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Donut King
13/11/2002
4:05:59 PM
Mike,

regarding the lastest footage you made available of Adrian leading "Appetite For Destruction", I'm sure Adrian is a way hardcore dude but for all concerned can you make him wear a t-shirk on sunny days...crieky!!!!!

Either that or you should spot meter on him before he climbs!!!!! hahahahahhahahahhahah

its great to see footage of climbing on the web, and I admit that I have a lot to learn.

Cheers

dk

Mike
13/11/2002
4:41:28 PM
Yeah Ado nearly blinded us with his tan ;-). We were lucky to get that footage. The tape ran out halfway up his ascent, and afterwards Ado used the wrong setting to film my lead of the next climb, so that's all the video I had to work with.

I personally have two colours: snowy white and lobster red. I came home with some nice sun burn sling marks from the weekend. Dude, you're going to have to offer your modelling services. Come on over and lead something wicked for me to film!

Donut King
14/11/2002
3:10:11 PM
Mike,

My range of colours is similar red-white.......i got up an awesome burn (not talking about my foreamrs)
at the Gramps one w/e.......what a stupid thing to do eh?

Would love to come over and model but am going through a bad hair period at the moment, I hope to make either a day trip or perhaps 2-day in December (if i can somehow get the time off) to get back to taipan......

I have recently got hold of a digital video camera (Panasonic), and would appreciate any tips that you have found during your lengthy carear filming, I guess Neil could have some insight on this as well???

Mike
14/11/2002
4:12:57 PM
Yeah, Neil would be the dude for the job, given the quality of his Baffin work, etc.

Anyway, what have I learned in my, what, less than a year of tinkering with film?

Mike's Home Climbing Video Tips

1. Train your buds to film.

Well first off the thing quickly becomes a chore. You need at least three people. One to belay, one to climb and one to film. Without three it's just not easy enough. Problem is, I'm usually either climbing or belaying, so the task of filming sometimes gets delegated to the nearest bud. So as a tip, get all the members of the team familar with the camera settings. With my camera you can easily get it stuck on stills mode instead of video, get the manual exposure locked, manual focus locked, and so on. The result is crap or non existant video. Either that or forget climbing for the day and concentrate on filming.

2. Get More and Cooler Angles.

Spice up the angles whenever you can. Avoid the bum shot at all costs! If you have time shoot a bit from below while the climber is low on the route, then race to the top and get some footage from above. (On a multi-pitch you'll just have to put up with bum shots). I've even gone to the trouble of rapping halfway down the line to get interesting side on views. If somone is working a route over multiple attempts this is perfect for filming. This way you can shoot from five or six different angles over various attempts and edit it into one climb later. I haven't tried asking someone to climb the route again, to get another angle. If I found someone patient enough to do that I might consider rapping down next to the line and mixing in close ups of specific crux hand holds, etc.

3. Edit Out The Crap

Even filming only selective snippets I usually come back with way too much footage of people fiddling around with gear, dogging bolts, and generally not moving upwards. I find that editing out all this makes for a fast paced climb. Just keep the action.

4. Avoid Zooming and Panning.

I'll mention this just quickly because it's really video skills 101. Film action, don't create it. As a general rule try not to pan or zoom while recording. Sometimes that's hard because you might miss something if you don't. But try anyway. There's nothing worse than home video where the camera is making enlessly sickening movements. Force yourself to stay still. Use a tripod if you have too. There are exceptions however. Like you might pan down from the top of the climb to give a sense of height. Or do a controlled zoom out to highlight the tiny nature of the climber in relation to the mamoth size of the cliff. But, yeah, generally, stay still!

5. Pray for Overcast Days

Sounds dumb, but it's not. Sunny days give you nothing but contrast issues. The rock face covered in dappelled shadows from the nearby trees plays havoc with a good shot. This is hard enough to compensate for with a still frame let alone video.

6. Get A Good Camera Bag

One you can take up a multi-pitch without worrying about the state of the camera. Are you going to drop it? I've tried tying off the camera to a sling, attached to by chest. Works for me.

7. Get A UV Filter

Again, this is video skills 101, but as soon as you buy the camera, stick on a clear UV filter and never take it off again. This way all those nasty chalk prints and scratches happen to the $20 filter and not the $1000 lens.

