MTB Videos: Simple Editing Techniques

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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