Using OpenShot to edit track day videos for YouTube – part 2

video_introIn the previous instalment I explained how to set up your camera(s) on your bike to help produce decent quality video. In this article, I’ll show you how to edit your video using OpenShot to produce a high quality video for YouTube.

OpenShot is a powerful and simple to use free open source video editing software which works on Mac, Windows and Linux. It supports titles, transitions, picture in picture and more. All the sorts of features that you might need to create a high quality video to impress your friends and followers on YouTube!

While this article isn’t a hands-on manual on how to use OpenShot, I will try to explain the different features that I use to create my YouTube videos. This should give you a good clue as to what OpenShot is capable of and how to achieve that effect.

Video Editor

OpenshotAll editing takes place in a single window with multiple panels. In the top left panel you add all your assets or source files; these can videos, audio and music files and titles.

In the lower panel, you create each track. Normally you have as many tracks as you have “things” that you want output in your video. In this example, track 1 contains my forward facing GoPro video. Track 2 contains the video from my rear facing Muvi HD 7 camera. The top track contains the title. OpenShots lays track 1 down first, then places track 2 above it and so forth – this is how the titles appear foremost above the other two video tracks. Just drag your video, audio or title asset onto the appropriate track.

The upper right hand panel is where you can preview your video. All the tracks are composited together and output here.

Picture in picture

As I mentioned in my previous post, I need to rotate my rear facing upside down video in Track 2 video through 180 degrees. I also want it placed in the bottom right hand side of the frame.

Openshot-propertiesRotating the track is simple; just right-click on the track and select the Rotate -> Rotate 180 menu option. Placing the video in the bottom right hand of the frame is achieved by right-clicking the track again and selecting the Properties option. On the layout tab, I shrink the video to 30% of the output frame size and move it to the bottom right by specifying 70% as the X and Y values (as per this screenshot). Make sure you change the settings on this tab for both the start and the end of the video clip (using the Keyframe menu option) keeping both sets of settings the same. If you forget to change the End of Clip settings then your embedded video will “grow” as the video runs!

Titles

Openshot-titleIt is worth adding a title at the start of your video to help anyone watching the video understand what they’re going to be watching. In the case of my track day videos, I include the track/circuit, the date of the track day and the session and group that the video shows.

Titles are created using the Title -> New Title… menu option. Use the subsequent dialogs to choose your title type and to select the font and colours you want to use, and more importantly to specify the text you want to display.

One nice feature of OpenShot is that you can fade any track in and out. This gives a nicer effect when selected rather than having the titles suddenly disappear from the video. To do this, right-click on the title track and select the Video tab and enable the Fade out option.

Trimming the video

Chances are that you want to exclude some of the start of the video and some of the end of the video. Although you can do this using the cut tool, there is in fact a much simpler way to do this.

Openshot-lengthIf you right-click on each track (tracks 1 and 2 in this example) and select the Length tab, you can specify the In and Out values for the track. These values determine just how much of the video clip is actually shown.

The In value determines how many seconds “in” the video starts. The Out value determines the point at which the video will end. If you specify 15 seconds as your “in” value and 45 seconds as your “out” value then your clip would run for 30 seconds starting 15 seconds in from the video clip and ending at 45 seconds.

I typically use the “in” value to skip the video showing us waiting in pit lane and some of the warm up lap. I use the “out” value to limit the size of the video as the YouTube account I use has a 15 minute length restriction.

Synchronising the two video tracks

The quick witted among you may be wondering how I synchronised the front and rear video footage. After some experimenting I have deduced that the simplest way to do this is to start both cameras at exactly the same time.

I used to start the two cameras at different times and then play with the In length setting to get the two clips in sync. This process drove me nearly crazy and is simply too time consuming to be worth bothering with.

If you have two cameras then make an effort to start them together at the same time to avoid these synchronisation issues. If you do then the “in” values for both clips can be identical which will help speed up your video editing.

Exporting the video

Openshot-exportOnce you’ve created your video and are happy with the preview, it’s time to save your project and export the video for YouTube. Luckily OpenShot has pre-built settings that make generating the right sort of video for YouTube simple. Chose the File -> Export… menu option and select the same settings that you see in this screenshot. You may get a warning that one or more codecs are missing; if so, refer to the OpenShot document to find out how to get these installed for your Operating System.

