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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old May 14th, 2009, 11:53 PM   #1
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Summer Bike Trip

I am planning a motorcycle trip in a couple months in which we will be on the road for ~30 days. The 'drive' of the trip is to visit many different coffee shops around the midwest and west coast. It will be a little like Feasting On Asphalt (on the Food Network). There will be one camera/sound man (me) and all I have is a midsized bike (a Honda Shadow) to haul my gear. So it will be much more real than Feasting On Asphalt who have their cameramen and soundguy in a van.

My gear includes:
XHA1 Main Camera
HV-30 Secondary Camera/deck
Manfrotto Tripod
AT897 Shotgun Mic (will be on camera or pistol grip)
Sennhesier wireless lav kit
On-camera light
Headphones
~100 mini dv tapes
3 extra batteries per camera
AND
a laptop
+
clothes and necessities

When possible I will be posting a video blog (will try to make it at least every other day), but we will need a internet cafe, motel/hotel, etc for that.

So my reason for posting is because I need advice:
What video format should I be using so that the HV 30 and XH A1 mix properly (30p?) and Any preset suggestions?
What precautions will I need to take since we will be going during the most dry/hot period of the year (tapes, camera)?

I will post pictures of how I'm hauling my equipment and of course a link to the vblog once we get rolling.


Side note - I don't have a huge budget, the trip alone will cost $2000-$3000 (gas, hotel, food) but im considering upgrading my laptop to a mac book pro and getting Final Cut Stuido 2. I'm not familiar with the mac OS but i'm a quick learner. Otherwise I will be using Sony Vegas Pro 8 to make the vblog and Adobe CS4 to spit out a final project when I get home. What are your opinions on upgrading to a mac?

There will be some unbelievable shots in the vblogs including Vancover, LA, STL, Grand Canyon, Cali's Coastal highway, and nothing but America's best non-freeway roads. It will be a blast.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 01:01 AM   #2
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Hi Jarred.............

I'm green with envy, sounds indeed like a blast.

Can't answer all your questions but will have a stab at a couple.

Given that this is, after all, a motorcycle trip, where a decent amount of footage really should be shot "on the move" from the bikes bars or wherever, I can't see any other way to go but 60i.

Presets? Nah, do it bog standard and play with it after.

You don't say, so guess you don't have one, but a second bike able to take video of the other bike (whilst catching the background scenery) would be an excellent way to go.

This, of course, implies both bikes have decent camera mounts sorted to reduce vibration to a minimum.

It can be done because you would not believe the number of foreign bikers I've seen here in Wanaka and Queenstown with camera mounts strategically placed for their video cameras.

My only real worry would be keeping maybe 2 UV filters on the dinky cams used for "on bike" shots lest you are hit at high speed by one of those gigantic insects they (er, you) have out there. Might break the first one but unlikely to break both.

A couple of spares would be an idea (oh, and a good cleaning kit).

I am puzzled why you would want to change editing horses mid - stream for this project.

It sounds like it's going to have more than it's fair share of "adventures" without throwing that into the mix.

As for weather precautions, can't see the gear needs much of anything special apart from the obvious (don't park it in the sun, rain etc) and pay particular attention to security, bit hard to hide anything on a bike.

Enjoy!


CS
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:09 AM   #3
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If I were doing it I'd shoot 24F as I do everything else. I have no issues with moving things at 24f and all film footage is 24 fps and most video shot for distribution anymore. But my understanding of the HV30 is that it does the pulldown thing for it's 24p, and there are some editing things to deal with there, ie., the pulldown removal. I don't know anything about Vegas and how it would handle that so you could drop its footage into your 23.98 timeline. So the above suggestion could be best, to shoot everything 60i and then deinterlace after the fact. However, one great thing about the progressive format is that you don't have those pesky interlace artifacts. You might want to check the HV forum and discuss the pulldown removal issue and see how others do that. There's some inexpensive software out there, like Nattress effects that can do most all you'd need to do. I don't know if it's available for a PC, however.

I assume you want to shoot inside the coffee houses, doing interviews, etc.? Your lack of lights could be an issue there. You might consider a couple of Lowel V-lights. They fold up small enough to fit in a coat pocket. And you could probably find some small stands that fit into your carrier. You'd need some diffusion and probably CTO gel to convert to daylight--most coffee houses are fairly dark but with windows; you can use the available light and fill with a couple of small lights. Lowel Totas might be even better, but V-lights take less space. I don't like on-camera lights, but if you diffuse it heavily for just a little bit of fill when needed, it might not be too obnoxious.

