How To Upgrade Your GoPro Hero11 To A 10-bit Log Workflow

January 27, 2023

Learn to leverage GoPro labs firmware and Resolve colorspace transforms to color manage footage from the new Hero 11 cameras in 10 bit log.

Start recording 10-bit Log for color-managed workflows

Action cameras have long been the bane of many colorists’ existence. 8 bit, highly compressed, poor dynamic range, oversharpening, and aggressive noise reduction makes these common cameras a real pain to color grade.

I’ve been using action cameras for a long time, attaching them to aerobatic FPV drones due to their small size and weight – but the footage was never really usable due to the well-known quality problems with these cameras. I firmly believe these aerobatic drones offer a perspective and movement freedom that no other filmmaking tool does. And as technology has evolved, they have begun to transition from hobby items to serious filmmaking tools.

FPV Drones as a professional filmmaking tool

Major motion pictures and commercials are now using FPV to fly larger cinema cameras, but smaller action cams are getting better and better – and Gopro has recently released what I think is a complete breakthrough in the space: an action camera that can record 10 bit log.

FPV action cam drones have opened a new form of cinematography and storytelling.

Getting professional workflow results with a $399 GoPro Hero11 Mini

In this Insight – I’ll walk you through setting up the Hero11 for a professional color managed workflow:

  • Using beta GoPro Labs firmware
  • Designing a Cineon’ish (sort of) custom log curve for use with 10-bit recording
  • Uploading those custom settings to the camera using GoPro Labs QR codes.

Once the camera is set up – I’ll walk you through color managing this log footage in DaVinci Resolve. By using color space transforms and contrast controls, we place the GoPro footage into a standard colorspace for color management and subsequent grading.

While the tools in this Insight won’t emulate the image quality used on A-list features – they do represent a serious step up for Indie, reality, and documentary filmmakers.

Mixing Light Premium Members: I’ve attached sample Hero11 Black Mini footage demo’ed in this Insight. To keep things manageable, I’ve transcoded the footage to ProRes – but it is identical to the source GoPro material in every other way.

Key takeaways from this Insight

By the end of this Insight, you should understand:

  • The problems with action cameras
  • What is FPV? How could it be used in filmmaking?
  • Introducing the Hero11’s 10 bit and log capabilities
  • How to get and install GoPro Labs firmware
  • How to configure the GoPro using a mobile app and QR codes
  • Generating a high dynamic range log curve for the Hero11
  • Why you need to color manage the primaries/colorspace and EOTF separately
  • Adjusting contrast of the EOTF to get it closer to a known space
  • Evaluating drone footage for noise, detail, and color gradation
  • Noise reduction, sharpening and grain
  • Important caveats when it comes to this workflow with Hero11 cameras

External resources mentioned in this Insight

  • GoPro HERO11 Black Mini (Small Action Camera) – The camera used in this Insight. Mixing Light Premium members can download sample footage from the ‘Additional Downloads’ section on this page.
  • GoPro Labs Information and Download – “GoPro Labs currently supports HERO11/10/9/8/7 Black, HERO11 Black Mini, and HERO5 Session. To access Labs, all you have to do is update your camera to the GoPro Labs firmware. The step-by-step process is outlined at the bottom of this post.”
  • GoPro Labs Log Designer – This is the tool featured in this Insight for dialing in your log curve
  • ALEXA Log C Curve – Usage in VFX – ARRI white paper. The link is a direct download of the PDF.

Related Mixing Light Insights

Questions or Comments? Leave a comment!

Is this Insight useful to you? Let us know! Mixing Light is all about community discussions and we’re curious if you found this helpful, if you have something to add, or if you have more questions you need answered?

– Joey

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