Author Topic: A video thread on UK Caving?  (Read 2771 times)

Offline Caver Keith

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A video thread on UK Caving?
« on: March 05, 2018, 10:00:37 pm »
February proved to be quite a month in Caver Keith World. I was featured in an article in the Birmingham Mail, I was interviewed on local radio, had a video featured on LABBible and almost 5 seconds worth of clips from my videos were shown on The One Show. Oh, and the icing on the cake was my YouTube channel clocked up its 3 millionth caving video view!

All of this has led to a small amount of fame, a slight increase in video views and loads more comments on YouTube and Facebook asking for tips, what cameras I own, what lighting I use, camera mounts and such like.

Meanwhile video seems to very much a minority interest on UK Caving and also the number of entrants in the Hidden Earth video salon last year was disappointingly low. I can't help but wonder why this is as dozens of caving videos are uploaded to Facebook every day. As a forum UKC is ideally positioned for videographers and budding videographers to exchange tips and critically review each others work. Would anyone be interested in forming a video workshop/video tips/video review/equipment/top tips thread?

I have been thinking of perhaps offering to do a video talk at Hidden Earth this year but at the moment I'm struggling to find anything worthwhile to say. I'm hoping that if this thread gets off the ground then it will be a source of inspiration for me, will encourage more people to record their underground adventures at 30 frames per second and increase the number of entries in the Hidden Earth video salon.

Offline Kenilworth

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2018, 12:52:15 am »
Keith, I am one of the many who enjoy most of your videos, and if I cannot congratulate you for your fame I can sincerely commend you for your work. If cave videography was discussed more thoroughly here I would read with appetite.

I am very interested in video as a documentary tool, but I have little to no artistic talent, severely limited technological skill/interest and a fairly small budget. My videos are, predictably, crap. A lot of reading has helped some, but working in a cave seems to be especially difficult and I would welcome some basic cave-specific training.

Offline nearlywhite

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2018, 06:58:26 am »
I think the entry problem at hidden earth is more due to apparent lack of interest at the event for the work done, mixed in with the sentiment best encapsulated in the caving version of original lyrics of Going Underground 'what's the point and what's it worth, you'll never win at Hidden Earth'. i.e. Caver Keith has the winning entry likely sown up already, why bother compete?

I think there's a good way to get around this:
1) have the video competition online a week or so before the event. People often don't have the time to go to the video salon at HE, it's often a 'working' weekend for a lot of attendees and I know I'd much rather network my way onto an exped than watch a video in the inevitably out of the way video salon.
2) have different categories like in photography. This could be done in a variety of different ways e.g. best new comer, best go pro type footage, comedy/documentary etc. There's an argument it will dilute the prizes but that's not the motivating factor for most artists/cavers - recognition is nicer.
3) have a song competition too... This one's entirely out of self interest and doesn't relate to the rest of the post.
4) have a filmography weekend and invite loads of people along before the summer expedition season. I reckon you could fill a caving hut for a weekend, drum up some interest and share tips with budding creatives etc. You could even add the other art categories into it. You could call it the Caving Refined Art Party, or just CRAP for short.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2018, 07:25:07 am »
I am very interested in video as a documentary tool, but I have little to no artistic talent, severely limited technological skill/interest and a fairly small budget. My videos are, predictably, crap. A lot of reading has helped some, but working in a cave seems to be especially difficult and I would welcome some basic cave-specific training.

A very useful (and I would suggest, essential) thing to do is to have editing software and a computer sufficiently powerful to run it and to become acquainted with a handful of its features and become adept at using them: unedited video is, in my opinion, borderline unwatchable and dull. I probably over-edit, certainly at first, and the ratio used to be 1 hour of editing per 1 minute of finished video. The magic is in the editing was a slogan that came out at a former Hidden Earth workshop on cave videography.

Being adept with editing means you can create pretty good short films by ruthlessly selecting only the half decent bits of footage grabbed with (say) a point-and-press handheld video-capable ruggedised camera: the somewhat more tedious approach is to set up shots and use tripod, multiple lighting sources/directions and because of the time spent in setting up these shots less editing is necessary back at base.

In my experience one of the worst things you can do is have helmet-mounted videography because it induces a feeling of sea-sickness, does not provide an overview of what's happening other than purely POV which is often confusing, and to select out half-decent short segments from an entire caving trip requires hours of tedious and hawk-like attention while watching and taking notes from the footage. Helmet cam / GoPro footage can be fabulous, if used sparingly, but I do mean sparingly.

