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GoPro Mouth Mount: How to shoot POV bodyboarding and surfing

The GoPro mouth mount is one of the best ways to get epic POV angles of your bodyboarding and surfing.

In this post, we take a look at:

  1. What is POV
  2. What is a mouth mount?
  3. How to set up your GoPro mouth mount.
  4. How to set up your GoPro to shoot bodyboarding and surfing POV
  5. Pros and cons of a Go Pro mouth mount.

 

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In this post, we're going to talk about how to use a GoPro mouth mount for surfing and bodyboarding POV videos.

GoPro Mouth Mount Lacerations Indonesia
The barrel view at Lacerations Indonesia from the GoPro Mouth Mount angle.

Let's start off with a few quick definitions:

 

What is POV?

POV stands for Point Of View and simply means that you, the viewer, get to see the scene through the eyes of the person who shot it. It's a great, dynamic view and gives viewers a very real sense of being the character in the scene.

POV is one of the best angles for surfing and bodyboarding, particularly barrel shots, as it puts you right in that space and lets you capture the chaos and fury of a big, scary barrel and then re-live it over and over again.

 

What is a GoPro mouth mount?

Simply put, it's a device that allows you hands free control of your GoPro, because you're holding it in place with your mouth, usually by biting down on a mouth piece - like this one here.

GoPro Mouth Mount in Telos Indonesia
Shooting with a GoPro Mouth Mount in the Telos Islands Indonesia.

 

Setting up a GoPro mouth mount

There are dozens of designs of mouth mount and each one is a little different. For now, though, I'm going to use the Pro Standard Grill Mouth Mount as an example and show you how I set it up for a GoPro surf shoot.

Firstly, you'll need to mould the bite piece to your teeth by placing them into boiling water.

Once the material is malleable, take it out - let it cool for a few seconds and them bit down on the piece to make the mould.

Next, set your GoPro's shooting orientation to upside down. You can do this in the settings menu.

Finally, attach the GoPro and you're good to go.

 

A few extras

I like to use a nylon cord as a leash which is attached to the mouth mount here, and then tied onto my wetsuit cord. This is just in case the GoPro gets knocked out of my mouth while I'm in the water.

I also use a floaty back, although it can get in the way a little and I know of guys who don't like using them - but I do.

The final setting you'll want to sort out is the shooting angle of the GoPro. As you can see on this Pro Standard Grill Mouth Mount, I've got these measurement bars. These help to set the angle at the same place each and every time.

For barrel shots on my bodyboard, I put the GoPro just under the highest setting as I want to get the roof of the barrel in. And for regular stand up surfing, I aim the GoPro more at my feet, as I like to see the board in the shot and get some nice angles on turns.

GoPro Mouth Mount Nylon Cord
Nylon cord leash for GoPro Mouth Mount.

GoPro Settings

You can pretty much go with whatever you like.

I usually go for Super Wide View, 1080p @ 120 frames per second. I also use the Quick Capture (rabbit) setting and try to shoot very short clips so I can conserve battery in the water.

Finally, I use the Protune flat colour profile as I like to edit the colours after the fact.

And that's my basic setup.

GoPro settings for surfing and bodyboarding
My favourite GoPro settings for surfing and bodyboarding.

Using a GoPro Mouth Mount

Now lets talk about actually shooting with a mouth mount.

You might think it's as simple as pressing record, getting shacked and then getting amazing footage, but there's a little more to it than that.

First, lets take a look at what's happening when you aren't shooting.

 

Paddling out with the GoPro Mouth Mount

Your first challenge is going to be paddling out

On a bodyboard, you can hold your GoPro in one hand and kick out or one-arm-paddle it, or just keep it in your mouth and breath through your open lips. On a surfboard, you'll need both your hands to you can hold it in your mouth, or, if you're wearing a wetsuit, you can shove it down the front and deal with a few cold wash-throughs on the way out.

The biggest thing to think about when paddling out is what to do in case you need to take a big wave on the head. Duck diving with a GoPro in your mouth isn't great, so you'll need a backup plan. If it's a small foamy, I'll duck dive, but if I'm caught on the inside and need to get under, I usually just bail from my board and dive down.

Bailing on my board.
Caught on the inside and bailing my board.

Once you're out and ready to catch a few waves, another thing to think about is the GoPro lens. Ideally, you want to keep it free of water droplets, but most of the time you're paddling onto a wave, you can't really control what happens and you might just get unlucky.

One thing you should definitely try to avoid is using your finger to clear the lens. Your finger is greasy and sometimes covered in sun cream, and you definitely don't want that on your lens.

 

Riding a wave and shooting

All that's left to do now is wait for that bomb to come through, press record and ride it to the end.

I usually press record when I see the wave coming in the distance, so I'm free to paddle early and follow the wave if I have to. Once I've pulled off the back of the wave, I press record again, give it a quick double check that the GoPro has turned off, and then start the process again.

Barrels in Taiwan on a GoPro Mouth Mount.
Shooting barrels in Taiwan on a GoPro Mouth Mount.

So here are a few pros and cons I've found with this mouth mount and mouth mounts in general.

 

GoPro Mouth mount pros:

  1. Mouth mounts give you the best POV angle. I prefer them to helmet cams and they are so small and convenient to transport and work with.
  2. It's definitely the smallest rig you can use and it makes use of your head as a natural gimbal.
  3. If you're bodyboarding, the Pro Standard model, unlike other mouth mounts, gives you the added option of holding the GoPro with your trailing hand. This gives you a really cool board angle and looks great in barrel shots for something a little different.
GoPro Mouth Mount board angle.
GoPro Mouth Mount board angle.

Go Pro Mouth Mount Cons:

  1. When paddling onto a wave, either bodyboarding or surfing, I like to put my chin down and really go for it - this gets in the way / re-adjusts. On a surfboard less so, but on a bodyboard it's a real pain.
  2. It effects your surf as you're always thinking about it in the water. I always feel I can't surf 100% while shooting at the same time. It's also in the back of your mind when you go up to hit the lip and you remember that you might be landing on this thing in your mouth, so you don't go as hard.
  3. Breathing can be tricky depending on your model. The Pro Standard is pretty good for that, but I had to learn to close my mouth as I got pretty badly dehydrated once.
  4. Some people complain that mouth mounts make them want to gag, but I didn't find that to be the case with this particular design - but that might be a consideration for you.

 

Final Thoughts and links

GoPro mouth mounts are by far the smallest, most convenient way to get one of the best POV angles for bodyboarding and surfing. Leave a comment below to let us know which model you use or find the best and what some of the challenges are that you have with shooting with a mouth mount.

GoPro Mouth Mount

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