2015-2018

GoPro

GoPro frees people to celebrate the moment, inspiring others to do the same. Sharing our experiences makes them more meaningful and way more fun. We reimagined video editing with this mission in mind.

My Role

I led the editing team. We were responsible for the end to end editing workflow, including media management, sharing, and advanced algorithms. In the end, we provided the design for GoPro's next-generation mobile application. We formed Voltron with the Paris Quik team to create one cohesive app, and learned from the desktop team's (my former team!) intuitive approach to desktop editing.

The GoPro iOS app partway through it's transformation

What is editing?

Editing, as we defined it is a journey. It begins with intent and an idea. If I decide to take a family trip to Whistler and ski, I pack the camera mounts with that activity in mind. I think about how I can get the best shots, and imagine what they might look like. I wonder what my community might think if I'm able to capture and post a killer picture. Beginning the activity, I might be thinking of how to best frame a shot. When I'm in the moment, my behavior alters with the attempt to capture. Once the session wraps, the friction I experience in getting media to a point where I can use it is a factor. The tools I choose to use to manipulate and enhance affect my emotions, just like the media itself. Did the output meet my expectations? I consider whether or not it resonates with my self-image and that of my influencers. Did I overcome any fear of judgment and share it?

In all of this, I had a story in mind I wanted to express. Humans are storytellers. The actualization of our stories manifests in almost every step of interaction with a camera. We knew we needed to enable our customers to become better storytellers.

Researching our models, assumptions

Why is editing hard?

Let's examine the problems we were looking to solve, how we learned about opportunities, and what we did to empower storytelling.

Time

Video editing takes too long, and people don't finish. Consider conversations you've had with friends about captured media. Have you heard things like: "I have to go through all the pictures from my trip and put them up." or "I'm working on this great video from our last mountain biking session. I need to finish it."  The statements we observed in our communities indicate the motivation to create and to share is there. However, for the majority of those communities, time is the killer issue. So, why does it take so long? Why hesitate to share? We engaged with people in the lab and the field to find out.

Stuck on the camera

It is difficult and slow to transfer media from a camera to a computer. It is especially challenging to transfer media to a mobile device using Bluetooth and Wifi. No one likes to wait. An entire very talented team at GoPro tackles this aspect of the experience. GoPro files are huge because of the way people shoot video with an action camera.

A whole lot of nothing

GoPro video is often Overcaptured. The camera is set up and left recording with the expectation of capturing a moment in time that is interesting. You get a lengthy video file, with mostly nothing exciting in it. With luck, something engaging happened. The motivation is finding that part. Opening each file and scrubbing through them to find the best moments can be very time-consuming. When extended further into spherical video, an Editor is now looking for the best moment and the point in time and space where it occurs.

Perception

Some think of editing as too technical, especially GoPro's prominent travel & family communities. When we spoke to people about editing, we immediately found a "difficulty" mental model associated with the word. These individuals believed they weren't sophisticated enough to edit their GoPro media. I asked the group to share how they capture and post to social media on their mobile devices. They didn't recognize these workflows as editing and seemed to have a great time describing what they like to post, and how they do it. They were having fun. We knew this observation was remarkably important.

Where are the videos?

Finding the videos once they are on your device is also hard. Most customers we observed in the lab had difficulty navigating to and identifying the videos they need for an edit. It gets much deeper than that. Have you ever noticed most thumbnails, especially when the subject and dates are similar, all look the same? How do I identify the best shot among 20 thumbnails that all look like water? Snow? Tokyo? The issue becomes which video to choose. Often a simple paradox of choice halts the process right here.

Sharing

Remember the friend that told you about her mountain biking session? Did you ever see it? According to our consumer insights and research, you probably did not. If you did see it, you likely saw something that was far less creative and polished than your friend imagined.

I've had my fair share of humbling video reviews. I've also shot a lot of bad videos. I always remember something slightly dangerous as being gnarlier than it was. I didn't hit the lip as hard as I thought. It felt like it though. Video review tends to be a little disappointing.

