As well as promoting MBWales I’m also the head honcho of a small adventure production company called Maia Media. I’ve made my fair share of mountain biking videos and I’ve learnt a few things along the way. This month I wanted to share a few of my top tips. Hopefully I’ll inspire you enough to take on August’s MBWales 2012 Challenge which is to make a good MTB movie.
My top 10 tips:
1) Watch other mtb videos.
The best way to learn how to make good mtb videos is by watching other peoples. I can easily spend and hour or two trawling through Vimeo or Youtube. Think about what you liked and didn’t like and try and implement the stuff you did in your own creations. A good place to start researching is the mountain bike group on Vimeo
2) Always plan or storyboard.Even before you touch the camera you should have a plan. Think about what story you are trying to tell. Even if you’re just filming your mates on a day out at Coed Llandegla. Without a plan you can end up with masses of footage or you’ll miss important and shots you wished you had.
3) Think carefully about camera choice. If you are out on the trails with friends and the day is as much about riding as it is about filming then you’ll undoubtedly want some kind of action camera like the GoPro HERO. An action camera can set you back between £250 - £350. The wide range of accessory mounts available make it super easy to get lots of different angles. My favourite are the chesty and bar/seatpost mounts. As a side note, it’s worth remembering that action cameras on the whole aren’t great in low light so if it’s a very dull day and you’re mostly cycling in a forest it’s probably worth leaving the camera in your bag and enjoying the trails.
If you’re lucky enough to have friends patient enough to stop, wait and re ride trails whilst you film then it’s worth considering a better quality camera. You can spend anything from £200 upwards. Don’t let technology be an excuse though, if you don’t have the money for expensive gear you can still learn a lot by making films with any camera.
4) Hold your shots. The first sign of a low quality film is shaky footage. Avoid scanning here, there and everywhere without ever holding onto something long enough for the viewer to take stock. If you’ve a really nice shot hold it for 5 or even 10 seconds as you can always trim to length when editing. Ideally use have a tripod.
5) Get a variety of shots. Close ups, wide angles, tracking and point of view (POV) shots are just some of the options open to you. You should have thought about the types of shots you’re after in your initial planning stage. Take along a notebook and tick off the shots once you have them in the bag.
6) Keep it short. Two to three minutes is a good length for a web video. Keep your final edit short and sweet and try not to be precious with your footage. It can be worth asking a friend to watch over an initial edit. Listen to their feedback and try to implement what they say. If your best mate thinks it’s too long then a complete stranger probably won’t make it to the end. Review every shot and ask yourself is it really adding anything to the overall story.
7) Get Creative.
As I mentioned above you don’t need all the best gear to make a decent film. Most of the time the quality of a video will come down to the creativity and imagination of the filmmaker. Stop making excuses and begin to flex that creative muscle. I recently wanted a few aerial tracking shots whilst out on the trail but a microcopter was well out of my budget. After a little planning, a short trip to B&Q and an afternoon in the garden I had created my own DIY cable cam
DIY GoPro Cable Cam from Maia Media on Vimeo.
8) Think about sound. If you are predominantly using a music soundtrack spend a while thinking about the vibe of the film you’re making and the best sound to help you tell that story. Remember gnarly heavy rock music will only look good if you’re getting serious air and riding like a pro. Some of the best videos have a multilayer soundtrack and incorporate bike noises too.
9) Share your video. Since you’ve spent all this time and energy making the video I would definitely recommend uploading it to aweb hosting site.From there you can share it with friends and even get feedback from complete strangers.
10) Ride your bike. Filmmaking can sometimes takeover and you can find yourself behind the camera more than on your bike. It’s important to make time to ride because after all that’s the reason you became inspired and you want to keep that fire alight.