Converting GoPro 120fps footage to ProRes 422

GoPro’s HERO3+ is a brilliant action camera that is fast becoming more than just an action cam. GoPro also wants you to be able to post your footage online with good quality colour grading, even if you’re not a professional. It offers the GoPro Studio Pro application for this purpose. However, while GoPro Studio Pro can export to a QuickTime movie wrapper — the “Archive” setting — all others just export another H.264 clip primarily meant to directly publish. If you want to ingest a clip in Final Cut Pro X and enjoy fastest performance and no need to render the clip while working with it, you will want to export to ProRes.

You can do this when importing your clips in Final Cut Pro X, but you can also use third party apps such as Telestream’s Episode 6 and Sorenson Media’s Squeeze 10.

This tutorial shows you how to set up Episode 6.x for transcoding a GoPro 120fps clip to ProRes 422 with the same frame rate.

If you are an Episode Engine 6.x or Squeeze 10.x user, you can transcode to ProRes 422 whatever the frame rate of the GoPro clip. If you’re a Squeeze 8 or Squeeze 9 user, you will be limited to 60fps footage in order to get a perfect transcode unless you change an Advanced Preference setting (switch the MP4 reader from QuickTime to ffmpeg).

Squeeze 8 and 9 will not transcode 120fps without reducing the frame rate to 60fps if you don’t use the workaround with the Advanced Preferences setting. Episode Engine 6.x won’t either unless you set the application’s Advanced Frame Rate as I’ll show you below. In fact, Episode Engine (the desktop version probably will too, but I can’t vouch for that) will transcode to any sort of frame rate you desire with no noticeable artefacts or choppiness (that I could see anyway) provided that you downrate. I tested this and even with 25fps converted to 24fps the transcoding was perfect.

Episode Engine video format

Here is how you need to set Episode Engine’s parameters for 120fps to 120fps transcoding:

    • Set Container to MOV
    • Choose ProRes 422 or 422HQ as your video codec
    • Choose Pass-through as your audio conversion (remember to set your channel mapping if Episode fails to convert and complains about this one)
    • Check the Field Order of Source option and set it to Progressive

Setting Field ORder in Episode Engine

  • Check Advanced Frame Rate and set the parameters as follows:
    • Fixed at 120fps
    • Using Smart Motion Compensation
    • To Keep Speed.

Advanced Frame Rate settings for HERO3+ footage

Only with these settings will you obtain a one-on-one transcode of your GoPro footage. I tested different settings and they all produced frame rates of 240fps (contrary to Squeeze, which halves the rate, Episode by default doubles it!).

If you want to convert the frame rate from anything to a lower rate, then the only parameter you will need to change is the Advanced Frame Rate’s “Fixed at 24fps” instead of “Fixed at 120fps”.

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