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The vast majority of mountain biking videos shot with point-of-view cameras really aren’t worth the time it takes to watch them.Despite the access to excellent equipment, there are 2 main reasons for this poor video quality:

1) Unimaginative camera angles.

2) Poor editing.

Hopefully in my last post I was able to provide you with enough camera mounting ideas to get your creative juices flowing, helping you leave behind the same old overused camera mounts.

In this post, I will address the second point, “poor editing,” and will hopefully help you add a little zest to your trail videos.

Software

Whenever I mention to people that I just uploaded a new video or I’m in the process of making a new video, the first question is always: “What program did you use to edit it?” The thing of it is, I just use Windows Movie Maker to edit my videos, and it comes standard on most Windows computers. Even with this basic program I am able to produce decent mountain bike videos that I think are actually enjoyable to watch.iMovie works even better.

Sure, a fancy video editing package has more options and might be able to do a slightly better job. But as Jeremy Hazard, pro-level photographer and accomplished videographer, commented on the last post: “I think some people miss the point a bit POV cams are for just that theyre not intended to capture high quality footage for use in major motion pictures;) ” This is all about having fun and creating entertaining videos, and that can definitely be done with an inexpensive editing program.

Purpose

As with any production that borders on the artistic, you must first identify your purpose before you begin. Are you trying to showcase the trail? Are you trying to showcase the rider’s abilities? Or are you just attempting to create an entertaining bike video that’s sort of original? Your purpose will determine how you cut the video.

In my opinion, the major editing error that most helmet cam vids make is the absolute lack of editing. Those long, continuous 10 minute shots bore me to death! The only time one really long shot for the entire length of the video works is if your sole purpose is to showcase the trail. Even then, if the trail is boring and has some climbs in it, that might still be a bad idea!

Here is a video where I used one long clip, and my purpose was to just show how sweet this entire downhill is:

Cut the Climbing

As a general rule of thumb,when I’m editing, I begin by cutting out all of the climbing.People only want to watch the really interesting parts of your ride, and if you’re grinding uphill for 10 minutes (or even 15 seconds), they are going to get bored. Clip out the climbing.

Since the whole shot (above) is downhill and it’s pretty fast-paced and only a couple of minutes long, I think it still works pretty well. However, bear in mind that if you create a video showcasing a single section of a trail like this, the number of people that will want to watch the video is probably less than if you created a vid featuring cool riding and shooting, unless the trail is truly outstanding.

Camera Angles

Yes, I know that I’ve already spent about a thousand words talking about camera angles. Now’s the time to take what you’ve learned, and apply it. Take all of those different camera angles and incorporate at least 2 or 3 different ones into your next video. And don’t just use one, switch to the second, and then switch to the third at the end. Try varying them throughout the video, utilizing multiple short clips instead of just a few long ones.

Check out this video for a little idea of what the finished product could look like:

Transitions

One thing that annoys the heck out of me when I am watching a mountain bike vid is a large number of cheesy, overdone transitions. A few key transition effects can really make a video pop, but when someone tries to incorporate every single feature that their software package has into one 3 minute video…. it looks cheesy, and distracts from the riding.

Personally, I generally stick with fade in/fade out transitions (black and white), and a simple dissolve. Sometimes, I even incorporate hard cuts from one clip to another. Break the thinking that you need a different transition whenever there’s a new video clip, and you will be well on your way to editing success.

Music

Nothing spells “boring” like a music-less sports video. Music should almost be considered mandatory, unless you’re just posting a raw 30-60 second clip. Music keeps the viewer entertained and engaged, and can add real life to your movie!

When selecting the song that you want to use, trying to choose music that you think your target audience will enjoy may help boost the popularity of your video. However, in my personal experience, there is no way that you can ever satisfy everyone. So instead, I suggest that you choose something that you enjoy. As long as you like your video and are proud of your work, that’s mission accomplished in my book!

Your Turn:

What editing tactics do you think really make a mountain bike video come to life?

