Film-making Overview

On this page, I want to share just what goes into making a short video or film about fat biking or cycling, looking at what equipment is required, how to actually record footage out in the field or on location and finally editing your video and posting online. So, let’s get started. I’ll only be looking at things very briefly here, as I’ll be covered each of the different stages later in separate articles.

Right, the first thing you will require, obviously, is a camera. And I’ll start by saying that anything will do at this stage, be it a smart phone, action camera such as the GoPro, a stills camera such as an SLR with video capability or even a dedicated video camera, it matters not. I tend to use both a GoPro and a dedicated Panasonic camcorder.

Next, you will need to unsure your batteries are fully charged (and a few spares will do no harm), enough storage capacity for your footage (I find 5 – 10 Gb is plenty) and some means of supporting the camera, for examples a mini tripod, though this does limit where you can place the camera, a proper medium-sized tripod is much better.

Next, what goes into making a short video about cycling? Personally, I do my own thing. The right way is to plan your shoot, perhaps scouting the location first, making a storyboard of the scenes you want to record, and so on. Lots of planning. Having said that I do preferring the times around dawn or dusk when the light conditions are far more interesting. My way is just to essentially make it up as I go along, trying to think creatively with what I come across on location. I ride the route, see an interesting scene, shoot it, ride some more and repeat. Works for me but you can decide what you want to do.

Now, a short, say 5-minute-long video, is usually comprised of a series of short clips all edited and joined together and that what we need to do here. You can simply mount your camera on the bike handlebars, or use a chest mount, and record a single long clip. However, that may not be very interesting to viewers and it’s much better to record a wide variety of different scenes to add interest, along with a few video “stills” of the location you are shooting.

From experience, even a 3 to 5-minute video, will have as many as 100 or more short clips and this takes a lot of time and effort. For example, for each clip I might be riding along and see a good scene to record. I’ll stop the bike, get off and set up the camera. Then ride back a-ways, ride past the camera, do an about-turn and then ride back past the camera again (this goes me further clips to use, say, for the return part of a linear route). Next, get off the bike, pack up the camera and repeat. Believe me when I say this can be back-breaking work and very tiring!

As I mentioned above, the secret is to record as many different clips as you can. Try varying where you place the camera, perhaps low down on the ground or strapped to a tree branch or simply resting on a gate post. You might want to ride towards the camera, ride away from the camera or ride past the camera at right angles. Variety can also be achieved by having the camera close or distant from yourself. Recording some clips of the scenery also adds interest to your finished video. Be creative and use your imagination, it’s your video, so anything goes.

When you are finished recording and you are sitting at the computer, first thing to do is to download your footage, then make another copy of the raw clips and save them away as a backup, just in case you mess up your originals. For editing you will need some editing software and there are plenty of free packages available online. I use Open Shot Video Editor which is basic, simply to use and does everything I need.

To use the editing software, you usually create a new project, import all your raw footage and then drag a clip to the timeline. Each clip is then edited to leave only the footage you want, discarding the remainder. It’s then a case of repeating this with each clip. I usually order them in sequence with the ride, trying to add variety as I go and adding a few of the “still” clips I recorded on location. You can also add music the same way by dragging a track onto one of the other timelines and titles is you want. Finally, and usually after much mucking about, compile your clips into the finished video and you are ready for posting online.

I usually post on YouTube and will also create a link and page with a few words on my Blog. You can also post on your Facebook page if you have one as well as any bike forums you visit. I tend not to bother too much about publicising my work as I create them for myself and don’t care about how many views I get. For myself, it’s foremost about riding the bike, being creative when making the video and seeing the finished video.

Copyright ©2020 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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