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Old December 17th, 2005, 10:41 AM   #1
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Strategies for Filming Bicycling Road Race?

Hey all,
A friend of mine recently approached me about filming a two-day college road bike race next spring. I've done a fair bit of event video (as in, for a speaker/performer at a venue, I set up several fixed camera angles and then reframe with the one camera I'm controlling) but I've never worked with such a large-scope (in physical and temporal terms) project.

Has anyone here ever tackled a project like this, solo? I presume the thing to do, if I only have myself and my own camera, is to move around the course throughout the day and try to get enough footage of different angles to make a coherent short piece. They want something "cool" they can sell to the participants, not a historical record.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Right now I'm not even sure what questions I should be asking.

Ryan Spicer
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Old December 17th, 2005, 11:07 AM   #2
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Find someone you trust with a motorcycle (large, quite and smooth riding). Practice riding on the back facing to the rear. Get permission to be on the course on the bike. Shoot from on the bike and use him to get you from previously scouted location to the next.
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Old December 17th, 2005, 12:40 PM   #3
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My experience with bike races....

For many years I produced the “Vuelta Ciclista del Uruguay” (think the Tour de France but in Uruguay). It’s a week long race around the country were most of the big teams in the world come to compete since it’s the biggest and most prestigious race in the Americas. So I have some experience in the matter.
I wont suggest you do what we did because we had 6+ cameras, cranes, and even a chopper every now and then. But I can give you a few hints.

If you are targeting the final product to cycling enthusiast forget about wasting time and resources on vistas or trying to “tell a story”, all they care about is the race and how it evolved. Don’t cut shots because YOU think they are to long, cut them based on what’s going on the race. Trust me, if you are not into cycling, get someone who is to help you cut! When I started I thught “ahhh… how much can there be to this, they run for hours, the first one that arrives wins” ….boy was I wrong!! It’s a VERY complicated team sport and there is A LOT going on during the races that you wont see or know about, but people that love the sport will.

I would say that the bare minimum you will need are 2 cameras, a jeep with one of those anti-flip bars (or whatever you call them) and a motorcycle.

You should strap a cameraman to the jeep’s bar so he can be safe yet turn in any direction and place that jeep in front of the runner leading the race and keep him always in front. This camera will always get the race from the head of it as well as turn and get some vistas, watchers, basically b-roll. He can do this in the stretches (and there will be many) when not much is going on and the leading group is unchanged.

The second camera should be on a motorcycle and your ideal case scenario is that the cameraman or the driver knows about the sport. This camera should move up and down the race focusing on were the best action is going on. And contrary to what many might believe, usually the most exciting action does not occur at the lead but in the middle of the bunch.

Bike races usually use only one side of the road but police block the whole road, so you should have no problem moving up and down on the road and shooting the racers from the side right next to them. (hint: always keep your lens in wide angle). Of course get the proper clearance from the race and from the police or the HP, or whoever is providing the safety.

You might get away having someone that knows the sport leading you via a 2-way radio on were to go with the bike camera.

Well, I hope this helps, feel free to ask me if you need anything else.
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Old December 17th, 2005, 01:29 PM   #4
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Have shot the Hotter-N-Hell 100 in Wichita Falls, TX. We used the production company owner's PT Cruiser with the rear gate up. Camera mounted on tripod. Also had a second camera out the sun roof getting shots of lead rotations. Had additional camera crews covering rest stops and getting talking head shots. Shot the night before Criterium race in downtown using stationary crane camera and 3 or 4 cameras around the course on tripods. Sunday NORBA mountain bike race was crews around the course.

See the video trailer here

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Old December 17th, 2005, 09:46 PM   #5
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Also a 3rd camera can be located to a few critical location along the course such as turns near a bridge, hills,both up and down,etc.Prescout these location and if crowds are expected have an assistant in each of those locations arrive early , tape it off and stand in there to hold your place.
Alot can happen in these spots( a race savvy advisor will help chose the locations) and the static camera with moving subjects can have a nice look and capture relative action.
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