As far as posting daily, almost all individually owned coffee houses have free or nearly free wifi these days, so you're in luck there. As far as switching to Mac and FCP, that's probably not a great idea if you're close to the trip. FCP has a pretty steep learning curve. I think the latest version of Vegas handles Canon's 24f if you go that route, but I'd check everything out first, especially intercutting footage from the two cameras. With your desire to post daily, it seems to me that 24f would be best if you can deal with both cameras. I don't think it's as huge issue because people do it all the time, but it's something you need to know how to do effectively before the trip.

You might also want to track down a DVD of "The Perfect Cappuccino." It's a great documentary, a bit in the Agnes Varda tradition. The filmmaker goes all over the country and even to Italy in search of the perfect cappuccino and finds it in a little individually owned coffee house in Tulsa, OK, where the owner is in a legal battle with Starbuck's. Here, I found it for you: The Perfect Cappuccino
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Old June 20th, 2009, 07:25 AM   #4
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Things are moving along very nicely. I got a much needed new bike (suzuki vstrom) and all the camera gear I need.

My new question is what size external hard drive should I get? I have about 80 mini-dv tapes. I don't know if I will use all of them, but what size Hard Drive will hold 80 hours worth of HD footage? Also, any brand recommendations? I need something rugged.

The website is up, check it out at The Cafe Circuit .
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Old June 20th, 2009, 06:38 PM   #5
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You get about 5 minutes per gig with HDV...12 gigs per hour...80 hours would be 960 gigs, so a 1 TB would be adequate, probably. I've had good luck with the Western Digital.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 02:46 AM   #6
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what are you using to mount the camera's to your bike? have you tested with the HV30, and are vibrations/rolling shutter an issue?
sounds like a great adventure.
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Old June 23rd, 2009, 11:19 PM   #7
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Thanks for bringing that up Brian, that's an issue I am trying to deal with at the moment.
The mount I am using is a RAM Mount, it U-bolts onto the handle bars with plastic in between the metal. A double sided clamp about 5 inches long attaches onto a ball socket on the handle bar and a ball socket camera mount is placed in the other end.
Part Details

The mount itself is very secure, but the camera may be too big for it. It doesn't help that the mount attaches onto the part of the bike that vibrates most.

I have seen a camera mount that mounts to my gas tank via screws. Looks secure and has less movable parts, but it is three times as much. Plus I don't think it will go high enough over the dash. (You'll see much more of the dreaded "U" from the windshield mount.)
Buy Now: SportBikeCam Video Camera Motorcycle Mount Hoffman Metal Products | Pashnit Moto


This was done in 60i at a shutter speed around 250 w/ Image stabilizer on.
[I'll get a link to the video shortly, but I am seeing lots of jitter, and at times a wavy look (is this rolling shutter?)]
Suggestions?
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Old June 24th, 2009, 02:38 AM   #8
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that is the rolling shutter effect. i'm in the process of designing a handlebar mount with a shock absorbed tripod head (that also pans and tilts) for my bicycle and the HV30, but have to wait to return to Canada to get the camera and parts so i can start.
i believe that you should not use IS if the camera is mounted.
i would like to know if the rolling shutter effect is mostly from the vibrations, or from the speed of the scenery flying by, or both. is there a difference between footage at a slower and faster speed? does fast footage from a REALLY smooth road still have the effect?
i'm not sure my shock absorber design will help, or will just make the camera bouncier...
the XH-A1 won't have the rolling shutter effect, but it is pretty large for that purpose... maybe less of a concern for a motorcycle?
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Old June 24th, 2009, 07:00 PM   #9
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It is happening at medium to fast speeds, around 40mph+ on relatively smooth roads. Take a look:
YouTube - HV30 Mount Test
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Old June 24th, 2009, 08:57 PM   #10
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I have travelled the western USA extensively on motorcycles while shooting video and offer the following observations and advice.
1. You are taking a lot of equipment for one bike and rider and i think you maybe ask yourself "what was I thinking" after a few days in the saddle.
2. Consider leaving the laptop behind unless you are dead set on posting to the net. Dragging all that gear around and making sure it doesn't get stolen can really have a negative impact on you enjoying the trip.
3. Not sure how long you plan on being gone but I think 40 tapes will be more than enough unless you plan to do one heck of a lot of shooting (think log and capture when you get back)
4. Pack well. Dirt, moisture, and vibration are your enemy on this kind of trip.
5. I would advise not mounting the camera on the bike - too much vibration. Not good for video or the inards of your camera. If you must mount a camera - use only the HV30 and a wide angle lens to help minimize vibrations. the A1 is just too heavy.
6. Personally I'd shoot it all at 60i since you will be mixing footage between the two cameras. I prefer 24f but it can be a hassel to remove the pulldown on all that footage from the HV 30.
7. My preferences on camera settings is to use preset 6 (Opticont) on the A1. Set the HV30 to cinema mode and do the remainder of any adjustment in post.
8. If you are traveling with someone else stage a few ride bys for b roll. I don't recommend this but I often hold my HV20 in one hand and ride with the other (short durations with camera strap wrapped around my wrist) to get a riders POV.

