This past weekend I had the pleasure of going down to Shawnee State Forest and filming the awesome American Triple-T Ohio. This race is one that I’ve had on my “must do” list for a year or two, but reading about it and seeing it in person are two very different things. After a weekend chasing racers all over the hills of Shawnee State Park I came home with some awesome footage and the serious urge to do the race myself. The footage went into a recap video that we showed during the awards presentation the last day of the race and will also be going into a new promotional video that I am still in the process of producing.
The race itself is a three day event starting with a super sprint triathlon on Friday evening, then two Olympic distance races on Saturday, and culminating with a half-iron distance on Sunday. As if three days of four races wasn’t enough, the terrain is filled with lots of hills that reduce even the strongest riders to a crawl. The runs are on a fire road that is not much more than a dirt path in the woods. There’s a lot more information on the website of the event http://www.americantriple-t.com/ so I’d recommend checking that out.
HFP Racing hired me a while back to film this event and I was pretty excited to be a part of the weekend. I didn’t really know what I was getting into so I came prepared for whatever might happen. I ended up bringing a bunch of stuff I didn’t use, but that’s not a big deal. Sometimes it’s just better to have too much instead of too little.
My gear list for the weekend (I’ll just stick to what I ended up using):
- Sony HVR-Z1U HDV camcorder with 16x9inc wide angle lens attachment and Rhode shotgun mic
- Bogen tripod with Manfrotto 501 fluid head
- Cinemover miniature camera dolly with Manfrotto 701HDV fluid head
- 3x GoPro HD Hero compact HD cameras
- 1x GoPro HD Hero3 compact HD camera with suction cup mount and various other mounts
- Nikon D200 DSLR for stills with 20mm f2.8, 35-70mm f2.8, and 80-200mm f2.8 lenses
The Sony has been a workhorse for me over the years. I’ve had it for almost exactly 8 years now (purchased it in the spring of 2005) and still going strong. It’s compact, lightweight and still gets a nice image. The wide angle attachment worked out really well to be able to get some dramatic shots of racers and really capturing the scenery and space around them. The Cinemover is a pretty recent addition to my arsenal and there have been some awesome results from that thing! It’s like a traditional dolly, except it’s small enough to carry wherever I go. It’s like a camera slider, but since it doesn’t attach to a track, I can use it on anything it’ll fit on. This weekend I used it on a metal sawhorse I got from Harbor Freight and a 4×4 vinyl post sleeve I got from Home Depot. The sawhorse was what most people saw me lugging around all weekend (not to mention it’s bright yellow so it’s hard not to notice) and I used it a lot getting shots all over the place. I took it out on the road and used it a few times but it mostly lived in transition and near the start area and all. The post sleeve was great for laying on the ground and getting some sweet moves. One of my favorites has to be a shot I got at the run turnaround on Sunday where the camera moves along the end of the turnaround area as the runner goes by.
The GoPros were a TON of fun for me to work with. I own one of the Hero cameras and borrowed a friend’s Hero 3 (and 2 of his Hero’s). He also has the suction cup mount that I used. Racers would recognize this setup mostly from when I attached the mount to the hood or trunk of my car and would drive up next to them on the bike course. I got some pretty awesome footage with that. I’m going to post some of my favorite clips soon so you can see what I’m talking about. The GoPro cameras are great for getting unusual perspectives that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to get. The oddest one that I came up with was when I took one, stuck it on the end of a boom pole and held it out over top of the racers. They rode pretty much directly underneath it and it made for a neat view. One of the funny things about this was that at least one of the riders was filming with his own GoPro camera and e-mailed me a frame grab from his footage showing me filming!
And here’s what I was filming:
As part of the setup, I would have to get out on course and film. So to do this, I figured out a way to keep my camera case open and lay my tripod in the back seat so I could quickly and easily grab them and take them with me when I’d stop. There were a lot of times I would have to pull off the side, jump out and shoot really quick before the riders would pass. Then I’d jump back in, drive around the pack that had passed me and find another spot to stop and film. I’m sure this drove some of them nuts because a lot of the roads are not very wide and it was a squeeze, but hopefully I didn’t upset too many people.
Each night I would go back to my room at the lodge and capture all the footage I had gotten and start logging it. Since I was also making a recap video that would be played on site not long after the end of the race on Sunday, I knew that I needed to stay on top of the edit so that it would be done and ready to go on time. Friday night I got to bed around midnight and Saturday night I got to bed around 11:30. I could have kept going but I had to get up around 5:30am both mornings.
The final product was a success and I was happy to have been able to get the video done as quick as I did. It was a challenge to edit all that footage, sifting through over 410 clips and over 3.5 hours of footage. Now that the race is over and the recap has been posted online, it’s time to focus on the promo video. I’ve got interviews to film and a concept to pull together. It’s going to be an exciting challenge to take this incredible experience and translate it into a compelling presentation.
Time to get going!