CrumplePop HDR GoPro - 5

I’m Fixin’ to…

That’s what we say in the south when we’re about to do something.

I’m fixin’ to go on a video shooting spreeshooting video (with a camera) of everything I can in the bay area.

In preparation for this adventure, I’ve been doing some test shots with my 3 cameras: the GoPro, iPhone, and Canon 5Dmk2. I would prefer to travel light (GoPro and iPhone), but the image quality of the 5Dmk2 is so drastically better than those. Maybe I just will take all 3.

At any rate, when bringing the footage into FCPX, and comparing it side by side, I’ve been really taken with the fact that, as good as it all is, this technology just does not reproduce what we actually see very well, and I just can’t spend big bucks on a Red that lets you edit in 4K raw. This reminded me of a friend’s comment a few months ago about “the Instagraming of the world.” It’s really an apt description of the problem I’m running into.

Instagramming the World

The iPhone (and the GoPro, for that matter)  doesn’t capture a lot of crisp detail; so, the makers of the popular app, Instagram, decided to add filters and textures to the image to stylize it so we pay less attention to the poor image quality and more attention to the mood or style of the picture. The styles have caught on in a huge way.

So, when I bring images from the cameras into my editing app, FCPX, the lack of visual detail is noticeable. I turned to filters to bring out more detail.

In still images, I often use what Lightroom refers to as “clarity.” Clarity more crisply defines edge detail. To my eye, a certain amount of edge detail is what I see naturally in the real world; so, I want to see it in the “reel” world too. DSLRs don’t always capture it. Adding clarity brings out that edge detail. (Conversely, removing clarity reduces detail and gives a dreamy, “romantic” look—so of like those dreadful glamour shots of the 80’s.)

In video, I’ve become a big fan of CrumplePop’s HDR for GoPro filter*, which seems to do several things: it crushes the blacks in the image, amps up the whites (giving more overall visual dynamic range to the image), enhances edge detail, and pumps up color saturation. The out-of-the-box settings for the filter tend to be way over the top for me, but I rather like what it does in moderation.

Compare the screenshots below and tell me if you prefer the shots with the (toned-down) filter or without it altogether. All of the same images were color, exposure, and saturation balanced the exact same way before adding the CrumplePop filter; so, the only difference between them is what the filter is doing.

(Clicking on the images enlarges them.)

CrumplePop HDR GoPro - 1

CrumplePop HDR GoPro - 2

CrumplePop HDR GoPro - 3

CrumplePop HDR GoPro - 5

CrumplePop HDR GoPro - 6

CrumplePop HDR GoPro - 7

CrumplePop HDR GoPro - 8

CrumplePop HDR GoPro - 10

 

* While CrumplePop calls their filter the HDR for GoPro, I really don’t think of it as a true High Dynamic Range image. HDR images, in my mind, are the product of multiple photos of the same thing, each photo at a different exposure that are combine into one image. CrumplePop does seem to open up the dynamic range of the video. I don’t really know the math they use to do it, but it does give an HDR effect. “Grainy-ness” is a real issue with their filter. You have to be careful not to overdrive the image or you pick up a lot of image noise.