4:3 GoPro Footage Explained


4:3 refers to the modes in the GoPro that have a 4:3 aspect ratio as opposed to 16:9 or 17:9.  What this means is that it’s more of a ‘square’ frame than the typical HD wide clips.  In the GoPro these are all of the 960 and 1440 modes.  Why do these modes exist? The sensor in a GoPro is a 4:3 aspect ratio so when you shoot any of the 16:9 modes (720P, 1080P, etc) you’re actually cropping off video that was received on the sensor above and below your current video frame.  POV skiing in 1440 may see your skis, the ski run, and the horizon, while 1080P may only see the ski run! You’re losing a lot of important visual perspective.  The more view you have, the more immersive the video.

How to deal with 4:3 Footage


The easiest way to deal with 4:3 footage is to crop off the bottom and the top in your editor of choice.

If you’re in Premiere, you’ll want to right click on the clip in the timeline and uncheck “Scale to Frame Size” if it’s checked.  Next, go over to the Effect Controls tab after you click on the clip of interest, look for scale under the Motion heading.  If your project sequence is 1080P (which it should be), scale the clip to 150% for 960P clips or 100% for 1440P clips.  This should pop the clip into the full width of the frame and get rid of the black bars on either side. Next, if you’re unhappy with a straight crop of equal top and bottom, slide up and down the 2nd position value in the same Motion heading – the value that says 540 by default.  Careful not to go below 360 or above 720 in the vertical slider or you’ll get black sections above or below your clip.

In Final Cut 7, it’ll scale the height to the frame size by default. Go into the motion tab and scale the video to 100% for 1440 or 150% for 960.  You can reframe the vertical by adjusting the 2nd parameter in the “Center” control, or enable Image+Wireframe in your video monitor to manually drag it around.  Hold shift while you drag it up and down to snap it to 1 axis movement.  Check the 1st value in the “Center” control and be sure it remains zero so you don’t get any unwanted black lines on the left or right of your video.

In GoPro Studio 2.0, if you transcode a 1440P or 960P video and load it into the edit timeline, it’ll crop by default.  It’ll automatically scale 960P up to fit the frame size.  You can adjust the framing by moving the “Vertical” slider back and forth.

Dynamic Stretching

Here’s where we get a little tricky and make the most of the enhanced visual perspective.  For the mac users, you can do this in Premiere, Final Cut, or GoPro Studio 2.0.  On PC all we have is GoPro Studio so far.  Edit: Check out this video for an After Effects template for PC users.

To do this in Premiere or Final Cut, you’ll need a plugin called Elastic Aspect.  To use Elastic Aspect you’ll first need an app called FxFactory– it’s basically a shell that holds effects for Premiere, After Effects, and Final Cut (7 & 10).  Install FxFactory first, then download Elastic Aspect and either open the installer or drag the installer into the FxFactory program container.  To prevent the cluttering of your program’s effects, in FxFactory go up to Actions > Disable Trial Products.  FxFactory holds a bunch of trial effects that end up filling up your effects lists inside of AE, Premiere, and Final Cut.

Stretching with Premiere

I’ve got a sequence set up for 1080P.  I drop my 1440 clip into the timeline and straight off the bat it should be at 100% cropping off the top and bottom.  Double click on the clip in the timeline to open it in the source monitor.  Click the Effect Controls tab, swivel the Motion heading down, uncheck ‘Uniform Scale’ and change the Scale Height to 75%, leave Scale Width at 100%.  This will stretch your 4:3 clip to fill the 16:9 frame.  You’ll notice it looks stretched and fat.  We’ll fix this. (Note – for 960 clips use 112.5% Scale Height and 150% Scale Width)

To apply the Elastic Aspect effect, we’ll need to use an adjustment layer above the clip.  Go to File > New > Adjustment Layer.  The settings should be the same as your sequence (1080P, 29.97, etc).  Drag the adjustment layer into the timeline above your video.  If you’ve done work in After Effects you should be familiar with the idea of adjustment layers.  They are basically blank shells that you can apply effects to.  Any video below the adjustment layer will take on the effects applied to the adjustment layer.