People in the GoPro community, just like many others, care very deeply about how others perceive their adventures on social media and in person. Our customers wanted their videos to look like what they saw on the internet from us: polished work made by video professionals at the height of their powers involving some of the world's best athletes.

Where we started

The beginnings of our solutions focused on automated editing. The concept preceded my team, and we gratefully continued it. Choosing which videos to use, selecting the music, and applying effects took the average person more than 10 minutes. We also knew any effort over roughly 5 minutes fails to complete. When presented with an experience that provided music selections and synced the beats of the music to the cuts, GoPro customers made more edits. They didn't necessarily share them though.


Our general philosophy was to focus on decreasing the time it takes to make an edit. The initial approach described just above was the beginning.

The process: Wires, Interactions, Whiteboarding
Team collaboration

Downloads

The (very talented!) connectivity team, debuted an automatic download feature which grabbed the latest files from the camera and sent them to a customer's mobile device. These files appear in the media gallery and the overview page. My team saw the opportunity to use the affordance on the overview page to display automated edits.

Media selection and presentation

We cleaned up the media library and spent some time in the lab with customers to understand how to make media identification easier. Adjustments like displaying spherical video thumbnails in "little planet" to set them apart, or identifying where edits ended up to power-up sharing were surprisingly successful.

Spending a bunch of time on the media page or in basic playback got people stuck, so we stepped up our automation. We attacked scrubbing endlessly to find the best moments – this involved partnerships with our advanced tech teams in France and San Diego.

Finding the best parts

If we could accurately find the best moments, we could extract and show them to people. We explored interest indicators in an average GoPro video. Increases in volume can be emotive or physical signals. Laughter, yelling (Yew!!), the crunch as a camera plows into something during a crash, and even transitions into and out of water. Rapid changes in velocity is another vector. We explored face detection and the beginnings of facial recognition.

Algorithms enabled us to serve automatic edits called Quikstories- *shown on the overview page as I mentioned earlier- which contained a mix of highly relevant short clips, based on recent activity, with music and effects added automatically. All you have to do is launch the app, and there they are. Additionally, we devised a plan to serve stories based events from the past, or even people we could identify over time. Interestingly, our customers still weren't sharing as much as we thought they would.

Where and what did they prefer to share? Instagram is the number one destination for GoPro sharing. Metrics indicated removing one frame from a video to produce a photo was the top feature in the app. Our customers wanted to get that perfect shot I described earlier in this case study, and usually post it to Instagram.

I remember asking a young woman if she would post a Quikstory (a multi-clip edit) to Instagram. She indicated she would not, and that she preferred photos. When I asked her why she said: "People can't see how many likes I got on a video."

Filters, Orientation and Telemetry

Single clip editing

My team made a significant investment in single clip editing. We wanted to create an experience where media playback and editing happened at the same time. We call that play-edit continuity. You'd be able to view, edit, and apply effects to a video in one interface.

We created tools that focused on GoPro's point of view, like Telemetry stickers, speed controls, and Hyperlapse. In the editing experience, photo extraction became a touch of a button right alongside any filters, themes, or playback. Single-clip edits popped up on the overview page, just like multi-clip edits and events. All of these ideas were intended to solve the fundamental problems of time and relevancy. They tested well in the lab after some iteration. One more thing remained.

Play-edit continuity

Aligning the customer with the brand

We learned that people were not willing to share GoPro's automated stories or edits directly to social media. They indicated the desire to tweak the output in the editor and make the videos and photos their own. In observing how they adjusted their automated stories, we noticed a need to produce something that felt very GoPro.

It was pretty easy to see our automated multi-clip themes, and the filters applied to single clips didn't match the LUTs our media team used on all of GoPro's marketing videos. Those videos are what people identify with; what they aspire to create when they buy a GoPro.

We hired Character, a fantastic agency in SF, to help discover new themes and filters we could develop for Quickstories which align all of the archetype GoPro personas to the brand. These explorations led to a collaboration between Character, my team, the media team, and our Paris editing engineers. We hope to release all new experiences that delight our customers with GoPro like never before.

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