5 GoPro Settings To Improve Your In-car Video

When you get your GoPro settings right, these cameras take amazing onboard video. You get a great record of your time on track, plus footage that can be used in many useful ways – like driver coaching 😊

The issue is that it is easy to get your GoPro settings wrong. I can’t remember the amount of times, in the stress before heading out, that I’ve accidentally switched from video to picture mode. I often forgot to turn the GoPro on. I nearly always forget to turn it off. This wastes card memory and makes my GoPro’s battery life even more terrible.

My aim with this article is to help you to worry less about whether your GoPro is on, set up right and recording.

I’d like to help you to reduce the amount of useless footage you take stationary in your awning or garage! To help you get more battery life and use less storage card space. I’d like to make working with your video easier – with your session spread over less separate videos. I want to help ensure all your videos always have the right date and time. Plus I’d like to share with you a way to personalise your camera’s start screen to identify you as the owner – should it get misplaced.

Upgrading Your GoPro Ownership Experience

To do that I’m going to share 5 hidden GoPro settings. You can use then to make it much easier to live with your GoPro and less hassle to record your driving on track.

Imagine you knew – for sure – that your GoPro was configured with your ideal settings? And what if your GoPro would start – and stop! – recording your in-car footage automatically?

Imagine if your track driving was always reliably captured, with quality motorsports focused GoPro settings, whilst using the minimum of memory and battery life.

Sound good?

Then lets get into it…

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GoPro’s Work Well In Motorsports

Using a GoPro on track is a great way to record your on-board videos. The picture quality is excellent. There are a huge range of attachments to get them secured to your car, and pointed in the right direction.

The more modern ones – from Hero 5 onwards – even have GPS capability. The result is that – with the right software – you can even do some proper in-sync driver video and data analysis with a GoPro.

ehhhhh I Just Wanna Drive

I’ve run various GoPro’s to record my track driving for years. Whilst the picture quality is great, the usability, I’ve found, can be wanting.

The issues – in isolation – are minor. But motorsports is a weird environments where there is little going on, and then – bang – everyone is in a rush.

You never have time to be mucking about with your GoPro settings at the last minute. Your session – or your race – will not wait for you whist you fiddle with a tiny touch screen in racing gloves.

When you run out of time, recording your session becomes secondary. It is totally understandable – you just want to get out and drive.

It is when you get home without any footage you regret it. Or worse, if your championship requires onboard video and you don’t have it, then you’re in trouble.

Recording your onboard footage is important although a hassle… but what if it wasn’t?

Imagine Your GoPro Could Control Itself!?!

Turn on recording by itself. Turn off recording by itself.

A bit like this… (Look no hands!!!!!!!!)

GoPro settings to turn on and off camera recording – Automagically!!!!

How Is This Possible?

GoPro labs came about after some internal events with the companies software developer teams.

The result is a super fast way to control your cameras using QR codes. These can set all the existing settings instantly, plus, include the addition of some new features you can’t get access to any other way.

New features that are very relevant to us in motorsports.

Your GoPro Can Read QR Codes

The free GoPro Labs software upgrade enables your GoPro to read and interpret QR codes – special visual images that tell your camera what settings you would like.

For you this means you can wave the relevant QR code in front of your camera. The camera then interprets this and instantly configures the settings you want. Nice!

No more scrolling through fiddling and forgettable touch screen menu systems. No more connecting your camera to the phone app. All your GoPro settings set perfectly to your liking in an instant.

Read up here to see if GoPro Labs is something you want to do, as it does change the standard software – although I’m assured its an add-on rather than anything fundamental or permanent.

If it is for you then follow the instructions to set your GoPro camera up. Then scroll down for the 5 GoPro settings I think you will find useful for your motorsports.

Get Your GoPro Camera “Labs ready.”

Follow these instructions to get setup. It takes about 5 mins and you need a PC to download the new files that you are going to use to update your camera.

  1. First check you have the right version – the version of camera you have is written on the side of your camera. GoPro Labs is currently supported for HERO10 Black, HERO9 Black, HERO8 Black, MAX, HERO7 Black, and HERO5 Session.
  2. If you’re good to go, then download an “update” file for your camera to a computer here: https://community.gopro.com/t5/en/GoPro-Labs-Information/ta-p/603173
  3. You need to unzip the file and then copy the folder called UPDATE to the micro SD card your camera uses.
  4. Put the card back in the camera, turn on and it will automatically update.
    See these instructions for the Hero 8 if you’ve not found them already: https://gopro.com/en/us/support/hero8-black-product-update
  5. If you get a tick on screen then the update was successful and you are good.
    If it fails, double check you’ve downloaded the right update for your camera – I made this mistake first time.

