Build A Caterham 420R in 30 Minutes – YouTube Video

On July 11th 2020, I uploaded a bit of a longer video to YouTube documenting the build of my 420R from nearly 3 years previously.

I’d always planned to do this video, but for the usual many reasons it only got a few hours here and a few hours there since finishing the build in December 2017. But I had a week off work and with the weather being a bit crap I decided to give it a final push over the line. I have no idea how many hours it took to edit the video but its probably well over 50 and might be closer to 100… bonkers, I know! And that’s obviously ignoring the 160 hours of time spent building the car to create the time-lapse itself. It too me two days just to add captions to it!

The video is a bit rough in places, but I wanted to get something out as I hope its a useful addition to my (and others) blog. My problem with the video over the past 2 years has been that I really wanted/needed to make it twice as long to be able to say all I wanted to about the build, but even now at 33minutes there will be very few people that watch it, and at over an hour I could pretty much guarantee that nobody would.

So, the video is what it is. If I was doing this video again then I’d make a better job of the audio. Both the pieces to camera and the voice over of the build itself could really do with less noise on the audio and a compressor applied to lift some of the quiet phrases. The voice over for sessions 1 to 15 had the microphone gain set too high and was hitting the limiter and I should really have re-recorded the voice over again once I’d got to the final wording I wanted to use – the result that ended up in the video was something like 600 sections of audio cut and spliced together and took me weeks to edit down to something that sounds vaguely ok to listen to. There’s nearly 8000 words spoken in the video – no small undertaking!

And if I was setting up the GoPros at the start of the build again, then I’d make sure I took a bit more time to get a good close-up of what I was doing at each stage of the build. Certainly 3 GoPros made for a better video I think. One would not have worked for me, two would have been a minimum and four would have taken forever to edit.

I don’t quite remember now, but I think I set the GoPros to record the time-lapse with 30s intervals. I used 3 GoPro Hero 6 Blacks for the main time-lapse. They’re the first GoPros (I think) to have in-built support for time-lapse. Prior to the Hero 6 Black you had to get the cameras to save stills and then stitch them back together to make a movie afterwards.

The Video and Audio Gear

In the garage I had 3 GoPro Here Black 6’s. They were set to time-lapse at 30s intervals. Each was set to run at the start of a session and stopped at the end. I used GoPro flexible gooseneck mounts to attach them around the garage and plugged them into USB power to keep them going for up to the whole day. Each had a 64GB Sandisk memory card in them.

I also used my iPhone to take over 800 photos that became the blog, but also used it to take some video at times – the side on shot of the engine starting up is shot on iPhone for instance.

For the “to camera” section I used a Canon EOS RP and 15-28mm F2.8 lens to get the blurred background.

When recording audio I use a Zoom F6 in 32 bit mode and then either a Rode Wireless Go and cavalier microphone or a Rode NTG, also into the Zoom F6.

Editing

The video was edited in Final Cut Pro X on a selection of Macs and the whole project was about 2TB of footage and proxy media… the proxies were needed because I had to speed the video up in two stages. With hind-sight I would have created sped up versions of the GoPro footage, exported it and re-imported it again to save the Proxy space at 4k. All the video was shot in 4k to give me room to crop and zoom if I needed it. I also created multi-cam clips in FCP to be able to cut from one camera to another more easily. However, that didn’t always work and there are a couple of sections of the video that repeat but from different camera angles. If I were doing it again, then I’d pay a lot more attention to the time/date settings on the cameras to help getting the clips synchronised – and probably used time-code generators… that sounds overkill but it would have saved so much time in the edit.

Like many YouTube videos, the edit got pretty complicated with all the graphics, overlays and animations. Here’s just 2 minutes of the edit timeline for the intro…

View of Intro section of the video in Final Cut Pro X

Anyway, as I say… it is what it is. It won’t be winning any awards, that’s for sure.

Below is the text from the YouTube description… note: when you’re in YouTube now, you can click on chapter markers to jump you to wherever you want to go in the video… my favorite bit is the trip to the IVA at the end of the video when I’m leaning out of the car to see through the rain after the wiper fuse blew as I left the house! πŸ™‚

I hope its a useful resource and of course I’d appreciate feedback, especially if I’ve made any glaring mistakes.

And here’s the text from the YouTube description that includes the chapter minute:second timings,, but you can find that on YouTube too!

YouTube Description Text…

Almost 3 years after turning on the first GoPro to film our Caterham 420R Kit Car build, I finally got around to creating this video…

This video is a recap of the major points of our build and is in no way representative of everyone’s experience – every Caterham and every build is different!

It has taken many many hours of editing to get this video into the shape you see here. The audio is a bit janky in places and there are too many jump cuts in the pieces of me to camera… but after 3 years I decided I just had to get something published.

Hopefully it’s of some use to anyone building, or looking to build, a Caterham. 

