Crumplepop HDR for GoPro (review)

GoPro footage shot with Protune looks washed out and dull. That is because you need to apply the Protune colour LUT (LookUp Table) to the footage. Only then does it become a high quality clip. You can do this with the free Cineform Studio, but Crumplepop thought you might want to do it right in Final Cut Pro X.

Crumplepop’s HDR for GoPro plug-in for Final Cut Pro X takes care of the Protune colour grading as Cineform does, but it offers the familiar control tools in the Inspector, instead of Cineform’s rather complicated controls.

If you have a GoPro HD HERO2 or HERO3 camera, you can work with the Protune format. Protune sets your GoPro to a format with less compression and a flat, linear colour rendition for optimum customisability. The increase in bitrate is especially useful if you are doing colour grading in post. Crumplepop’s HDR for GoPro is designed to take full advantage of Protune, much the same way as GoPro’s own Cineform software, only much, much easier to use.

Crumplepop’s solution also uses tone mapping — the image processing technique that simulates the properties of high dynamic range (HDR) photography. The result is a striking, “hyper-real” frame with an expanded range of detail in both highlights and shadows. By simply adjusting the slider controls inside HDR for GoPro, you can dial in a small amount of tone mapping to give punch to ordinary footage, or you can crank it up to create a dramatic, highly stylized image.

Screenshot of a GoPro clip processed with Crumplepop HDR for GoPro

By default, I found the settings too unnatural for my liking, but that’s easily fixed, of course. It’s just six sliders that you need to tamper with (Depth, Exposure, Fine Detail, Coarse Detail, Shadow Depth, and Saturation).

It sure is a lot easier than having to do this in Cineform Studio Professional. On the other hand, the latter does offer you much more control over the results. Instead of six sliders, Cineform lets you play with the decoding curve, white balance, primaries (no less than 16 sliders!), the LUT and the framing. All of which — as in Final Cut Pro X — can be changed using keyframes.

That’s a lot more control than Crumplepop’s. Unfortunately, that’s also a lot of complexity, and if you’re not a professional colorist who does this on a daily basis, it’s probably going to be over your head (I know some of these controls are over mine, and I took classes before reviewing Cineform Studio Professional…).

Which ultimately is another way of saying thanks to Crumplepop for bringing this plug-in to Final Cut Pro X.