Add Elastic Aspect Classic to the adjustment layer in the timeline.  The Elastic Aspect plugin comes with 3 varieties of the effect but I find classic to suit the basic example best.  You can read more about the different settings/effects at Andy’s website (the creator of the plugin).  Once you apply the effect you’ll see that it pinches the center of the frame and stretches out the sides.  In most action POV this sort of effect works because the important shapes and forms are in the center of the frame and the sides are less the focus.  The effect will show you the protected region in yellow, which is where it’s retaining the original height/width ratio of the image.  You can move the protected region left or right to match forms on screen and increase the width (at the expense of more stretch at the edges).  Protection override will basically stretch out the protected region from fully protected (0.00) to the original stretched aspect (1.00).  Elasticity and tension tweak are two more settings that you’ll want to play with and adjust according to the clip.  Be sure to uncheck ‘Show Protected Region’ before you render or you’ll render out the big yellow center section.  You should have something that looks like this (I have Show Protected Region checked still):


You may find yourself trying to widen the protection width to protect anything that falls in that area; however if forms and action happen near the center but not in the protected region they will be effected as well. I usually look for a good average location where it hits most of the action over the entirety of the clip, but doesn’t need to be all of it.  It always helps me to turn on and off the effect using the ‘fx’ button next to the effect.  You’ll see how big a difference this plugin makes.   Special tip – I recommend using a different adjustment layer with this effect for each different clip you’ve got in the timeline. This way you can adjust the plugin on a clip-by-clip basis.  In the timeline, hold alt/option while clicking on the adjustment layer and slide it over on top of your next clip.  Holding alt/option will simply duplicate the whole adjustment layer easily and quickly.

Stretching with Final Cut 7.0

I haven’t been using Final Cut 10, so I’ll only comment on a quick overview on how to utilize this tool in Final Cut 7.0 for now.  I’ve got my sequence setup in Final Cut to be 1080P 29.97.  I’ve made a ProRes select of my 1440 clip but left the dimensions alone so it’s still 1920 x 1440.  When I drop the clip directly into the timeline it’ll autoscale it to fit within the frame, meaning there will be black bars on the left and the right.  Double click on the clip to open it in the source monitor.  Click on the motion tab and change the scale from 75% to 100% – keep in mind this is for 1440P.  For 960P change it from 112.5% to 150%.  This should zoom in the clips so the width fits perfectly in the frame but the vertical height is being cropped.  Next scroll down to the Distort heading and change the distortion to -33.33 (note the negative).  Next, unlike Premiere, you can apply the effect directly to the clip.  Go to Effects > Video Filters > Andy’s Effects > Elastic Aspect Classic.  Tinker with the settings a bit and you should get something that looks like this (rememeber to uncheck Show Protected Region for rendering):


Stretching with GoPro Studio

GoPro studio is the most basic settings wise but it does the job particularly well when you have clips that need minimal adjustments other than a good stretch.  Clips where these work well are board mounted surf shots, helmet mounted bike or moto shots facing forwards, ski POV, bike POV, etc.

First, import your raw 1440 or 960 GoPro clip.  Add it to the conversion list as is, unless you’d like to conform the frame-rate.  Convert the clip and head to the Edit tab.  Click on the clip in the bin on the left.  Way over on the bottom right is a box of presets.  Click the preset called 4×3 to Wide.  This will auto stretch your 4×3 to fit a 1080P timeline and also add the dynamic stretch.  The dynamic stretch settings are labeled under the H.Dynamic under the framing controls on the right.  Slide it to the left for a more pinched look, to the right to stretch your clip back out.

If you’d like to use clips you converted and adjusted within Premiere or FCP, right click on the clip in the bin on the left and click reveal in finder.  These are similar to ProRes 422 files that can be used inside Final Cut or Premiere with ease!

