Making short films / videos – can an idiot do it?

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  • Making short films / videos – can an idiot do it?
  • Premier Icon jaminb

    I am being inspired through the winter by watching peoples short films / videos of their adventures, tours and trips. Just watched the Beard Brothers Hadrian Wall trip this morning. The format, scenery, and commentary are really appealing. I have some tours planned this year and would like a similar record of the adventure.

    Can a non creative technofobe get decent results without spending a fortune and hours of time editing or will I get frustrated with rubbish results and end up with the usual 3 or 4 photos on the iphone when I remember to take it out my pocket?

    If so what is the minimum equipment / software required to get started?



    I have asked myself the same question, and made a few attempts armed with my iPhone, an external mic, and LumaFusion. The results were rubbish 🙁

    Depends what you’d be happy with in terms of results. The video you mentioned could be taken using a decent phone camera with some kind of gorillapod affair for the ‘riding away from camera’ shots.

    EDIT: I see they’ve used a Sony handycam 4K thingy and a mic.

    An iPhone is perfectly fine for making a short video, but it does have a few limitations, and it depends what you want to achieve.

    As @martinhutch says something like a Gorillapod and phone mount is pretty much essential for self filming. It does mean though that if you want that ace ‘riding away from camera’ shot you’re adding a lot of faff and time in to your day. Stop bike – find somewhere to put camera – start recording – back to bike – ride bike for a bit – ride bike back – go back to camera – pack up camera – ride bike – repeat. If you have a big day then it can really slow you down a lot. I did this with a cheap Gopro knockoff and minipod, and it took bloomin’ ages. Ironically the battery died before we even got to Jacob’s Ladder.

    Obviously if you’re filming someone else instead of yourself then it’s a bit quicker.

    Then as per @DrJ if you want audio it gets a whole lot more complicated – you’ll have to deal with wind and even with an external mic that can be a challenge. If I wanted to do something with a voiceover I’d be tempted to record it later as a voiceover then edit it together.

    Then you’ve got the fun of editing it all down to something interesting, which is a whole nother challenge in itself. It can take hours to edit down to a couple of watchable minutes.

    You could probably do the whole thing including editing on your iPhone, but I’d sooner do that side of it on a proper computer with your preferred editing suite – I use Premiere (‘cos I have done for years) but there’s lots out there.

    Premier Icon rone

    You have to seperate the technical from the story telling.

    Figure out your story , then figure out how to do it.

    I run a film production company for corporate stuff – this year I’ve decided to document my rides as much as possible. I’ve go with a GoPro 7 black as it’s just so handy in all conditions.

    My normal kit would not be accessible for these sort of conditions without a crew.

    Also, remember people get lost in the idea of what’s exciting to them is interesting to others. So yeah 45 mins downhill on GoPro is boring for a viewer.

    Figure out your story and then apply the kit.

    Ask any questions, happy to help.


    “Making short films / videos – can an idiot do it?”
    They often seem to have done.


    Making short films / videos – can an idiot do it?

    You have heard of YouTube haven’t you? 😉

    Premier Icon DezB

    hours of time editing <- whatever you do, you need to do this and enjoy doing it. Otherwise, don’t bother.
    (or yeah, just stick em on Youtube 😆 )


    I dabbled with this once, and much like the others have said if it’s riding you’re going to be filming you have to be really into the process as it takes a long, long time. This was the only ‘static shot’ type video which I finished

    Torwood Self Filmed

    That took 5 hours to film, and included me running to set up and pick up the camera (due to being short of time) and admittedly rushing a lot of the shots. I didn’t plan it out very well, and I guess if you were mashing it up with some on board gopro footage you could cut the time down further.

    Also don’t forget about the editing process. Most modern cameras will happily film in 1080 or even 4K, but people often forget that you need the computer processing power to edit the raw footage! Do you have a computer set up capable of handling the raw files? If not, or only just, this is going to make editing a very slow, potentially frustrating process.

    Short answer: no, just look at the crap that’s out there filling up trail center facebook groups. The world does not need another “sick edit” of Bikini Carwash at Swinley.

