Warning: this post contains techie stuff. Sorry, had to get that out of the way. Some people will have gone by now, you can carry on reading if you like this sort of thing.
So, this is my first YouTube video and creating this video of the day out was no mean feat. While I work with video every day and I know the fundamentals of Non-linear Editing (NLE) I’d not had a go at such a detailed video before.
On the day I had the following with me:
4 x GoPro (2 x Hero 5 Black, 2 x Hero 6 Black)
Cannon m6 mirrorless DSLR with Rode Video Mic Pro+
DJI Mavic Air Drone
My setup and thoughts on it are as follows:
GoPro mounted to the front grille: This gave some great footage but the grille rattled on its mountings and gave some shaky footage at times. Also, the audio from it was compromised… but ok in places for establishing shots. I’ll need to see if I can stop the grille rattling – I had planned to do that prior to the run but ran out of time.
GoPro mounted to the centre base of the windscreen: This gave us some great video of me and Joel. From the outbound fuel stop onwards gave us audio in device audio. This audio was really bad in places… I had the GoPro touching the screen I think and it kept on tapping against the glass giving a huge click on the audio. Prior to the first fuel stop Joel and I wore lav mics into a Saramonic wireless transmitter. The receiver fed into the windscreen mounted GoPro, through the GoPro USB-C audio interface, and gave reasonable audio.
GoPro mounted to centre roll over bar: Gave great video looking down at the road ahead, including Joel an me in the shot too. The audio from this camera was useless, as expected, when the car was moving but could be used sometimes when we were still.
GoPro HERO 5 Black in the boot as a spare. I also took two spare GoPro batteries, fully charged – and used both of them.
Cannon m6: Used for taking video around the Pearcefield carpark and I tried to take video over the top of the screen as we drove along… Of course that audio was useless, and I don’t think I used any of the over-the-windscreen footage – lesson learnt there. I tried a few shots using this camera through the windscreen but there were quickly too many bug splats on the screen and the camera’s autofocus latched onto them too much. Another lesson learnt, use manual focus in those scenarios.
iPhone X: As usual the iPhone was in my pocket. I took footage at the Piercefield and in the carpark in Aberdovey with it. It gives great results but I was being lazy and should have used another app (Filmic Pro) to set shutter speed and the like manually… The iPhone defaults to 60fps for video and that looks a bit sketchy when Final Cut re-rates is to 25fps.
Mavic Air Drone: I took the Mavic Air because of it’s great video (up to 1080p) and compact size. My Mavic Pro isn’t that much bigger but its more imposing in the air and sometimes people don’t mind the Air buzzing around when they take exception to the Pro. My Phantom 4 would just be too big to get in the boot! I got some footage of the Piercfield before we left and was going to try and get a shot of the carpark in Aberdovey but it took so long to get there that I didn’t want to spend the time sticking the drone up – we needed to get back.
I set all the GoPro’s to take 2.7k 25fps footage and configured for wide angle rather than super-wide or linear. That allowed it to use its own image stabilisation (I chickened out on relying on it in post but might be happier with that now I know how good Final Cut can do in that respect). Going for 2.7k instead of 1080p also allowed me to crop the video down to 1080p in post without losing any resolution – 2.7k is 140% the size of 1080p so allowed a reasonable crop ratio if I needed it.
Audio on the GoPro’s was set for high noise/wind environments. It perhaps didn’t need it on the Windscreen mount but I didn’t want to swap a camera over and then forget to set the noise reduction.
Each GoPro had a 128GB card in them. Two of the three were ok for space but the one that got used as the windscreen cam the most ran out of space at the homebound fuel stop.
I did end up rotating the GoPro’s around as I switched batteries around as I charged them. The windscreen mounted dash was hooked up to a USB charing cable and allowed me to keep that topped up and switch that battery into other GoPro’s as we went along.
I’ll spare you the details of the edit for YouTube but it was a big learning curve for me. Stitching multiple GoPro segments together into compound clips and then pulling all the different camera angles together in multi-cam clips was new to me (other than some simple tests I’d done a while ago). It certainly made sense to do all the prep, colour correction, stabilisation etc on the footage at this stage – prior to dropping it into the timeline. The multicam support in Final Cut is awesome and made switching camera angles trivial instead of a right royal PITA. The exception to that is probably image stabilisation: if you do it on too long a clip then the stabilisation algorithm often crops too much of the image out to get to a stable shot… best doing stabilisation on clips in the timeline.
In all I probably spent well over 20 hours on putting this 14+ minute video together… possibly even double that if I’m honest. A baptism of fire for my first YouTube video!
In the end the Final Cut Pro timeline looked like this…
Other than some tweaking of the 3 main GoPro mounts I think the video is good. I do need to take a lot more B-roll (supporting shots) but that’s probably always the case.
The area where I need to spend a lot more time is on the audio. I still have lots of things to try here but I think I’ll be trying out the Zoom H6 multi-track recorder next to see if I can get some more audio sources and have more options in post.
After posting a quick Drone shot of the start of the Fish & Chip run I’ve gone back to give a longer post on the day, read on…
For those of you that are impatient and don’t like reading my posts… how about a YouTube video…
The Main Event
The Taffia Fish & Chip run is organised by the Welsh Area group of the Lotus7 enthusiasts club (www.lotus7.club). It tries to run every year (weather permitting) from The Piercefield pub, just outside of Chepstow, to the Welsh seaside town of Aberdovey – where everyone crams into Shelley’s, a small Fish & Chip shop, to partake of their wares and then to drive home again. It’s all just a big excuse to dash across the Welsh countryside and enjoy the driving and the views.
This year’s event took place on May 19th with probably perfect weather conditions. Perhaps the only downside to the weather being so nice was that there were plenty of other people on the roads – but as long as you didn’t want to break any timing records for the run then the busy roads didn’t really matter.
Getting to the Start
The kickoff in the Piercefield car-park was from 8:30 in the morning for bacon baps and coffee and leaving the car park at around 10. We decided for an 8:30 set off from Bristol with both Joel and Mike being eager and early.
Joel was my co-driver for the day… a very reasonable £25 admin charge to put him on my policy. Mike is a local (about 300m from me) Caterham owner with a bright green 2017 360R.
As we got closer to Chepstow we passed or collected another 5 or 6 Sevens on the roads into the pub. Clearly we weren’t going to be on our own.
By the time we got there at just after 9 we found there was already about 60 cars in the carpark.
We had a wander round the carpark, registered ourselves inside the pub and I took some video and drone footage. All while chatting to the other participants.
We had a pep talk from one of the Welsh Area Rep from the club and then we all set off.
From the Piercefield to Llanwrthwl
Joel took the first leg of the jaunt from the Pub up to Llanwrthwl which was to be our fuel and coffee stop, loosely half way to the seaside.
We almost immediately got caught up in a traffic jam that formed behind a group of cyclists heading out of Chepstow. We must have passed 50 cyclists over the course of the day – great to see so many people out enjoying the weather!
Then it was through Usk, south of Abergavenny, through Brecon and over the Brecon Beacons.
The full route plan is at the bottom of this post if you’re interested so I won’t go over all of that now. It’s a very varied first leg though, small quiet villages, large towns, single track bridges and dual carriageways. It’s all in there except for perhaps a Motorway and a ford.
Here’s a map of the route, I think I’ve got it right…
The best part of this leg is across the Black Mountain section that all the car magazines and Top Gear have used in the past.
As we crossed the black mountains we could see buzzards flying over head. There really were a lot of them. Then as we rounded a corner (Joel driving still) a buzzard took off from a tree in our peripheral vision. As we continued along the road it was clearly heading towards us, not intentionally I don’t think. Until we were clearly on a collision course and it then had to suddenly veer off.
The cameras on the car caught it taking off all the way up to when it decided to abort it’s path.
From the Black Mountains we followed the route below. One interesting point was as we navigated the bridge at Coed-yr-ynys (at least I think that’s where it was) and saw a guy out in his Ariel Atom wearing a dashing Spider Man liveried helmet. He must have wondered what the hell was happening as dozens of Sevens passed him the other direction.
When we got to the roadside fuel and coffee stop in Llanwrthwl it seems that just about every other car on the run had got there too (for those interested here’s a link to the pronunciation of this town). I like to think I can have a fair bash at Welsh place names but I completely screwed it up in my video voiceover.
It had taken us just over two hours to get to this point… this run was turning out to be a slow one. We had been told that we should have been at Aberdovey by 12:30… but that clearly wasn’t going to happen.
From Llanwrthwl to Aberdovey
We stopped for about 20 minutes at the garage and then headed out with just us in front and Mike behind – with me driving this time.
It wasn’t long though before we came up behind another group and we were travelling in a larger convoy again.
Perhaps the best part of the whole run is the section which I think runs from Staylittle to Machynlleth.
When we finally got to Aberdovey it was about a 5 minute run through the town to the seafront. We just about all got into the pay-and-dislpay carpark I think – though the parking toll machine was causing problems for people – some who had only got cards and the machine wasn’t of this era.
In all, including the fuel stop, it took about 4 hours to get to Aberdovey. Getting there just before 2PM. That’s quite a difference to the advertised 12:30 arrival that we’d been told, but hey, what the heck… that was more time behind the wheel.
