All about cycling in the Netherlands
You ask a lot of questions about how I create my videos. What camera do you use? How do you mount it? What software do you use for editing? Maybe not you personally, but many of my followers, here on my blog, on Twitter or on YouTube, seem to want to know.
That’s why I have this extra post now, to try to answer these questions.
Not all of my now 455 videos were made with the same camera. Over the almost 6 years I have been filming now, I used 3 different cameras and one smart phone. I did stay loyal to one particular brand of cameras, because I got attached to the ease of use and the good quality of the videos, that also improved with every new camera.
Mid-2008 I bought a new camera to replace an earlier photo camera. That new Canon Powershot SX100 turned out to be a great camera to film, so I started to do that more and more, especially on holidays. One example is the Cattle Auction video of Charters Towers in Queensland, Australia in May 2008. When I read some strange comments on the internet about how dangerous Dutch cycle tracks supposedly were, I decided to use this camera to make my first video to explain what cycling in the Netherlands really was about, in January 2009.
Because the developments of cameras went fast in those days, I replaced that camera in January of 2010. I had liked the Powershot SX100 so much, that I chose the Powershot SX200, its successor. That newer camera filmed in wide-screen and the quality of the images improved a lot. With that camera I filmed the now legendary Utrecht Morning Rush Hour video.
The camera was small, so people on the streets had no idea I was filming and not taking pictures. Which is great, because I want to have people behaving normally in my videos. The only disadvantage of that camera was that it didn’t have an image stabilizer. I tried the YouTube option to stabilize the images and that worked to an extent but all the really tall objects like trees, street lights and bridge pylons start to move as if they are of rubber. You can see this really well in the Nescio bridge video. But then I got a newer version of Windows that didn’t have “Movie Maker” anymore that I had always used for editing. Instead, I started using Adobe Premiere that did have a good video stabilizing feature, and that was the end of the dancing pylons.
I was very sad when on our holidays to the US in 2013, dirt crept into the lens, somewhere in the Arizonan desert. The video portrait of the US shows the Chicago images without, and the San Francisco images with a piece of dirt on the video. Someone on YouTube commented: “The smear on the camera is bothering me.” Well yes, it was really bothering me too! I tried to get it away and in the end it was brought back to two dots, clearly visible in the video of a ride in ʼs-Hertogenbosch. That video made me decide to get a replacement camera. Also because I had read on the internet, that more people had this problem and that it could only be remedied by replacing the lens, which cost almost as much as a new camera.
I had really grown accustomed to my Powershot, so once again I bought the follow-up design, hoping it would be as good as the previous type. That was certainly true. Much more than that. The new Powershot SX280 films in full HD and records sound in stereo! And it has a great built-in stabilizer. The only downside is that it is a bit harder to hold while cycling, but I have now found a way to hold it, that I can keep up for up to 20 minutes while one finger covers the two microphones. That way I try to keep the sounds of the winds to a minimum. I tried the camera out in this video. And I am using it to this day.
Sometimes I find a good subject to film without having that camera on me. In that case I may decide to return, but I have also used my smart-phone to film. There is one video that was entirely filmed on my iPhone 4s. But that is an exception.
In April 2013 my computer crashed. I had to replace it, including my editing software. From then on I have edited the videos with Adobe Premiere Elements 11. The first video I edited in the new program was the video about a visit to a bicycle shop. I couldn’t have picked a more difficult one! I needed texts as subtitles and I needed to have the sound of the interview continuing over other images. Forced by necessity I found all the editing features I needed within one week!
So that leaves me with the most asked question. How do you mount your camera to your bike? Some even have the audacity to ask whether I attach the camera to my helmet. To my what? I never have, nor will I ever be wearing such a thing. I didn’t even in Australia!
But no, I don’t mount my camera. I always film with the camera in my hand. And I can show you why.
I do have a tool to mount the video to my handle bars. When I found out my current camera has good image stabilizers I decided to try if it would be a good idea to start mounting the camera. So I tried the same cycle track with the camera mounted and again with the camera hand-held. I think the images speak for themselves.
Video: hand-held versus mounted
The hand-held images are much more stable. Because with my arm I counter most of the movements. When the camera is attached to the handle-bars you see every little bump in the surface. I also tried stabilizing the images with my editing software, but that is at the expense of the image quality and that is also not a good solution. So I will continue to film hand-held!
I hope this answers the questions some of you had.