All posts tagged Motorcycles

3 Posts

EMS June Bike Night

Essential Motorcycle Services hosted another wonderful bike night. Bike Night reminds us once again that motorcycling is much less about motorcycles and riding and much more about socializing and making new friends. Which is a similar approach we take at Picture and Color Media, while doing something totally different which is filmmaking. We really love the social aspect of making films. Getting to see, capture and share people’s happiness and emotions is extremely gratifying to us as storytellers and even something as simple as a bunch of motorcycle riders getting together to chat over a BBQ can be a great opportunity to tell an emotionally engaging story that captures the ‘feel’ of the event, rather than exhaustively capturing all of the little specifics. We are always most concerned about feel in the story more than anything else, from the smallest of stories to the largest ones. Feelings and emotions connect with our audience in way that shooting actions alone do not.

This is a very quick edit highlighting the evening. Shot on the Canon 5D Mark III with the 24-70 2.8L exclusively and supported by the Steadicam Merlin arm/vest combined with my favorite stabilizer, the CMR Blackbird.

Portrait Film: Eric Hung, Motorcycle Racer

Eric is my friend and one of the most interesting people I know. I love making films about interesting people!

For some time we’ve discussed producing a portrait film for him detailing his racing experience on mini motorcycle.

I wanted to shoot something personal and intimate, focusing in on the person behind the sport. I wanted to take a snapshot of his routine and get a glimpse into his obsession. What drives him to wrestle this tiny motorcycle around this giant racetrack, lap after lap, season after season?

My original intention was to have him speak on camera. Unfortunately, Eric is quite shy and I could not convince him. I hate being on camera almost as much as he does, but in the end I had no choice. I really wanted his portrait film to be driven by dialogue and as he was a man of few words, I had to get behind my own lens. I hated it, but this is how badly I wanted to tell his story!

The interview you see is not perfect, but this was the best I could manage after approximately four takes! Between the camera, separate audio, positioning and the set, there are enough things to worry about in an interview shoot. When you’re both the cinematographer as well as the subject, this challenge doubles. Thankfully Roy assisted me.

The 5D Mark III shone once again. There is no Mark II footage anywhere, I used only one camera and two lenses: 50 1.2L and the 24-70 2.8L. I’ve also started to edit purely in the all-i encoded footage straight off the camera and this has expedited my workflow tremendously. There is no more need to transcode to ProRes prior to editing in FCP! What a change!

The action shots at the end turned out extremely well. I used the jib once again and I find that it is a much better tool for action work over just a tripod and fluid head. There is a lot more weight hence a lot of extra inertia to damp movements and this produces much smoother start/stops as well as transitions. The lifting and lowering action of the crane also contributes to a much more sensational production value. I’ve already had several comments that this looked like MotoGP! The rest of the footage was all stabilized by monopod.

Additionally, the Zacuto Z finder all but saved me. Without it, the LCD was all but invisible under the bright sun. I actually even used it on those fast panning shots on the jib. I stuck my eye in the viewfinder and shuffled around with the crane.

This was also a good test for rolling shutter on the Mark III. If you watch the action pans, you can indeed see some rolling shutter artifacts. They have also not improved tremendously over the Mark II. However, if this footage is any indication, I really don’t consider this an issue. I think rolling shutter complaints tend to be exaggerated and rarely do they affect actual footage. I mean, I was moving the camera pretty fast here to keep up with the bikes!

2011 PCMRC Crash Reel

When your pastime is racing motorcycles at the racetrack — even ‘mini’ ones like these Honda NSR50 two stroke race replicas — you always end up pushing yourself and the bike to the limits. Sometimes, this means you fall off. And by ‘sometimes’, I actually mean ‘all the damn time’.

Here is a collection of my most memorable crashes from 2011. You are riding on board with myself (#11) and my buddy Eric Hung (#2) who is wearing the white Dainese leather suit.

The finale in this film is probably my worst ever crash. This was at the 2011 Nationals event at Greg Moore Raceway where all of this was filmed. After overpowering me with a faster bike on the straight, my competitor Shawn Finn runs out of talent in the middle of turn 3 and lowsides. The ensuing pile up was probably the most epic I’ve seen or experienced at this track, but thankfully I came away uninjured. I was very lucky there and very fortunate to have landed on the grass.

I intended this to be a promo film for the racing club to which I belong (PCMRC), but I wonder if some people would find all the crashing off putting. Although truth be told, anyone who rides a motorcycle — whether on the street or the racetrack — knows about the risks involved, and if they don’t, they really ought to. This is not an armchair sport. People get hurt. Sometimes they die. That is a very scary and sobering thought.

On the tech side, we had two GoPro HDs running (the original HD, not the HD2). They were mounted to the tops of our helmets using the provided 3M VHB mounts which are exceptional. It’s a real testament to the GoPro’s toughness that they withstand this sort of abuse, time and time again. We have broken suction mounts and cases, but have yet to destroy a camera. Also, they have a great way of falling off or detaching during a big impact, which is always helpful.

Frame rate was 720p/60 on the camera. I always prefer this over the 1080p/30 for GoPro, not because of the added smoothness which I don’t care for, but because of the overcranking ability. I slowed the footage down 2.5 times and then conformed it to 24p. This gave the perfect slow motion you see with no added frames.

Edited in Final Cut Pro 7 and while you may not notice it, I had to do quite a bit of motion in post to centre and scale the action. You probably noticed the resolution loss. Did a bit of grading using Magic Bullet Looks and Colorista II to give the image more pop and a more film like aesthetic. The footage took quite a while to collect and sort, but this was a quick edit. About 3.5 hours from start to finish.

For more info on mini racing and for ways to get started crashing with us, visit the PCMRC website.