    Long Answer: Yes, but it takes time. The show I’m working on at the moment takes about 250 hours of filming, with 7 cameras, then 9 weeks full time to edit per hour of BBC1 time.

    Go-Pro (4 silver is really the point at which the HD video stopped getting any better, most go-pro stuff you see on TV will be a 4 black, and that’s mostly because black-tak will pull the screen off when it’s been mounted!). iPhone will be fine. Whatever you use set it to HD, or even 720 or SD, very few people will notice the difference and it will speed up editing. Do something with windows movie maker, it’s free and whilst it has lots of limitations compared to a proper bit of software it will run on the average laptop.


    noones really mentioned software – whats easy to use?
    Theres some software thats highly rated, but no simple instructions, and its so confusing
    I only need to chop,and stitch, maybe rotate. Windows Movie Maker used to work but they stopped that.

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer

    Davinci Resolve seems to be video software of choice for a lot of youtube channels.

    What makes a good video / film etc. is that a little bit more effort has been put in to it, ie binning all the GoPro colour, and applying colour correction etc. in post.
    There’s been a few youtube vids recently explaining exactly how to do it, specifically for MTBing (in low light forest etc.), and it takes hardly any time at all really. Although there is a little disagreement in the camera frame rate to select.

    Audio quality beats video quality too. And don’t just overdub with your favourite band either.

    That and all the stuff about trying to tell a story, show interesting places along the way, etc. rather than just snip/stitch a load of A-roll.


    making a short film is easy, see above comments re you tube etc.

    making it interesting to other people is the trick and that is a whole different ball game.

    it usually requires a creative mind and some technical skills though IMHO.

    a basic approach would be like any story and it should have a beginning, a middle and an end

    Premier Icon wors

    ou have to seperate the technical from the story telling.

    Figure out your story , then figure out how to do it.

    I’ve tried doing this a few times, for weekend biking trips, my vids end up focusing on more non biking (pub) settings than anything else.

    Any links to your stuff?


    Torwood Self Filmed

    Hang on – how did you film that if you shut your camera in the car boot right at the beginning? Trickery!!

    Premier Icon dudeofdoom

    Tbh I have noticed if you get a GoPro they have software you put on your phone/tablet that will pretty much help you assemble something out of the tat you’ve shot and put some music and let you do a title without a lot of hassle and looks not to bad for minimal effort/equipment.

    Getting a polished thing together thou takes a serious amount of time and effort as thsisnotaspoon says.

    Premier Icon rone

    Any links to your stuff?

    Don’t think my corporate stuff will do you any favours… But I’m documenting this year’s riding by taking a GoPro 7 with me. I will post a rough cut up here as soon as I’ve done January.

    Premier Icon BigDummy

    People will tolerate a lot if what you produce does not require them to invest too much time. All these are objectively rubbish, but allowed me to play around and get the hang of iMovie without the editing job getting out of control. I think making a 2-minute film is manageable, and people will sit through it without complaint. 🙂

    Premier Icon rone

    Just the right length. And that last film shows good use of inventive angles and more importantly a decent grasp of editing!

    just don’t expect to be great off the bat, it takes practice and time but it is fun. Software, davinci resolve is great (and FREE) but premiere pro and final cut are also amazing. Tutorials abound online.

    In terms of kit i went down the MFT route as could adapt some of my older nikon glass to work with them. i have a mix of different Lumix bodies and find them a dream to use. On new stuff Wex have a cashback offer on at the minute on sony and lumix.

    Although there is a little disagreement in the camera frame rate to select.

    It depends on what you want to achieve, people are conditioned to believe that i50 is real. Because that’s what the news, sport and soap operas are shown in. Cinema is still p24 (usually with the shutter going 48/s that to reduce flicker) and so you associate that with fiction. So sometimes it’s changed to trick you, watching some incredible footage in p25 looks incredible because subconsciously that’s what your brain is telling you.

    60fps IMO looks horrible, some people like it, but then some people like the motion smoothing setting on TV’s so there’s no accounting for stupidity and bad taste.

    Premier Icon wors

    [ video][/video ]

    This is a short vid i did when i first got my go pro, 15 minute ride turns into a 2 hour marathon though!!

