Let's look at how to make an Epic mountain bike video.
Welcome to travelvids.tv , the place where you get to learn, how to make videos, the easy way. It's all about bicycles today, not just mountain bikes, but anything to do with bicycles and making cool videos. In our case, we've made videos like:
- Night-city-cycles (See post on Shooting video at night)
- E-bikes on the beach. (See post on how to pack light for adventure videos)
It doesn't matter what type of bicycle video, we're going to cover the tips and tricks that you need to consider:
- What to prepare before you go out and film
- What you do while you're filming
- And also, what you can do to make your edit look a whole lot better
This is how to make a bicycle video, but we are going to focus on how to make an ACTION mountain bike video, because it is about getting out there and not just "on the road for training", which is boring. (But good for you too.)
Let's get into it.
The gear you need for a MTB Action Video
Normally I start these posts with the story, because it's always about the story. It's about what you want to share with your audience. First we need to identify the different types of narratives that you can use when making a bike video. But before we get into that, I do want to talk about another chapter, something that we normally talk about or later, and I'm going to bring it to the front: THE GEAR.
The gear is actually going to play an important part when you're making an action MTB bike video. Action videos are always about the variety of angles. When you're riding a bike your hands are being used on the handlebars. The more rough the terrain, the more you're going to need both your hand on the bars.
So that means we're going to have to put the camera in certain places to get the shot. Those places might be attached to you, they might be attached to the bike, might be attached to the environment like on a tree or on the ground or it might be in somebody else's hand.
In all of these cases, you need to plan for this.
What do need to make these shots possible? Well a good start is a camera. If you are going to use a smartphone, you're going to need to go and get the right gear to attach it to the different positions.
The truth is a smartphone might not be the best option for all of these shots. And so the first thing that I want to bring up are ACTION CAMERAS.
For bike videos, it is worth the investment of getting an action camera, something like a GoPro. There's many other more affordable cameras too. The point is that action cameras are designed for exactly this type of thing.
They have got a nice wide angle. They've often got good stabilisation. So even without a gimbal, without the thing that keeps your camera stable, you still get a pretty good shot because of that big wide angle that it gives you.
Camera Accessories and Mounts
All action cameras are designed to attach to mounts. You can get a head mount, you can get the chest Mount, and then you can get the bar mounts, which literally clamps onto the bike in different places. We, for example, we'll put it on the handlebars facing forward. Down to see a little bit of the wheel in the foreground and see the horizon. We'll also turn it around and face back to get the reaction shots.
We've put it behind the seat, looking at the wheel, going backwards. It's always cool to get another person in the shot just to make sure somebody's riding behind you. To get more interesting shot, have somebody ride behind you. You can also point to the wheel, the pedals, the handle bar... be creative.
There are so many places where there's a bar on the bike and you attach it to that. Whether you using a phone or an action camera, get a mount for the bars, get a mount for the helmet and get a month for the chest, because these are the most common.
For all angles that are "Off bike" as in on the ground or on a tree looking at you riding, this is where your phone or another camera like a DSLR will come in handy.
For Drive by shots you're going to want to try pod. The best thing you can get for this type of video is a gorilla pod. It's the one with the little bubbles that bends around things. This, you can attach to a tree, you can put it on the ground, you can hang it up on a branch someway, or put it on a pole.
Once you have identified a good spot to drive by, go ahead, clamp it on drive by grab it and keep going. It's also good to do a couple of different variations in this, but we'll get to that in the technical section later. The tripod is very important to get shot variety that breaks it up for the viewer not to just the on bike action. Get a gorilla pod for your MTB videos.
Another thing that makes a great camera accessory: bring a friend. It's always more fun enjoying your best trails chasing or leading the way with another person. Have somebody there that is able to shoot you and you shoot them.
It's just so important to also get a bit of those action shots where you literally get to follow somebody. Remember the lesson on "action following" where you basically highlight the subject and follow them. Make sure that you've always got somebody who's willing to film with you there.
Gimbals will always enhance the video and make it look awesome and a touch more professional, but there is absolutely no necessity for it in the beginning. If you make your first few videos without it, and you get to get the feeling of how to build a cool little bike video without it you're better for it.
When you get into making videos and you're doing it often, then it's worth upgrading to better gear, getting multiple cameras, getting gimbals and that type of thing.
But if you're starting out, don't start there. A gimbal can actually make the whole process more complicated. And you'll actually just slow down the process. You want to be making videos fast. You want to be hitting those bike trails as often as you can, and not be hampered by the idea of learning how to use it.
