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"taking the HD Hero to the next level...and beyond"


Skip to glossary of terms for dummys

(updated 2/20/11)

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Here's a video tutorial on how to use the camera.

Turning camera on:  A common mistake is to hold the power button too long and it goes to a different mode than you want on start up.  To turn on the camera, simply hold the power button for 1 second and let go.  Don't wait until you hear beeps before letting go or it's too late.  Same is NOT true for turning it off.  You have to wait until you start hearing beeps before letting go of the power button.

HD Hero Firmware: Firmware is available from GoPro.  We have a web page dedicated just for the firmware upgrades (there have been more than one).   How do you know what version you firmware you have on the camera?  To tell what firmware you have, take a picture, then look at the exif meta data for that picture and you will see the firmware listed. It will look something like this: OH01.01.01.46.  In the various programs, the version number goes by many names.  In Bridge it's 'application', in Thumbsplus it's 'camera version' and in EXIF Pilot it's called 'creation software'.  If you don't have a graphics program that will display exif data (adobe bridge, thumbsplus, exif pilot, etc), and you don't want to download a free program (exif pilot), you can change the extension on a gopro jpg to .txt and open it up in notebook on a pc, wait a few minutes for it to load and near the top should be version number. HD HERO2: No firmware available yet.

SD Cards:  The version 1 HD Hero camera is very particular with SD Cards.  So you'll want to upgrade to the free GoPro firmware upgrade.  Don't skimp on your card.  It's your one 'roll of film' that you'll use over and over.    Recommended card for the HD Hero is Kingston classs 4 or 6 16gb or 32gb SD Card.  Class 10 cards do NOT work well with the HD Hero.  Note:  Getting a faster card does NOT give you better quality.  It simply saves the data faster. HD HERO2: IF you want to use all the advanced features (10 picture burst for example) with the HD Hero2, it is recommended you buy a class 10 SD Card.  Hero2 is not a picky with SD cards as the Hero was.  Just make it a name brand and be weary of buying on Ebay.

If the display is showing '---' when you put in the card, then the card is not in all the way.  You need to use your fingernail to push it into the camera.  It will securely lock into place and the display will show 000. You CAN put the card in while the camera is on. 

It's a good idea to format the card once in a while.  Keeps the card working properly.  Format the card by choosing 'ALL' in the camera settings.

Undelete files from SD Card:  If you accidently delete files from your SD Card, it's pretty easy to get them back.  Most people aren't aware that when you delete a file from your computer or card, you really aren't deleting the file at all.  What is actually happening is the directory (called a file allocation table or FAT) is simply being changed so that particular space on the card/hard drive is now available for use.  HOWEVER, it's only possible to undelete if you have NOT used the card since deleting the files.  If you do use the card, there's a very good chance the locations where the deleted files were residing will be over-written by the new files.  So if you accidently delete files while  on location, take the card out and set it aside (or use an undelete program if you have a laptop on location).  There are a number of free undelete programs.  Just make sure the one you choose can undelete from an external card.  Here's just some undelete program choices:  Free Undelete 2.0    Undelete SD Card  Undelete PLUS

Large SD Card Files:  The HD Hero & Hero2 can continuously record video until your SD Card is full (display says FuL).  HOWEVER, there is a file size limitation on a 16-32GB SD Card.  It's 3.8GB.  The HD Hero will seamlessly start a new file when it reaches that point.  Here's the naming structure:  Assuming you have a blank card, the first video file will be called "GOPR0001.MP4". When that file reaches 3.84GB, a second file called "GO010001.MP4" will be created.  When that file reaches 3.84GB a file "GO010002.MP4" will be created and so on.   The length of time for each file varies based upon what you are shooting because these are compressed files.  If you are shooting something that doesn't have a lot of movement (a recital), you will get more time per file. 

