Entries in video (9)


GoPro cable cam

I've decided I'm going to try and compile a bunch of footage this summer from all the mountain bike trips I go on and at the end of the season put together a killer riding video.  With that being the plan, I wanted to make sure that I get some interesting shots and plan out the video a bit so it turns out better than my typical head cam videos do.  One of the shots I'm really eager to try is a cable cam shot through the forest on a long a trail.  You'll often see these super long shots following a rider in mountain bike videos and I think they are rad.  Anyway, I started Googleing around and found tons of examples of cable cams.  One that caught my eye was from this Vimeo video:

DIY GoPro Cable Cam from Maia Media on Vimeo.


I really liked the use of the RAM mounts because I find them to be very stout and easy to move into various positions, both of which are useful in a cable cam (I think... :) ).  Anyway, I also had the RAM mount stuff, so I just went over to Lowes and walked around looking for stuff to use.  Here is the list of things I ended up using for my cable cam:

List of items used:

1. GoPro Tripod Mount

2. RAM Mount handle bar mount with tripod adapter

3. Duct Tape

4. Clothes Line Pulley x 2

5. 1/2 in threaded rod - 1 foot - Can't find a link to just one foot.  You could shop around or cut a longer one down.

6. 200 - 300 feet of paracord

7. Line tensioner

8. A few locking nuts to match your threaded rod

I ended up having all the RAM mounts and GoPro tripod mount already from mounting my GPS on my motorcycle and mounting the GoPro on a tripod.  I picked up the rest of the stuff at Jax and Lowes near my house.  I just walked around Lowes until something came to mind, and then went over to Jax to get the paracord and ended up getting the line tensioner while I was there.

Here is the stuff I picked up at Lowes:

And here is what I got from Jax:

And the tensioner:

There's not really much to explain about what I came up with: 

I just found a 12 inch length of rod and wouldn't you know it, right above it was two pulleys that had a hole that perfectly matched the rode.  I just screwed a pulley on each side after a locking nut (which is totally optional IMO) and then I tried to attached the handle bar RAM mount in the middle.  The handle bar mount turned out to be a bit too big, so I just wrapped maybe twenty wraps of duct tape around the rod first.  I already had some paracord in my box of stuff, so I tested out the dolly with my wife in the living room and the camera rolls nicely along the cord.  Here is some video I took after the weather got nice enough to go outside and play.  This is maybe an 80' run from a tree to a post near my house.  I think 200' of cord will be perfect for the long forest shot.

The way I attach the cord between two objects is like so:

1. I take the end of the long cord and tie it around an object (tree, fence post, etc) with a bow line knot.  This is a great anchor knot and it unties very easily.  Here's a video showing how to tie one:

2. Then I took about a 6 foot length of paracord and tied multiple overhand knots along the cord.  I can now wrap this cord around a stationary object and then use the cord tensioner to attach to two of the overhand knots and tighten up the cable portion of the setup:

After I had the line rigged up I had some concerns about how to stop th camera at the end of the line.  I didn't want it just bashing into the object it was tied to as I figured it wouldn't be long before I broke a pulley.  I ended up laying my jacket over the line like so:


This worked like a charm bringing the camera to a gentle stop and had the collateral effect of dampening vibration on the line.

Feel free to shoot me any questions/suggestions in the comments.


- - Rob


Steadicam Smoothee with a GoPro H3 Black

One thing I really can't stand in my GoPro videos is all the shaky, jarring footage.  This is pretty hard to get away from if you have the camera mounted to your helmet or on a chest mount, but if you're planning on doing some hand held shots, there are a few options out there, one of which is the Steadicam Smoothee.

Full blown Steadicams are used all over professional film making, but one of my favorite examples is from the movie Goodfellas:


You can see you get one long, continuous shot, that is very smooth and dream like.  Once you're aware of the technology, you'll be spotting it everywhere.

Like so many things these days, the technology has come into reach of amateurs like myself and for around $100 you can create some pretty nice shots.  The trick with consumer level steadicams is that they take a little more work to get them just right.  In the case of the Smoothee, you'll notice that it takes a bit to learn how to "steer" it when your thumb and index finger.  You'll also find that getting a smooth shot goes up in difficulty as the wind does.

