Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Ready, Steady Go...Pro

I found the missing bits of video from my first two GoPro tests.  It turns out that their is a maximum file size that can be stored on the card, which is a tad under 2Gbytes and the Gopro cleverly rolls onto another file.  Why I didn't initially see all the files through Windows I'm not sure.  So I hadn't lost any footage.  Except that I then failed to copy of one of the files to the laptop before reformatting the card.  So having found the last section of the Stanage run, I lost it again.  Doh.

However, all was not quite lost.  As well as the high resolution mp4files, the GoPro creates some lower res files, also in mp4 format but with the file extension .lrv.  If you rename these to have an .mp4 extension, they can be viewed in your favourite media player.

So the video below is the complete Stanage Causeway run from end to end but the last third is at a lower res.

I'm still experimenting with the optimum settings to use when creating videos to post to YouTube.  The video editor I am using has three different predefined configurations for YouTube but even the  HQ setup appears to have lost quite a bit of picture quality by the time it gets processed by YouTube.  I may try posting the same file to Vimeo and see if there is a noticeable difference.  I tend to think that stuff on Vimeo often looks crisper than YouTube.

The final thing I am grappling with is that the sound card on my laptop  has either developed a fault or isn't up to the job or maybe it's the driver.  You may noticed a few burps it's added to the soundtrack.

With a bit of luck, by the time we go across Scotland with the bikes in May, I will have worked through these problems and know what I'm doing.

Stanage Causeway - Redmires to Dennis Knoll car park

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Grizedale, Gisburn Forest and GoPro

We went up to Kendal last weekend, to stay with my old caving/climbing friends, Nick and Anne. The forecast for Saturday had said it would be light rain until 10am and then improve throughout the day.  It was sort of correct only the rain didn't stop until lunchtime so we filled in the morning by visiting Hilary's niece. who works at Fell Foot.  We'd originally planned to do a ride out of Staveley but then I remembered that it might be the weekend where you could test out mountain bikes and we reckoned the bridleways might be full of people wanting to go faster than us.  So we diverted to Grizedale Forest.  Due to a navigational anomaly, it took rather longer than expected to arrive at the visitor centre and it was 1.30-ish before we started riding.  Another navigational anomaly caused us to miss the red trail through the forest, so we followed one of the main LRTs up to the top, where a bridleway runs south from a place marked on the map as Heald Brow Pasture.  It starts off as singletrack through trees but fairly soon opens out to give splendid views across Coniston Water and the Coniston Fells, which were sporting a covering of snow on the tops.

Coniston Fells from The Park, above Grizedale Forest

We passed another group of mountain bikers on the top before spying some 4x4s in the distance.  Thankfully, they moved off before we reached them, so we didn't get in each others way and no words of an immoderate nature were exchanged.  The track down to High Nibthwaite has a short gnarly rocky section (Nick had hinted as much when he suggested the route to us) but overall it is a superb ride and one to repeat on a warm summer day (with a proper picnic stop.)

We went back on the road, which took us up a ludicrously lung busting hill after Nibthwaite Grange, before heading over the fell, along a wide track crossed by some large 'lakes', to Ickenthwaite. 

Track to Ickenthwaite

Then it was more road to Satterthwaite and back to the car park, arriving in a very muddy state, just too late for the bike clean and the tea shop.

I had the GoPro attached to the bars for the section above Grizedale.  Here are the edited highlights.

Heald Brow Pasture to High Nibthwaite, Grizedale
On the Sunday, we woke to find snow outside. The plan was to drive back to Sheffield going via Gisburn Forest, which has had some MTB trails developed since I last visited the place, more than 10 years ago.  We stopped off in Ingleton and called in at Bernies, the caver's cafe, for a brew and to allow Hilary to see the kind of places I used to think it was cool to take a girl to and to soak in the 'atmosphere' (which was less fetid than I remember it.)  Then we drove to Gisburn Forest but due to yet another navigational anomaly, we took the wrong road out of High Bentham and ended up in Slaidburn.  With another late start, we only rode the bottom half of the red trail (which conveniently, is laid out as a figure of 8).  The first mile or so is a bit boring but then the technicality ramps up with rooty, rocky sections through trees only just wide enough to fit the bars. 
Section of the blue trail in Gisburn Forest
 Forest of Bowland in the distance
 This is followed by a section of the blue trail before back to the sigletrack red with scarily steep drops (walked!) and a stretch of North Shore (aka 'duck boards' to non-MTB readers).  The final section is some wonderful bermed switch back giving a  fun, fast ride back to the cars. The trail was pretty wet and muddy and I didn't get the GoPro out until half way round.  Then it ran out of battery before we reached the north shore and the final bermy section, so I missed filming most of the exciting stuff.  Doh!  here is some of what I did get.
Gisburn Forest - MTB blue and red trails
 This is definitely a place worth revisiting.  There's a chap called Ed Oxley who runs MTB skills training days from here and we came away thinking we might sign up for one and learn how to ride the red properly!
Anyway, despite the unpromising weather forecast, it turned out to be a reight good weekend.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Testing GoPro Hero 3

I bought a GoPro Hero 3 Silver edition last week.  Apart from a rather brief and nithering muddy ride in Cropton forest last weekend, this is its first proper outing - part of my ride to work over Stanage. 

I'm using the GoPro Android app to preview the picture and I though I'd set the camera running down at Redmires from the app.  However, when I downloaded the footage onto the laptop, it seems I was some way past Stanage Pole before the recording had started - probably at the point I had to re-adjust the camera on the bar mount after a rather exciting slide on some ice.  A similar thing happened in Croption on Saturday, where I found I'd missed the first 15 minutes of the recording.  I'm beginning to suspect that the start button in the app doesn't actually work and I need to press the one on the camera.  Or perhaps I need to read the (f*!%ing) manual. 

It's a pity about the lost footage because the views from the top were just stunning this morning - rich blue sky and snow on the distant hills, bitingly cold in the shade but warm enough in the sun.  I could almost imagine I was in the Alps (except for the absence of pointy bits.)

The quality of the mp4 file downloaded from the GoPro is extremely good (HD).  This edited and highly compressed clip just doesn't do it justice and the stripes and other artefacts are not in the original.  I'll post a hi-def version on YouTube sometime.

The handlebar mount seems to work pretty well.  I thought there might be more shaking and vibration evident in the picture but it's not bad.  It would be interesting to try the helmet and chest mounting options.

Looking out of the office window, I see it's clouded over now.  The ride home looks like being a chilly one.