Using the GoPro 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 2.7K capability, there’s a trick so you can virtually zoom in on areas of your scene, provided that you work with Final Cut Pro X and your sequence or timeline is no bigger than 1080p.

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.

You can change the field of view of a GoPro’s 1080p mode from wide to narrow, but the narrower you’ll get, the less sharp the results will be. Using the narrow field of view is also not going to help you if you want to zoom in onto something that’s not at the centre of the frame.

This short how-to will show you what you’ll need and how to use Final Cut Pro X to “zoom in” on your area of interest.

Let’s say you are 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, HERO3+ or HERO4 with 2.7K or 4K capabilities (only the HERO4 will do when starting from 4K).
  • Crumplepop’s GoPro Fisheye Correction plug-in for Final Cut Pro X OR Coremelt’s Lock and Load X plug-in.
  • Final Cut Pro X.

Here’s what you need to do — I’ll assume you’re replacing “2.7K” by “4K” in your mind if you have a HERO4:

    • Shoot your scene in 2.7K
    • Ingest it as is 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

The image quality of the 2.7K output is good enough — it’s actually sharper than the lower res modes — not to cause any visible difference between your native 1080p footage and the “blown up” 2.7K clip.

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