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen

    hours of time editing

    The key to editing is to have an idea of what tools you need in your edit before you film anything. The time investment starts before you film not afterwards. Once you get back to your desk you’ve only got the shots you actually filmed to work with, if you haven’t got the cut-aways, general views and so on that you need to make something interesting for someone else to watch then all you can do is sit at your desk shouting at your past self.

    Theres a whole lot of stuff in a good short bit of film that you don’t notice… unless it isn’t there.

    My GF is a film maker and when she’s editing there have been times when we’ve had to explain to the neighbours that we haven’t been having a domestic after an afternoon of her sitting in the spare bedroom shouting “go left! go left! go left!” “You’ve cut the top of his **** head off!” “why did you stop there you idiot!” “STOP TALKING AND **** BREATH SO I CAN CUT YOU!” at history.


    Davinci Resolve seems to be video software of choice for a lot of youtube channels.

    Just be aware that resolve is a massive resource hog and leans heavily on the gpu. It struggled with 4K on a MacBook Pro whereas FCPX flies and doesn’t even need proxies to edit/trim/grade. You really do need a decent machine and graphics card for resolve.

    It’s also a fairly steep learning curve.


    Last summer I used a Go Pro clone to film our sailing holiday in the Hebrides. Just filled a load of 10-20 second video clips throughout the two week cruise. Once got home used the inbuilt video editor in Win10 to cut down the clips to the best bits and lumped them together in chronological order.

    Whilst the video isn’t going to win any Oscars, it’s a nice <2min video to look back on now and again. I could be tempted to get a proper camcorder for this summer’s cruise to Skye / Outer Hebrides, I note amazon doing 4k cameras for <£200.

    Sulis Hebrides

    Premier Icon jaminb

    Thank you for all your responses.

    Sounds like it may be beyond my creative skills however the great videos posted in this thread are exactly the kind of record I am trying to create. Well done to the producers you have inspired me to try. I am not an action rider – more of an offroad tourer who likes to gaze around at the landscape and scenery – this is what I would like to record. I am not to worried about going backwards and forwards to record sections as when riding with mates we normally have some long catch up waits. The story will ideally be a record of the tour highlights – I am sure this will be boring for most people but it will save great memories for me.

    In terms of equipment I have a work macbook pro which I think has Imovie loaded on it. Is this a sensible starting point or unnecessarily complicated?

    So I think I only need a camera and tripod/holder. I don’t fancy using my Iphone as this my only method of communicating with the outside world and I would be worried about breaking it. Is the GoPro the go to solution? If I look secondhand what is the lowest number Go Pro you would recommend? Is this sufficient for the landscape / panoramic shots I would like to include in my videos. I don’t mind spending a bit more if I get noticeable improved and easier results but conscious if I get frustrated it will just be a more expensive bit of kit gathering dust at the back of the cupboard!

    Thanks again for the comments and the offer of further help!

    Premier Icon rone

    So I think I only need a camera and tripod/holder. I don’t fancy using my Iphone as this my only method of communicating with the outside world and I would be worried about breaking it. Is the GoPro the go to solution? If I look secondhand what is the lowest number Go Pro you would recommend? Is this sufficient for the landscape / panoramic shots I would like to include in my videos.

    Go Pros are pretty good if you take time to work with them properly. Too many people use awful settings and aren’t imaginative.

    I’ve got a Go Pro 7 Black – and if you don’t need the built-in stabilisation then you could look further down the range. The stabilisation is great but you need plenty of light for it to work.

    Basically I have the GoPro in my rear pocket attached to a small Go Pro Shorty or Go Pro 3 Way – which you can hold or both have basic tripods fitted to the bottem. I also have a good set of mounts but essentially only fix to my bike when I feel it’s worth doing. Otherwise in my pocket.

    If you do go for a Go Pro Black 7 and sign up to their cloud system (1 month free) you can access all of Go Pros mounts,batteries and cases for half-price. I filled my boots with this stuff.

    Get a couple of batteries too and the faster charger. Batteries don’t last long.

    Because I like my cinema-look and I shoot everything at a 50FPS time base in 1/100 shuttter. Fixed. This gives me a 25FPS cinematic look and slow-mo with the same shutter. Most shooters go for an automatic shutter which yields awful results in my opinion. My way is quite dependent on light though – that’s the trade-off.

