Friday, October 06, 2006

I Got a Helmet Cam

These guys inspired me to start making some videos of cycling and bike races... I bought a simple helmet camera from Oregon Scientific and, so far, it has been a lot of fun. I've got two more on the way, one for Ron and a second one for me.

I took the camera on the Saturday 8:00 roco ride two weeks ago and shot some footage, but it turns out that was the easy part. Here were the subsequent steps to making the movie:

  1. I download the avi files to the computer through the USB port and then imported them into a nice open-source freeware program called VirtualDub that provides some handy video editing tools and filters. The raw footage from the camera is very shaky because of road vibrations and my head bobbling around, so I used a really cool filter called Deshaker that processes the video and tries to compensate for unwanted camera motion. Of course, the camera actually is moving, so it's a bit tricky to get it to do the right thing. Trial and error...
  2. Once I was happy with the filtered video, I imported it into the movie-making program called Adobe Premier Elements which allows the user to split clips, add transitions and text, mix video and audio, and much more.
  3. Next I used Audacity to shorten and compress some music and voice clips, which I then added to the movie in Premier Elements. (more on this below)
  4. I then added some voices using a text-to-voice web demo program from AT&T Labs.
  5. Finally, using Snagit I captured some clips of the funny monkey from the CareerBuilder monk-e-mail site, and then mixed them into the movie.
  6. Once the movie was together in Premier Elements, I had to export it in a video format such as avi, mpeg, wmv, etc. and there are a lot of settings to choose that impact quality and file size. I was unable to get much compression with either mpeg or avi so I settled on the Windows format (wmv).
  7. Finally, I uploaded it to Google Video and, lo-and-behold, it was on the web (albeit with somewhat worse quality than on my PC).

I'm really excited to make story-telling videos of races next year. I think an in-the-peloton view can add a lot, and be very entertaining (at least to the participants!). So if you're in a race next year and you see a dorky guy who looks like the borg, "smile, you're on candid camera!"

Note: I am concerned that my use of the music in my first video may violate the "fair use" conventions for copyrighted material. On the side that says it's ok... (1) it's not commercial and it doesn't deprive the artists of any revenue, and (2) the movie uses only a portion of the songs and the quality is significantly reduced. On the side that says it's not ok... well, the songs are copyrighted. I'll have to research and soul-search a bit further...

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