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GoPro Labs: QR Controls For Settings

by GoPro ‎05-28-2020 11:47 AM - edited ‎05-14-2021 09:42 AM

Have a HERO9 Black, MAX, HERO8 Black, or HERO7 Black? Join the GoPro Labs Program to download the firmware for your camera and try out the new, experimental features listed below.

QR Codes for Camera Control

This experimental feature uses QR Codes to extend your camera’s controls. With this QR Control interface you can extend the camera beyond its stock features, adding motion detection, speed triggered start/stop and more. It is especially useful in areas where a setting can’t be communicated via voice, where WiFi is not available, where app pairing is not established, or where multiple cameras need to have matching times and setups.


  1. QR Codes: The Basics
  2. Create Delayed Actions
  3. Capture Sunsets and Sunrises
  4. Create Extra Long Time-Lapses
  5. More Experimental Features
  6. Latest Labs QR Commands (requires 2021 firmware)
  7. Advanced QR Codes

    QR Codes: The Basics

    QR Codes are simply a camera readable format for text, like a font that we can’t read. A couple of the most common uses of QR Codes are for internet addresses or codes for movie tickets. For example, the QR Code for is below:

    User-added image
    User-added image
    The firmware will read the QR Code, just like your smartphone does

    Your GoPro camera can understand QR Codes and use the information the codes communicate to adjust settings and other functions on your GoPro. 

    Setting Your Camera’s Date and Time

    Precision Date and Time

    When creating a video with multiple GoPro cameras, having the same time and date makes it easier to sync your footage when you go to edit the content. However, using the camera's menu to set the date and time can be slow and may only be accurate to the nearest minute. Using the GoPro app to set the date and time is an option, but that too can be time consuming. With QR Codes, you can simply point your camera at the code and the date and time will be updated automatically.

    Click the link above to activate the QR Code for the current time and date. Once you've scanned this code with your GoPro, it will have the time and date locked in - accurate to the nearest second.

    Create Your Own QR Codes and Sync Multiple Cameras with the Same Settings

    QR Control Customizer

    Let's say you are going surfing and you decide that 4:3 is the best aspect ratio for the shots you want to get. You also want to be able to show your footage in slow motion, so you want to make sure the auto low light setting is off. It is also early in the morning and overcast, so you might want to brighten up the image with Protune settings, like adding +0.5 EV compensation. And... you're also going to be shooting with two cameras - one attached to the surfboard and the other in your hand. How would you set this up? Normally, it would mean lots of tapping on the rear screen or switching between multiple cameras on the GoPro app - and you could still make a mistake getting all of those settings to match up on both cameras. Now, you can simply point each camera at this QR Code, and they'll both automatically switch to those settings.
    • Step 1: Visit the link above for QR Control Customizer and select the settings you want. Note that you can customize the setting options even more by adding custom codes in the "Additional Commands" section. Information on these codes is listed at the bottom of this page.
    • Step 2: Once all your settings are selected, point your GoPro at the QR Code on that page. You can also save the QR Code as an image and print or save the image to your smartphone to use later.
    • You can create a collection of QR Codes to use for different capture situations. 

    Owner's Information

    Owner's Information

    You have probably seen stories where a lost GoPro is returned to their owner, sometimes years later and only after the person who found the GoPro discovered clues about the owner from the photos and videos on the SD card. Now, you can use a QR Code to set the owner's contact information so that it is displayed for about a second every time the GoPro is powered on. The information is also saved to the SD card in a new file called “GoPro-owner.txt”. Since this information is stored in the camera, and not only the SD card, even if the camera is stolen and the SD card replaced, the name will be displayed and GoPro-owner.txt file is saved to each new SD card used in the camera.

    User-added image
    The QR command for this is: !MOWNR="Joe Bloggs\n+1-555-619-2525"

    Create Delayed Actions

    With QR Codes, you can also control how (and especially when!) your GoPro functions. For example, you might want to define when your GoPro starts or stops recording. QR Codes can apply custom options that fundamentally extend the camera capabilities, allowing you to pre-select when the camera starts and stops recording.

    QR Control Customizer - Last Checkbox Selection 

    Start Recording at a Particular Time

    This feature is really useful for events. Let’s say your child is in the school play and the play starts at 8pm. You've gotten permission to put a GoPro on the stage, but you don't want to run up to stage as the show is starting to hit the record button, and your seat is too far away for you to reliably control the camera using the GoPro app. Instead, you can set your GoPro to turn on and start recording at a set time and stop recording and turn off at a set time.  

    This QR Code sets a wake-up alarm (no sound) for 8pm (20:00 in 24 hour time format), so even if your GoPro is powered off, the GoPro will know to power itself back on - saving your battery life too! Then, at 8pm, the camera will power on and start capturing in your default mode. This same code can also be used for starting several GoPros at once. And, it doesn't have to be 8pm. You can set the start time for anytime within the next 24 hours. 

    Motion Detection

    We typically only want video when something is happening, and that often that involves capturing a lot of video and editing it down to when the action happens. Wouldn’t it be great if the camera only captured video when something is happening in front of the lens? GoPro cameras are not intended as security cameras, and they don’t use infrared or ultrasonic detectors to determine if there is movement. However, your GoPro can recognize differences in what the lens sees to start and stop recording. For this function to work, the camera has to be on and can’t use the power savings that the wake-up timer option offers. It also means the GoPro will miss the very start of the action as it recognizes that action is happening and starts to record.

