Bell Mountain Mini-Doc: Lessons Re-Learned

About Me

Since a very early age I've had an affinity for the wilderness and exploring. As a boy I would spend my weekends exploring the woods on my grandparents farm or just about anywhere I wouldn't get caught for trespassing (I did get caught more times than I can mention). One person who shared in that love of the woods and exploring is my best buddy Mike, who has shared in many of those adventures. Mike and I have been camping, hiking, canoeing, biking and hunting together for 20 years. It's because of our mutual urge to see what's over that next hill that has kept us exploring into our 40's. 

The Cameras We Used

This video was captured with a GoPro Hero 4 Silver and a couple of shots were done with a GoPro Hero 3 Black and an iPhone6.  The GoPro Hero 4 Silver is the perfect camera to use on a trip like this...as long as you do your homework on the camera capture settings (resolution, frame rate, etc.) and most importantly what you intend to do with your footage when you get back. For this video I set my frame rate at 24fps for a more cinematic look, and I set my resolution to 1440 and cropped my image in post. I am generally happy with how the final product looks, but I will be tweaking those settings and adding an ND filter on the next excursion.

 FUN FACT # 1

When camping in below freezing weather, keep your cameras in the sleeping bag with you. Cameras won't always work when they are cold - the GoPro is no exception, so some of the shots were captured with the warm iPhone6 that was stowed in my pants pocket.

Audio Is Still Important

If I have one gripe about the video, it's the audio. Don't get me wrong, considering the situation, audio is pretty dang good for a tiny little mic on the side of a tiny little camera - but it can be done better. I have ordered a Rode Videomicro for the next trip that I hope will improve on the dialogue and move some of the ambient to the low end.

Know The Story You Want To Tell 

In reality this is the fourth trip I have filmed, but I never captured enough pertinent footage on those prior trips to build an interesting story. Have a good idea of the story you want to tell before you take off, and remember to capture enough b-roll to give your story a point of reference and to cover up the tons of mistakes you will make along the way. Think of b-roll as insurance.

FUN FACT # 2 

Use a freak'n tripod...a lot. I brought a awesome little portable tripod, but I didn't always choose to use it. If I could go back and kick myself in the butt I would. A lot of the footage I took without a tripod was unusable even after running it through a stabilizer in post. Live and learn. 

In The End...

In the end, the mini-doc we created is a great piece of nostalgia...for myself and Mike. The mini-doc serves it's purpose...it is documentation of an event...a very fun and now memorable event with my best friend. I learned some valuable lessons in the end, that I actually already knew, but this process really did reenforce the truths that everyone should adhere to when filming:

  1. Know the camera you're using
  2. Audio is King
  3. Know your Story
  4. Shoot plenty of b-roll
  5. Use a tripod

I'm sure there are a few things I'm missing, but it's time for me to start preparing for my next hike. Happy Trails. Any and all comments are welcome.