Like all good adventures the making of Spring Equinox wasn’t without a drama or two. I guess it helps sort you out – do you really want this or not.

The idea for the video changed a few times along the way, mainly due to the combination of wanting to complete it from start to finish within September, and the weather in September (on days I could ride) having other ideas. No biggie, I was happy to be out riding around with the camera and little tripod having a fun old time.

A few people have asked about camera settings and stuff like that, so here’s the info:

Camera: Panasonic Lumix GH2
Lens: 14-140mm
Video setting: FSH 1920×1080 50i
Shooting mode: P

One wee challenge was that I hadn’t ever used the Lumix GH2 for video before, though I had bought it a while back with the intention of doing so. 3 weeks later I’d gathered 46 GB of compressed .mts video files (+200 shots) and was busy tooling away with all the puzzle pieces in Sony Vegas on my clunker PC. It all seemed to be going along OK until with only 10 seconds of Spring Equinox movie timeline left to work on Sony Vegas Pro started crashing every time I opened it and did anything in the timeline. ARGH!

Sony Vegas, Not Responding :(
Sony Vegas, Not Responding 🙁

Fortunately one thing Vegas did allowed me to do before it kept crashing was render the video in an unfinished state. I figured if it all went bad at least I’d have that. But the quality of the video was crap, the movement wasn’t smooth, lots of weird ghosting.  Tried different render settings, nothing seemed to help.  Hmmm… concerned hippie.

.mts / Vegas Rendering problems
.mts / Vegas Rendering problems

After a Google session or two it seemed like the problems had to do with the seriously resource intensive nature of .mts files, combined with Vegas and my clunky old computer. The general consensus seemed to be to convert the .mts files into something Vegas could handle better like good old Windows .avi and start the editing all over again.

One problem was that I had very little disk space left on either drive and the 46GB of .mts files would unpack to +500GB. What I really need to do was only convert the small action sections of each .mts file. Sounded easy enough, but tracking down the right software for the job took ages.

Losslessly trimming the .mts files, Aunsoft Final Mate
Losslessly trimming the .mts files, Aunsoft Final Mate

To trim the .mts files I ended up settling on Aunsoft Final Mate, along with Neoscene to convert the trimmed .mts files to Cineform .avi.

Converting the trimmed .mts files to Cineform .avi using Neoscene
Converting the trimmed .mts files to Cineform .avi using Neoscene

I made a few dummy videos to test the entire process. If the renders still sucked it was all over as it probably  meant I’d made a mistake with critical camera settings at the time of shooting. Thankfully the test renders turned out great… even though after doing more reading it seemed like there actually was a better setting I should’ve used when shooting the video originally, doh!

The big question now was if Vegas would start to crash once I started redoing the edit, as more and more files were added to the timeline. Only way to find out was to do it all over again.

Render problem solved
Render problem solved

To make things a little harder I hadn’t renamed the original .mts files to anything descriptive as I initially sorted through them, just had numerous date folders containing 0001.mts, 0002.mts etc. Before I could start trimming .mts files I had to work out what was what.  The only way to do that was open every .mts in Aunsoft,  rename the trimmed .mts files that were used in the video and at the same time write a pen and paper storyboard kinda thing, describing each shot along with timing in the original crappy render — it turned out to be good for something after all.

Lesson: Be much more disciplined with file management from the getgo!

Trimmed .mts vs converted Cineform .avi, latter +10x larger
Trimmed .mts vs converted Cineform .avi, latter +10x larger

I worked through trimming and converting the .mts files over a few days. Aunsoft Final Mate only just handled the job crashing after every few trims, I think mainly due to my old underpowered PC. Neoscene on the other hand churned through the .mts to .avi conversion with no probs. I ended up with 163  .avi files (32GB) — just the action bits, ready to go. I also installed an additional hard drive to ease storage problems — it’s insane that 1TB is a standard kinda size now.

Spring Equinox, completed... WOOHOO!
Spring Equinox, completed… WOOHOO!