Perhaps a good starting point is to use your camera at home at night with a flood light and perhaps some side lighting and wander around a bit, up and down the stairs, and then create a 20 second video edit. That should provide some useful insight into how to get the shot (try various views - handheld, place camera on a static platform, perhaps pointing up or down, back-lighting the person, flood v spot etc.): because handheld cameras do not have great sound you can overlay the footage with ambient sound (foley) and/or music.

Hope this helps to enthuse.

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2018, 09:41:54 am »
I am very interested in video as a documentary tool, but I have little to no artistic talent, severely limited technological skill/interest and a fairly small budget. My videos are, predictably, crap. A lot of reading has helped some, but working in a cave seems to be especially difficult and I would welcome some basic cave-specific training.

Chris has made some excellent points. The skill is much more in the editing than the filming and this really does take time. Some of my videos languish in a state of half-editness for months before they finally get uploaded, many more never get uploaded. One has to be really ruthless when selecting clips for the final edit. The first edit of my Ogof Rhyd Sych video was over twice the length of the finished version. It was all fairly good stuff and I was reluctant to throw any of it away as it was one of the most difficult environments I have ever taken video in. If you've ever been there you will know why. However as I snipped out more and more the video got better and better, it had better pace, it stopped being repetitious and it kept the audience's attention for longer.

Chris is also spot on with his comment on helmet mounted camera footage. This is a particular dislike of mine.

Finally a large budget and expensive equipment doesn't equate to good movies. My videos have always been made on a very small budget. The old adage holds true for caving video - It's not what you've got it's what you do with it that counts.

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2018, 10:19:05 am »
'what's the point and what's it worth, you'll never win at Hidden Earth'. i.e. Caver Keith has the winning entry likely sown up already, why bother compete?

Oh, if only this was the case!  :lol: Most of my entries in the video competition over the years have sunk without trace.  :'( However in the discussion following last year's competition an item of feedback (source unknown) was that the video competition was very elitist. I've no idea why anyone should think this, but it is obviously a perception and one of the reasons I started this thread - to show that it isn't.
As the winner of last year's competition I have been asked to produce the opening video for this year's conference. I thought this was an accolade but apparently it's standard procedure. ::) I'm still largely at the head scratching stage and I've no idea how it will turn out, or how it will be received, or whether it will be of sufficient merit to enter it in the competition. So I hope that no one is holding back thinking it's a forgone conclusion.  :doubt:

Quote
1) have the video competition online a week or so before the event. People often don't have the time to go to the video salon at HE, it's often a 'working' weekend for a lot of attendees and I know I'd much rather network my way onto an exped than watch a video in the inevitably out of the way video salon.

For the last 2 years the entries have all been uploaded a week before the competition and judged online before HE. I think making the entries open for public viewing is a great idea and would allow an online public vote. I will pass this on to the organisers. It would have the added benefit of effectively disqualifying the opening video from the competition as it wouldn't really work as an opening video if everyone had already seen it. I could live with this.  :thumbsup:

Quote
2) have different categories like in photography. This could be done in a variety of different ways e.g. best new comer, best go pro type footage, comedy/documentary etc. There's an argument it will dilute the prizes but that's not the motivating factor for most artists/cavers - recognition is nicer.

I know from the organisers that this is already being considered and it would get my vote.  :thumbsup:

Quote
3) have a song competition too... This one's entirely out of self interest and doesn't relate to the rest of the post.
  :lol:

Quote
4) have a filmography weekend and invite loads of people along before the summer expedition season. I reckon you could fill a caving hut for a weekend, drum up some interest and share tips with budding creatives etc. You could even add the other art categories into it. You could call it the Caving Refined Art Party, or just CRAP for short.

We've already done this. It was in January at SWCC, and it was advertised on UKC and in Descent, and it was very well received, and we will do it again.  :thumbsup:

Offline Maj

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2018, 10:37:02 am »
Bear in mind that the Media Solons aren't just competitions. The competitions within the salons are in addition to the opportunity to display your Artwork, Photos, Videos & Surveys. Think about it more as an exhibition where not all submissions need to be competition entries.


