GoPro cameras save their video footage in smaller chunks. It’s a process called chaptering.
It’s primarily a compatibility feature. SDHC memory cards, some older computer operating systems, and more than a few external hard drives, use a filesystem known as FAT32 that supports a maximum file size of only 4GB. And high-resolution video files created by GoPros and other cameras can quickly exceed that.
But for now, GoPro has chosen to err on the side of maximum compatibility and simplicity and to limit the maximum video file size created by their cameras to 4GB. 2
The duration of those chunks varies according to the bitrate of the video you’re shooting. At 120Mbps, currently the highest bitrate available on GoPro cameras, the duration of each segment can be as short as five minutes long. But if you’re shooting longer than that, you’ll end up with multiple individual files. They can be joined seamlessly, but it doesn’t happen automatically.
There are several ways to join video segments together, and I’ve covered some of them before. The first guide I posted on joining GoPro video files was using a free app called MP4Joiner, and if you’re shooting in H.264, that’s still a great option. But I originally posted that a few years ago, before GoPros started increasingly moving towards the HEVC encoding of video files. And MP4Joiner doesn’t work with HEVC files.
So I posted a guide to joining HEVC files with Wondershare Uniconverter (paid app).
Here I’m focusing on another paid app that has become my go-to video conversion app: VideoProc Converter. 3 If you decide to buy a license, you can use coupon code HAVECAMERA during checkout for 10% off.
The same process I’m outlining here works with all HEVC files from any GoPro model. The shooting settings don’t matter. It is a requirement that your computer is compatible with HEVC–newer versions of Windows and macOS are compatible with HEVC. So, while I happen to be using 5.3K60 video footage from a GoPro HERO10 Black here, it’s the same for any other chaptered HEVC files shot with a GoPro camera. 4 And, for that matter, it will also work with H.264 MP4s.
HEVC is a newer, more efficient method of encoding video files. GoPro first introduced it with the HERO6 Black, and with each newer model GoPro has relied more heavily on it. I have a more detailed explanation of HEVC here.
But something worth noting before we really get started is that this is a slow process. It is not the near-instant process you get with MP4Joiner. And it’s especially slow if you choose HEVC as the output. I’ve found it to be much quicker if you choose H.264 as the output, but that option might not be a good one for some users.
How to Use VideoProc Converter to Merge GoPro Video Segments
When you first fire up VideoProc Converter, you get the main menu screen with options for: Video, DVD, Downloader, Recorder. These point to different sets of features that the app has. For our purposes here, we want the “Video” option.
The next screen is a drag-and-drop screen (or you can use the Add Video button, if you prefer). You can add them directly from the memory card if you like, but you’ll get quicker performance if you first copy the files to your computer’s internal hard drive.
Drag all of the MP4 files over (you can ignore any THM and LRV files that you see).
The files should be in the correct order, but it’s worth checking. If any are out of order, you can simply drag them into the correct order. What you’re looking for is the filenames to be sequential. In this example, it’s the fourth digit of the filename, not the last, as you might normally expect.
The next section is where you choose the target format. You can choose what you like here, but to keep things simple, I’m just going to output to the same format as the input format: HEVC. You should see that under the Popular tab. For other options, you can use the Video and Device tabs.
Once you’ve selected a format, you can open up the settings for that format. Roll the mouse over the icon, and you should see a small cog/settings graphic over its top-right corner.
In this case, the frame rate was set to 30, while the input was filmed at 60 fps. So I’m going to change the frame rate to “keep original.” Same with resolution and aspect ratio. But you can obviously use those to make any conversions to those settings. Again, just keeping things simple here, though.
The next part is to enable the Merge function. It’s a small checkbox at the right.
And then, you just choose your preferred output folder, which is just below that.
Things Worth Knowing
Although I’ve focused here on going from HEVC to HEVC, this process is very slow on my computer (2019 iMac). Your mileage will inevitably vary based on the computer you’re using. But there’s a good chance this is the kind of video processing you might choose to run overnight. It is much quicker to go from HEVC to H.264, so if that’s an option for you, it’ll make things much quicker. That will inevitably involve some quality loss–going from one lossy format to another lossy format will do that. But if you’re not doing mission-critical post-processing where you need the highest possible video quality, it could well be an acceptable price to pay.
If you’re editing your GoPro footage in something like GoPro Quik, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, or even VideoProc Vlogger, it’s probably unnecessary to join the files before ingesting them into your video editor. You can simply lay out the individual segments sequentially in the timeline, and leave the joining for the final export process. That makes things quicker because it saves the initial joining step, and it preserves the original video quality without an extra round of compression.
Where to Get VideoProc Converter
There are a lot of video conversion apps out there, and some are definitely better than others. And while I’m a big fan of free apps like VLC and Handbrake, and use both often, there are also good reasons to use some of the paid apps alongside them. For me, VideoProc Converter has most recently become my go-to app when I need to convert video files or join them.
VideoProc Converter is a paid app. There are versions for Windows and Mac. And there’s a free trial version. Licenses are for a year, a lifetime license, or a family license for up to 5 computers.
You can download the free trial of VideoProc Converter here. If you decide to buy a license, you can get 10% off by using coupon code HAVECAMERA during checkout.
- In theory, exFAT supports files up to 16 exabytes. But there’s a practical limit of 128 petabytes for individual volumes. Both are so insanely large that they’re well beyond any relevant filesize limit for current-generation consumer video files.
- Some cameras, like newer mirrorless models from Sony, detect the filesystem of the memory card and adjust its chaptering behavior accordingly. If you use an SDHC card, it will save the files in 4GB chunks. If you use an SDXC card, however, it will record in a single uninterrupted file.
- The app used to just be called VideoProc, but with a September 2021 upgrade, the name was changed to VideoProc Converter.
- An exception is footage from the GoPro MAX or Fusion. Those both shoot 360° spherical footage. And while editing that kind of footage shares many similarities, there are some specific requirements for it.
New Model: GoPro HERO12 Black
Released in September 2023, the HERO12 Black is GoPro's newest model.
- 5.3K60 / 4K120 / 2.7K240 Video
- 27MP Photos
- Waterproof to 33ft/10m
- HyperSmooth 6.0 Stabilization
- Shoot 5.3K60 & 4K120 video at up to 120Mbps bitrate
- HDR video up to 5.3K30
- Horizon Lock keeps level even during movement
- Take 27MP photos (5568 x 4872 pixels)
- 1/1.9" CMOS sensor
- Waterproof to 33ft / 10m, so you can take it swimming, paddling, surfing, or snorkeling without a separate housing
- Built-in mount point
- HyperSmooth 6.0 In-camera Video Stabilization creates smooth video without a gimbal
- Shoot up to 8x slow motion