Ready to film your tricks and travels? In this GoPro skateboarding guide, you'll learn how to improve your footage and edits. Tips include: types of shots, storytelling, best settings, and the gear you should consider. You'll also learn how to choose the best GoPro camera for filming skateboarding.
GoPro Skateboarding Guide: 12 Tips, Settings, and Gear
Skateboarding is one of the best sports to film. And if you’ve got a GoPro, you’re set with almost all the equipment you need.
Filming skateboarding with a GoPro means no more expensive and heavy camera kit to carry around with you, and more importantly, no more limitations on what or where you can film. GoPros are small enough to fit in your pocket, so wherever you’re headed with your board, it’s not going to be any extra trouble to take your GoPro as well.
The small and compact size of GoPros also means that they’re not going to throw off your skating game. And the fact that most GoPros are shockproof means that you don’t have to worry too much if you take a tumble when holding your GoPro.
This guide is divided into three sections:
- Best GoPro for skateboarding (jump to section)
- 12 GoPro skateboarding tips (jump to section)
- 5 GoPro accessories for skateboarding (jump to section)
But first, here's a taste of the kind of skateboard footage you can get with a GoPro. Watch the GoPro film crew shoot Sewa Kroetkov, Chris Cole, and Kristian Krasimirov in Barcelona Spain.
Watch on YouTube
So here are 12 GoPro skateboarding tips to help you find the right GoPro to use, and the best settings and filming techniques to keep your GoPro skateboarding videos interesting and professional looking.
The Best GoPro to Film Skateboarding
If you’re not too bothered about the technical abilities of your GoPro, and just want to shoot some awesome footage, then any GoPro model is a great choice. But for those of you wanting to shoot the best possible skateboard footage, in the highest possible quality, some GoPros are better for filming skateboarding than others.
For action-packed videos, you ideally want a GoPro that can shoot in a high resolution, at a frame rate of at least 60fps. 1080p is always going to give you good quality footage, and both the Hero4 and 5 can shoot in 1080p at 60fps. If you specifically wanted to take it further and shoot in 4K though, the Hero6 can film in 4K at 60fps and has some impressive image stabilisation.
The Fusion is also becoming a popular choice for skaters, especially with those that have used GoPros a lot in the past. With the new 360-degree camera you can capture skateboarding footage that’s really unique. Take a look at the following video to see just how artistic GoPro Fusion skateboarding footage can look:
Watch on YouTube
However, the GoPro Fusion can only shoot at 60fps in 3K, and whilst the 360 footage can create quite an artsy perspective, it can be a bit disorientating to watch. The Fusion is definitely a fun camera to play around with whilst you skate, and it can be a good choice if you want to jump straight into filming and grab your angles from the 360 shot later, during the editing process.
But if you’re looking for a GoPro that’s a more general all-rounder, the Hero6 is probably a better choice, and you won’t have to think about editing the footage as much as you might with the Fusion. Check the current price of the Hero6.
12 GoPro Skateboarding Tips
1. Get some slow motion shots
If you want to make a video that really shows off your tricks, it’s a good idea to slow down some of the footage. Slow motion footage can make a video more dramatic and professional looking.
Plus, if you’re sharing your video with friends or online, people love slow motion skateboard films as it gives them a chance to look at the movement behind your tricks. It’s also a great chance for a close-up of your board.
The following video is a great example of just how artistic slow motion skateboarding footage can look:
Watch on YouTube
And if you want your slow motion shots to look even more impressive, embed them in your video that’s filmed in real time. This is not only going to show off your videography skills, but it’ll also help you create a film that perfectly captures the fast paced nature of skating, as well as the technicalities of complicated tricks.
2. It’s not just about the action
Many skaters make the mistake of only filming action-packed skateboarding videos. Of course you want to include the fast paced action in your videos, but for a truly impressive film that tells a story, you should include more than just on-board shots.
Try to capture some footage that shows the skateboarding lifestyle. Shots of skaters carrying their boards, friends talking at the skate park, little things that you might not think to film. Footage like this will add depth to your skateboarding films, and tell a story, rather than just demonstrate a trick.
3. The best field of view settings
Depending on what angle you’re going for, you’re going to need different field of views. For your action shots, superview is the best field of view to shoot in. By using superview, you’ll use your GoPro’s entire sensor, and create a film that fits a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. You’ll also fit more of your background into your videos. Superview is also great for shooting close-ups, from a foot or less away from your board.
For capturing casual and not-so-action-packed lifestyle footage though, normal view can be a better option, as you can then shoot these types of shots in 4K, rather than 1080p.
4. The best frame rate for filming skateboarding
The last thing you want is to spend ages filming your skating sessions, only to later find that the footage is jittery or jumpy. So to avoid this, you need to choose the right frame rate.
For action shots, 60 or 80 fps are going to be your best bet, even if that means sacrificing 4K for 1080p.
For the more laid back lifestyle footage though, quality is more important than frame rate, so you can get away with dropping to 30fps and upping the resolution to 4K.
5. Use an extendable selfie stick
Selfie sticks are the perfect GoPro accessories for skateboarders. There are so many different angles you can capture with it!
With shorter selfie sticks, you can hold them down by your waist whilst you skate, so you that you can focus on your balance, but still capture great footage from a lower angle.
With longer selfie sticks you can film yourself from above, from an angle looking down. Or even use it to hold your GoPro at the same level as your board without crouching. This one is great if you want to film a from-the-board perspective or even film a friend’s tricks with your camera looking directly at their board.
