Mercer Island Loop and GoPro Practice

This weekend’s challenge was to take the 2-year-old GoPro Hero 3 out on its first journey. My sister gave me this really cool gift way back then, and I feel like I have a lot of really good excuses as to why it is just now seeing the world: no computer, no SD card, no bikes, no snow, etc. But now it is time!

I proposed a loop around Mercer Island for a few reasons. I thought it would be interesting scenery for the GoPro. I knew John would love the rolling hills of Mercer Island on his single speed. And I figured we could stop at the Roanoke Inn for lunch 2/3 of the way i, because stopping to enjoy something not near home feels more like a “tour” than a training ride.

The trip took us from Fremont, through Montlake, across the I-90 bridge, counter-clockwise around Mercer Island, and back. About 35 miles. I HATE riding through Montlake, which is why I’ve never taken John here before, but I’m afraid he might be hooked now.

But first, setting up the GoPro….

This took a few hours Saturday morning. Stupid things like finding a charging cable and getting the SD card out of the plastic take extra long on Saturday mornings. John ordered a handlebar mount earlier this year. It comes with a lot of different pieces to create options for your setup. At first it seems cool that you can set it up however you like. But what actually happens is that you need those pieces to find the only way the camera will mount to your exact handlebards and coordinate with any other accessories you have up there. John had to move his headlight.

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Phew! It can attach to a bike now! But can we figure out what to do with it? Our plan was to use time lapse mode to take photos at a defined interval during the ride. We picked 5 seconds and tried it out. We even uploaded them to the computer just to make sure it was really working, and it was! Here is our first video, complete with genuine confused faces and a kitty cat tail.

Off we go! There are 1363 photos of the 113-minute trip from home to the Roanoke Inn. The battery lasted that whole way, but it died during lunch. The battery wasn’t fully charged, so I’m not ready to report on battery life.
We took turns impatiently using iMovie to turn our time-lapse photos into a movie. What we made was a movie that is probably boring to everyone but us. You don’t see any scenery. Even going over the floating bridge wasn’t as interesting looking as I hoped. Time lapse really wasn’t made for this purpose (i.e. a moving camera). I did learn how to add some text to try to jazz up the boring parts.

What should I do next time? Just wait and start recording a video during interesting parts? How do I determine what is interesting before it happens? One thing that is really convenient is that you can still use it as a traditional camera. So unlike the camera that is often in my jersey pocket, there is one right there if something weird happens. Also now John and I each have a camera in case he sees something interesting while I’m still a few miles back.

Next time: Maybe we can take a video getting on and off the ferry. A video arriving into a campground and capturing people’s impressed faces would be cool. I suppose I could take a few short videos like that and combine them into 1 movie with a background song. Would anyone watch that?

Question: What software do you use to edit your GoPro media?

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2 thoughts on “Mercer Island Loop and GoPro Practice

  1. Your text made me lol. Videos that I’ve seen on youtube and think are cool are actual videos (instead of 5 second pictures) and just speed it up super fast. I also think it might be cool if you did something hard and had the gopro looking at your face. so we could see smiles at the start and what a lovely day, then see you look like you’re dying while trying to get up a big hill. Another idea I thought of when you mentioned watching people be impressed when you roll into camp is to watch you unpack/pack your bags. The photo you posted to facebook was cool, but it’d be interested to see how much stuff you can fit into your packs and watch you (in high speed) put them on the bikes and then head off. Or watch you roll into camp and then set up and be like “wow how’d they fit all that on their bikes?” and see what happens once the biking is finished but you still have to set up and do stuff before relaxing.

    It’ll probably be cooler when you are mountain biking or something in the woods instead of on a road.

    Or if there’s a really common ride, or a race route, people might like the high speed video just so they know what the terrain is like. I actually just watched a video like that for the Manitou Incline. I’m scared to hike it, so watched someone’s video so now I know what to expect and it’s still scary, but not in an unknown way.

    • You will see some video attempts in the next post. I really like your idea of unpacking the bags and setting up camp at high speed. I wish we had a video of arriving at Belfair State Park because when we pulled up, the ranger said “wow you guys are having a better day than I am!”.

      I have watched a lot of high speed videos of routes too, mostly mountain bike trails. I’m afraid a video of a road isn’t going to make biking look very appealing. I don’t think a video of my facial expressions would make it look very fun either, but that could be funny to watch! It would be interesting to see how I am constantly talking to myself.

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