Video killed the radio star

“Pictures came and broke your heart.”

“Pictures came and broke your heart.” Isn’t that nice…and true. Looking at photos and video of ourselves riding can break our heart. The “sick whip” turns out to be a lame wiggle. The huge booter jump more of a hop. This combined with the difficulty of capturing just how sick some line actually was with digital results that look flat and pedestrian. Still, we can learn so much about mistakes we make when we watch what we are doing, we can improve, just like the dancer in a mirror.

I’ve been taking still photos for a long time. I’m not an artist. I’m a documentary type. A communicator. I’m always looking for another way to not have to write another 1000 words. Still pictures are also fun. They can be pretty. They are clear. These are good things. What makes still images so nice (on the back end) is that they are very quick to process and use. Even when facing a mountain of shots to edit, the work will be over in a few hours. I’ve always liked that about photos compared to video. Video takes an unreal amount of time to turn into something useful. Tons of time is spent planning the shot, setting it up, post and editing take forever. Even after all that, lacking artistic sensibilities, the end product will be lame. I’ve just never had the patience. A still shot can look good often even when nothing is happening.

That’s my problem with video. I don’t have the vision, time, or want for such a think. Or at least I didn’t…for a long time. Things are changing. My next cell phone will be shooting at 4k and maybe 60 fps. My current phone shoots 1080p @ 29.97 fps. This is an unreal tool that’s always sitting in my bag on rides. In the last few months, the desire to pull it out and use it has risen more and more. Video captures action. It’s amazing at contextualizing. It let’s you see speed, power, changing perspective, times as it goes by. With very high resolution, high quality segments, stills can be extracted with awesome timing. It’s a wonderful tool.

The biggest problem for even starting video production is finding someone to run the camera and someone to play in front of it. (Isn’t it always?!) I’m going to put some work into finding a way to film solo over the next few months. I figure that if Chris Akrigg was able to do such a good job self filming, editing, and riding for his earlier videos, I should be able to get something accomplished. I don’t ride like Chris and I’m pretty lame at editing. Still, content can get created. I can do something in front of the lens. In time, it can get better.

Here’s a few early pieces. Shot on Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 smartphones. We’re not talking about phones most 1st world folks don’t already have in their pockets. The thing is, if that’s what you’ve got, use it. Simply set the recording at 1080p, 29.97 frames per second, and do your best. Plan the shot. Think of what you are trying to say. I’m learning to use Adobe Premeire Pro CS6 on my desktop computer. I should be able to do amazing things but I’m just such a noob at this point that it’s painful to get anything to look good. But it isn’t the tools, it’s the craftsman. Learn I must.

Lofting into Elevator #6 at the China Camp Nike site. Way harder than it looks.

A cool horizontal scape.

China Camp, the ally-oop right onto Hummingbird.

This is fun. A simple hop over a log in the parking lot of the new Marin Bicycle Museum and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Fairfax and right next to Fairfax Cyclery. It’s a pretty big log maybe 20″ high. I need to put some work into my technique so I can jump the center section. You can check out the ‘sick edit’ first. The second clip shows the three tries before figuring this hit out on a hardtail. The technique I’m using makes the vault much easier on a full suspension bike. The hard tail added a lot more drag going over. I’m trying to learn titles, slow motion, stills, zooming and such. It’s not easy. It’s nice to see progress.

In a perfect world, I could set up video studies for trail sections like Morrocco Media does. So good. Comparing riding like this is an incredible tool. Maybe I should do a project like this next time I’m out with a crew.

If I get better at all of this, I’m hoping to invest in a GoPro Hero 4 Black and a BackBone Ribcage to adapt my Canon lenses via c-mount. The GoPro is shooting 4k at 30 fps and 1080p at 120 fps. Amazing. Being able to use real lenses is the only thing that holds the GoPro back from cine use. That and 4k RAW. Fuk!

YouTube and Facebook:

Most of the time, I’ll be loading video to YouTube or Facebook. They each desire differing things.

YouTube has a page to specify the codec settings you’ll want to use. Essentially, H.264, progressively scanned. Framerates depend on native footage.

Facebook has a page as well. Similar to YouTube, but more specifically 30 fps. “An aspect ratio no larger than 720px wide and divisible by 16px”