Exporting and generating the final output video can take quite a while; the time is normally dependent on the power of your processor and whether your system can utilise your graphics card if you have one for video encoding. My system with an i7 processor normally takes about 10 minutes to encode a 15 minute video. The video size is approximately 500Mb for the 720 format videos that I produce for YouTube.

The video above is an example of how your video might look on YouTube after all your edits with OpenShot. Hopefully this has given you a good overview of how OpenShot can be used to produce high quality videos of your track days for YouTube. All you need to do after creating your own masterpiece is to upload your video to your YouTube account.

Better track day videos – part 1

video_introFor me videoing my track days is less about vanity and more about having the ability to review my performance after the event. Decent quality video and sound is vital to allow you to evaluate your lines and your use of the throttle (and even the brakes to a certain extent).

You don’t have to upload your video to YouTube to be able to review it, but with few cameras on track bikes, my feeling is that the other riders appreciate seeing themselves on track. It helps them to evaluate their body position and riding style either as they overtake you or you overtake them. If you can follow someone for a lap or two then they get the chance to see themselves through all sorts of corners which is an extra bonus. In fact I’m getting to the point where I’d like to lend my camera to a rider prepared to to follow me for a lap or two just to see how I’m doing as regards body position!

Putting decent video and sound together has taken me a few months to get sorted out. My original videos posted on YouTube were as simple as uploading the entire MP4 file taken from my GoPro directly to YouTube. While this is OK, it does mean that you can get several minutes of video waiting in the pits (depending on when you switch the camera on), and several minutes after the session (again depending on when you switch the camera off).

Camera

If you don’t already have a camera then you want to get the best one that you can afford. Personally I use a Go Pro Hero 2 as my forward facing camera. It wasn’t cheap but it

  • produces good quality video
  • includes a waterproof case and multiple fixings/attachments
  • has a wide angle lens
  • offers multiple image resolutions and frame rate

Other options include the Veho Muvi and the Contour range of cameras. Look for something small, with good battery life, good low light operation and wide angle lens. Cheap cameras tend to produce rubbish videos in my experience.

A word to the wise… in the case of the Go Pro Hero 2, I also invested in an additional battery. One battery will not last a full day even if you switch the camera off between sessions. Either buy an additional battery or bring some means of recharging the battery. A second battery cost around £17 (US$ 25) and only takes a minute to swap over.

Camera Settings

forwardviewYour camera may offer many video options or settings, and if so, it can be confusing knowing which ones to use. Generally, what you’re aiming for is a setting that gives a good compromise between quality and video file size. Why is file size important? Because you don’t want to be swapping SD cards during the track day as they fill up nor do you want to be editing massive video files after the event!

Here’s a quick guide to some of the GoPro Hero 2 options to help you decide what is suitable for your own videos:

Setting File Size
per 10 mins
Comments
720-30 1GB 720p @30 fps (frames per second)
Probably the best setting to use for regular track day videos. Produces an image that is 1280×720 pixels. The camera lens is set to “wide” mode
720-60 2GB 720p @60 fps (frames per second)
Useful if you want to show some of the video in slow motion. Slowing the video by 50% on your computer will still produce great quality because the video will be running at 30fps effectively. When the frame rate starts to drop below that the quality also drops.
Again the camera lens operates in “wide” mode.
1080-30 2GB Full HD footage @ 30fps
Produces an image that is 1920×1080 pixels.
Use this setting if you want to produce the highest quality video possible. You can choose between three lens modes: narrow, medium and wide. The wider the view the larger the horizontal field of view and the further away things will appear in your videos. Also the low light performance of the camera seems to improve as you widen the view. Since “wide” is the default view on the 720 settings, I guess it makes sense to use the same “wide” view on this setting.

Personally I shoot my videos in 720-30 mode as this provides the best compromise between quality and file size. I also have a 32Gb Class 10 SD card for the GoPro HD 2 and an 8Gb class 10 micro SD card for the Muvi HD 7. Both these cards are sufficient to record a full 7 x 25 minutes of track time over the course of the track day.

Camera positioning (forward facing)

Most track day companies and circuits will not allow you to mount your camera on the fuel tank. This ruling is borne out of experience; you don’t want to have the your wedding tackle damaged by the camera in an accident! As an alternative, there are mounts that will fit on the handlebars and these can be used to give you a view through the windscreen onto the track while also allowing you to view the speedo and tacho.