Advanced Adjustments

Half Stretch

If you want to go one step further there are a few ways we can utilize this plugin to work on more shots.  First is the half-stretch.

The half-stretch refers to a clip you don’t fully want to crop, but might look bad fully stretched.  This could also come in handy when you’re looking to crop out something that enters the frame just near the bottom or top of the clip (like the handle of a pole). Let’s assume you’ve already done all of the steps above but you want to do a half-stretch.  In Premiere, the first thing you do is select the clip in question and swivel down the Motion heading in the effect controls.  Increase the Scale Height and adjust the vertical position slider until you have cropped out what you want.  Next, since you’ve stretched your image more vertically, the protected region of the elastic effect will be tall and skinny.  We’ll want to use Protection Override to stretch it back out horizontally.  For this example I stretched the vertical scale from 75% to 88% (about a perfect half stretch – 88 is halfway between 75 and 100). To fix the protected region I set the Override to 0.50 (half back to normal, which matches the half stretch).


If you’re in Final Cut 7.0 go under the motion tab and reduce the distortion value from -33.33.  I usually change the distortion with the small arrow on the right reducing 1 value at a time until I get to -20 or so (depending on the clip).  Then if you’ve got Wireframe + Image checked in the project monitor you can grab the clip and drag it vertically to reframe.

I’m always thinking about how I can optimize 4:3 clips in this regard.  If a clip has too much sky from a handle cam skiing, I can half stretch, frame up the bottom better and get rid of some sky. The more you are able to scale the clip down and use stretching, the higher quality the final output will be since you’re using more pixels.

Creative Stretching

The next advanced trick is using the protected region creatively.  In the following clip you’ll see that a traditional stretch as I’ve described above looks weird – there’s too much prominent form in the frame to only stretch the center.  Also, if I crop you’ll see how much visual information I lose.


The answer lay with using the plugin creatively to protect regions that matter and discard (stretch out) regions that don’t.  In this case, the trail is blurring by so I don’t really care if the sides get stretched.  Be mindful to watch it so it doesn’t look weird in motion.  Also the more you protect, the more distorted your edges will be. It’s a fine balance between optimizing the width of the protection region and reducing a distorted look.


When should you shoot 4:3?

Now that you know how to deal with 4:3, when should you use it?  I shoot 4:3 under two primary conditions.  First is when I know it’s absolutely essential to gain more perspective while the 2nd is when I’m not sure where in the frame the action will take place.   You can bet  any time I’m wearing a head-cam, mouth-cam, or chest-cam I’ll be running the camera in 1440.  It’s just more immersive.

Example Dynamic Stretches

The examples below are taken from the original HERO3 reel project. From left to right the clips are as follows: Original 4:3 frame, fully cropped to 16:9 (losing top and bottom), and the final dynamic stretch edits with the protected areas shown.








This last image shows the actual final stretched frames – you’ll see that most of these aren’t full stretches, I’m doing half stretches to cut out objects in the frame or stretch things vertically a little more to get a more natural look.  In the street bike Golden Gate bridge shot I actually layered two instances of the effect on top of eachother to protect the left and right separately.  It actually works!

Lastly I’ve added a few final colored and stretched shots from the HERO3 video that were all shot in 4:3 modes! Check them out!



  • Tjoez.com

    Great writeup, thanks!

    • Here’s where we get a little tricky and make the most of the enhanced visual perspective. For the mac users, you can do this in Premiere, Final Cut, or GoPro Studio 2.0. On PC all we have is GoPro Studio so far. Edit: Check out this video for an After Effects template for PC users.

  • ryanjpowell

    Wow, I had no idea this existed. I’ve always just cropped and accepted the fact that you would lose some perspective. Great tutorial!

    Now all we need is Resolve tutorial on coloring and perhaps a little party in the park 3……I’m sure you have plenty of free time.

    • Marcus Sharpe

      or does he?