So that's what I have to say on gimbals as a beginner, but we will obviously do content on gimbals. We use the DJI Osmo a lot for a lot of our shots because yeah, it does look good.
Next chapter. Let's talk about the story.
What are you going to Film?
When it comes to biking, there are a multitude of different niches and categories and things to talk about. Now, whether it's the trails that you're going on, the gear that you use, your experience of different things, maybe you're into racing, maybe you're into competitions.
You've got to pick the niche and make sure that you're making a story about that. Don't cross the lines, don't try and mix everything into one video.
You have the opportunity here to make a whole series of videos. And then in each niche, remember that's not just one video. Again there's opportunity to do multiple videos, dive in a little bit deeper into these different niche, video categories.
So for example, you can do videos about the trails. Each trail, you go on a new video where you talk about what it was like for you, what the difficulty was, what the challenges were with the highlights were, advising people on what to look out for.
And with each one of those little snippets, you can add in a whole bunch of different shots to support that. You could be talking about personal experiences, your favourite trail, an injury that you had, how you overcame that injury, what you do to prevent injury.
Then we could look at how you got into biking. Why you love MTB biking, what Mountain biking means to you. Every single one of these can either be a small part of a bigger video or a short video all by itself. You can talk about your training, how you train, how this is a social thing for you, how it is a competitive thing for you.
And of course, one more thing that I'll leave you with is gear. This is my complete setup. This is what's on it. Or you can say, this is why I use This item, these tires, this is why I use these reflectors or why I bought this helmet. Where do you buy your gear? Collaborate with your local bike store.
I'm going to stop there because you can see, I can just offload on the spot and come up with so many things. Break your interest down into all its little parts and make a list of video ideas. pick one and start there.
Lots of story ideas, but how do we make this into a video now? How do we get technical on that? What are the shots that I need to get to support the story? Let's get into the technical in the gear section, I spoke about the opportunity for a wide variety of angles.
What shots do you need to get?
MTB Biking is under the category: Action. Action means lots of cutting usually. And a lot of cutting means a lot of angles and a lot of shot variety. So take that into account. And when you're setting up for these different mounted shots, don't film endless shots attached to your helmet. Don't film the whole trail with camera on your chest. Unless that is exactly the type of video you want to do. (a POV of the full trail.) I wouldn't suggest it.
I suggest you mount the camera to a place and get short burst of clips. You look for something specific, like that's the bend, that's the jump, that's the drop and I'm going to get it from this angle.
There is a specific place that will make the shot look great. You only need the motion of passing by this location. Perhaps 20seconds tops!
You need to just think about that. When I do the attached to the wheel, I want to be dropping over a rock. So attach it, do the thing, take it off again. That clip only needs to be a short little clip to get that, that visual cue before you move on to the next one.
So attach it to your helmet and zip past the tree, or around the next bend, then attach it to your wheel. Get somebody behind you who's doing a little swerve in and out and then change it again.
Small deliberate clips.
Basically I don't want you to just attach it for the sake of attaching it, attach it with a deeper purpose to show something a little bit more exciting with that angle.
The same goes for when you're putting the camera down and filming drive-bys. One tip is get the camera low, put it on the ground. First of all, it'll make everything look a lot faster and also a lot more dramatic. Looking at something that goes past you has got a more dramatic feel looking up. looking down slows and flattens everything.
Just remember low angles is good for action.
Another thing to remember is the variety of scale. So when you're in an awesome location, remember you want to get the entire location. You want to get those nice panoramic shots, but you also want to mix it up with the, the bike shots, the action shots.
Remember you want to get somebody to do those follow follow shots. That's a mid-range. And then as I always say, as many closeups as you possibly can. The attachment shots are your closeups, but even when it's off bike, So when you're putting it on the ground and you're driving through puddles, or you're getting the wheel knocking on some leaves or something like that, or the sand lifting.
Don't forget environment shots, little close-ups of, of where are you. If you're in the forest, get some leaves, get some trees, some tree bark. If you're on the beach, get some stones, get some waves. A lot of detailed shots that you can throw into your edit just as like flash flash, flash, flash flash, to keep that energy going to match the excitement of what it is that you're actually doing.
A super important technical aspect is you're moving fast. There is action. So slow motion is going to come in handy. As always with slow-mo, don't just do it for the sake of it. If somebody is just going along a road, there's no major need for slow-mo. Slow-mo is for those high action parts where the dust flies with the leaves go flying, where something's turning or in the middle of a jump or where something is about to happen.