One thing to note is that the original Smoothee was developed for the GoPro H2 series which is a bit heavier than the H3 series.  To compound that, the device was intended to be used with the LCD backpack which also adds a bit of heft to the GoPro.  What this means is that when you first get the rig, if you just mount a standard GoPro H3 with no LCD backpack, the device is going to tend to swing.  You'll notice this in some of the shots in my sample video where I'm filming my wife on her horse.  These shots were before I decided to adjust the weight.  The swinging is also really compounded with wind and sunded changes in direction, so you're unlikely to get any great footage without adjusting the balance on the device.

After shooting some test footage with the camera, I decided to try and adjust the weight that comes on the front of the device and see if I could get a better dynamic weight setup.  Turns out, I was able to easily adjust the weight, and the results were perfect.  Here's a picture of how I moved the weight up:


I had to fiddle with the weight a few times to get it just right, but it's worth spending a few minutes to get the proper balance as your videos will turn out A LOT better.  Anyway, check out the a few clips I put together using my lovely wife as a subject:


Next up, I'll be showing the home made cable cam I built.  Stay tuned.


-- Rob


I bet you don't have this much fun driving to work

Over the last few years, I've tried to ride my bike to work as much as I could in the summer (along with taking the bus).  I recently got a new single speed mountain bike, and for some reason, I've been having a ton of fun riding.  Add to this, I have a GoPro camera which I really want to use more, and my need to become a better video editor, and you've got the potential for some good video.  I took this video one day on my way to work and here is what I've got so far:

This is only part one, as it's time consuming as hell to get good video by yourself, and I just didn't have time to do the entire ride.  I hope to get a bunch more footage and put together part two in the next few weeks.

Anyway, here are the details on the video:

Camera: GoPro HD helmet camera

Song: DLZ by TV on the Radio

Edited With: Kdenlive on Ubuntu


Gang Ride number three

I missed the second gang ride, which was held up at Centennial Cone.  No big deal, I heard they got wet anyway.  Gang Ride three was planned only a week after the second ride, and took place at Heil Ranch in between Boulder and Lyons.  A guy I work with Ray planned this ride, and thought it would be a great idea to hit up Heil.  Cool thing for me is this trail is rocky as hell and I'm the only one on a hard tail....neat.  All this rock made for a seriously sore taint the next day.  Despite all that though, I had a great time.  Instead of bringing my point and shoot tough, I brought the GoPro.  I shot this stuff in 720p, and now I'm wishing I would have sprung for 1080p.  Ahh well, next time.  Anyway, this first clip is from the chest mount when Brandon was wearing it.  Brandon is semi-pro and rips (as you can see in the video):


I also decided that I'm going to start riding with clipless pedals again.  This ride was super rocky, and I had to slow down a ton just to keep my feet on the pedals.  I had eag beaters on my last bike, and didn't relaly mind them, I just hated commuting to work on them because I had to carry my shoes in my back pack.  This time, I've got some egg beaters with a platform.  I'm gonna try this setup for a bit and see how it goes.

Anyway, there were a ton of clips, and I'm sure I could mix a good video, but I'll just post this last raw video of Brandon follwoing me to the finish.  I'm pretty tired at this point, but I still seem to be going alright.  Make sure to check out the end when we just start bombing down the road to the truck.  Brandon is going crazy fast at this point:


Here's looking to the GR4....


- - Rob



I'm basically famous

You may (or probably don't) remember a post I did about creating time lapse with your GoPro camera.  I didn't talk about it, but I also did a little hack where I used a kitchen timer to create panning time lapse.  I didn't blog about it, but I did post my pictures in the Make Flickr pool.  This led a Make and Gizmodo to blog about it, and since then my humble little hack has become pretty popular.  Anyway, here is the original clip (and only panning time lapse I've done so far...doh):

This whole thing gets better though.  A few months ago I was contacted by a woman asking if she could use my video in an "upcoming feature film by Ridley Scott".  Naturally, I didn't believe she was working with Ridley Scott, but I told her she was free to use it however she likes (I usually license my stuff with Creative Commons licenses anyway).  Fast forward a few months, and I go to the home page of YouTube, and I see none other than Life in a Day featured with 400k views.  This was the name the lady mentioned to me, so I clicked through, and sure enough my clip is in the freaking intro!  Check it out:


I guess they are going to debut the feature at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011.  I'm thinking about trying to create another panning time lapse to submit to the feature.  We shall see....


-- Rob