Struggling to edit your GoPro videos?
Then you’re in the right place.
In this 13 step article I cover the basics of my editing workflow, from downloading clips to the editor all the way to editing music and color grading.
GoPro Video Editing Workflow: 13 Steps
The following editing workflow details the process of turning raw GoPro clips into edited videos that are ready to be published online and shared with friends and family.
We used Final Cut Pro X in this tutorial (a paid editing software available on Macs) however the editing process works the same on most applications (free and paid).
Step 1. Import your raw GoPro footage
It’s as easy as it sounds. Simply connect your GoPro camera to your computer using a USB cable and transfer the files to a folder on your computer. After the transfer is complete, you can unplug your GoPro.
Step 2. Download and launch your video editor
If you already have Final Cut Pro X or a similar video editing program, launch it. If you’re just starting out and have yet to find a video editing program that works for you, there are a number of inexpensive and free options available (we recommend Filmora by Wondershare to get your feet wet). You can also try Final Cut Pro X for free by clicking here.
Step 3. Create a new video editing project
Like shown in Lesson #1 (Module 2) of the GoPro Video Editing Academy, after you’ve downloaded and launched your editor, create a new Library: Click on ‘File‘ → ‘New‘ → ‘Library‘
Next, create a new project: Click on ‘File‘ → ‘New‘ → ‘Project‘
Step 4. Import your GoPro raw clips into your library
This is your new workspace. But you have to import your raw clips into your library before going on to the next step: Click on ‘File‘ → ‘Import‘ → ‘Media‘
With your GoPro clips in your media library, you can now drag and drop each one into your movie’s timeline.
Step 5. Create your video timeline sequence
You can sort your placed timeline clips simply by dragging and dropping them wherever you feel they work best. This is how a storyline is established. You can also zoom out to view it in full.
Pro Tip: When telling a story through film, try structuring it with a basic “beginning – middle – end” sequence.
Step 6. Add Sound Track(s)
Sound design in video – both music and sound effects – are extremely important because they make your video more enjoyable to watch. Try to imagine your favorite movie without a sound track.
Although you can’t expect your videos to have the same budget, there are ways to find great music, and sometimes they are free.
Once you’ve found and downloaded your score to a soundtrack library (as in step 3 above), follow the same process in step 3 to add the music to your movie timeline.
Pro Tip: In most video desktop apps (the ones that we’ve tested or used) your imported sound files are placed in their own audio timeline, either above or below your video timeline. See the demo in the following image.
Step 7. Cut clips to the music’s beat
In Module 2 of the GoPro Video Editing Academy I particularly focus on this step because if you get it right, the chances of producing a high quality edit will be really high.
In fact, it’s good practice to use your soundtrack’s audio cues – percussion beats, tempo changes, expressive instrumental riffs, etc. — as reference for your video cuts. Scan your video timeline, cut out the extra stuff and keep the most interesting parts. Arrange your clips to start and end on the significant parts of your chosen music. This is how you add even more character to your film.
The following animation demonstrates this process:
Step 8. Edit speed of video clips for Slow-Motion or Time-Lapse
Step 9. Apply Transitions
By default, most editing software includes transitions. Transitions are used between cuts. You can adjust the length of a transition by using the mouse. Try not to use transitions on every cut – they look overdone and will likely ruin the flow of your video. Our favorites are cross dissolve, blur, and fade to color (typically black or white).
Step 10. Add Titles
Titles are not only used for introductions and conclusion, but also to support your footage throughout the video, and to reinforce different messages. Final Cut Pro X (and most editors), by default, have a variety of titles you can use:
Step 11. Color correct your clips or apply a LUT
Color correction is an editing step that can really make your film stand out. By hitting “cmd+6” on your keyboard, a color board will open up in the inspector (for Final Cut Pro X). From here you can boost the contrast, adjust exposure and make your colors pop by increasing the saturation.
You can also apply our LUTs Color Grading Pack, which is designed specifically for enhancing the colors of GoPro footage.
Step 12. Review and polish your edit
Details matter. Before exporting your final video, review your edit and take some time to refine the details. Double check to see if your cuts are synced up to the music perfectly; make sure your story includes an easily understandable introduction, body and conclusion.
Did you over-use transitions? Are your audio levels consistent? Is your footage shaky?
If you’re happy with the results, you’re ready for the last step!
Pro Tip: Before your final export, let your video sit for a full day. Chances are when you come back the next day things will stand out that you overlooked. After you make those changes, you’re ready to go.
Step 13. Export Your Film and Share It
Depending on where you plan to play your video, you have different formatting options.
- Video and Audio
- Apple devices
- Web hosting
Each one has a different compression level. By selecting these options one-by-one you can preview the output file size before exporting. We typically select “Video and Audio” because it provides the best balance of file size and video quality for YouTube and other online platforms.
Choose the H.264 video codec. It provides the best quality for the size. And if it’s available, choose “H264 Better Quality” rather than “H264 Faster Encode”.
Select a resolution that is compatible with where your video will be most viewed. For Youtube, and larger screens, use full HD 1080p or higher. For mobile devices you can go lower than full HD (720p) if disk space is limited.
That’s it! You’re ready to share!
Summary: How to Edit GoPro Videos – 13 Step Workflow
- Import raw clips from your GoPro or SD Card to a PC, Mac or mobile device
- Launch your preferred video editing app
- Create a new video editing project
- Import your GoPro raw clips into your library
- Create a sorted sequence on a timeline
- Add sound track(s)
- Cut clips to the sound track beats
- [Optional] Edit video speed for slow motion or time lapse
- Apply transitions
- Add titles (main, credit, subs, etc.)
- Color correct your clips or apply a LUT
- Review your rough cut edit/apply edit adjustments
- Export your final cut film and share
- GoPro Settings Explained: Definitive Guide [ Expanded for 2019 + Cheat sheet ]
- GoPro Protune: Everything You Need to Know to Master Your Advanced Settings
- GoPro Slow Motion: Learning to Use Slow Motion
- GoPro Low Light Tips: Learn How to Improve Your Low Light Footage
- GoPro Time Lapse: Creating Stunning Time Lapse Shots