Being an early adopter can have a downside: when your Hero 6 footage won't play back on your computer or your phone, it's likely because of the new HEVC (H.265 format). But there's an easy fix!
So you got yourself a brand new GoPro Hero6 and you recorded some clips at 4K at 60 frames per second–because you ain't messin' around–aaaaand you can't watch 'em. Ya can't watch 'em on your phone, you can't watch 'em on your computer… or maybe you're thinking about getting a Hero6 and you heard some rumblings about having to convert your GoPro clips in order to even watch them? Let's explore what the deal is with h.265 file format on the new GoPro Hero6 cameras!
Be sure to hit play on the video above, or pop over to YouTube and watch it there. We're going to get really geeky today and talk about the h.265 format on the new GoPros, but first, I want to direct your attention to a printable cheat sheet and brief training I created, on how to avoid 3 common traps that new GoPro owners often fall into:
Grab my Shot List Cheat Sheet
Perfect for GoPro Beginners... don't fall into these 3 common traps! Download and print this one-page cheat sheet, or save it to your phone or tablet for easy reference!
New GoPro Hero6 HEVC h265 Format
Alright so, in the fall of 2017, GoPro released their Hero6 Black camera, and that camera, on certain settings, records video in a different format than previous GoPros.
Why would they do that?
Well, the new format, h.265 also known as High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC, is actually better than the previous format, h.264, AVC or Advanced Video Coding. It's better because it allows the camera to capture high resolutions and high frame rates and still maintain a high-quality image once it's compressed.
The h.265 file format is essentially the next generation of how video files will be compressed, in order to maintain high quality. So it makes sense – as manufacturers like GoPro continue to provide the ability to record super high res and high frame rates, we’re going to want the ability to keep file sizes down without losing the high quality of those videos.
So if you have a hero6, congratulations! You’re on the cutting edge of video technology.
That's great, right?
Well, the downside is that not all phones and computers are up to that new standard. That's why you may have to convert your h.265 files into h.264, in order to view and edit them on your phone or computer.
If you have a newer phone or newer computer this is probably not going to be a problem. If you have Windows 10 you should be fine.
If you're on a Mac, the GoPro website says you need a MacBook that's 2016 or newer – mine is 2015, but it is updated to the High Sierra Operating System, and I can play the H.265 file, however in order to import it to Premiere Pro, I had to install the HEVC codec, so it gave me a little warning there, and I hit yes, and now the video is on my timeline but it doesn't actually do anything. It won't play or anything like that.
I can play these h.265 files on my iPhone X so that's nice to know as well.
By the way, I don't own a Hero6 so quick shout out: Warren, thank you so much for sharing your 4K snowboarding run with me, so that I could create this video.
Luckily, you don't have to shoot in that new format on the Hero6, its actually only going to record in that new format if you're shooting a high res high frame rate, like 4k/60 or 1080/240 and GoPro has a handy chart on their website that tells you exactly which combinations are going to utilize the h.265 format.
Plus, when you set you camera to one of these settings that uusethe new format, you'll get a message on the camera giving you a heads up that you may run into some compatibility issues.
Convert h.265 format to H.264
If you do want to shoot in the new format, or if you already did and you'd like to be able to watch and edit your videos, no big deal, you can convert them for free with a piece of software called Handbrake.
This is available for Mac and PC, and of course, I am on my Mac and when we open it up it’s gonna ask you to select a file I’m going just hit this one right here that Warren sent me. By the way, my video here explains this in much more detail.
At the very top left, we have the source file information – this is the 4K file and actually down here at the bottom it tells us we have 4000 x 3000 resolution – that's a 4K file and the 4:3 ratio.
In the middle under output, we need to select a destination. This is going to go right on my desktop and we want to change the file name to something else, I'll just put a -2 and then down here under video codec want to make sure that we have h.264 selected. We’re going to leave everything else as is and then just hit start.
This is going to take a little while… this file is 1.5GB… so it’ll take a bit for my computer to convert this file into an h.264 MP4 file that we can actually view and use on my computer without any inconsistencies (it actually ended up being a couple of hours).
After that, you can use your newly converted file in your video editing projects. You're good to go!