My current video workflow

So this post showed up in my “On This Day” feed on Facebook, and so I thought I should post an updated version. These days I record with 2 GoPro cameras, a Hero 5 Session on my head, and a Hero 5 Black on the front of the boat on a mount made by James I Smith, from North Carolina. James gave me the mount as a gift, which I’m really grateful for. I also managed to snag a legit copy of Final Cut Pro X when it went on sale.

So here’s what I do now after shooting some video.

  1. I make a bluescreen video with my Garmin data overlayed in Garmin VIRB Edit. The procedure I use is detailed in this video
  2. While that is processing, I bring the files from each camera into Final Cut Pro X, and for each camera I make a full duration compound clips to simplify the editing.
  3. Hopefully I will have remembered to clap or otherwise do something distinguishable in front of both the cameras so I can get the two compound clips time synchronized.
  4. I’ll use the transforms to move and clip both compound clips to create a split screen effect.
  5. It’s sometimes a good idea at this point just to leave everything overnight so the VIRB Edit export can finish and so can the creation of FCPX render files. Even my new iMac is pretty sluggish until those files are finished.
  6. I’ll scrub back and forth on the split screen looking for things I want to comment on in the video, and putting in lower third titles. I’ll also look for places where I only want the front view or the back view instead of the split screen, because all the action is happening in front of or behind me. I’ve experimented in the past with making my own transitions using key-frames so the split screen transitions to a single view over a few seconds, and transitions back over a few seconds, but I rarely use it because of all the cutting I do later.
  7. At this point I’ll bring in the blue-screen video above the other clips on the timeline, and apply the Chroma Key effect to it so the other videos below show through. Then I’ll try to time synchronize it – hopefully you can see me pushing the start on my GPS in one of the videos.
  8. Now I’ll make a compound clip of the blue-screen and the two compound clips.
  9. I’ll use the “Blade All” key shortcut and cut out all the bits where I didn’t have anything to point out. I’ll make another pass of cutting and deleting to try to get the video down under 15 minutes, although sometimes I don’t succeed.
  10. I’ll add transitions on all the cuts. I prefer to use the same transition on every cut for consistency, usually one of the simpler ones. I want it to be obvious I’m cutting.
  11. Usually I reduce the volume on the compound clips down to near zero, and try to find some music to put over it. There isn’t a lot of talking during paddle races, and some of it we’d rather not remember afterwards. I prefer bouncy folk music, especially stuff from Genticorum or Great Big Sea or something that sounds like Voyageur music, but I’ve had problems with YouTube and copyright on those songs.
  12. Add title and out-tro titles. In the out-tro, don’t forget to label all the music I used. I should probably have boilerplate asking people to like, subscribe and share like all the pros do.
  13. Export the video to a master file, and then upload to YouTube.

During the off season I’ve been thinking about and experimenting with some things to see if I can improve my videos. Here’s some of the ideas that you might see in this year’s videos:

  • Using motion tracking or a 2 second freeze frame to label the other people in the video. Here‘s a short example of using a freeze frame.
  • Adding a third camera. I’ve only got lower resolution cameras like the Contour, but I’m thinking of sticking it behind me pointing backwards for when the camera up front is missing what’s happening because of my body being in the way.
  • Making a public Dropbox that other paddlers can share their videos so I can include other people’s points of view. The biggest hurdle is finding out if people will actually do this.

2018 Racing Calendar

I don’t think I did one of these last year. This year, because of the extended unemployment and the fact that I’m currently underemployed, I’m thinking of staying closer to home to save money, and just doing the NYMCRA kayak points races plus the USCA Nationals and Lighthouse To Lighthouse. One thing is that some of these races are far enough away that I’d really want to stay overnight the night before – I wonder if I should buy some camping equipment to save money? I’m also worried about my extended illnesses so far this year – I’ve gotten less than 13.5 hours of training so far this calendar year, and last year at this time I had nearly 55 hours.