8. Forget About Audio

Unless you're doing a post climb interview or something, the audio is not going offer much, but wind and voices wildly varying in volume. What are you going to do, stick a boom mic on your leader? Make them go up with a wireless lappel mic? Even a good zoom mic is going to get mainly wind noise. If you really need clinking trad gear and shouts of "slack!!!", I guess the zoom mic would be the best bet. Generally though, I'd expect you'd stick some fast paced music over it, and leave the audio for commentary. By the way, keep the "voice of god" commentary (from the camera man), to a minimum. If you're serious you can always ask the climber to describe the crux afterwards, and then mix this, well captured audio in with the climbing footage during editing. This way you'll get clear voice. Most editing packages let you add mutiple layers of audio.

9. Buy A Powerful PC

You'll need like a 60 gig second disk drive, and a fast processor. Editing footage on the PC is great fun and easy with something like Pinnacle Studio, or Adobe Premier, but it eats diskspace like there's no tomorrow. You'll need like three times the amount of diskpace when editing so there's room to move things around and compile the final version.

10. Buy A Kayakers Dry Bag

Mine fits over the camera, and the normal bag just neatly. Its 100% water proof. You can submerge this sucker and a single drop will not hit the camera. Very handy for multi-day hikes where storms can come out of nowhere. Protect your camera from moisture, dust, chalk, basically anything that might harm it. The climbers environment is not a studio.

Donut King
14/11/2002
5:14:36 PM
coool, good tips mike.
overcast days, 3 people, dry bac, secure leash, patient climbers, no zoom/panning.....got it!


I have started to play around with the editing side of things, i have access to a newish e-Mac which comes atandard with a thing called i-Movie, which seems to be kinda nice for my hacky crap. the capturing is sweet via firewire, so somple even i can do it

hey waht about battery life, do you just get the biggest battery you can find and not use the LCD screen on the camera, or do you take a few bats with you?

nmonteith
14/11/2002
5:34:51 PM
Mike, you summed it all up very well. Another useful gadget is the Ultra Wide Angle Lens. This is perfect for those crazy bouldering shots and makes bum shots during multipitches a bit nicer. You can pick a very cheapy one up for about $80 which clips onto the front of the camera. The bigger the battery the better - i foind the giant ones last for days. Battery life has improved 10 fold int he last few years.

nmonteith
14/11/2002
5:39:14 PM
Also, NEVER EVER use the crappy 'fx' settings on cameras. All that shite just looks amutuerish and if you really want the video to look B&W and letterbox then you can just add it later using your video editing software.

I use Final Cut Pro on a Macintosh iBook laptop. I can edit ok using the internal 20gig drive - which holds about an hour of DV quality footage. An external firewire drive is a better option for doing larger projects.

Mike
18/11/2002
10:30:27 AM
Yep, I agree with Neil about avoiding the built-in effects on the camera, because anything like that is effecting your primary copy. Any fades, and effects, are being layed down to tape on the original, so you can never change it. Leave the fancy stuff (usuaully unecessary anyway) to the editing phase.

Re batteries. Yeah, I avoid the LCD mostly and use the small view finder, making sure to power down after each climb. I can make a 1 hour battery last all day, though I also have a 5 hour battery as backup. I find the really big batteries (7 to 12 hour ones) to be huge and heavy, totally throwing off the hand-held balance of my camera. Since I'm never recording continuous events, just snippets of footage, and my camera is tiny (fits in a coat pocket), I'd actually prefer to have multiple 1 hour batteries. It's not like I'm shooting a wedding here. I'm hanging off a rap rope with the tiny camera in one hand filming 10 second bursts of activity, then racing to find a new angle.

Re disk drive. With a second disk drive you'll avoid the occasional dropped frame when the operating system hits the primary drive during downloading footage to disk.
joemor
18/11/2002
12:07:19 PM
at least its nice to see someone as "tanned" as me.

Hawkman
30/11/2002
9:46:21 AM
On the Digital Cmera subject. What sort of price (ie the minimum) can i get away with spending on a digital Video camera that will be ok for climbing film clips. i don't ned anything to flash but i want something reasonable and not crap. any ideas?
secondly do video (digital) take good still photos or do i ned to spend heaps to get a good combined camera.
steve

nmonteith
2/12/2002
9:26:06 AM
About $1500 should get you a resonable single chip DV camera. In my experiance the digi still feature of a video camera is quite poor - they usuualy shoot low quality JPEGS (under 1.5 megapixels) whilst your average decent quality digi camera shoot at least (3.3 megapixels)

Mike
16/12/2002
4:23:33 PM
Yeah, what Neil said. My digital video camera also takes 1.3 mega pixel stills, which are fine for the internet, but all but useless as a print. You need at least 3 mega pixel for a standard postcard size 6x4" print. So no there are not really any good combination video/still cameras yet. Buy an entry level MiniDV with no stills ability, and a 3.3 mega pixel stills camera and put up with carting both around.

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