[ Bonus points for anyone who can count the number of “in the ends”, “at the end of the days” and “measure twice, cut onces” πŸ™‚ ]

Finally, yes.. I know sessions 24 and 32 a missing – I forgot to roll the cameras for some reason. Here’s the break down minutes:seconds of each section of the video…

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 03:20 Arrival
  • 04:20 Session 1: IVA Trim and Steering Rack
  • 04:57 Session 2: Body Protection & Gearbox, Bellhousing, Engine
  • 05:31 Session 3: Harness Tapping *
  • 05:41 Session 4: Front Suspension 
  • 05:59 Session 5: Front Suspension & Headlights
  • 06:35 Session 6: Headlights & Front Suspension
  • 07:44 Session 7: Uprights
  • 08:13 Session 8: Brake Pipes, Front ARB & Dinitrol
  • 08:33 Session 9: Horns and Final Front ARB Fit
  • 08:57 Session 10: Engine Mounts, L-Hose & Hoist Extensions
  • 09:35 Session 11: Engine In
  • 10:53 Session 12: Attempted Gearbox Shift & Electrics
  • 11:59 Session 13: Exhaust Headers, Cat & Lambda Probe
  • 12:49 Session 14: Steering Column & Oil Tank
  • 13:43 Session 15: Odds & Ends, Radiator & Heater Unit
  • 14:17 Session 16: Roll Over Bar, Engine Plumbing & Bonnet Test
  • 14:48 Session 17: Engine Plumbing
  • 15:43 Session 18: Prop Shaft & Differential
  • 16:22 Session 19: Handbrake Cable, Diff Oil & De-dion Tube
  • 17:16 Session 20: Handbrake, De-dion, Rear ARB & Radius Arms
  • 18:03 Session 21: A-Frame, Rear Hubs, Brake Pipes & Wheels
  • 18:55 Session 22: Knee Trim & Carpets
  • 20:13 Session 23: Carpets & Seats
  • 20:43 Session 25: Engine Stqrt
  • 22:01 Session 26: Water Bleeding
  • 22:11 Session 27:  More Water Bleeding
  • 22:39 Session 28: Boot Floor, Fuel Filler & Carpets
  • 23:39 Session 29: Fuel Filler, Torque Rear & Rear Wings
  • 25:11 Session 30: Washer Bottle
  • 25:42 Session 31: Rear Brake Hose, Rear Lights & Indicators
  • 25:58 Session 33: Front Wings, Lights, Handbrake
  • 26:59 Session 34: Brake and Clutch Fill & Front Wings
  • 27:54 Session 35: Front Wings, Handbrake Cable & Tidy-ups
  • 28:26 Session 36: Repeaters, IVA Mirrors, Wipers and Rear Hubs
  • 29:38 Session 37: Getting Ready for PBC
  • 30:44 Post Build Check
  • 31:25 Individual Vehicle Approval
  • 32:41 Conclusion

Driving Clifton Suspension Bridge – YouTube Video

This is a quicky… The weather was good and we were coming out of lockdown, so decided to get the car out for its first small run of the year.

The Video

I took a much longer run to get fuel and out from Bristol to Leigh Woods, Failand and then back into Bristol over the Cumberland Basin, but decided that I could make a quick video out of the run section of the run that went under and over the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Here’s the video…

No Music Version

And, as is often the case, some people aren’t so keen on the music that I added. I always think the music makes the difference to a blat video but others don’t always agree. My problem is that with blat videos, especially on a Caterham where the camera is often in the wind stream, all you get is wind noise on the camera microphone. You can obviously add extra mics and/or additional recorders to get an authentic sound but in this particularly instance, I just chucked the GoPro on the car and went for a drive.

So, as a bonus clip for all you avid readers, here’s a version of the drive with just the on-board audio….

That clip is not searchable on YouTube, you have to know the link to be able to get there.

The Tech

I used a GoPro Max (360 degree camera) mounted to the top centre of the roll-over-bar to get the shot. I left the camera running for the whole 30 something minutes I was out in the car. That created about 30GB of footage to work with.

I then used GoPro’s Mac app to work through the footage and create four 1080p linear (not 360 degree) short clips. Each clip used key frames to set the camera view, selecting a linear shot from the whole 360 degree field of view as I went. I then exported each clip and created the final montage in Final Cut Pro.

Once in Final Cut Pro I created the graphics, used some tracking plugins to make the floating text effects work, and then added the music.

In total I spent about 20 hours to create 101 seconds of video! Much of that time was learning how to use GoPro’s software, how to use some new tracking plugins and making all the clips work in time with the music. I could probably make the same sort of video again in about 1/4 of the time.

Here’s what the 360 images look like before they’re processed…

GorPro Max shot of Clifton Suspension Bridge in a Caterham 420R

I hope you enjoyed that short post!

The 2018 Taffia Fish & Chip Run YouTube Video

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.

YouTube

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 Β 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+
  • iPhone X
  • 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.

Nosecone mounted GoPro

  • 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 base of windscreen

  • GoPro mounted to centre roll over bar: Gave great video looking down at the road ahead,Β 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 Mounted to Roll Over Bar

  • 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.

Cannon m6 with Rode Video Mic Pro+ and Manfrotto mini-tripod

  • 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. MyΒ 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.

Mavic Air drone

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…

Final Cur Pro X Taffia Timeline

Conclusion

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.

The final result is here: