With long distance motorcycle travel becoming increasingly popular, more and more riders are heading off to far flung places with a camera strapped to their bike in order to film their adventure.
However, just setting off with a camera and filming now and then doesn’t necessarily make for an engaging vlog of your trip. Luckily, someone who knows all about producing engaging videos on long distance motorcycle trips is Julia Sanders, one half of the record breaking husband and wife team behind GlobeBusters Motorcycle Expeditions.
In the November 2014 edition of RiDE Magazine, Julia gives some basic tips to riders thinking about filming a trip in the near future to improve the quality of their video.
When Kevin & Julia departed on their Trans-Americas Guinness World Record ride, they had a list of things they needed to film. The first, and most tedious thing on the list by far was cutaways. Over the course of the four week ride to the start of their record attempt, Kevin & Julia promised to film plenty of cutaway scenes – basic things like zipping up a jacket, pointing at a map, and sparking the bike into life. These small snippets are used by an editor to link scenes together, and although they may be boring to shoot when you want to get moving they are a cornerstone of the discipline and planning required to create something worth watching, that and some “impromptu creative flair”.
Julia advises that before a rider sets off, they think long and hard about the realities of filming. Do you want to interrupt your progress in order film a short scene? If you have done 500 miles that day, and are feeling tired can you really be bothered, every day? If you think it will impede your enjoyment of the trip, perhaps it is not for you.
As both Julia and Kevin have learned, getting the camera out can kill the conversation immediately with any interesting characters you meet. If you are one of a group, then you may become the cameraman and not the conversationalist which is also worth bearing in mind.
Julia has some great GlobeBusters tips for capturing some interesting footage:
- Keep the camera running – GlobeBusters often use a small camera over the shoulder to film in situations where you probably shouldn’t, like border crossings.
- Keep a video diary – Rather than a “we did this, we did that” type diary, film real-time viewpoints at the end of each day of riding. Just keep it short and sweet.
- Film what feels foreign – Every country has hills, fields and roads. Try putting them in context with signage, flags, food and national dress. Conversations in another language, or regional styles of music coming from your surroundings help with this too.
Of course, if you decide that you are going to film your journey you need to decide what setup you will use too. This is often determined by one key factor, are you riding alone or with others? Unfortunately if you are going it alone, it needs a more versatile setup. The advantages of riding two up or in pairs give far greater opportunity to be creative whilst the bikes are moving.
As a pillion you can get a much wider range of shots:
- Over the shoulder – A very stable shot, with an excellent view of the road. It can also include the clocks, mirrors and rear of the riders helmet.
- Low down shot – Ideal for moving wheel and engine clips, as well as blurred road markings and surfaces.
- Rear shot – If you are flexible enough, you can turn your upper body to shoot behind you.
- Side shot – Holding the camera into your side, resting on your thigh can give excellent and discreet shots of the people and places you pass on the side of the road.
- Stand up shot – For more angle, a confident pillion can stand on the foot pegs… as long as they warn the rider in advance.
Long, scenic shots require stability. If you decide to carry a trip, make it accessible. GlobeBusters use bungee cords to strap it to a top box for a quick release. Julia advises leaving the zoom alone, letting riders loom into view and then ride out of shot again. You can also try playing with camera angles, placing the camera flat on the road or angling it up and having the bike ride past as close as possible.
Julia and Kevin have tended to stay away from using a helmet camera, as they tend to attract attention. However, they can create a more dynamic experience and one rider can film another when riding in groups.
GlobeBusters are the motorcycle expedition experts, and travel the world on their Continental shod BMW bikes leading groups of riders on the trip of a lifetime. See what they are up too here.