In my opinion being able to see the speedo and tacho offer little value if you are studying your videos in order to improve your riding, and it is for this reason that I mount the camera on the front of the fairing in order to get the best unobstructed forward view. You don’t really need to see the tacho because you can hear the engine revs in your video anyway.

GoProIf you also decide to mount your camera at the front of the bike, you have a choice of two locations; high on the fairing on or near the windscreen or halfway down mounted on the side of the fairing. The closer the camera is to the ground then the “faster” your riding will look. If you do decide to mount the camera down on the side of the fairing, try and mount it away from the front wheel to avoid the wheel and fork leg obscuring half the picture frame! Also be mindful of the fact that you will be leaning the bike in turns and you could grind out the camera if you mount it too low. Trust me as I’ve seen a video on YouTube where this has happened when the front fork compressed in a turn.

Camera positioning (rear facing)

If you are fortunate enough to have a second camera then you could mount a rearward facing one too. I know that a lot of people mount the rear camera facing their back and butt but personally I cannot see the point of watching those videos! Get a friend to video you from their bike by following you on track instead; at least that way the video will be more interesting!

Muvi-HD7-1In the past I’ve tried mounting my GoPro on the tail piece and while this works at low speeds, I found that the tail would vibrate and flap to such an extent that the video was virtually unusable. As a result, I added a bracket to the mounting point for the right hand side footpeg hanger (which is no longer used) to mount my rear facing camera.

rearviewMounted this way the camera is entirely stable at the expense of having part of the rear wheel in shot. This isn’t actually as intrusive as it sounds and it also allows you to see the suspension at work including the fore and aft pitching of the bike under braking and acceleration.

How the video looks straight off my HD7 camera

How the video looks straight off my HD7 camera

I use a Muvi HD7 as my rear view camera and it is mounted upside down from the hanger bracket. Actually this causes a bit of a problem when you try to view the .MOV files straight off the camera because the image is, unsurprisingly, upside down! Not to worry though as this is actually quite easy to correct as the video image can be rotated through 180 degrees during the edit.

Sound

The built-in microphones on both the GoPro HD2 and Muvi HD7 cameras (that I use) are just about OK. If that’s all you’ve got then fine, but if you’re looking for better sound then you’ll need to invest in an external mic.

I’ve already written about using an external mic to improve the sound quality of your videos. If you haven’t done so already, then you can read about it here.

Summary

This first installment has been about the cameras and where to mount them. Hopefully it will help give you some answers to the sorts of questions I had when setting up my own bike camera(s).

In the next instalment I discuss the video editing software that I use. Editing your video is less involved than you might think and doing so will allow you to overlay videos, add titles and edit the clips according to your needs. And just in case you think this won’t be relevant for you, the software I’ll be describing is free, simple to use and works on Windows, Mac and even Linux!

Read part 2 on video editing

Silverstone Int’l 4 Sep 2013

IMG_20130904_075116_CThis track day was organised by Silverstone in conjunction with Suzuki on the shorter 1.8 mile International circuit and luckily for me you didn’t have to be riding a Suzuki to take part. This was a three group track day costing £155 (US$ 230) for 7 x 20 minute sessions on track.

Earlier in the week I had got a call from Joe, one of the Silverstone organisers, asking if I would swap from the Novice to Inters group because they felt that someone who had ridden the circuit a few times had no business being in the Novice group anymore! Based on my recent experience at my previous Snetterton track day in the Inters group which hadn’t been as intimidating as I feared, I agreed.

Silverstone is really starting to grow on me both as a track venue and organisation. I was here last Sunday for the Moto2 and MotoGP races with my family and I had a brilliant day watching some of the most exciting racing I’ve seen in a long while. The event was well organised and although expensive, I did feel that the day was well worth the money.

Barry Sheene's Suzuki 1975 XR14

Barry Sheene’s 1975 XR14 Suzuki

On arriving at 7am, I was directed to the new (International) Wing pits complex by the gate security. These new garages are huge and really spacious. Suzuki had set up a display of former race bikes which was really interesting; especially seeing the progression from 1970’s and 80’s bike to the current generation of race bikes. Even though Barry Sheene’s 1975 Grand Prix bike was there, a little Suzuki race bike that didn’t look much bigger than a bicycle from 1967 stole the show for me.

