Video Experiment

Before the 2016 season started I set a goal for myself, an experiment. I decided I would attempt to put out a roughly 30 second video after every day of every event I attended in 2016. With one exception I think I was successful with my experiment.

The germ of the idea began several years ago when a couple friends asked about the footage that we were all collecting at the races. I started to edit footage together, but it was taking too long. I was releasing the edits six months or a year after the event. Then last summer Abdil used his iPhone to trim a video down to 15 seconds to upload to Instagram. But I didn’t want to release a thirty second video of a run. I wanted to make a slicker edited cut.

A nice laptop would solve the problem, but my laptop broke at a race a few years ago and I never bothered to replace it. I set off trying to find a mechanism to help copy footage without a laptop. I found a small device, little larger than a deck of cards, the lets you use your phone to copy files from an SD card to a USB device. I had a way to transfer footage, now I just needed a way to edit it.

A few weeks before the Maryhill Spring Free Ride my company decided to give me a bonus by the way of a Google Pixel C. The Pixel C is tablet with a nice keyboard. PowerDirector, the editor I use on my desktop, had been recently released for Android. Turns out it is also one of the few editors that would work on the Pixel C with the resolution I was filming.

Originally I wasn’t planning on releasing videos for the freerides, but I figured it would make a good test run. And the experiment was almost over before it began! The first thing I have to do is transfer footage to the tablet. After getting back to the hotel from the first day of riding I started a transfer from my GoPro to the tablet. After about an hour, I was ready to go grab some dinner. Figured I could watch the footage while I ate. Except it had only copied like 5% and said it would take another 12 hours to finish! Twelve hours! I would be back on the course before then.

I had to figure a way to transfer the footage faster. Especially if I wanted to get footage from other people at the events. At dinner I figured I could use the GoPro wifi to transfer footage. It was still taking too long, but it would at least work for Maryhill. I was able to get my footage transferred during dinner, but that was too long to transfer other footage. Later I discovered if I reformatted the SD card I could transfer files about 10 times faster!

My goal was to make thirty second videos. This proved difficult as it doesn’t give you a whole lot of shots. But the real issue I ran into was finding music that had an intro and a closing in thirty seconds. Most thirty second songs jumped right into the beat. I ended up figuring I would just start the song after the title, and usually winding the music down before the credits. This gave me about 45 seconds of video, giving me a few more shots I could throw in.

The next real challenge came at my first race. Turns out I was the only one practicing luge, and solo runs are fairly boring. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to put together a full thirty seconds. I managed to put something together the first two days. But the race changed schedules, with the race held on the second day, and a freeride on the second day. I took one run on the last day, and decided conditions were too unsafe. I figured I still had enough footage from the one run, except I managed not to film the run. This was actually the only day that I didn’t release a video, but it barely matters as I only took a single run.

There were a few times I stayed up very late to work on the video. One night I fell asleep while it was uploading, and I had to wake up later to restart the upload. But the hardest time came at one of the last events, l’Ultime Descente. I had a lot of good footage and ran into some problems. I think one night I went to bed about 4am, with an 8am start! The last night we were out late hanging out with everyone. I didn’t get started until very late. I think that night I was up until 6 am! Fortunately, I had no plans for the next day other than the five hour drive back to the airport.

The experiment was a success. I made 25 short videos at the events, releasing them the same day they were filmed. It was difficult at times. But I am going to try to do it again next year. Hopefully I can streamline part of the process and speed up the edits. I actually enjoyed putting the videos together, and hopefully it will spread street luge a bit further.