I can only think the extra time was due to the number of cars – we got a bit bunched up in places – and to the number of other people out on the roads. There was also a bit of a queue for fuel and coffee at the pit stop that probably added a bit of time to some people’s journey.
Shelley’s Fish and Chip shop were clearly expecting us – but perhaps not quite the numbers that turned up. All the tables inside had “Reserved for Lotus7 Club” written on them, so they knew we were coming. However, we were queuing out of the back of the shop and into the side alley-way when we got there. We had about a 10 minute wait to get served as I think a new batch of chips was coming through. No point in getting upset about these things and it was a great chance to have a chat with the people in the queue next to us. The staff were friendly when we got to be served and the chips were great. Shelley’s is highly recommended.
With 95 cars arriving at Aberdovey and probably a ratio of perhaps something like 1.5 people per car, the fish and chip shop probably didn’t know what hit it 🙂
We sat and ate our fish and chips on the sea front looking out over the beach… what’s not to like about British seaside towns when the weather’s fine?
The Home Run
We left Aberdovey at about half past two and essentially reversed our route of the morning until we got to Abergavenny.
Not long after leaving Aberdovey we ran into (almost literally) a sheep. Sheep jumping out in front of you is a constant threat on these Welsh runs and today we found a particularly suicidal one…
At least this sheep had the good sense not to run right into us!
We stopped again at the same petrol station – we hadn’t planned to do that and had been looking for somewhere to stop for a few miles, it just so happened that we ended up there again.
Once we got to Abergavenny we just took the sign posts for home. That got us down onto the M4 motorway and it was a “quick” blast back.
I’m not too sure of when we exactly got back to Bristol. We dropped Mike off at his place on the way through and from the timestamp on the picture below we probably got home about 5:45. So about 3 hours 15 to get back.
From other reports I’ve seen it seems that in the end 86 cars left The Piercefield Pub and were joined by another at the fuel stop. Then 8 more cars rendezvous’ed with us later on – making a grand total of 95 cars for the run. Amazing! And a record!
All in all an absolutely fantastic day out. One of those days to remember for a very long time.
If you’re interested in seeing some of the highlights then there’s a YouTube video available here:
That video is about 15 minutes and took a lot of work to get it down to something that won’t bore the hind legs off a donkey – as they say. If there’s demand then I could put together a longer video with more sections that I’d missed if people are interested. Let me know if you’d like to see that happen.
There’ll be another more in-depth post about how the YouTube video came together and can be found here.
Here’s some Links from Lotus7.club Website in case you’re looking for other info on the run – you may need to be a member to see them though.
I’ve taken the following route plan from the Lotus7.club forums, I’ve pasted them here in case you fancy taking a similar trip, but be warned… I think some of the directions are a little sketchy in places and you should expect to get lost once in a while if you follow them – but all part of the fun of it!
Turn RIGHT out of pub car park onto A466, follow the road past racecourse to roundabout. Continue straight ahead.
At next roundabout take second exit, stay on A466
After 200m turn RIGHT onto B4235 Signposted Usk
Follow B4235 until the junction of the A472. This is a dual carriageway; cross into the centre reservation and turn RIGHT into Usk
Follow A472 past the 30 mph speed camera into Usk
In the centre of town , At the big black and white Three Salmons Hotel turn RIGHT onto the B4598, sign posted Abergavenny
Continue along this road for 6.5 ish miles
At T-Junction turn LEFT signposted Abergavenny B4598
Continue along this road for 5 ish miles
CAUTION – Complicated bit coming up!!
At big roundabout, drive ahead and under bridge, continue 200m to second roundabout.
At second roundabout Take 2nd exit onto dual carridgeway A465 signposted Merthyr Tydfil A465
Continue along A465 (for a total of 9.5 miles), at first roundabout continue along A465
At second roundabout take 3rd exit and continue along A465 for 2miles to the top of the hill……CAUTION – Major road works on A465
Take slip road onto A4281 signposted Ebbw Vale
After 400 yards take the slip road signposted B4560
At T junction turn Right onto B4560 signposted Llangynidr
Continue along B4560. This is the EVO, Autocar, TopGear“Black Mountain” test road. (Enjoy the view)
Today, I and my co-driver (Joel) took part in the Lotus7.club 2018 Taffia Fish and Chip Run.
I’ll put a longer post together when I get a chance along with hopefully a YouTube Video, but for those interested, here’s a drone shot I took just before we all left from Chepstow to Aberdovey on a 250 mile round trip for Fish and Chips!
I understand there were over 80 Sevens that headed out and more like 90 by the time we got to Aberdovey.
Fantastic day out in glorious weather… Highly Recommended!!