Extracting Stills from GoPro Footage

One thing I miss having moved from a Garmin VIRB to a GoPro Hero 9 is the ability to take still photos while shooting video. The VIRB has a small handlebar-mounted remote which can be used to take a photo. The images are 4608 x 3456 (15-megapixel), despite the VIRB only recording in 1080p H.264.

So far, I haven’t managed to find a way to do this on the GoPro. The alternative I’ve be using is to save stills out of the video footage. The image is at 4k video resolution (3840 x 2160, 8-megapixel).

I use VLC to extract the stills from my GoPro footage. VLC is a great piece of free software that can play just about any video format you may come across. It also does a good job of playing newer formats, like H.265, on older Macs. H.265 4k files from my GoPro play back perfectly using VLC on my 2012 Mac Mini, whereas QuickTime Player and IINA struggle and start stuttering after a few frames.

To extract the still image, I open the video in VLC, then skip to the frame I want to export. Then. I select ‘Snapshot’ from the ‘Video’ menu. The path for the saved file will flash up on the screen, but don’t worry if it’s too fast for you – the files are stored in your ‘Pictures’ folder.

You can change this location, and file name & format, in the VLC preferences.

The resulting images aren’t THAT good, but they’re probably good enough for Instagram and similar. They’re certainly not as good as the ones from my VIRB. I haven’t tried using my GoPro as purely a stills camera yet, to compare the quality, but I’ll report back here once I have.

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