When I visited the Virtual Active studios last fall they showed me the tricks they used to shoot very stable video, over very rocky or bumpy terrain.

But I couldn't tell you because I was sworn to secrecy.

Now they've lifted the veil on some of their techniques and the special technology they use to create the stunningly beautiful HD video for the ICG World Tour DVDs and MyRide+®

The first thought I had when I watched these videos was; "this looks like you're flying...they must have shot this from a helicopter or used some long wires ." But they don't. All the trail scenes are filmed by that big guy running with a "Steady Cam". Trust me when I say that the gear he's carrying is really heavy - they told me has was a former college running back. They typically have a second person pushing the camera man from behind to help him maintain a steady speed... and keep him from running off a cliff 🙁

Near the end of the video you see the car-mount they use, with the camera man actually sitting on the front. There's a very good reason for this. Cyclists, as they enter a turn, will turn their head to look though/around the corner. You may have watched a virtual ride video where you are climbing a mountain. As the video moves through a switchback you end up looking straight into the mountain, instead of up the road. Road videos shot with a fixed camera (on the hood of the vehicle) create this effect as the camera pans across the corner unnaturally as the car rotates around the turn.

Virtual Active's solution to this is to place the cameraman sitting up front where can he can turn the camera, so the shot follows the turn, just like you would on your bike.

But there are times when it's not possible (or safe) to have someone strapped to the front, like a scene from The Road Warrior. At around the 2:13 point you can see the sophisticated remote control system they developed to allow the producer to "turn" the camera using a game controller, from the safety of the passenger seat.

It's a subtle detail, but it makes an enormous difference in whether you are truly engaged with the video or just distracted by it.


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