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GoPro Setting/Accessories for Operating Room

The GoPro brand of cameras makes compact action cameras. GoPro devices are lighter and smaller than most smartphones and are capable of shooting high-resolution video. Like your smartphone, newer GoPro models are equipped with enhanced auto-settings (focus, exposure, stabilization) that help to overcome some of the challenges of capturing surgical video. However, GoPro action cameras still present some additional challenges that should be considered including battery life, storage capacity and lens angle. Step 1 in capturing high-quality GoPro surgery videos is getting the camera settings correct.

Optimize GoPro Camera Settings

  • ProTune (PT): ON. PT stands for "Protune," a collection of sophisticated functions offered on GoPro cameras. Users have the option to manually alter the following parameters when enabled: Shutter Speed, ISO, EV Comp, White Balance, Sharpness, Color Profile, & Raw Audio Track.
  • Resolution/Frame Rate: The latest GoPro cameras can even record at up to 60 fps in 5.3k and up to 120 fps in 4k, allowing you to create slow-motion and super slow-motion videos in the highest quality. For the highest quality operating room videos, choose 4K resolution (up to 5.3K) at 30fps. GoPro models 9 10 11 capture crisp ultra HD video in the wide 16:9 aspect ratio and can be used to grab 15.8MP stills from your video frames
  • Field of View for GoPro (FOV): For surgery footage, Linear: 90° angle (DSLR wide-angle feeling is excellent). If a wider surgical-field view is needed, consider 120-degree angle (slightly fish-eye; wide). Although it still has a slight wide-angle feel, it helps to lessen the fish-eye appearance seen with wider views.
  • Stabilization for GoPro:  GoPro's internal stabilizing system is called Hypersmooth (or EIS). Hypersmooth eliminates shakes / movement to make your video appear steady.
  • High Dynamic Range GoPro (HDR): OFF
  • Shutter Speed: AUTO
  • ISO: min 100, max 1600
  • White balance: AUTO
  • Sharpness: HIGH
  • EV: -0.5

Minimize Camera Zoom

The GoPro Hero 6 model and newer versions are equipped with digital zoom. Digital zoom uses a magnification technology within the camera to enlarge an area of the image. However, this also enlarges the pixels, reducing the image’s resolution and overall quality. If a substantial amount of “zoom” is required, the image’s quality decreases when enlarged. In cases when a more narrow view angle is required (even with FOV set to 90 degree angle), various optical zoom-conversion kits configured specifically for GoPro cameras can provide magnification while retaining superior image quality. Capturing 4K and better quality video provides opportunity for "zoom-in" on surgical field during editing process without significantly compromising picture resolution.

GoPro Stabilization/Positioning

Small size, light weight and mounting options are all strengths of GoPro action cameras. GoPro camera in the operating room can easily be worn head-mounted, used handheld with gimble devices or attached to tripod (or almost any piece of nearby equipment). The Hypersmooth auto-stabilization technology in newer GoPro devices offers smooth video capture with minimal effort. Below I've listed a small sample of GoPro positioning/attachment accessories you may want to consider:

GoPro Limitations in the Operating Room

Short battery life and limited storage capacity can limit GoPro use during surgery. Although they can record up to 4K (and better), the GoPro camera’s internal battery time is relatively short (<60 minutes is some models with high-resolution filming). Other accessories that may be needed to optimize recording in the operating room may include an external battery (most connect to the GoPro camera via a universal serial bus cable and can increase battery time up to 9 hours). Additionally, a fast memory card (128 or 256 GB) can provide increased data storage for the camera during longer procedures.

External Microphone for Audio Capture

All GoPros come with built-in microphones. They do a serviceable job for casual use, but the sound quality of the onboard mics frankly isn't great. That's especially true of the newer models that have the integrated waterproof case. The following GoPro cameras support external microphones: HERO 11/10/9/8/7/6/5/4 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO3+ and HERO3 Cameras. HERO11/10/9/8 Black require a Media Mod or Pro Mic Adapter to use an external microphone.

There are several external microphone options available that have been specifically designed with mobile video in mind. They are small and compact enough to not significantly increase the size/weight of your setup while offering a much higher quality of audio and the ability to block-out background noise. Since voice-over can be easily dubbed-in during the editing process, I rarely use an external microphone while capturing surgical procedures. Here are a few of smartphone external mic models you may want to consider:



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Cory Calendine, MD is an Orthopaedic Surgeon and founding partner of the Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee at Williamson County Hospital in Franklin, TN. Dr. Calendine is an expert in Joint Replacement, specializing in Hip and Knee Surgery. From diagnosis through treatment, the Orthopaedic Surgical experts at the Bone and Joint Institute use the latest techniques and technology to improve care for people with musculoskeletal problems. For more information, please contact our office or schedule your appointment today.  

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