So here’s the preliminary schedule.
May 12 – Round the Mountain
June 2 – Tupper Lake 8 Miler
June 9-10 – Madrid Canoe Regatta
July 7 – Armond Bassett
July 14 – Electric City Regatta
July 29 – BluMouLA – BuFuRa
Aug 10-12 – USCA Nationals (The website isn’t clear about what day is what, but I’m thinking of doing Unlimited and Touring this year)
Sept 15 – Lighthouse To Lighthouse
Sept 22 – Long Lake Long Boat Regatta
Sept 30 – Seneca Monster

The ones in bold are the ones I did last year. Last year I also did the “Onandaga Cup”, which was a test run for the USCA Nationals going once around the course. This year we’re doing it twice, and I believe we’re not going to start out in the lake like we did last year.

I’m thinking I might continue to use the V-12 on races where I know it’s going to be very flat, like Armond Bassett and USCA Nationals. I’m thinking about buying or borrowing a V-8 to race the Touring class at the USCA nationals. I’m also toying with the idea of maybe doing the V-8 at Lighthouse To Lighthouse to see if it means I don’t slow to a crawl in the rough bit around the second lighthouse. Either that or paddling the short course in my Sport. Otherwise I’ll stick to the Sport.

I’m hoping this will be a good year for videos. I’m going to set up a public Dropbox in hopes that other paddlers will share their videos – maybe I can make a big overview one showing multiple viewpoints instead of just my own.

Video labeling

I thought it would enhance my video if I could call out people’s names. At first I was looking to use motion tracking to have the labels follow the paddler on the screen. I tried using Motion, which comes with Final Cut Pro X, but it has two problems

  • I have to export a 10 second or shorter clip from Final Cut Pro, bring it into Motion, do the motion tracking, and then bring it back into FCP and fit it back into the right part of the timeline.
  • It really didn’t work very well – I had to keep adding manual key frames and restarting the tracking. In the video here, I actually gave up on adding more manual key frames when I was working on JoAnn’s label which is why it goes off into the weeds.

Then I tried a couple of plugins that would supposedly do the job without having to leave Final Cut Pro X. Both of them had trial modes, so I was able to experiment without paying the $100 they wanted. The first one, EasyTracker, did a pretty good job of tracking, but it crashed FCP several times every time I tried to track, and eventually screwed up the playback window so I couldn’t see anything until I deleted the plugin. The second one, CoreMelt TrackX, was practically useless. I tried putting a polygon over Jim’s bright orange shirt thinking it had pretty good contrast to the water and trees it was in front of, and said to “track forward”, and within a few seconds the polygon was somewhere off to the right of the war canoe that was to his right. Useless.

So then I had a thought – in his highly entertaining “How The Race Was Won” videos, Cosmo Catalano likes to call out riders names by using a freeze frame. He also puts a mask around each rider to emphasize it. He told me once he actually takes a screen shot and brings it into Photoshop to do that. I would prefer not to do that, not least because I don’t have Photoshop. However, FCP has a nice “Freeze Frame” feature that inserts a nice 4 second freeze of the frame at the current playhead position. Here’s what it looks like.

I kind of like this way.

My Speedstroke is at the end of its rope.

When I bought my KayakPro Speedstroke in 2011, it came with one spare rope and one spare bungee. It actually uses two of them, one on each side, but it only comes with one. I guess I now know why – after 7 years, I finally need to replace the rope. It was getting a bit ratty looking right where it goes through the front two pulleys, and it was shedding hair all over the place. But today was the last straw, as the bunched up hair started causing it to fall off the front pulleys when I was paddling easy between intervals. It didn’t take too long to replace the rope, as the whole machine is extremely well designed and constructed. And it felt so much better afterwards that I’m thinking I might just buy another rope and replace the other side as well even though it’s not showing the same signs of ratty-ness.

7 Year Old Erg Rope

Long Lake Long Boat Regatta 2017 Video

I shot this one in 4K/30fps. 30 frames per second doesn’t capture the motion as well, but I think it does more justice to the amazing scenery. Also, it’s a bit easier to recognize people coming in the other direction – I had real problems with that doing the Lighthouse to Lighthouse video.

As I post this, YouTube is still working on it, so it’s not available in full resolution. If it doesn’t look really sharp, come back later.

It’s such a relief to have a GoPro on the front again. Hopefully, the new rig doesn’t allow in water the way my jury-rigged extra battery did.