I could go on but I think this is enough to give you a perspective from someone who's done a lot of this sort of thing. One thing I can tell you - this will be the most fun you will ever have.
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Old June 24th, 2009, 11:49 PM   #11
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Update

Thanks for the advice. I am bringing a nice backpack that will securely fit my XHA1 and small accessories and maybe half the 80 tapes I am bringing AND my laptop. The backpack has a raincover. In fact, everything on my bike will be waterproof.

My last resort, if I don't find a good mount, is to just handhold the camera for short durations like Jim mentioned. I would have it in easy access in a tank bag. Speaking of - Anyone one have experience with charging stuff via solar power? https://www.nelsonrigg.com/store/product.aspx?pid=464 There is a very nice, and pricey, tank bag that Nelson-Rigg offers that will charge my cell phone (mini usb), HV30 (mini usb) and my iPod (iPod adapter) by a small solar panel on top of the bag. Does it charge slow? Will it hold its charge the same?

As far as security. I feel pretty safe with my XHA1 and laptop being in the same backpack. I will have three 45 liter hard bags that lock and easily detach from my bike for when we go in for the night. A tank bag that I plan on carrying everywhere with me. And my tripod... which I don't know where will go. I will probably strap it down on the top of the hard tail bag.

I also got a new bike which is much more suited for the trip. Its a Suzuki V-Strom 1000 and if you watched the failed HV30 mount video you will hear the Two Brother carbon fiber pipes on it. Typically I don't like loud sounding bikes, unless its a cruiser, but I got this bike for a nice deal with the pipes already on it. At least they make me more detectable.

Following Bill's advice I bought a 1tb Western Digital HD on newegg for around $100. It's about the size of a paperback book, a little heavy and has rubber ends. It should do the trick.

Thanks for the help!
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Old June 25th, 2009, 02:42 AM   #12
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wow, the engine vibrations really mess up the video! i feel seasick.
have you tried shutting off the engine and coasting? maybe not recommended from a safety standpoint, but it might yield short bursts of usable video... and save gas downhill...
i'm a little discouraged at how pronounced the rolling shutter effect is... hopefully it is diminished considerably on a bicycle. Anyone with any experience?
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Old June 26th, 2009, 08:33 PM   #13
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I just caught up with this thread and I might have some pertinent info that might help.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarred Gastreich View Post
What video format should I be using so that the HV 30 and XH A1 mix properly (30p?) and Any preset suggestions?
You mention that you're posting to the Web. What's your final delivery media? If it's all Web, go progressive. It will save you the deinterlacing step. If it's DVD/BD, progressive still works. What look do you generally like better, 60i, 30p or 24p? Pick the one you like best. There is no wrong answer for this one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarred Gastreich View Post
What precautions will I need to take since we will be going during the most dry/hot period of the year (tapes, camera)?
Your biggest concern, aside from rain, will be heat cycling the equipment. Don't move it from an air conditioned room to the midday desert heat and expect it to be happy. You could end up with condensation in all the wrong places. Components can expand and shrink with temperature change, and not necessarily at the same rate. Generally a bad thing.

I also saw your HV30 video test. If you've read some of my other posts you'll know that I regularly put cameras in race cars and CMOS sensors don't cut it. Also, HDV is sensitive to to dropouts. Unless you can really isolate the camera from road vibration, you could end up with a lot of 2-second dropouts.

A good alternative option is a little flashcam that works very well for me in race cars. The JVC Everio GZ-MS series. Yes, it's SD but it's CCD, records to SDHC cards in native 16x9, takes protective filters (30.5mm) and has insane battery life. The biggest battery reports 480 minutes on a full charge! It will accept two card and will automagically roll over from one to another, so that's 64GB capacity. It was about US$250 at B&H. I bought two. I don't have a ton of experience with the units thus far, but it seems to match just fine with the miniDV footage from my other cameras. Please note that there are too many variables in a race car environment to get a very valid comparison. Other upsides are that you don't have to capture in real time cards are smaller than tapes. The camera is really wee. Your mount will be bigger than it is.

Speaking of mounts, I'm hugely sold on the Manfrotto Super Clamp. Clamps on really tightly but the clamp is rubberized so it doesn't leave marks. It's virtually indestructible. You could probably find a small quick release plate to make mounting and removing quicker.
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