Then you can do those speed ramps when the frame goes from normal speed, slows down and you can see the highlight and then speeds on again. As with everything, be deliberate about it. You don't need a massive amount of slow-mo, you just need to place it in the video a few times to make that exclamation mark: This is action.
It's great to be linking shots to help your story. I spoke a lot about trails earlier... when it comes to a trail, you don't always want to just be a montage of the trail. Sometimes you do want to give somebody an idea of what happened here, what happens next? What happens after that?
For example the trail has a drop section, a jump section, and then a little bit of a climb.Then keep that sequence. So people really get an idea of what this trail is like. And that means that you've got to link up those shots. Make sure that you get a variety of arriving on the scene shots , some "during shots" and leaving shots, not just one of that location.
When you start linking these "scenes" up, you're telling a micro story within the greater story. The full narrative will definitely come to life.
Giving you viewers information beyond pictures is very important. You need to tell people stuff. This doesn't mean you have to be talking to camera necessarily. Some people are just not comfortable with that. So you can also do voice overs. You can get other people to be talking in the video too.
And if you don't want that, then you can also just add in titles to highlight the distance or "this is the hard part", or this is "three hours in". So use either voice talking to camera or titles to keep people updated about what's happening in the video.
Obviously when it comes to less action-orientated stories like talking about gear, you're going to just need a simple talking head frame where you just set the camera up and talk it through. Then afterwards you go and get the supporting closeup footage of the things you're talking about.
That's pretty much it from a technical point of view; get lots of short clips and make sure you get those narrative pieces. Then just merge them together in your edit. Speaking of which last chapter let's look at what you can do about editing for your bike video for your mountain bike video.
Editing, let's go.
Editing your Mountain Bike Video
This is going to be boring by now, but keep it simple. All you want to do here is link the shots back to back to tell that short narrative. The narrative piece (the talking or info piece), followed by supporting footage and repeat.
Yes, you are going to have a massive stock variety of footage. So definitely make sure that you're grouping all your shots in nice, neat folders. Keeping it together so that when you're looking for a specific scene, all those, those shots are together and you're not being overwhelmed by all the closeups of everything everywhere.
You need to be able to keep organised when you're doing a high variety of short clips. So that is of utmost importance in this particular video type, because there are so many different little moving parts. What I can suggest is that you pre edit your scenes, especially if you're a beginner still. And if you're editing on a smartphone, then I suggest that you put each scene, each location, each narrative with its, with its supporting footage in a separate album in a separate folder.
And you edit that separately first. It doesn't have to be a fixed edit. It's just a loose collection of cutting it down to its best parts, removing the things that you don't need. So that when you talk about making a bigger video, you just bring the pre-made sections into the edit. You can still move things around later.
The point is that you want to get the shots that belong together, edited together in isolation, and you want to get that done first.
If you're going to be using action music, which is great, don't overpower all the audio. You still want that environment sound. It's quite important to get the reaction sounds from yourself, but also the sounds of the bike.
It just adds to the experience. So don't mute all your clips. If for whatever reason you can't use the clip sound because it was wind distorted for example you can record your own SFX. On the day, get some supporting sound footage, which you can use in your edit. Record some wheel sounds, or some puddle splashes. It's always good to have your own sound FX library. It'll add an enhanced to the overall feeling of the video.
When it comes to fast, moving high paced edits, I strongly recommend you stay away from transitions.
I'm not a fan of transitions in any video. It doesn't mean you can't use them, but for this in particular you want to definitely keep a scene without transitions. You want to just keep those cuts nice and clean.
When you're transitioning into a completely different scene or a different energy level its Ok to fade in and out. Show the viewers you have transitioned into a new scene. Don't use transitions without giving it a purpose. Only use the transition when you're actually saying means X. If you're just putting it on there, because you feel like I have to do it.... Don't. Walk away from that.
This type of footage lends itself to being cinematic. You're in cool locations after all. Also there is action involved. There are moving parts. That's a great time to make cinematic video. We have covered this extensively in other posts: GET CINEMATIC LOOK AND FEEL.
Get the Shot list (From the Course)
There was a ton of information in here. Get the downloadable sheet with the most important notes from this post. And of course also a shot list in case you can't remember everything that was said here.
That's it for me for this mountain biking video talk. I hope it's been helpful. Please share your questions and Mountain bike videos (for commenting by us) in the comments section below.