Time chart:

format file size
per min.
Max time per 32GB card Max time per 16GB card time per 3.8GB
max file size
1080p 112MB 4 hrs. 20 min

2 hrs 10 min

34 minutes

720p 30fps

60MB 8 hrs. 10 min

4 hrs 15 min

42 minutes
720p 60fps 115MB 4 hrs. 20 min 2 hrs 10 min 33 minutes
960p 91MB 5 hrs 26 min 2 1/2 hrs 10 min 63 minutes
480p-60 62MB

8 hrs 10 min

4 hrs 10 min 61 minutes



HD Hero (5mp): 8000 stills per 16GB card  16000 stills per 32GB card.
HD Hero2 (11mp): 3000 stills per 16GB card,  6000 stills per 32GB Card

Time-Lapse:  The on-camera display has 3 digits, so when you've taken more than 999 pictures, the counter stops counting, but THE CAMERA CONTINUES TO TAKE PICTURES.  For the file naming, the camera puts the first 999 pictures in the usual 100MEDIA subfolder on your SD Card, then after that, it auotomatically creates 101MEDIA folder until it fills up with 999 images the creates folder 102MEDIA and so on. It will do this until the card is full.  Average JPG size is 1.7 - 2MB.  8000 stills per 16GB card!  16000 stills per 32gb card. Hero2: This camera works a little differently.  The folders are instead named: 100GOPRO, then 101GOPRO etc.  The display can count up to 9,999 images! Average 11mp file size is 5-6mb.

Internal memory:  Unlike the standard Hero, there is no internal memory.  You HAVE to have an SD Card.

Still image size: Pixels are 2592w x 1944h.  Even though the HD Hero is still only 5mp, the file size has gone up from the standard Hero.  Average picture file size is: 2mb.  So, a 16gb card can hold approx. 8,000 still images.  There is only 1 angle for stills:  VERY WIDE 170 degrees.  Get twice as close as you think you should get.  Hero2: Still images are 3840 x 2880 (11mb).  Size varies from 5-6mb each.

Still picture mode: Don't confuse the still picture icon (solid still camera icon) with the time-lapse mode (blinking still camera icon).  It is very easy to do because the icon does not flash very fast.  It's better if you memorize where each mode is in the sequence.  Still picture mode is the first one after SEtings and the time-lapse mode is right after self-timer mode.

Fixed Focus Range: From 8" to infinity.  It's ALL in focus.  Hero2:  narrow: 10" minimum focus,  medium: 9" minimum focus

Removing double-stick baseplates:  Use heat from a hair dryer.

Video skipping/stuttering:  If you have video skipping on playback on your computer, it's probably because of an underpowered computer/video card and probably not the camera/card.  A good test is to play back the video from the camera to a TV and see if it skips.  HD plays back with an enormous amount of data every second (1080p is 12 million bits per second!!) so it puts a lot of pressure on the video card primarily, CPU secondarily.

Short recordings: if your camera stops on it's own while video recording, that usually means the card isn't fast enough or isn't compatible with the version 1 camera.  See SD Cards section above.

SOS error:  Happens when there's a corrupted video file.  Pressing any button will have the camera attempt to recover the file.   Cause could be an incompatible SD Card.

Camera records on it's own:  You have the One button mode turned on. It's the first setting in the setting menu.  Watch this video.  Got to 5 minute mark.

Indoor Lighting: With the GoPro firmware version 1 HD Hero it goes very yellow with 100w indoor lighting.  It appears that there is no color balancing at all with the version of the camera.  But the latest GoPro firmware fixes this with stills and improves it with videos.  Hero2: No issues at all with color balancing indoors.

Battery: Under normal circumstances, you should get 2 1/2 hrs of battery life.  We are not sure what kind of battery life there is with timelapse since the camera is only one when it is taking a picture.  Additionally, we aren't sure what battery life there is when the camera is in standby mode (live video out). 

Charging: Currently, there is no external battery charger for the HD Hero battery and we are not aware of any GoPro plans to produce a stand-alone battery charger.  Battery can be charged with any USB charger (plugging into the camera).  There are different output chargers so charge time may vary.   You can also charge and run the camera at the same time if the charger is powerful enough (1000mAh).  Normal charging mode is to connect to a computer with a USB cable.

Lens Fogging:  Fogging happens for a variety of reasons.  It can happen when you load a camera in a warm environment into the housing then go out into a cold environment and the camera housing cools off.  Since cold air inside the housing can't hold as much moisture as warm air, the moisture condenses on the housing.  Another reasons is if you load the camera in a humid environment, then any kind of temperature fluctuation can cause the moisture inside the camera housing to condense. 

