Cycling Europe, The Film… Well, The Video…

Danny MacAskill’s latest epic production – watch it here on YouTube – has got me thinking about using more video on this website. It wasn’t so much the video itself (which is just sublime) as the ‘making of’ documentary that I stumbled upon last night while looking for the ‘Extra Slice‘ thing of The Great British Bake Off on the BBC iPlayer. I haven’t watched that yet but I did watch the Danny MacAskill film (which includes ‘The Ridge’ in full at the end – worth watching on your big screen TV if it has the iPlayer hooked up to do so). Here is the link to the ‘making of’ film; at the time of writing this you only have another 29 days to watch it. The film clearly demonstrates how far things have come in video production. The crew was relatively small, the equipment very lightweight, the quality stupendous and the result was, as you can see, cinematic. Now before you get too excited, I’m not aiming at reaching the levels of production or indeed content to which Danny and his team have manage to climb, but it is an example of just how things have progressed since the days of the videotape camcorder.

My experience of using video is limited. I do have a YouTube channel myself of course which is woefully under-managed and simply hosts the various oddities that I have filmed over the years. These range from me cycling along a Via Verde in Spain (complete with squeaky brakes at the end) to me cycling home from work in a speeded up 4 minutes to the music of Superman. Should you be so inclined, here is the complete showreel:

You didn’t watch them all did you? I hope not. Anyway, back to the present day and video blogging. I’m not keen on the word ‘blogging’ by the way as it seems to denigrate the quality of what I write here; I’m not quite sure how I feel about the word ‘vlogging’ but I’ll use it for the time being. WordPress, the hosts of CyclingEurope.org have a video upgrade option that costs $60 per year although there is a free trial for two weeks which I have just activated. This allows video posts to be uploaded directly to this website without going first via either YouTube or Vimeo. I’m not yet sure whether this is a great advantage or indeed whether it is worth paying $60 for the privilege. I have two weeks to make up my mind. It’s reassuring, however, to see that it is simple to do and I have just made and uploaded the following film, a time lapse tour of my flat (which, as you know, is up for sale so if you are interested, get in touch!):

So, the logistics of uploading are sorted. I was even able to do so relatively easily from my phone and the 4G connection on the iPhone 6 made it a quick job. What about the filming equipment? Well, this will take a little more experimentation. With my iPhone, my mini iPad and my Canon SX500IS camera I have five, yes five! cameras at my disposal. Thirty years ago the featured football game on Match of The Day was probably recorded with only five cameras all of which were of poor quality compared to the ones I can almost slide into my pockets. Obviously it would be a little tricky for me to film a football match with four of the cameras being part of just two of the gadgets but you get my drift. All of the cameras produce stunning quality images and all but the front camera on the iPad are capable of doing so in HD. Stabilisation software is also built into the Cannon as well as the iPhone. Should I add to this little collection through the purchase of the upcoming GoPro Hero 4? Here’s the publicity film for the Hero 4 Silver, the cheaper of the two new models available. It’s the kind of film that will have you running down to John Lewis more quickly than you can say ‘sod it, I’ll put it on the credit card‘…

…but don’t bother to do that just yet as it’s not yet available in stores! It no doubt will be well before Christmas.

So, I have the online necessities set up and I have some good kit. What about software to edit? Well, I need to do a little bit of research here and much practice should I choose to invest in something to turn my clips into short films. The Apple Mac has iMovie which is very effective at creating fun videos like this one which was a trailer for the film of my walking trip to Slovakia with two friends during Easter 2013. Funnily enough the full length film has yet to hit the cinemas (or, come to think of it, be made…):

But for more ‘serious’ attempts at travel film-making, perhaps I need something a little less gimmicky. Any suggestions? Ideally a piece of software or an Apple app that works well on the mini iPad.

Of course having the means to upload onto the Internet, the hardware and the software comes to nothing if you haven’t got the skill to make engaging content in the first place but with my photographic track record – many examples of which are available to see on this website as well as Flickr and Instagram – and my previous small time forays into the art of video, I reckon I have a good chance of creating something of quality. And what better backdrop than a three month stay in Spain followed by a three month cycle across Europe (see previous post) to put everything into practice… Thoughts welcome.

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