5 GoPro Settings Ideal For Motorsports


1. Automatically Start And Stop Recording

If you are worried you might forget to turn you camera on – or you can’t reach it when strapped in – you might have filmed hours of yourself sitting waiting. This is a waste of both your battery and your file capacity. Then, at the end of your session – all buzzing with the memory of that amazing over take for the win – you might forget to turn the GoPro off again. This results in you film hours of your car sat in the awning or your garage doing nothing but wasting more battery and card space.

It would be much better if your camera “knew” when you wanted to record – i.e. start when you were moving and stop you were finished.

With the GoPro Labs set up there are a few ways to automatically turn your camera to record. I have therefore evaluated each one for and decided the best one for us in motorsports is the combined acceleration and gyro setting (IMU) trigger.

Let me explain why:

The options you have are:

  • Visual motion detection. This is very clever as it monitors the amount the picture the camera is looking at, changes. When the change gets above a threshold, the camera is triggered to start recording.
  • Speed based detection. This one uses your cameras GPS to determine whether you are moving or not. If you are moving above a certain threshold – say 5kph – then it turns the camera on. When you slow down – say to 0kph – it turns off. This one might seem like the obvious choice but I’ll explain why I went away from it in a minute.
  • Movement based detection. This uses either the accelerometer and/or the gyro sensor within the camera to sense if it is moving. If the camera moves above a certain amount it starts recording. When the camera movement drops below a movement threshold, it stops recording.

I have tried each one and plumped for the movement based detection with the IMU.

The reasons for picking the IMU trigger are as follows

  • Visual motion detection would be accidentally triggered too often. This method does work very reliably. You can set it and as soon as the car starts moving, the scenery changes enough to start the camera recording. The practical issue I realised was that in a motorsports environment there is often a lot of movement within the frame even when you are not driving your car. For example friends or marshals passing in front. That movement would trigger the camera to start recording and you’d end up with lots of odd videos.
  • Speed based detection uses GPS that can’t be relied upon within a car with a roof. This was the “obvious” setting I tried first. Obvious because clearly you are moving in the car and want the recording to be constantly on whilst you are driving around. You then want it to stop when you do. Obvious. I did get this to work however the issue is that it relies on the GoPro’s GPS. The GPS on the camera is great, when it works. Unfortunately it takes a while to fire up, doesn’t always work accurately and, within a closed metal cabin of your car, doesn’t often pick up any GPS signal at all. You can place it with a clear line of site to the sky and that would work fine but, given you’ve another option, I’m recommending you try that.
  • Movement based detection is the most reliable trigger. This is because you can set both a starting and stopping threshold for recording. I’ve set a reasonably large “jerk” type movement to start it recording (4 out of 9). Then I’ve set a much lower threshold before it turns off so that it only turns off when the car is pretty much stationary (7 out of 9).

For reference this is the IMU Sensitivity table:

SensitivityGYRO degrees per secondACCL units gravityActivity
1360dps1.0gThrowing the camera
2180dps0.5gJumps
390dps0.25gmost handheld movement
445dps0.125g..
524dps0.064gany hand movement
615dps0.032g..
78dps0.016g..
84dps0.008gtiny movement
92dps0.004gsmall tremor

I tested a number of settings and chose 4 for the start and 7 for the finish.

On it’s own this is worth the price of admission!

If you just want this function setting up, then below is the QR code that I refined to work for the IMU turning on and off – the one you see in the video above:

GoPro Settings for motorsports - IMU start and stop trigger with QR code
GoPro Settings – QR code for IMU start and stop recording with 20 second pause.

Point your camera at the image. If it is setup right then this should work straight away.

There is a bit more you can set though. Like the best video recording GoPro settings for use in a motorsports setting… 👇

2. The Best Video Recording GoPro Settings For Motorsports

The challenge you have in a track car is often high contrast between the inside of the car and the outside. Even if you run an open top car there is a risk of the track portion being over exposed. The solution is you can change the EV balance to compensate for this. After much research online and testing I’ve chosen 1 stop less, so EV -1.

Whilst most GoPro cameras can run super slow-mo video at high frame rates, this isn’t something we often need in a track environment. TV is 24 or 30 frames per second for your reference so you rarely need more than that. I’ve chosen 60 frames per second. The reason is to help align video with the start finish line or if you use an overlay program like race render.

You are also recording fairly long videos, 20 to 30 minutes or longer for a stint and so have to keep an eye on eating through our memory card capacity. The higher resolution you run, say 4K, the better the quality but the more memory you use. Most of us are looking at the videos on small screens that don’t need the full 4K resolution. I’ve therefore chosen 1080p resolution with the Wide lens selected.

