So You Want to Shoot Some Bike Video: Tips from Kirt Voreis

Kirt Voreis and Ian Hylands take a look at a quick video clip during a shoot outside of Colorado Springs in February.

Kirt Voreis got his start as a pro cyclist by making a video of himself and sending it to Yeti. That was in the mid 90’s. Since then, he’s been a fixture, not only in the mountain biking and dirt jumping scene, but also in the world of action sports videos. In that time, he’s learned a few things. Here are some questions to consider from the master before you whip out your phone, or clip on your GoPro while you’re out on the trail.

KIRT ASKS: What’s the reason you want to make a video?

KIRT ANSWERS: Having some idea of what and where you want to film will give you a direction to follow. Starting with an idea – be it trick or trail – will help the flow and structure of the video edit. Create scenes that lead up to and follow the main purpose of the edit. For instance, if my main purpose is to film a huge jump, I wanna show what it took to make that jump. This keeps the anticipation of the viewer high and shows the work it took to get the shot. If there were a few crashes, show them! This pulls the viewer into the drama and makes them want to see you succeed. In the video below, I was working on a scrub. This little piece of the bigger shoot with Matt Collins shows me failing. A lot of times, people find that kind of preparation interesting.

KIRT ASKS: How long do you think your video should be?

KIRT ANSWERS: Timing depends on how long you can keep viewers engaged. Most riding edits are around two minutes. Anything over that needs dialog. Keeping the viewer informed along the way is a must with longer edits. And speaking of editing, this can be the hard part and really suck your time, but if you care about what you’re doing, the time is worth it.

KIRT ASKS: Where do you plan to show your video?

KIRT ANSWERS: If your vid is under a minute then Instagram is best. As far as a home for your vid, Vimeo is great. You don’t have to worry about music rights like with YouTube. With Vimeo you can link to Facebook and Insta to increase your views. Often times I like to shoot out a short Instagram video of a project that I’m working on to prime people for what’s ahead like this one I recently did with Doug Jambor up in Washington. And if you’ll notice, in just this 13 seconds, there are multiple shots to keep it interesting.

KIRT ASKS: What’s your location? Where do you plan to shoot? Time of day?

KIRT ANSWERS: If you’re shooting in the trees its best to shoot when it’s overcast. This defuses the light a bit and will get rid of hot spots of light that cause harsh contrast. If you’re shooting out in the open, sunrise and sunset are best to get softer light. Colors are more dramatic when the light on the ground is even with the sky. If the sky is too bright shadows become darker on the ground and things start to look washed out.

KIRT ASKS: What tools do you have to use for your shoot?

KIRT ANSWERS: I’d say keep it simple here. Use a GoPro or similar action camera and most smart phones take pretty good video. Having a tripod is key! There are a number of options for setting up an action camera or a smart phone on a tripod. Tripods stabilize the video. The less shake, the better. Also, gimbals are a must too if you’ve got the budget. They just smooth everything out.

KIRT ASKS: How do you keep the video interesting?

KIRT ANSWERS: One shot can be really interesting if it’s a really good shot, but if you’re putting together something longer than 15 or 20 seconds, different shots with different angles will keep the viewer more interested. There’s all sorts of POV camera shots on the internet – riders with helmet cams or chest cams and that’s the whole video – all you see is the trail in front of them or a little bit of their rolling tire. A lot of times they aren’t very interesting. If someone mixed a little smart phone footage in with some POV stuff, then it starts to become more interesting. Or, if the POV camera follows someone who’s doing cool stuff, that’s more interesting too. Oh, but make sure you get the camera angles right. There’s a lot of forearm and handlebar shots out there, if you know what I mean.

The video below, if you take out the cartoon stuff, really isn’t that interesting except for the last few seconds when something happens. Otherwise, it’s just me on singletrack. We made it more interesting by adding in the animation. And, yeah, obviously this takes a bit more work and prep, but it also makes it more interesting, and you want people to be interested so they watch.

FINAL THOUGHTS FROM KIRT: With all video projects, whether they’re big or small, try to remember who’s going to be watching it. What kind of reaction do you want from them. Do you want them to laugh? Or go, “Dude, that riding was rad.”? And with whatever you’re doing, remember to have fun, cuz if you ain’t having fun, it ain’t worth doing.