      • tons!

        • Levani Tavberidze

          hey abe , please help me if you can… So when i finish work in Davinci to 1080p 60 video , after render my video is in slow motion not original speed… but i think i making everythings correctly… So which problem may i have ?

  • Ben

    Great stuff Abe. I was wondering what kind of stabilization software you guys use at GoPro to get the amazingly steady footage used in the Demo Reels you put out??

    • We don’t use it often, but if we do it’s usually just a few quick fixes with Warp Stabilizer in AE.

  • David Newman

    In the GoPro Studio 2.0, there is no longer the need to first convert 1080p via the Advanced control panel. Simply place the 1440p or 960p clip on the storyboard, then click the preset “4×3 to Wide”. This does a center weighted dynamic stretch, which you can now tweak without resolution loss (compared to baking the clip to 1080p first.) GoPro Studio Premium adds the center position and region controls.

    • Ah, great – thanks I’ll do some revising later today.

  • Nico Witwicki

    Abe, is there any possibility to get an internship in the GoPro HQ as a Media Artist? That would be my dream!

  • Jake Petre

    Abe, would you be able to add in some info of how to process footage similarly in Final Cut Pro 10?

    • Unfortunately as I stated I don’t use FCP 10 nor do I own it! I would imagine the flow is very similar to FCP 7 – try it out and explore.

      • Jake Petre

        Sorry, guess I skipped over the part where you mentioned. I will experiment! Thanks!

  • Nice man, good breakdown. Thank you. Do some video tutorials in your spare time.

  • Kristopher Singleton

    Silly question, but based on this, when WOULDN’T you use one of the 4:3 modes? It seems great for everything!

    • Gerard Vila

      it truly is! I will use it for everything from now on, you get more perspective and you can still have the 16×9 ratio without having to stretch the shot in that frugal way. The only situation where you would directly shoot 16×9 is sth where you don’t need to capture all that action

  • jwest

    Turns out the thumbnail of this post was already a HERO3+ photo, ha. Great write-up Abe, as always!

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  • Martijn

    Are there Elasic Andy plugins for windows (premiere or After Effects)? i can run OSX on my pc, but i don’t want to switch to OSX for only these tasks, and then back to windows.

    • Michael

      Abe please help! So many people out here without mac 😀

      • Rijk

        Just buy a Mac.. It’s so much better anyway (especially for video editing).

        • Michael

          Yea sure… I had a mac and i can say that it’s not any better. It’s just much more expansive and editing software is equal. I tested FCP and Adobe, and i prefer Adobe. And why should i pay >2000 dollars for an editing desktop which i can get for 1300? There is no sense behind that. Each platform has advantages and disadvantages, but Mac is not better than windows, even not for editing.

  • Menace

    Hi, so the 16:9 result of the new Superview mode of the Hero3+ looks basically the same like applying the plugin Elastic Aspect to 4:3 footages to make it 16:9?

    • yup

      • Adam

        Hi Abe do u get cleaner footage or a more crisp video with the 1440 changed to 1080 in studio rather than using 1080 super or are they the same. If sthey are and you don’t need to worry about distortion around the perimeter then 1080 super is the way forward.

        • You should get about the same results! The only thing 1440 offers you is more customization about the squeezing profile you create or if you’d rather crop.

  • Luca

    Abe, great writeup..but how did you scale 2.7K footage to 1080?

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  • Jeroen W

    Yo Abe,
    I was wondering what the specs of your Mac are?
    Would really appreciate an answer 🙂

  • learnmore


  • Cody Jay Stufflebeam

    How can I do this on sony vegas?

  • Inspirawtion

    Thanks for the tips! I will definitely use it when I will get to my own go pro camera 😉

  • Felix Sembeille

    Now with the Hero3+ is it beter to put Superview mode or 1440p ?

    • Michael

      1440p and you are able to make your own superview!

