Using GoPro Hero3 Black Edition’s 2.7K mode as a virtual zoom

GoPro Hero3 cameras are great but they lack a lens that you can focus and zoom as you want. But with the Hero 3 Black's 2.7K capability, there's a trick so you can virtually zoom in on areas of your scene, provided that your sequence or storyline is no bigger than 1080p.

It's a trick, but without the latest GoPro Hero3 Black Edition camera, this won't work. What you'll be doing is shoot in 2.7K mode — 4K would work as well, but in that mode you'll be hampered by the low frame rate — and manipulate the clip in post-production.

As you can change the field of view of the 1080p mode with the Hero3 from wide to narrow, the trick I'm about to explain is only useful if you want to zoom in onto something that's not at the centre of the frame. For example, I'm thinking of shooting a street view where you want to include people, but in order to keep them acting as spontaneous as if you weren't there, you're not pointing the camera directly at them. Another example might be that you shoot someone or something that you pointed the camera to dead-centre, but in post you realise you would like them to be more off-centre.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A GoPro Hero3 Black Edition
  • Crumplepop's GoPro Fisheye Correction plug-in for Final Cut Pro X OR Imagineer's mocha Pro (the lens module)
  • Final Cut Pro X (that's what I tested this with — other NLEs might work, or not)

Here's what you need to do:

  • Shoot your scene in 2.7K
  • Ingest it as a 2.7K Event in Final Cut Pro X on a timeline that's been defined as 1920 x 1080 maximum
  • Set "Spatial Conform" in the Inspector to None; you'll see the frame grow to its native 2.7K size
  • GoPro Hero3 Black Edition 2.7K as zoom: Spatial Transform in FCP X.

  • Click the Transform tool; you will see the frames extend beyond the 1080p frame borders which are now ready to be manipulated
  • GoPro Hero3 2.7K as virtual zoom: the Transform button in FCP X.

  • Drag the frame to where you want it.
  • Click Done.
  • Done button in Final Cut Pro X

As I said, it's a trick. It allows you to focus on an element in your scene that's not in the centre per se. The image quality of the Hero3's 2.7K output is good enough not to cause any visible difference between your native 1080p footage and the "blown up" 2.7K clip.