1967 Suzuki TR50

1967 Suzuki TR50

The usual track day briefing was extended to allow Suzuki to welcome everyone and introduce some of their current and former riders. The riders included John Reynolds, Josh Brooks, PJ Jacobsen and Simon Crafar of Motovudu fame; there were also a couple of younger riders that I didn’t recognise and whose names I didn’t catch either. We were advised that all the riders would be available for a chat and would be out on track with us during the day. A raffle was also organised to allow us to get a free one-on-one session with Simon Crafar and although I never normally win raffles, I decided to enter my name in anyway.

The first session of the day comprised three sighting laps followed by the remainder of the session. Having ridden the International circuit twice last year and the GP circuit twice this year, I wasn’t too daunted by the prospect of riding in the Inters group. In the event quite a lot of the field passed me once the sighting laps were over but with so much space on track I doubt that I and the other slower riders held anyone up for too long. During that session (or the one after, I can’t remember which), someone came off on the entry to Club and had to be stretchered off the track in an ambulance. Apart from that one incident, the day was fairly clear of red flags and injury.

The three groups were arranged into different sets of garages with each group having its own group of instructors that were on hand for the day. I quite like Silverstone’s instructors as they always seem friendly and willing to hand out advice and help you on track. I managed to persuade Joe to show me the best lines for two laps and then have him follow me. Although I’d come to Silverstone in the hope of sorting out my body position, he confirmed that my upper body was still too stiff on the bike. He explained that this was stopping me turning the bike quickly enough and would tire me out needlessly. From that point onwards, I decided to ignore the other traffic out on track and really focus on just two things; my lines and relaxing my body.

thumbsupWhile riding the next session and trying to focus on these two things, Joe went screaming past me giving me a big thumbs up. After the session, he confirmed that although my lines were still erratic, he thought I had made quite a significant improvement in body position. Some progress at last!

During the morning between sessions, someone from Suzuki came over to find me. Amazingly, I’d won a free session of instruction with Simon Crafar! It was scheduled for the penultimate session of the day (session 6 of 7). Having watched the Motovudu video a few times, I was really excited to have the opportunity to ride with Simon – he’s a top guy who is really down to earth and seems as excited about helping you as you are to be helped! Prior to session 6, I went to find him and ask what we would be doing. He explained that he would follow me for a lap or so and would then lead from then on; I was to follow and do whatever he indicated. We went over hand signals; brake, turn in, open the throttle, stay on the gas, be over here on the track etc – these probably sound complicated but made perfect sense when on out track.

One thing that Simon advocates which seems unusual if you haven’t seen the Motovudu videos is coming off the throttle immediately after hard braking on corner entry to allow the bike to turn in more quickly. Simon emphasised this on track repeatedly by taking his hand off the throttle to point at something on the corner entries! You can watch some of these laps with Simon in the video below. Sorry if it’s not always easy to see the hand signals but that’s because of the GoPro’s wide angle lens.

What was really interesting to me was how riding with Simon gave me the confidence to brake later and harder and to travel through the corners faster and more confidently than ever before. He later confirmed during the debrief that he wanted to show me that both the bike and I were capable of much higher speeds round the track than I was used to and that it could be done in such a way that didn’t really trigger panic. I can honestly say that riding with Simon was a revelation! If I can organise it I would ride with him on a one on one basis for a day as soon as possible as this would be the best “go faster” upgrade investment I could make. He indicated that he can normally help a someone like me go up one group in a single day of tuition which is probably even more impressive than it sounds.

Last year I rode around this circuit at 1:40 following one of Ron Haslam’s instructors at the Ron Haslam school. Riding on my own I managed to get my time down to 1:35 but it didn’t always feel that comfortable. Riding with Simon, my lap time was reduced to 1:33 but the difference was that I felt more in control and more comfortable despite travelling round the circuit more quickly. These are my times for the day:

Session Laps Fastest Comments Video
1 - - Didn’t time this session
2 7 1:37.01 Red flagged due to bad crash youtube
3 10 1:35.49
4 11 1:35.64 youtube
5 9 1:38.96 youtube
6 7 1:33.81 Riding with Simon Crafar youtube
7 10 1:37.99 youtube

By the final session of the day about 30% of our group had packed up and left and I travelled round the track practising some of the things I’d be shown or told about that day with much of the track to myself. That last session was great fun because instead of trying to ride more quickly I concentrated on trying to flow from corner to corner more – check out the video below.

Because of its relative closeness, facilities, instructors and track, Silverstone is rapidly becoming one of my favourite circuits to ride. Luckily I have one more session here in October before the end of the UK track season and I hope to have another brilliant time combined with great weather if we’re really lucky.