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Old December 14th, 2003, 08:42 PM   #1
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Video vs Realism: portraying a sense of speed...

I plan to buy a DV camera and use it primarily to film motorcycle riders.

However, one thing is bothering me. Most videos that I have seen look far from realistic.

There are few issues in particular that I would like to resolve:

1 - sense of speed - While I know the riders are going 80mph, on video, it looks like they are going 20-30mph.

2 - sharpness of turns - in real life, the turns are extremely sharp (15mph curves), but on video, they tend to look like long sweeping turns.

3 - elevation changes - in real life, the road has 12% grades, literally climbing up and down a mountain. On video, it's hard to even tell when one is going uphill or downhill.

For examples of these three issues, have a look at the following videos: (21 megs) (22 megs)

(or others from

Does anyone have any experience dealing with these issues? Anyone care to share some tips with me?

Should I be looking for anything in particular in a camera to help me with these issues (particular lens, etc)? My resources are "budget", so I can't spend too much on this hobby, but I'm open to it.
Witold Chrabaszcz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 14th, 2003, 09:13 PM   #2
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Don't take my complete word for this, I'm still absorbing all this cinematography theory but ...

The farther away something is in your frame the slower it appears to move. Tilting the camera down tends to show more objects closer to the camera which speeds everything up. Tilting the camera up towards the horizon shows more "far away" objects in the frame, slowing everything down.

With this theory in mind - you can also use your zoom or a zoom lense to optically bring items closer to your camera, increasing apparent speed.

The famous example, is shooting a moving train as it moves toward you. The train cars passing your camera will appear to be rocketing by, while train cars farther down the track will apear to be moving much slower. If the train is long enough, the last car may show almost no movement.

Translating this to your situation, if you mount a camera on a moving vehicle - the moving object in your frame will be the landscape, which will be moving towards or away from you. By orienting your camera towards items in the landscape that are closer to your camera - you'll get more apparent speed.

You might also be able to use your NLE to speed up the video to get back some of the apparent speed that is naturally lost in camera.

re: sharpness of turns:
if the camera is pointed out towards the horizon then the turns will appear to be widers/less sharp, if the camera is pointed at something closer, say a wall 10 feet away, a sharp turn will be immediately noticeable because the wall will exhibit much more severe movement in the frame
Michael Wisniewski is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 15th, 2003, 03:28 PM   #3
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<<<-- Originally posted by Michael Wisniewski : Don't take my The farther away something is in your frame the slower it appears to move. -->>>


just like an airplane in the sky
looking at if from the ground, it really doesn't seem to be moving very fast
Bret Pritchett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 16th, 2003, 08:14 AM   #4
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Yep...that's what low, close, wide angle shots are for. It's not the camera you use, it's where you put it.
Bill Pryor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 18th, 2003, 12:44 PM   #5
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<<<-- Originally posted by Bill Pryor : Yep...that's what low, close, wide angle shots are for.

Yes, filmed from the bike (passenger seat) held just above the ground, looking into the corner, wide-angle will get the viewer itchy and dodging "obstacles". If you can't do that "bury" the camera in the inside of a curve or anywhere where riders pass really close, looking up. It will give you 20 frames but a great sensation of speed (see F1 or Indy type TV footage where cars zap by a fixed wide angle camera at ground level).
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