Moto Diary #9: Video and night rides

First Run

My GoPro mount arrived last week and so a few days ago I got around to placing it on my helmet (with a 24 hour wait after for the adhesive to set). I wanted to take some test footage, and I thought I'd try doing a mini-project by doing a few night clips.

I was a lot more ambitious when planning, and predictably the scope was shrunken down to fit my schedule (meaning just an existing commute and not a special filming trip).

Things I had to find out

  • Is it difficult to press play on the go? (easy at a stop)
  • How would the low-light performance be? (not so great)
  • What kind of view does it get on top of my helmet? (too high, will expand on that below)
  • What's the battery life like? (Recorded for about an hour and it was almost up by then)
  • How's the added wind resistance up there? (significant)

Things I discovered and didn't consider before

  • Editing 1080p video even on a modern machine can be pretty slow, especially if I'm trying to stabilize the whole thing in software.
  • When the camera has no point of reference to the vehicle and is set fairly high, the sense of speed is greatly reduced. Looking at the video it looks like I'm going about half the speed that I actually traveled at.
  • I thought my head would act as a decent stabilizer, as one naturally tries to keep their head stable, but in addition to being a windy night, and the camera acting as a mini-sail, the recording was pushed around quite a bit.
  • Everytime I check my mirrors or my blind spots it is super disorienting in the video. I tried to limit it with editing, but it's such a fast movement and with no stable point of reference it's even worse.

Take aways

First I'm going to buy a heat gun and remove the mount from the top of my helmet (this is annoyingly necessary as the adhesive is crazy strong). Then I'm going to try and remount it on my helmet's chin area for a lower viewing position – more natural viewing angle and away from the wind.

Second I'm going to look into stabilizing tricks. I've read some people wedging bits of tissue into the mounting bracket to reduce micro-vibrations. Worth a shot.

Third I'll do a daytime ride and see how much better it is with proper light when the GoPro isn't struggling to produce a decent image in the first place. I was way too optimistic with the darkness, I thought Toronto's significant light pollution would solve this for me, but it didn't.

So lots of things to learn!

If you have some video experience and have any tips, I'd love to hear from you. It's a lot of stuff to think about!