  • One solution is to buy a 1 gallon baggie, put silica gel bags (or uncooked rice) in it, the put the camera and housing in separately.  Leave in for 15 minutes.  Then put the camera in the housing WHILE STILL IN the sealed baggie. 
  • The easiest way is to put the camera and the housing separately into a refrigerator for about a minute.  A/C removes humidity. Then while still in the refrigerator, put the camera into the housing.  You may get condensation on the OUTSIDE, but this is just temporary and easy to fix.  You can aslo hold in front of your car A/C and then put the camera inside whill in front of the A/C.   Keep in mind as soon as you open the camera during the day, you have broken the seal and have to repeat the process over again.
  • And finally, buy anti-fogging inserts from GoPro (read directions!). 

Video out playback:  One of the best features of the HD Hero is it's ability to playback standard and HD video perfectly.  This is no small feat considering 1080p is outputting 11.5 million bits per second!  If you want HD video playback, the top round plug is only for HD video and no audio.  You'll also need to plug in the bottom cable if you want audio while outputting an HD video signal.  When both cables are plugged in, HD video gets precedence over standard video out.  If you want just standard video, only plug the red/yellow/white cable into the bottom round hole.  Note HD downgrades to SD if the camera is recording.  HERO2: HDMI video out remains in HD when the camera is shooting.  HDMI is audio and video.

LIVE video out:  With the free firmware upgrade, you can have HD live video out with audio and SD video out with audio.

60 frames per second (slow motion) :  This is a very confusing topic, even for professionals!   What usually confuses people is plugging in camera to a TV and having a 60fps video play back at normal speed.   What you are seeing is a 60fps playback.  If you were to shoot two files one at 30fps and one at 60fps, you'll see a big difference in clarity with fast moving objects with 60fps. It feels smoother.  It also has more of a video feel to it.  So, there are two ways to view videos on a computer.  At 30 frames per second and 60 frames per second (requires a relatively fast computer).  How a 60fps camera file plays in a player or editing program depends on the software application itself.  It can either play normally (displaying at 60fps) or show in slow motion (displaying your 60fps file at 30fps).  Don't expect to upload a 60fps file to YouTube or similar and expect it to stay at 60fps.  Those websites will convert down to 30fps skipping every other frame.
With editing programs, when you import a 60fps file, it will either accept all the frames and import into the program at slow motion or, in the case of Sony Vegas, it will import at normal speed DROPPING every other frame.  If you want it to be slow motion, it's simply a matter of telling the editing program to slow down the video to 50%, then magically the dropped frames come back.  Here is an example of an R/C flip that was shot at 60fps and when imported into the 30fps project, frames were dropped to conform to the 30fps project.  However, when we slowed to file down to 50%, it looked perfect in slow motion.  Take a look.  Audio is a whole different issue with slow motion.  Some editing programs will slow it down, some will drop it all together.  There is a free program called Audacity that will slow your audio down if your editing program won't. It will recognize your MP4 camera file and convert it to an mp3 audio format.

Underwater focus: Currently, there is an issue with the standard Hero and the HD Hero going out of focus underwater.  It's marginally acceptable focus.  GoPro says they are looking into the problem.  Eye Of Mine Multimedia has come up with a quick fix.  

CODEC: If your computer is not recognizing the MP4 format, you probably need to add an h.264 coder/encoder codec.  The camera records with an MP4 file with an h.264 video codec (compressor).   This usually does NOT come standard on a computer.  See our SOFTWARE SECTION on more codec information. That software section will also give some good playback programs (mac/pc).

HD video players:
- SMPlayer (pc) : Our new favorite player.  It's fast, rubust and free.  The best part is you can easily flip, rotate the image for playback with a right click.
- VideoLan VLC Media player (mac/pc): This is a free open-source player. Has a very easy interface. Can play virtually any video and other media.  Can also flip videos on playback (press 'extended settings icon).
- Classic Video Player (pc):  This is the fastest of them all. And it's free. If you have a slow computer, this is the one to try.
- GOM Player:  This is the most robust free HD Player.  Very nice.  Not as fast as Videolan or Classic Video Player, but if you have a fast computer it doesn't mater.
- Quicktime Player (non Pro version): Free and made by Apple (pc/Mac).  It's been around a long time.  Not the fastest player on slow computers.