What I’ve done is to experiment with tuning for these main scenarios, plus a few more including White balance 5500K, ISO max 1600 and GPS on. They all resolve into the following QR code. These are the best GoPro settings I have so far found.

This includes both the GoPro settings for motorsports video recording, but also the above trigger for the start and stop.

Side Bar For the most confident…

Here is the tool that I used to create the QR code. Note it doesn’t have the IMU trigger but you can add that with this code:

!SI4-7D2H20!R

Tried this setting and want it to always configure this way?

The QR code below creates a file on your SD card and will automatically load the settings when you turn on your camera.

Literally now the only thing you have to remember to do is power on the camera and it will automatically start and stop recording, plus turn itself off if you forget!

GoPro Settings ADVANCED setup for Motorsports
GoPro Settings ADVANCED setup for Motorsports

For yours – any my! – reference, the code I used to create this is:

!MBOOT=”!Lyourdatadriven”!SAVEyourdatadriven=mVr1080p60fW0te3aScGb0w55i16x-1ag1v1q0dVoV9D4C5S2L01!SI4-7D2H20!R!M64BT=1

If you want to tweak this further, got to this page and paste the code into the box called “Custom Mode.”

I’ve bolded the 20 seconds delay. Just change this to what works best for you.

Also bolded is the 4-7 which is the trigger settings. The 4 is the turn on. The 7 is the turn off. Use the table about to tune these numbers so they work perfectly for you. 

3. Instantly Set The Right Time And Data On Your GoPro

If you have not used your camera in a while the date and time could be wrong. This is a real pain when you are looking back for an old recording and what you find is set to some time in the 1970’s.

You can set the date and time with the app and on the camera. But, that is a pain, so now you have the option of this QR code.

Use this QR code to set the precise data and time – local to you!

https://gopro.github.io/labs/control/precisiontime/

It is also great to sync the time across a multiple camera setup, which I know many of you run.

4. Record Videos BIGGER Than 4GB On Your GoPro

If your track session is longer than about 10 milliseconds, when you get back to view your onboard video, invariably your session is split over several “chapters” – each about 4GB.

This is a complete pain to manage. You have multiple files for the one session to organise. To review your session means you have to keep switching between the chapters which can get boring fast.

Yes, you can use software to stitch these videos together but honest who has time for that when you are at the track. It adds another admin step and doesn’t always work – especially if the gps data goes screwy.

Try this GoPro setting to increase the file size to 12GB. For your information I run 1080p at 60fps with the Wide setting on. https://gopro.github.io/labs/control/chapters/

GoPro settings for large file chapter storage – 12GB verse 4Gb

Note that this is included in the QR code within step 2.

The reason for the 4GB chapters – I’ve discovered for the nerds reading – is that the cameras operating system is setup for a 32bit system rather than a 64bit system. This setting changes that apparently.

5. Hard Code Your Ownership Details Into The Welcome Screen

Your GoPro get stolen or your team is running a few cameras that all look the same.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could customise what you see when you turn your GoPro?

A hardcoded message that clearly identified your cameras as yours and how to get in touch to return it. Like this 👇

GoPro Settings with your personal information hardcoded into the camera

This message is baked into the camera and SD card. It can only be removed by using the tool you use to add it in the first place (see link below.)

Super convenient if a good samaritan finds it and wants to get it back to you. Annoying as heck for anyone who steals it and wants to sell it on. Really useful for when you’ve multiple cameras that all look the same – either multiple drivers within a team or multiple camera angles – front and rear for example.

If you want to add a similar message, goto the link below, create the QR code, point your GoPro at the image and you’re done: https://gopro.github.io/labs/control/owner/

Bonus: More Things You Can Do With GoPro Settings

Voice Controls

I’ve set this up with voice controls. There are a few different GoPro voice commands – like “that was sick” which marks a point in the video – but the one I want to use is to turn it off. Turning the GoPro off will be automatic now with the above settings but if you remember you just need to say:

“GoPro. Turn Off”

For the English UK voice setting

Further GoPro Labs Info – For Us Nerds!

What about if you want to do something not on my list or even tweak my settings.

Use this link to setup a custom setup. I’ll warn you it gets pretty involved and plus does not include all the features I’ve put into my one. However if you are up for getting nerdy and want to have a go then this where to head. If you come up with a different approach to me be sure to sign up below and send it in – I’m still experimenting so keen to compare notes.

Finally, the GoPro Labs site is pretty hard to navigate. Here is a summary of most of the things you can do https://community.gopro.com/t5/en/GoPro-Labs-QR-Controls-For-Settings/ta-p/603196 … this include sunsets recordings and all kinds of things that are less motorsport specific.

Let me know if this helps you!

Best of luck, bookmark this page for the future and be sure sign-up below to let me know if this helps you!