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# Comments

  • trek7k

    I totally agree about the transitions – people seem to overdo them. In the same vein, the epic intro credits get annoying very quickly – just get on with the show!

    I’ve experimented with adding voiceover to certain videos, particularly if the purpose of the video is to review a trail or a bike part but this takes a long time. Not only do you have to write what you’re going to say beforehand but you also may need multiple takes to get it right.

    Editing can be time consuming so I think the best bet is to add just a little simple polish using the techniques you mentioned.

  • GoldenGoose

    There’s got to be some sort of mode or feature that allows you to apply a “steadycam” feel to the video, right? I don’t make vids so I really don’t know. If there is something like this out there, I REALLY wish more people would use it. Seems like no matter how creative the angle is, a shaky camera makes me immediately turn the video off.

  • mtbgreg1

    @Goldengoose, I don’t really know to be honest, but I’m not sure how that would work, as there definitely isn’t an option for that on my camera.

    I think that some models and brands of cameras are more prone to shakiness than others, but that beyond that it just depends on the mount and terrain.

    Just my thoughts…

  • trek7k

    @GG, yes fancy editing software does have an option to smooth videos (heck, even iMovie has this). In my experience, though, it isn’t powerful enough to remove the shakes from the MTB videos I’ve made. 🙂 Plus it’s super slow – on my computer it takes hours to steady a 3 minute clip and the end result isn’t even that much better than the original.

  • dgaddis

    Image Stabilization it’s called. Some cameras seem to be better than others.

    Will Windows Movie Maker edit *.mov files, in full HD without compressing them?

  • mtbgreg1

    @dgaddis, unfortunately Windows Movie Maker won’t work with .mov, as it’s a quicktime format, ie, apple. There are converter programs out there that will convert .mov to .avi or .wmv. I don’t personally have any issues because my cam shoots in .avi, which is a pretty universal form of raw video.

  • Inertia

    I would like to add one thing regarding music for videos. I consider it similar to pairing a wine with a specific meal. Each ride is a different work of art, similar to different types of meals. I let the music be a compliment to the “feel” I’m trying to achieve with the content.

  • maddslacker

    @dgaddis check out avidemux for simple editing. It can handle .mov (and everything else)

    You can cut and append clips, add one or more audio tracks while keeping the original, and it can output to just about any format, including flv for websites.

    It also has an image stabilization plugin that works ok if your camera isn’t too bad to begin with.

    Oh, and it’s free and open source. 😉

  • maddslacker

    @mtbgreg++
    Another neat trick, especially if the ride doesn’t have anything exciting on its own but you want to include the whole thing, is to make a time lapse out of it.

    I did that with my bike commute for bike to work week last month:

    http://vimeo.com/23866756

  • joetutt

    What’s with the hard core, death metal music on MTB videos? Seems so common. You talked about try to find music for your target audience. Are most mountain bikers head bangers by night?

  • fatlip11

    I would add that if you are riding with other folks and get to a great section of trail, ride it once with the camera mounted and then take it off your chest, helmet or bike and take turns filming each other riding the section. That way you have plenty of choices when editing. A wide shot of the jump, close ups on the tires on the rocks, etc. Even if you are by yourself you can sit the camera on a rock and then ride past it. This will make them much more than just POV shots and more fun to edit. May take a little longer on the trail, but that ain’t bad right?

  • dozzerboy

    Hey goose, the nicer digital camera’s outthere have a “steady hand” function for hand held shots. Not sure if it can be applied to outdoor cameras. But seems like a cool idea.

  • mtbgreg1

    Inertia has a good point, it all has to do with the mood. Joetutt, like I mentioned in the article, it’s impossible to please everyone… so I just try to please myself, haha! And yeah, I could be classified as a hardcore headbanger, although I enjoy lots of different types of music.

    @maddslacker, hadn’t heard of that program before… I’ll have to check it out. Yeah time lapse can be cool… i’ve done that with climbs before. Maybe I should try that out again.

    @Fatlip11, nice ideas!

  • dozzerboy

    I love putting techno beats to my videos for school. Who doesn’t love a good techno beat?

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