So with both longer and shorter selfie sticks having their own advantages, it makes sense to get the best of both worlds with an extendable selfie stick. This way, you can use it for all of these angles and more!
6. Find the right EV compensation setting
If you plan on filming from a lot of low angles, either with a selfie stick, or a board mount, then you might find sunlight interferes with the quality of your footage when you angle your GoPro upwards.
So balance things out, you may need to adjust the EV compensation. Try setting the EV compensation to +0.5 or +1, to compensate for the sun.
7. Use the skeleton housing
When you’re grinding and power sliding, the noise of your board against the surface is almost as good as the visuals. So cutting out the audio on your GoPro by putting it in a housing that muffles the sound is going to be a mistake.
If you need to use a housing for your GoPro, use the skeleton housing. This housing is going to protect your GoPro if you happen to drop it, or fall with it, but with open sides you’ll still be able to capture all the audio you need.
8. Don’t edit out the audio
If you do manage to capture some good audio with your GoPro skateboarding videos, don’t edit it out! Even if you want to put your video to music, have the music volume just low enough that you can still hear the original audio. This is going to make your video much more authentic.
And believe it or not, a balance of original audio and added music can really show off your editing skills, and make your videos even more professional.
Here are the best GoPro editing software options.
9. Skate and film with a friend
Trying to capture different angles on your own can be tricky. So when you head out with your GoPro and your skateboard, invite a friend along too. This way you can capture more than just point of view footage, and more than one skater.
By skating with a friend or two you’ll also be able to tell more of a story with your GoPro skateboarding videos. When there’s more than one of you, it becomes less a video that’s just about tricks and skills, and more a video that tells the whole story of your skating trips. You’ll be able to include not just each of your skills, but also more lifestyle shots.
In the following video you can see popular YouTube Skateboarder Nigel Alexander skate with a friend to capture some top footage. They also go over some of the other tips we’ve discussed here, like which field of view is best for this kind of filming.
Watch on YouTube
10. Choose the right ISO setting
Most of your skateboarding videos are probably going to be filmed outside, which means that more often than not, the lighting you’re filming in is out of your control. So how can you make sure that bright sunlight or cloudy grey skies don’t interfere with the quality of your videos? You need to take a closer look at the ISO settings you’re using.
When it comes to ISO settings though, it really depends what sort of light you’re filming in. 400 is the default ISO setting, and it’s okay to stick with this if it’s not too light or dark when you film. It’s the setting for ‘normal’ light. But if the sun is a little lower in the sky, or it’s one of those particularly cloudy days, 6400 is a better ISO setting to use. Using this setting might mean a little more image noise, but you don’t have to worry about your video being too dark.
11. The best color settings for filming skateboarding
For color settings, if you don’t plan on editing your footage much after filming, then the GoPro color setting is the best color mode to go for. GoPro color creates photos that look more, well, normal. There’s more contrast, and saturation to the colors.
But if you don’t mind doing a little editing after filming, using the Protune Flat color setting is often a better choice. Protune flat basically makes colors looked washed out, you lose the vibrancy of colours in exchange for more detail in the lighter and darker areas of the picture. The idea behind this is that you won’t lose any details, and then you can adjust the color and contrast later during the editing process.
And for white balance, using the auto setting is fine. This is usually the default setting anyway, and it automatically adjusts the colour tone depending on the environment you’re shooting in.
12. Play around with a stabilising grip
If you want to get some extra smooth GoPro skateboarding footage, a stabilising accessory is the way to go. Lots of professional and YouTube skaters have admitted making their own makeshift stabilising grips in the past, but now there are plenty of purpose-built grips that can help you shoot silky smooth footage.
A stabilising gimbal accessory is going to be even more desirable if your GoPro model doesn’t have the latest image stabilisation. Shaky footage can really bring down the quality of your overall video, and a stabilising grip is the perfect fix. No matter how many kickflips or ollies you do, there won’t be any drastic jerks or shakes in the video. Instead, you’ll have gliding footage.
Take a look at the following video to see just how smooth GoPro skateboarding footage can be when filmed with a stabilising grip. In this case, they’re using the GoPro Karma grip, which is the most GoPro compatible stabiliser, but there are also others out there.
Watch on YouTube
5 Best Accessories For Filming Skateboarding
1. GoPro 3-Way Pole / Monopod
As well as that though, it can also act as a tripod, so if you were hoping to film some skateboarding shots from a stationary perspective, with this accessory you’ll be good to go.
2. An extendable selfie stick
You can pick one of these up cheaply, so if you take a tumble with it, it’s not going to matter too much. This is also going to help with all of your up high or down low shots.
3. Flat adhesive mount
GoPro adhesive mounts are perfect for mounting your GoPro on your board. You can apply them to the top, or the underside of your board and film classic from-the-board shots. And if you want to make these mounts more secure for any tricks you may be doing, duct tape is the perfect solution.
4. GoPro clamp grip
If you want to attach your GoPro to the side of your board, any clamp grip is perfect. You can simply snap it on and off your board as you please, and it’s pretty sturdy, so you can rest assured your GoPro isn’t going to fall off at all.
These clamp grips come with a removable adjustable gooseneck. You can remove the extension and attach your camera directly to the clamp
5. GoPro Karma grip
However you use it, you can expect silky smooth footage with this accessory, even if you’re packing your videos full of tricks.
Have a GoPro skateboarding tip to share? What's your favorite mount or clip? Join me in the comments!