- Online mediaconverter: This is pretty convenient.  Let you convert your MP4 to a number of other formats.  Max of 100mb for free users.  Max 1GB per file for paying users.
- YouTube online editor:  A very easy, free online video trimmer for your already posted YouTube videos.  You can trip beginning and/or ending and put multiple videos in sequence as 1 video.
- MPEG Streamclip: An awesome free conversion program that also does trimming (cut out beginning/ending of camera files). Does not install, simply has files in a folder that you can move from computer to computer or put on a USB drive. Also does image rotation. Here's a good training video for MPEG Streamclip.
- AVIDEMUX:  And odd name for a cool program. Yes, it works with HD MP4 formats. This does something none of the others do.  It will allow you to 'trim' your video (remove part of beginning and/or part of the end) and save that shortened HD video WITHOUT having to re-render and loose quality.  And it's much, much faster.  Very cool!
- Quicktime Pro: This is the purchased version.  Works on Mac and PC. Not an editor, but a converter and a trimmer.  Tutorial
- MP42Cam2AVI:  This is a specific converter from MP4 to AVI. Does not install, simply are files in a folder that you can move from computer to computer or put on a USB drive.
- Aone Ultra Video Splitter:  This is a great trimming program.  This is a great program because all the codecs are included. 

Best editing program: This is like asking what is the meaning of life.  Everybody has their own opinion.  We'll only delve into the basics below:

Editing Programs:
Here's a quick list of some inexpensive EDITING PROGRAMS that will work.  Note you may still have to add an MP4 codec
- TrakAXpc ($29) :  This is a very inexpensive editing program ($29) that is very robust and can ROTATE a video image.
- Magix Movie Edit Pro ($89) :  This one is new to us and we really like it.  What it appears to do is when you import your HD footage, it makes a lower resolution copy for editing purposes.  Then when you render out, it renders from the HD real file.  Make editing faster.
- PowerDirector ($75):  We give a mild recommendation for this one.  It is fast, but lacks output format options and customization.
- Window Movie Maker: Need to convert to another format first (mpg, avi, mov).
- Final Cut Express: (Mac only).  We have not used this directly.
- iMovie: (Mac only).  We have not used this directly.

- Sony Vegas ($550) : (PC only) This is our favorite editing program. Very robust (not cheap) and relatively fast.
...and all of the high-end editing programs work: Premiere, Final Cut Pro, SpeedEdit, etc. Note that Final Cut Pro only likes quicktime files.  Other formats require constant conversion every time they are accessed.  Even for high end programs you still may have to add a codec to the computer.

The above information comes from Eye Of Mine Multimedia and may not necessarily be the advice of GoPro.

for dummys

SD vs. HD: Well start with the most confusing terms of all. SD 'usually' means anything that is not HD.  But that covers alot:  DVD, regular TV broadcasts, DV video from camcorders.  HD means 1080 and 720.  There are strict guidelines as to what HDTV is technically, however, computers have confused the issue because they can run a bunch of other sizes and different aspect ratios too.

MP4:  This is a type of file format.  It can have any number of different type of codec compression schemes.

CODEC: This word is an acronym for coder-decoder.  It is impossible to run uncompressed 1080 HD video at 1.2Gbps (1.2 billion bits per second) unless you have an extremely expensive computer setup and it will fill up your hard drive FAST!!!   So, CODECs are used to compress the data down to a reasonable size.  CODECS compress the information as the file is created, then the file is DECOMPRESSED as it is being played on a computer/tv.  Codecs can also be used for audio as in MP3.  It is important to note that some CODECs can be decode only meaning playback only.  So if you have an editing program on your computer and a specific codec is not showing up as a choice, you may not have the compressor part of the codec.  It's best to get a compress/decompress codec.  Most are free now on the web.

COMPRESION: See above CODEC for more information. There are two types of compression lossless and lossy.  Lossless means it is compressing the file as much as possible WITHOUT affecting the video/audio quality.  A ZIP file or SIT file is lossless.  Lossy compression is a variable compression scheme meaning you tell the system how much compression to use.  Generally the more compression, the worse the file looks/sounds. h.264 is one of the best current compression codecs for size/quality.



1080p, 720p, 960p, 480p:  We'll talk about an odd thing that TV industry does.  They list the HEIGHT first.  So 1080 is actually 1920w x 1080h.    720 is 1280w x 720h.   960 is 1280w x 960h. 480p is NOT an HD format.  Rather it is an SD format. 

