This article was kindly sponsored by GoPro. GoPro did not provide any of the equipment mentioned in this article.
2020 has been the strangest year, like most of the planet you have probably spent more time in front of the television or computer than usual. Lockdowns and restrictions have made binge-watching series and finding new people to follow on different media outlets the norm for 2020.
If you were sitting there thinking to yourself, “I think I’d like to make some videos of my adventures,” would you know how to begin?
What does it involve, and what gear do you really need?
I spoke with a couple of well-known filmmakers in the adventure motorcycle world who have created content you most likely have seen. Sterling Noren makes videos about adventure motorcycle travel, and he films as he moves mostly on a daily basis.
Tim Tyler is more of a location or basecamp filmer for his MOTOTREK videos. Creating honest, entertaining adventure motorcycling videos on YouTube: riding skills, tips, and tech for traveling the world on two wheels on-road and off-road.
Sterling Noren, among many other incredible videos and documentaries, has also filmed most of the BDR (Backcountry Discovery Route) movies and trailers and a lot of content for his own channel.
He is currently sharing an ongoing 20+ part series called “Riding Solo” where he is in front of the camera and also the cameraman as he traverses the Western United States solo.
I have previously interviewed Sterling and he shares a lot of himself in that piece. It is worth the read.
Sterling, can you give me a description of the kit you use for making your videos?
My video kit includes a Fuji X-T3 mirrorless camera, a DJI Mavic Air 2 drone, and a GoPro Hero 8 action camera.
I chose each one of these cameras for a very specific purpose. The Fuji X-T3 is my main video camera which I use to film riding shots (on a tripod), scenic locations, and things around the campsite.
I chose this camera because it is very small, versatile, and of high quality. I can film in 4k and it takes still images as well.
I use the 18–55 mm kit lens and a longer 55–200 mm lens during the daytime, and a 35 mm prime lens in the evening.
The drone is used to capture the breathtaking cinematic aerial views of riding through amazing landscapes.
I use the GoPro to capture my POV from the cockpit.
Altogether, this kit gives me the flexibility to get a variety of shots and it all packs up into a backpack I keep on the seat behind me when I ride, ready to go!
Back at home, I edit everything in Apple Final Cut Studio in 4k resolution. I spend a lot of extra time doing color correction and audio mixing before I am happy with the finished result. I export a 4k file for upload to my YouTube channel.
In my panniers is gear that everybody else carries to go on an adventure.
Next up, Tim Tyler. You may not know him by name but you will know his channel, MOTOTREK. Tim is the man behind the lens and the creative soul that brought you educational riding and occasionally product videos with a few different coaches and riders (including me in two of his videos). And on rare occasions, he comes from behind the lens to share his personal thoughts, too.
What’s in your camera bag?
The camera package I use to shoot the MOTOTREK YouTube videos is centered around a durable, weatherproof Panasonic GH5 and the Sigma 18–35 mm f/1.8 zoom lens. The EF lens is adapted to the micro-four-thirds camera with a Metabones Speed Booster which delivers an effective f/1.1 aperture.
Since the lens is so sharp, and I like shallow depth of field, I shoot as close to wide-open as possible with the help of a Hoya 1.2 IRND filter which cuts 4 stops of light. I try to keep the shutter speed under 1/100 second to maintain motion blur. The GH5 is usually set to record 4K 10-bit 150 Mbps at 24 frames per second using V-log.
I’ve found the best place to keep camera equipment is in a quick-to-open top case. I have a waterproof Pelican-style case permanently mounted on the rear rack that holds just about everything in an easy-to-remove compact backpack.
Since the GH5 has great image stabilization built into the camera I almost always shoot hand-held. I’ll bring a small tripod along only if I plan to use a lens longer than 100 mm, which is almost never. I always carry the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35–100 mm which is small, sharp, and has stabilization which allows me to shoot hand-held even at 100 mm.
For gimbal shots, I use the GH5 on the Zhiyun Crane 2 and swap it to the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12 mm f/2.0 lens, also with a 1.2 IRND filter.
For 2021 I’m planning to leave the bulky Crane 2 and 12 mm lens at home and instead pack the much more compact Crane-M2 which I’ll pair with a GoPro 8.
The new GoPro 8s and 9s are really pretty remarkable considering the image quality and stabilization they offer in such a compact, efficient package. I have two which are set to record 4K 24p at 100 Mbps with the 4:3 aspect ratio using the Flat color profile and stabilization usually OFF.
In post-production, I’ll crop, grade, and stabilize to match the GH5. I mount them to the bikes using RAM clamps and ball mounts.
I have USB chargers in the side Mosko panniers for the batteries so I can charge everything overnight on the bike at any campsite, and the bike will still start in the AM.
I also pack a sensor cleaning kit in case things get dirty.
I’ve been using a drone but I’m shopping for something with better control and image quality but just as compact. Wishful thinking, I know.
Dialog audio is recorded to the camera using DPA 4660 / 4060 lav mics through an older Sennheiser G2 wireless system. B-roll audio is usually just the camera mic.
Helmet audio is usually a Tascam DR-05 recorder which is nice because it records at dual levels, preserving the sound should it become over modulated.
Early into 2020, I switched from Adobe Premiere to Davinci Resolve Studio and I don’t regret it. Being able to edit, grade and process audio in one application have been a real timesaver.
I use Blackmagic Design’s Micro Panel control surface which makes it easy to fine-tune the color grade and encourages me to dial things in creatively. Episodes are now uploaded at 1440p which delivers almost twice as much resolution as at 1080p HD and still allows me to crop and reframe the 4K camera original.
For a little more detail on the gear Tim has to choose from to fit his style he has a dedicated page with all the details HERE.
If you feel you would be better as the talent then maybe this page on the MOTOTREK site will interest you.
What do you make your videos about? Let us know in the comment below so we can come and watch.
I hope this helps you understand what the pros use, and just maybe it will entice you to be a little creative.
For more information on Sterling and Tim go to their websites using these links