  • Ryan Harris

    Nice tutorial Abe, been following your work for 3 years now and learned so much. And yes I agree with the guy below, a Resolve colouring tutorial would be unreal!


  • Michael

    Hey guys i have created the Solution for all WINDOWS users. Self made AfterEffects Template, it’s not as good as the Software Abe is recommending but it works fine for me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvUoNYFSTYY

  • Lukas Bankel

    Where can I download the Elastic Aspect effect for Windows?

  • joshandlindsay

    Am I correct in understanding that this is basically what the new SuperView mode does on the GoPro Hero 3+? Is there any advantage to doing it manually instead of just using superview?

    • Yeah that’s correct! Doing it manually you have the option to stretch it like superview, or simply crop to make it more like 1080-60. If you only do superview, you have no option. Sometimes you’ll want to crop since superview may make things look stretched.

  • Appe


    I’ve just got my GoPro Here 3 Black Edition and I’m looking forward to using it while snowboarding.
    Now the problem is that with the regular mount the GoPro is looking down a little bit too much, in my opinion (in 1080p). I could fix this by filming in 1440 and cutting out a part of the bottom footage (or dynamically stretch it) in order to get 16:9 footage with proper height. Do you think this would look just like I’d be filming in 1080p with the camera positioned a little bit higher, or would there be differences caused by warping/fisheye/.. etc?


    • There will be a subtle difference because of fisheye and being at the edge of the lens. I would personally mount it somewhere that works well for all modes so you don’t have to worry about post processing as much if you’d rather film in 1080.

  • Dan Martyr

    Do you think there is ever an argument to producing entirely in 4:3, if all the footage is skiing?
    Just go a H3B, new to video editing so probably sticking with GPStudio for now. Thanks for the tutorial!

  • Anthony Swiecicki

    Does the same apply for Final Cut Pro X as does Final Cut 7?

  • buzzik

    I was trying to figure out how to install it on my PC. Apparently this plug-in does not work on Windows =(

  • Antonitopanyvino

    This is great, but how do I do this in iMovie 11? Please!


  • Eric

    Hi Abe! when you are filming 4:3 do you use 48fps or 30fps? Great article!

  • Dennis

    Do you film in 1440-30 or 1440-48 when you ski? awesome article!

    • Depends if I want slow motion or not. I go half and half. If I’m just shredding down the mountain it’s usually at 30 but if I’m in the park, it’s usually at 48.

  • Margot Wholey

    great info thanks!! I am wondering which resolution you would use for filming on the nose of an ultralight. 1080/60 or 1440/45? There is not a whole lot of vibration, but it still exists. looking for highest quality original footage, can adjust after flights.

  • Ryan


    I’m a novice user and would usually just shoot in 1080p to keeps things simple but I am a big fan of the photo + video mode. The only way to capture 12MP pictures in photo + video mode is by shooting in 1440. (1080p only allows 8MP pictures to be taken in photo + video). So my question, is shooting in 1440 and then cropping yield basically the same video as if I shot in 1080p? (I’d gain the 12MP pictures I wanted)

    I’m using a Gopro Black 3.

    • Yes, that’s true!

      • Ryan

        So I have one more question for you. I took some 12MP photos while using 1440k Photo+ Video mode and some using regular photo mode leaving my camera exactly in the same position. The file size for the photo shot in just photo mode was about 5.4MB while the photo taken in Photo+video mode was about 2.4MB. However, I cannot see any difference whatsoever in the quality. Can you comment on this?

        Thanks again!

        • Yeah, it’s using different ways of capturing the photo in each mode. If you can’t see a difference that’s good, but there should be less information when you start to edit the photo.

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  • nicholas

    Hi there what best sequence preset on adobe premier do you use for hero 3

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  • Le Duck

    Abe, is it possible to remove the fisheye distortion of a dynamically stretched GoPro image, or the stretching distortion will cause the fisheye to be not fully reversible?

