Monday 28 September 2009

In the fast lane

I spent the weekend dicking around with the new action camera (woo-hoo, don't you love the exciting name they give these things?) and I managed to get some results. Here's me going onto the Anzac Bridge, and overtaking the normal sluggish commuter traffic.

A few points about the camera.

The batteries that it comes with last about 2 hours, and then you need to spend $80 on a rechargeable set. Do not even think about using cheap batteries - I did, and they lasted 27 minutes. This camera really needs a proper, purpose built battery like you get in a mobile phone or a decent digital camera, but I guess they shaved $50 or more off the price by going with AA instead.


The second is that this thing does not tolerate harsh light conditions. If it's too bright, or too dark, it's fucked. Riding in the shade on a sunny day produces the best results. Hmm.

The third is that trying to mount it on a bike helmet is an utter waste of time. In order to strap it to a helmet, you need an almost flat, solid surface. Bike helmets are mainly air ventilation holes surrounded by angular bits of plastic and foam. It would probably mount properly on my ski helmet (which is solid plastic with a few small ventilation holes) or a motor cycle helmet - but a bike helmet; forget it. If you try that, it will bounce all over the place. The effect is like watching footage shot by someone with a bad case of St Vitus Dance.

The other thing is that a bike helmet has no side support around the ears and jaw and down the back of the head, so it yaws and pitches quite easily; whilst a motorbike or ski helmet has that snug fit all around the head, so it offers a stable shooting platform.

In short, mount the flipping thing on the handlebars.

The camera does not come with an SD card, so I had to poach one out of an old camera lurking in a drawer. After finding that a 2GB card was not big enough, I swapped it out for a 4GB card - which is the limit on this camera. Don't know why it won't do more than 4GB, but that is good for maybe two hours or more. I was going to shoot the entire Spring Cycle from end to end, and 4GB would have been touch and go.

The buttons are really, really hard to use - especially the power button. I hate them. Everything is covered in thick rubber to make it waterproof, but it has almost made it user-proof.

For my needs, I really need something with more of a fisheye lens. The field of view on this thing is too narrow.

Anyway, watch the video and see what you think.

Oh, and as for editing the video........

I tried Windows Movie Maker, which I have used dozens of times to edit movies of the kids. No dice. Every movie I produced ended up being 90% green screen and 10% compacted movie. Something is not quite right.

So instead, I used Picasa to edit the movie. It took a while to get used to the different settings in Picasa, but in the end, it did a reasonable job. I just wish you could use it to cut out stuff that you don't want to keep. I would have reduced this video by 20 seconds if the editing tools were better. I'm sure there is some freeware stuff out there that will do this - I just haven't bothered looking yet. Or, I could of course buy a Mac. Heh. Spent $200 on a camera and then spend $3,000 on a Mac so that you can do good stuff with the footage from that camera (if I buy a Mac, it's going to be a good Mac).

Don't think so.

But back to the video. Here's my notes. I got stuck behind a gumby, who was puffing and panting and making this slope look really tough. It doesn't really show on the video, but when you see someone with a lot of arm flex (when looking from behind), it means they are working damnably hard. This guy was suffering. I was cruising at about 50%, barely putting any pressure on the pedals (or so it seemed to me). After 5 years in the saddle, I have to say, I have a mammoth amount of raw power in the legs. If I weighed 20kg less, I would have a very impressive power to weight ratio. As it is, all that power is nullified by me carrying the equivalent of two cartons of beer with me.

So I stayed with this bloke until the way past was clear, and then I was off. Because I had taken it easy on the first half of the bridge approach, I was well rested and full of juice.

Most of those that I was overtaking are new to commuting of course, and they haven't built up their legs yet. Give them time, and they'll move at a cracking pace as well. But this morning, they ate my dust.

Not bad for an old guy.

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