So many of us have one. We drag it around each ride. Some mount it to our helmets, some put it on a chest, and yet some use it with a tripod. The action camera has been a catalyst in the world of sports to bring all of its excitement to a screen near you.
I remember back in college duct taping a big VHS camera around our bodies as we leapt off bridges. We loved to revisit the adventure later on. There is something captivating about sharing experiences with others. It's part of a visual storytelling phenomenon in which many have become addicted. I am one of them.
Have you ever sat through a treacherous three minute ride video that your buddy put together? He was so stoked about it, but as you reached the 20 second mark you wanted to do something else? Was it all taken from the latest GoPro mounted on his helmet? The sound consisted of a wound out two stroke at blaring levels? Yeah, I've been there. In fact, that may have been one of my earlier videos.
I ride dirtbikes in one of the coolest places on the planet. As I have been exploring the backcountry of Peru over the years, I have picked up some great ride shots via my handy little GoPro. Times have changed a bit with technology. Now, I capture 4k footage straight onto my phone, I can fly a drone above and beyond to bring even better footage back home to show the audience. The mount options are infinite as well as the gadgets for taking different shots.
All of this technology has opened up a new passion for me. I have combined my longing to lay my tires on new tracks with the thrill of capturing the right shot. I also love to write and tell stories.
Over the past decade, I have developed a pet peeve with bad videos. I certainly cannot claim to be top drawer when it comes to talent, but there are a few things that I have learned along the way that can help you put better videos together.
I have included my latest ride video of a group of three guys and myself that hammered our way through some great riding in the Andes of Peru. It is more of a ride video and not much of a story video. My plan is to use it as an example. Whether you think it's good or bad is your opinion. My hope is that you can improve the viewability of your videos with just a couple of practical and simple to use techniques. Besides, you want people to enjoy your work.
Keep the camera still
Whenever possible, use a tripod, a rock, a prop up device to keep the camera from moving while taking the shot. This goes for those that are using basic stuff. If you don't have a gimbal (most riders don't carry one around in their tool pouch) use creativity to figure out a way to place your camera on a solid spot. Personally I almost always use a flexible, three legged tripod to mount my Samsung S7. I can place it anywhere, I keep it in my pocket on my riding pants, and can set it up before the guys come around the corner and into the shot.
Take short clips
If you have ever spent much time editing, you understand. Large files have to be processed by your computer even if you only want a three second clip of a 45 minute file. Another reason to keep them short is for entertainment purposes. Mainstream movies change camera views and angles each few seconds. Its so you don't get bored with the film. Same thing goes for your ride video. Mix it up where possible.
Many Points of View
As I mentioned above, changing camera angles will make your video easier to watch. If you watch a 5 minute video of the same helmet mounted GoPro footage, you might die. It's boring for most everybody that wasn't on the bike.
Its OK to use helmet mounts, but change the scene. Stop and film your buddies zipping by as they bang through the rocks. Pan around and take in some pretty scenes. Follow along on that gnarly section of trail. Get in your buddy's face and ask him about how he crashed. Film a high five or fist bump. Mix those in with your video and you will make it much more enjoyable to watch.
Length of Video
Keep your edits between two and three minutes preferably, and under five minutes for best audience gain.
Many of the professionals on social media talk about how important it is to keep things short. People have little windows of time that they can sneak in a Youtube video. If you have a 45 minute movie, they probably won't be able to check it out while on their coffee break. They also won't run over to Charlie and say, "Hey, check this one out!" In my experience, it's like pricing...Keep it under the minute markers...do a 2:59 second video instead of a 3:02 video. In general, the shorter the better. I try to keep ride videos to the three to four minute mark per day. Pack the best stuff in there and get rid of the rest. People will watch your videos much more often.
In addition, there are limits on social media for file size and video quality. Last thing you want to do is make a cool video to find out the file is too big for your Facebook page.
Keep Edits Simple
You don't need to add a million crazy transitions or graphics. Unless it is done well, its more of a distraction. Transition from shot to shot with basic cuts. Is easier and works well with ride videos.
The Rule of Thirds
This is a time tested film and photo basic...Take your screen and divide it into thirds, up and down and side to side. Basically make a tic tac toe board on your screen. Place your subject in one of the corners of the middle square. If you have a full length subject that takes most of the height of the screen, place the subject on one of the up and down lines. It creates perspective and makes a better shot. Same goes with horizons and mountain backgrounds. Place them on one of the horizontal thirds to make your image more pleasing.
Subject is not centered in the middle of the frame...but rather on one of the 1/3 lines.
If you don't record good sound with your video, don't put it in there.
If you are making a sandwich and the bread is bad, it will make your whole sandwich bad, even if you have the best cheese and meat. Cover up with clear voice over or music. Smart phones usually have good sound recording for videos. Use the best you have available, and if you have little to work with, put in more music.
You are trying to tell as story each time you make a video. Keep an eye out for things that stand out to make your story interesting. A wreck, funny things people say, beautiful scenery, obstacles and struggles, and anything else that stands out in your story. Highlight it with clips that you have taken and your video will be better for it.
As for the video that I included in the post, look it over. I have put many of these principles into practice. It's not perfect, but imagine what it would be like to have only on point of view, or mumbled GoPro sound? Do yourself and your friends a favor and make those videos more entertaining to watch.
Until the next time...keep the wheels down.
Scott Englund is a social entrepreneur living in Cusco Peru. Scott operates MotoMission Peru, which offers super exotic hard enduro tours through the Andes. You can check out MotoMission Peru by visiting the website at www.Motomissionperu.com or find them on Facebook or check out other ride videos and media on the MotoMission Peru Dirtbike Adventures YouTube Channel. Feel free to contact Scott right here through TT if you have any questions about MotoMission Peru.