DVD:  We put this in here because there is one odd behavior for DVDs.  When they were first developed, there was no HDTV, thus no widescreen.  Well when widescreen became available, they used a 'bandaid' for DVD playback that still occurs today.  In order to get the DVD 720x480 format to fit widescreen (called 16:9 format), they STRETCH the horizontal pixels.  But with the HD Hero, it's 480p format is TRUE widescreen.  it is 848w x 480h.  So, unfortunately, when you burn to a DVD, it will drop some of those extra horizontal pixels :(

BluRay: The new kid on the block.  This is the PERFECT companion for the HD Hero. There is a direct 1:1 correlation with the pixels in the camera and BluRay.  So, no quality lost.  AND one of the specs for BluRay is the ability to display at 60 frames per second real time.  This is defined when you setup your BluRay burn file.

Interlaced/progressive:  This is one of those confusing topics and where people have strong opinions. Original TV had an INTERLACED signal of 60i.  What this means is it drew every other line of pixel information 60 times a second on the tv screen (interlaced).  The second frame drew the opposite lines of that same frame.  So what you got was a complete frame with every 2 frames on screen.  This was done to smooth out the movement because 30 frames per second can cause a a subtle flicker effect to the eye.  So the benefit is smoother movement, the drawback is you are never getting a complete frame at one time. 

PROGRESSIVE means a complete frame is being drawn each time. No odd/even funkyness here.  Purest will tell you this is the way to go.  ALL of the HD Hero formats are progressive.  The problem though with motorsports is it's often fast moving objects and you can get strobbing effect which is a very quick stuttering of fast moving objects because there aren't enough frames for the eye to perceive smooth action. A really good fix for this problem is to shoot at 60 progressive frames per second (720-60 or 480-60).  You would then have the holly grail of video:  true 60 progressive frames per second for strob-free pure image clarity. When you record at 60fps and play directly from the HD Hero camera you'll see the clarity (if your tv supports 60fps).  Note: if you want this when you're editing a project, you have to set the project at 60fps or it will default to 30fps.

ASPECT RATIO: Old TV was almost a square image.  It was called 4:3.  Meaning for every 4 units in length you get 3 units in eight.  It's also called 1.33:1.  Meaning the width is 1.33 x the height of 1.  HDTV has an aspect ratio of 16:9 or 1.78:1 because it is MUCH wider than traditional TV.  All the HD hero video formats are widescreen EXCEPT 960.  It is 4:3.  Also STILL images are 4:3 only.

MEGAPIXEL: Generally, megapixel designations are a literal translation of the amount of pixels on the camera sensor.  It means millions of pixels (see pixel definition below) and is measured by the sensor width x height.  So, a sensor that has 2048 w ×1536 h pixels = 3.1 million pixels or megapixels.

h.264: Is the most popular and most efficient HD compression codec today.  Although ironically, most computers don't have the h.264 codec on it (not sure about Windows 7 or the latest Mac OS).  Generally, you have to download a CODEC PACK in order to see/edit a file that has a h.264 codec.  What does 'h.264' mean?  To answer that we'll ask what does a 401k mean?  What does a W9 tax form mean? it's just some goofy reference to some proposal that some computer geeks came up with and that's how it stays. Most codecs are named like this.

COMPONENT/COMPOSITE:  This is one of the few video terminologies that makes sense.  Component is usually referring to an HD signal (as in the HD component out on the HD Hero). It means there are individual components (red, blue, green) that make up one video signal.  COMPOSITE means the signal is a composite of a few different elements composited into one to produce the video signal.  This usually refers to non-HD.

PIXEL: The smallest bit of information in a video/still file.  Try zooming into your jpg picture and you'll see that it actually is made up of tiny square blocks of color.  that's a pixel.  The more pixels in an image, the smaller the pixel is in relation, giving you a clearer picture.  Video works the same way. 

FIRMWARE:  Modern day electronics are controlled by software because it is the easiest and most flexible way to update a product later on.  The software is usually stored on some kind of built-in flash memory that remains intact when the power is turned off.  A firmware is nothing more than an update to the software on that device.

Mbps: This is directly related to a CODEC.  Codecs Mbps is an acronym for MILLIONS OF BITS PER SECOND.  This tells how much information is being recorded/played back PER SECOND. 1080p on the HD Hero is 12 million bits per second.  Boggles the mind, doesn't it???

BITRATE:  This is directly related to a CODEC.  When you are editing a project and are ready to RENDER it out to a final file, you can define how much information is being saved per second.  That's called the bitrate.  For the HD Hero, the bitrate is fixed.  1080p=12 million bits per second bitrate and 720-30 is 7.5 million.

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