protune: Capturing your footage in a flat color profile is important if you want the most latitude in post, and GoPro's Protune option will give you much more to work with when it comes time to grade your footage.
  • Add matte bars: Just a little trick that adds a little of that cinematic feel to your footage: matte bars. In your NLE, you can either crop your image or add an overlay. Either way, it's super easy.

McKinnon also shares all the GoPro settings he uses in case anyone wants to get themselves set up:

  • Shutter: auto
  • ISO: min. 100, max. 800
  • White balance: auto
  • Sharpness: medium or low
  • Color profile: flat (ProTunes)
  • Audio: medium

What are some other ways you can make your GoPro footage more cinematic? Let us know in the comments below.     

Your Comment


Really hard to tell. YouTube is compressing the hell out of that footage, doesn't look cinematic at all... Blocks and B-Frames and all.

November 28, 2017 at 10:53PM, Edited November 28, 10:53PM


"Add matte bars"

I have never understood why people add those bars as overlay onto their footage.
It is so stupid. IMHO.

November 29, 2017 at 10:47AM

Steadicam Operator/Owner

When I read the title, I was thinking "please don't say 'add black bars'!"
But at least he mentioned it last, like an afterthought.

December 1, 2017 at 12:58AM


Shutter: auto <> cinematic

November 29, 2017 at 3:00PM

Rod P

At least on the older Gopros that I know (up to Hero 4) there is no setting for the shutter. It's always on auto, I don't know why he listed it as a setting at all.
What I would have added: under no circumstances set the sharpness to high! It looks horrible!

December 1, 2017 at 12:56AM


You can also put a new lens on your GoPro to get rid of the fisheye and get a slightly narrower FOV. It's incredibly easy. You can unscrew and remove the lens on the GoPro Hero 6 Black and screw in a new lens. No need to completely disassemble the camera like in older models. Not a lot to choose from... really only two that I am aware of here:

I recently put the 3.37mm one on my Hero 6 and I love it! I also bought these ND filters so that I could dial in the settings I wanted and get proper motion blur:

Then shoot in Protune and if your outside manually set your white balance to 6000 kelvin which seems to give more accurate colors than 5600 in my experience. Also, there is no reason to not shoot 4K unless you really need those higher frame rates like 120 or 240. 4K cropped in post shows more detail than the same framing in 1080 using a narrower FOV.

December 7, 2017 at 8:42AM