The GoPro 3D Hero System from production to post

Testing the GoPro 3D Hero hardware

Before I could actually get some experience with recording in 3D using the 3D Hero system, I had to ensure both HD Hero2 cameras had the latest firmware installed. Updating the firmware on the camera that I already (or still) had after the first review, proved to be a no-brainer. I followed the instructions, formatted the memory card and that was it.

My first test was to use the 3D Hero just walking around the house; just to get a feeling for the process. I ignored the instruction in the booklet that says you need to keep a healthy distance between you and the rest of the scene you’re recording in order not to get a headache from looking at the 3D scene with the 3D glasses, and I promptly got one — but at least now I knew what to look out for and what to expect.

GoPro 3D Hero.

Back view of open GoPro 3D Hero with the two sync cables connected.

The real test came as I went for a drive. I mounted the 3D Hero on a GoPro suction cup mount and fixed it to the front of the car’s bonnet using the central mounting point. I drove bad roads as well as the motorway, and found the central mounting point to suffice in both circumstances. However, on bad roads with a lot of potholes, ridges and other obstacles the car can’t compensate for, I did notice the unit vibrated a lot.

This of course shows up in the resulting video, giving a bad viewing experience. The lesson I learned: GoPro knows what it is talking about when it advises to use the two eccentric mounting points for best performance.

GoPro 3D Hero

The sync cable ensures correct up/down flipping of the images.

More than with the GoPro HD Hero and Hero2 cameras on their own, it pays off to follow the advice in the user guide. The 3D Hero system is heavier and while it won’t break, it will ruin your movie if you don’t ensure the best stabilization possible.

If you want the 3D Hero’s output to be turned in actual 3D, you’ll need to use the GoPro Cineform Studio (or Premium, or Professional) application that you can download from their site. Without this software, there is no way you’re going to end up with a 3D movie — unless perhaps using Avid Media Composer 6, but I do believe Cineform Studio is easier and simpler to use.

Post-production software

I’ll be covering Cineform Studio Professional in a different article, as it is a true post-production workflow tool. Here I’ll say that GoPro footage is shot in H.264 and converted into the Cineform codec (one of the highest quality available) in the Cineform Studio software.

The GoPro 3D Hero hardware comes with all mounts and accessories needed to start shooting in 3D. And with Cineform Studio the output is stunningly realistic. It’s not expensive either at approx. €75.

Read the post-production article here.