    The motion detection included in the QR Control firmware has a range of sensitivity between 1 (least sensitive) and 9 (most sensitive), and a defined recording time (in seconds) to continue recording after the last movement was detected. Add the repeat command (!R) to automatically restart capture if more motion occurs.  


    Speed Activation

    The GPS function enables us to compute the sunrise and sunset times, but it also tells us how fast the camera is moving. A good example would be if you took your car out for day at the track. If you mount your camera on your car’s hood, you could start the camera just before you get behind the wheel, but then you would have a lot of boring footage as you wait for your laps to start. With this QR Code, you could have the camera automatically start recording only when the GoPro recognizes that it is traveling faster than a speed that you preset. 


    Capture Sunsets and Sunrises

    Simplified Sunset and Sunrises 

    You are out in the wilderness camping and you know there will be a great sunrise in the morning. You can create a custom QR start command to power on the GoPro and start recording at that time. Then, you simply mount you GoPro pointing east and you'll be sure to get video of a great sunrise.

    How does the QR Code know when Sunrise and Sunset are?

    The top-of-the-line HERO cameras all include a GPS chip, which can be used to estimate the sunset and sunrise time for your location. The above QR Codes will wait for an accurate location fix before powering down, so for best results you'll want to use these codes when you're outside and have a good GPS signal. If you want to do an indoor sunset or sunrise time lapse, take the camera outdoors for the GPS lock, then move it inside. It will only need to lock the location once.

    How do I automatically capture more than one sunset?

    Inside these delayed start commands are some additional controls that determine when to stop (after the recording has started) and whether to repeat the command. In testing, our cameras were set to take a single photo at sunset and repeat every day after that. Since so little power used, you could capture as many as 45 days of sunsets without needing to recharge your battery. 

    Extra Long Time-Lapses

    Extra Long Time-Lapses

    The Labs’ firmware allows for much longer time-lapses, on the internal battery alone, by powering off the camera between photos (sorry no video mode time-lapse.) It also supports intervals beyond 60 seconds. A fully charged HERO8 can take around 400 photos, which you can spread over several hours or several days for long form time-lapse. 


    More Experimental Functions - HERO9 Black, HERO8 Black, and MAX Only

    12GB Chapters

    GoPro cameras normally split long recordings into 4GB segments, we call these chapters. These 4GB (32-bit) MP4 files are the most compatible, yet larger 64-bit MP4 files are becoming more common. Increase your chapter size to 12GB with this control below.

    User-added image WARNING: Larger chapters may not work everywhere in the ecosystem, even the camera will not playback files larger than 4GB in this current firmware. Yet the files are valid, and have been tested to work in many tools. So this one of the more experimental features, so please test before commiting to this new workflow. 

    Video "Burn-in" Overlays

    This is more for security applications like a dash cam setup, or education environments where student projects are pre-labeled, rather than for creative applications, as it will modify the video image with text that can’t be removed. 

    Altered File Naming

    Your GoPro typically names files something like GOPR3606.JPG and GH013607.MP4. If you format your media, and factory reset your camera, you can change the file counter back to zero, but otherwise, you have no control over the file name, until this Labs hack. This intended for high volume multiple camera production, where simply naming the source media different will ease post productions.

    User-added image WARNING: The GoPro App on mobile will not support these renamed files.

    Latest Labs QR Commands (requires 2021 firmware)

    IMU Motion Triggers

    While the motion detection feature looks for changes in the image, this looks only for motion of the camera itself. The Inertial measurement unit (IMU), has a gyroscope and accelerometer for measuring rotation and linear acceleration, which can now be used to start and stop captures. Example: Drone use, only capture while in flight, automatically stop recording when motion stops.

    USB Power Trigger

    The camera can use the switching on of USB power to boot the camera, and then perform an action of your choice. This is useful in a situation such as using the camera as a dashcam.

    Maximum Shutter Angle

    Shutter Angle describes the amount of potential motion blur in the image and is a nice way to describe shutter speed independent of the video frame rate. A maximum shutter angle of 360° means the blur can capture all  motion from one video frame to the next, e.g. 24p with a 360° will expose for 1/24th of a second, at 120p with the same angle exposes for 1/120th of a second. In low light, the camera will typically expose longer, increasing the shutter angle, resulting in more motion blur.

    Exposure Lock

    This gives you the ability to lock the exposure after a given amount of time. This is generally used with a more advanced set of instructions.

    Archive Mode

    Ever loan a camera to a friend to shoot video, and they bumped the mode button or LCD so that it was only shooting photos? Archive mode is intended to stop that, by making the camera video QuikCapture only, with either button starting or stopping the default video mode capture. The camera will inform the operator that the mode is limited, nothing can disable this mode other than the reversing QR Code. It will turn your GoPro into one button operation, press to start, press to stop.

    Extensions via QR Code

    HERO8/9 Only - Live-streaming via QR Code
    When both of these are stored within your camera’s non-volatile memory, you can start a live stream with a single QR Code at any time.

    1. Pair with the GoPro mobile app once. Live-streaming won’t work with an out-of-box or factory-reset camera, without connecting with the App first.
    2. Store WiFi credentials on the camera for the network you intend to stream over (e.g. your home WiFi or mobile access point.)
    3. Store the RMTP URL address that you intend to stream to (e.g using a service like Twitch.)

    HERO9 Only - GPS Time Synchronization

    This improves the timecode track precision. While this works best outdoors with a clear GPS signal, it is harmless to have active in all shooting locations and modes.

    Advanced QR Codes

    Now that you have some of the basic functions for QR Codes, you can visit our Advanced QR Codes page. Here you can learn to make custom command strings for Settings and Actions.