With a detailed story board to work from and files with descriptive names it didn’t take long for the video to come together again. Vegas definitely handled the .avi’s much better all round but as more files were added every now and then a random video would black out in Vegas and not play. More Google time but in the end simply closing and re-opening Vegas would fix it… PHEW!

Much to the amusement of my daughter Holi there were a large number of  ‘final’ renders where I’d run around exclaiming it was done only then to notice another detail that needed to be changed. I could’ve kept fiddling around with it forever but with one day left of September it was time to let go.  Sitting on the desktop was little new movie icon, the 1920×1080 Spring Equinox mpg file, 426mb of compressed therapy, ready to upload…

One little icon, 426MB of compressed therapy
One little icon, 426MB of compressed therapy

Was it worth it? Abso-fricking-lutely. It’s crazy fun to be able to produce video at home, and on a crappy old PC at that. Was all this the best way to go about? Absolutely no idea, I’m just stoaked it worked.

I’m looking forward to making another video already! 🙂

10 Responses

  1. Pete,

    Well done on a brilliant video! Glad you hung in there, as a friend and I are trying to produce something similar and having identical dramas. You have set the bar pretty high,great music and footage but exciting to see what can be achieved, thenks!

  2. Thanks MTBFan!

    I had hoped the camera would produce good video files, it’s exciting now to know that it actually does – even on a large full HD TV the video quality is great. Coming from a background in photography, video seems so fluid and free but intimidating at the same time. It’s just up to me now to learn more about it all.

    Hope your project goes well, would be great to see it when it’s done!

  3. Hi Pete.

    Only just found your web site and video late last week but wow, great work.

    I sent the video link to a few interstate (ACT) friends who also loved it and there is talk of organising a “secret men’s business” weekend to come and see more of your beautiful area.

    Thank you for your efforts, it’s always great to see new places in our awesome country.


    South Australia

  4. Hey thanks Paul!

    Secret men’s business weekend sounds like a good plan. Would be a hoot to show you guys the best of the local trails, if it fitted in with your plans.


  5. Thanks Pete, will keep you posted. Also can you disclose where this trail is? Or is it indeed secret men’s business (some of us NSW girls love to hit awesome trails too ;-))

  6. Firstly, GO NSW Girls!!! 😛

    Nah no secret trails at all – that would be one the things I like least about the MTB scene at times.

    The video includes a bunch of different trails around Castlemaine and Maldon which is kinda why it’s a little disjointed in places. Locations include Mt Tarrengower, Elphinstone, Poverty Gully, Walmer State Forest, the bush behind my house! The footage was taken over a dozen or so rides.

    I mainly just rode places I enjoy and along the way stopped and took video snippets… hmm not very structured hey! The intention wasn’t to make a literal riding trail X kinda video but more of a warm and fuzzy this is what it kinda feels like to ride around here, to me anyway.

    Say if you were to come down for a ride, it would be a squeeze but in a long day you could probably ride all of the locations shown but it would be much better over two days.

    There is a LOT of trail down here, though very little is official or signed so it’s a matter of being familiar with the area.

    So… when are you gals coming down then? 🙂

  7. Haha thanks Pete, we will be there tomorrow!

    We are compiling something similar for a whole bunch of trails in Western NSW and no your footage isn’t disjointed at all, it actually looks like a single trail to me. There are certainly more options than out here, to the point we are actually making a trail on a friends property at the moment, just battling the rocks!
    Thanks for the offer, will keep you posted when we make our way down south. Thanks again for sharing

  8. “secret mens business”….sounds like code for “secret unicycle business”…..

  9. I’m just about to get back on the trail tools too MTBFan, for a MTB fundraiser event at a local winery later this month. Amazing how long it takes to put trail in and how hard it is to design it so it ‘works’ – the sort of things too easy to take for granted when you ride a good trail.

    I think I’ll probably edit the Spring movie a little bit more, just to see how it turns out, and then maybe re-use the shots grouping them to make a few short trail preview kinda videos. What I probably won’t do is make a silly deadline – feeling limited for time isn’t much fun.

    Thanks for stopping by, appreciate the comments.

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