    Also I love the GO Pros voice activation – this has been a boon this winter.

    The six black is still a good shout if you want to save money and don’t need the latest stabilisation and no voice activation.

    Nothing beats a decent cinema-camera (S35/ MFT etc) but an action cam will mix better with mountain biking. And you can get good results if you take a bit of care and time.


    Normally I think choosing the backing track to a video is one of the most important things and it’s important to get it right.

    But here’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. No backing track; just trail sounds, uplifts, cowbells and my trusty DT Swiss rear hub.

    I quite like it.


    Best viewed with errr…sound


    Bookmarked 🙂

    I’m a full time voiceover and audio producer, no really. I’ve got 20+ years of experience ta boot. Email me if you need audio help, ed at EDsound dot co dot uk

    Used to use some overly complex software but my last video was using Animotica on the Windows App Store. Paid a few £££ to enable extra features, its fairly easy to use but does have a few irritating bugs.

    I found if you have two or thee people filming bits and bobs, you get enough varied footage with practically no effort. We used an old GoPro 960 with a scratched lens, a posh newish GoPro but mounted behind a brake hose for the entire trip, another GoPro that turned out to have no SD card in it, and a few smartphone pictures and clips 🙂

    You do need to like editing, I can tolerate it for a few evenings but Day 2 is only 3/4 of the way done…

    Premier Icon bikebouy

    A couple of years ago I had a crack at this.

    We’d just bought a drone for the farm (help counting sheep etc.) and I bought a zoom lens for my iPhone.

    The go-pro on the drone (it’s quite a big drone) is detachable and I put that on the end of a broom stick to get some overhead and different aspect views.

    All I wanted was to document a sort of day in the life of a farmer, since we have the farm… And it took me about 20hrs filming and about 30hrs to edit.

    Most of my stuff was simple landscape based, with the occasional zoom on a sheep eating grass or pheasants flapping or next doors car prowling, a hell of a lot of stationary farm machinery and the kids playing football against the barn wall.

    Sounds boring doesn’t it? Well, I don’t think it was. After all farming isn’t all about ploughs and buxom maids milking. Most farm work is steady stoic progress, and that’s what I got.

    I added some music, ripped mostly off soundcloud and that took flipping yonks to align to the video..

    Mostly though it was a pain editing what I’d done. Shaky and Shonky wobbly camera work meant about 17hrs of what would have been good footage ruined by blurry images and wobbles.

    But, on the whole what I produced was IMO not that bad for a first time effort. It has made me realise that those who do this for a living are very experienced and whilst you may not like thier topic, they do seem to keep the camera focused.

    I’d always recommend having a go with cheap gear first, pick a topic and have fun.


    I just started a thread on a related topic, I wish I’d seen this first.

    Has anyone tried filming from their bike with a smartphone? I was thinking of getting a GoPro, but thought my phone might work for my purposes.What’s the best way to attach the phone to the bike?

    Alternatively, has anyone tried any of those cheap GoPro clones from Amazon?

    Premier Icon stewartc

    I’ve been using Flimora as Im not a MAC user, this edit was knocked out in a few hours using it and contributions from Bigdummys drone alongside my GoPro.
    I enjoy trying to faff around with different effects etc and find Filmora really easy to try different effects, you need to enjoy the editing process which can be time consuming and mostly consists of removing stuff.
    I try to work to the ‘below 5 minutes’ rule.

    Premier Icon bikebouy

    I used iMovie on my MacAir for my editing… it was simple enough, it was the wobbly footage I struggled with 🤣

    Never tried the Amazon or ebay jobbies but 2nd hand a hero4 black has all the pro settings you need and the image quality hasn’t improved in the meantime.

    As suggested up there, use the protune features on the GoPro, yes it will no longer work chest mounted going from light to dark, but you won’t be doing that. What you need is to use the shutter, ISO etc manually for the scene.

    I’m in the midst of going through a load of prospectus for a master’s in this so I really need to get some practice in at some point! My day jobs on the technical side and I want to jump into producing/directing before I hit the career ceiling.

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