||How Bruce shoots bike videos!
My typical trail video is around three minutes long. I keep it short so
you can quickly learn what the trail is like. I'll shoot 50 to 80 scenes
on the trail, which adds two to three hours to the riding time. I mix
point-of-view with trailside, overhead, and ground shots. This
multi-camera technique tells you a lot more about the trail than the usual
endless "look down the trail" shots. So I ride with 5 video
cameras. Then in the video editor, I cut each clip down to just a few
seconds each. My goal is not just to avoid boredom -- it's to show you as
much of the trail as I can. Editing takes 4 to 6 hours.
in the year 2000, with a heavy camcorder bolted to the top of my helmet.
Filming was hard work when compared
to today's video technology.
|Did he just say "FIVE cameras?"
||1. GoPro Hero 5, with
Karma grip (gimbel stabilizer)
Point-of-view trail footage, through-the-wheel
shots, and scenes of zipping past the flowers and cactus.
The Point-of-View shot is the workhorse of mountain bike videography. The
Karma smooths out the bumps. I try to limit this classic GoPro footage to
less than 10 seconds at a time. While mostly used for down-the-trail views
as I'm riding, I also take the gimbel off the chest mount to shoot
special-interest shots -- such as a view of the wheel as the
bike rolls along the trail. I avoid having any point-of-view shot fade into
a second point-of-view scene. There must be a clip from another camera
between GoPro sessions.
||2. Mavic Pro drone
Overhead shots, ride-along shots, distance
shots that show the terrain.
The drone adds considerable visual interest to a biking video. While I
really like shots where the drone flies along close to me, these often
aren't possible due to the terrain of the trail. (The software can't track
me if there are lots of very dark objects like junipers, dark boulders, or
harsh shadows. Or it can fly straight into a tree while
"watching" me.) Drone shots may be long or short, depending on
the visual interest.
PS - the cell phone is not only part of the drone-controller, it
doubles as a 6th camera to shoot photos for the trail web page.
||3. Iconntechs trailside camera w tripod,
70 degree view angle
Natural-perspective shots as the rider comes
past the camera.
In this case, an adapter allows a GoPro mount to snap onto the top of the
tripod. The various knobs allow me to adjust the camera's tilt where the
terrain is so uneven that the tripod can't compensate. I usually shoot an
approach shot and a ride-away shot, then stitch them together in the final
video. The total time for a ride-by is usually only around 4 seconds.
That's why it takes so many scenes to make a movie.
The camera rides in its clear case, inside a fluffy sock in the
gear-net of my backpack. When I set up, I snap the mount onto the
tripod. It's a compromise between protecting the camera and avoiding time
spent fiddling with gear.
||4. Novotechs wide camera, 110 degree view
Low-angle ride-by shots, wider-angle scenes on
turns and structures.
Many scenes need a bit wider angle of view to get more of the
surroundings -- and more of the biker -- into the frame. For example,
sometimes I want to show myself riding all the way around a hairpin turn,
but the trees won't let me move a natural-angle camera back far enough.
This camera setup is also great for low-angle ride-by scenes. I stuff this
whole assembly inside a fluffy sock, and it sits in a quick-access net on
the back of my backpack.
Q: Why use separate cameras? Newer cameras allow you to change
A: So I don't have to mess with changing settings on the trail. Ride
time is limited.
||5. GoPro Hero 2, wide-angle camera, 170
Jump-overs, ride-bys in tech terrain, extreme
wide-angle shots, dirt ride-bys.
This great little camera endures a lot of abuse. I grind it into the
dirt to set the angle of the shot, then fly past. I destroyed
three lenses in 2017 when the camera (1) fell over onto rocks in a high
wind, (2) was accidentally mooshed by a bike tire, then (3) was bashed
when I fell while setting up a shot. The "view upward from the
dirt" wide-angle shots
add a lot of visual interest to a video. The typical scene is 1.5 seconds
riding toward and 1 second riding away.
|A word about editing...
I currently use Adobe Elements 15. While it takes a couple of hours to
trim the scenes and fine-tune the transitions, a lot of editing time goes
into "balancing" the scenes for the different cameras and
viewing angles. Each camera has its own white-balance quirks, so when shot
with different cameras, the same view may have radically different color
tone and saturation. And even with the same camera, changing the viewing
angle upward or down alters the color balance due to changes in the amount
of sky versus trees versus rock. On a ride-by, shooting toward the sun
makes tree leaves yellow, while filming away from the sun makes trees
appear very dark green. So almost every scene needs to be tweaked to
adjust gamma, color saturation, color intensity, RGB balance, and contrast
-- just so adjacent scenes look like they were shot on the same trail.