  • tisek

    Pretty useful stuff here.
    Now this (sadly, I want to say) applies when making time lapses as well except that for time lapses, you do not shoot 4:3 by design but because there is no option to shoot in 16:9 (correct me if I’m wrong).
    So while GoPro Studio in its initial conversion does offer the 16:9 conversion (have not tried it, what does it do? stretch? crop?) there is no straightforward way to make a 16:9 time lapse video without having to crop or stretch the video.
    Now I do know that you don’t do GoPro video without video editing, just would have thought that there would be out-of-the-box settings to do this with minimal fuss.
    Am I missing something here?

  • Tom Bammann

    Hi, great article, very useful, thankyou 🙂 Just wondering if you know a way I can look at a GoPro video file properties somehow, to work out what FOV I shot the video in? I’ve also read your article about FOV correction, and I’m wondering how to correct if I don’t exactly know from memory what FOV I used?

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  • Erwan


    It’s been a while since you published this article but I just read it today !

    I have a Hero3 + silver edition, so, do you advise me to shoot in and strecth in 720 or 1080? I’m afraid of losing quality and sharpen in 1080 ….

    After all, with this technique, if we are ready to take the time to “dynamic stretch” everything in post process, it is better to shoot everything in 960 (4: 3) No ? What do you think?

    Thank you for your help !


  • Anthony Swiecicki

    Ok, so I am working on a project that involves a lot of hiking up ladders and around rocks, but keep getting this nasty jello like effect from the stretching. Would you recommend just not stretching or is there something I am doing wrong?

  • Andrei

    Great post! I was wondering what settings you use, when you´re skiing with e.g your go pro mounted to your helmet so shots that are in motion.Do you shoot in 1440 60 fps or 80 fps; or do you prefer 2.7k?( Both have the 4:3 format but 2.7k has only in 30 fps ).
    I´m aware of the fact that higher fps needs more light, but when we have great light conditions what should be used?

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  • Richard Jackson

    This kinda looks like a way to recreate the ‘Superview’ mode in post.

  • Spencer Kofoed

    Do you find any difference in quality with stretching first in aftereffects and moving it to premier or doing it all in premier?

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  • Rob Aseltine

    Hi Abe – I’m using Premier Pro 17, have a 4:3 gopro MP4 (I believe is 960) clip and want to apply this stretch view to it. however, upon importing, I can’t figure out the preset that allows me to follow your instructions. once loaded into timeline, it maintains the 4:3 aspect and doesn’t crop it to 1080p. I’ve tried a few presets but I’m not getting the same starting point you are to then use this dynamic stretch, it either stays 4:3 or greatly zooms in on the clips lowering the resolution. Any ideas on the preset I should try or another way? Thanks

    • Do you have the plugin and FX Factory? Those are necessary, then you have to use that effect on the clip or adjustment layer. Also the starting point you have to go into the clip settings and adjust the horizontal and vertical scale manually until it fits.

  • JC

    Hi Abe, very helpful post! I would like to know your opinion on my current “dilemma”:
    I’m starting a new ski edit where the action is mainly me following a friend with my gopro on the side of my helmet.
    I have filmed everything in 960p 48fps wide with my GoPro 3+.
    I want to make an edit in 720p 30fps (29,97) at the end and I’m using FCP X for doing so.
    Which workflow would you recommend for preparing my 50+ files?
    My question is regarding the aspect ratio and the frames per second.
    I am thinking of preparing the files in GoPro Studio: convert them to CineForm with the “4:3 to wide” preset and 29,97fps, but I’m not sure if this is clever. I want to be able to do a few slow-mo’s later and maybe to have the possibility in FCP to chose if I really want to stretch all clips the same way, or do some customized stretching on some clips or even cropping if some clips are more suitable for that.
    So I want to find the best compromise between having all the files prepared for quick rendering etc. and having all the options (but not to much work) during the editing in Final Cut.
    I hope you get my point…
    Thank you very much for your answer and keep on doing what you do 🙂

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