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Offline Badlad

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2018, 11:00:37 am »
Film making cavers could think a little bigger and show their films on a wider platform.  Films are a great medium not just for cavers themselves but to promote caving to a wider interest.  Obviously a lot more than just cavers are watching Caver Keith's YouTube channel.  Last year at the Kendal Mountain Festival, Paul Diffley's Ario Dream and Mark Burkey's photo of the 'stunning' Calf Holes won the peoples choice awards.  There is wider interest out there why so not consider entering your film at Kendal.

http://www.mountainfest.co.uk/filmentry2018

It does cost £25 to enter but the rewards for caving, not to mention recognition and prizes, are greater too.  Your film could end up on the world tour!!

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2018, 11:59:43 am »
Film making cavers could think a little bigger and show their films on a wider platform.  Films are a great medium not just for cavers themselves but to promote caving to a wider interest.  Obviously a lot more than just cavers are watching Caver Keith's YouTube channel.  Last year at the Kendal Mountain Festival, Paul Diffley's Ario Dream and Mark Burkey's photo of the 'stunning' Calf Holes won the peoples choice awards.  There is wider interest out there why so not consider entering your film at Kendal.

http://www.mountainfest.co.uk/filmentry2018

It does cost £25 to enter but the rewards for caving, not to mention recognition and prizes, are greater too.  Your film could end up on the world tour!!

I did enter a film last year. It was rejected. The Croatian Speleofilm Festival didn't rate my stuff either. It's difficult to guess what different judges are looking for.  :confused:

Offline Badlad

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2018, 12:08:20 pm »
Good on you.  It does say that they have around 300 entries and reduce that to 70.  If at first you don't succeed.....

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2018, 07:07:39 pm »
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) are holding a great value 'Film making for the Curious Traveller' workshop in Kendal at Kendal College later this month.

If you're a budding filmmaker, check it out...

http://www.rgs.org/WhatsOn/In+your+region/North+West.htm

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2018, 11:13:51 pm »
As an example of a short and not complex edit, here's 1m36s of footage of our cave dig:




Offline Kenilworth

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2018, 11:28:06 pm »
Keith and Chris
Thank you for the advice. I do not own a pc or device capable of editing video at this time, but continue to collect footage and hope to improve where possible. Hopefully something rudimentary like MovieMaker will suffice when that time comes. I struggle with lighting, angles, length and shape of shot, knowing when/how much/how fast or zoom or pan etc. I tend to forget everything I think I've learned once I get into the cave, so practicing in the house may be helpful.


Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2018, 11:59:44 pm »
Here's one I'm quite happy with in terms of length, edit etc. All taken as 'snatched' footage with a point-and-press camera during the normal course of a caving visit, without it interrupting the flow of the caving*: the editing was actually relatively 'clever', with reverse shots, slow-mo, freeze-frame etc.. Because the camera audio was poor it was ditched and overlaid with audio, with footage edited to sync.

* Personally I've long been a fan of point-and-press ruggedised cameras on the grounds that it's possible to immediately get video footage of things as they happen without having to ask people to wait for a shot to be set up: the requirement, though, is that you do need to be able to ruthlessly edit the clips, with slow-mo to extend short sections etc..


Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2018, 12:14:43 am »
For fear of over-egging things and being a bit me, me, me,... here's another technique: namely interposing still photography with live footage, this time with the remarkable shots of Mark Burkey and incidental footage 'behind the scenes', overlaid with audio because sound on-camera was poor (FWIW this is better done on an independent kitten-covered MP3 recorder).


Offline Caver Keith

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2018, 05:12:25 pm »
Keith and Chris
Thank you for the advice. I do not own a pc or device capable of editing video at this time, but continue to collect footage and hope to improve where possible. Hopefully something rudimentary like MovieMaker will suffice when that time comes. I struggle with lighting, angles, length and shape of shot, knowing when/how much/how fast or zoom or pan etc. I tend to forget everything I think I've learned once I get into the cave, so practicing in the house may be helpful.

The early Caver Keith videos were all edited in MovieMaker and I think it's a great piece of software for anyone starting out in video editing. I wouldn't worry too much about most of the other things. A lot of my stuff is taken very quickly without much setup. People are far more willing to participate in filming if they're not asked to hang around and get cold. Consequently most of the stuff I take ends up on the cutting room floor and it's marvellous what can be achieved in the edit.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2018, 07:01:46 am »
I think the point has been made several times but I will say it again. It is nearly all in the edit. We all have a tendency to put in lengthy segments because we like them where a second or two might do. Just watch any wildlife documentary. I have a vast number of clips now both underwater and underground sitting on my hard drive because the thought of putting something together is so daunting!

Offline JoshW

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #17 on: March 12, 2018, 12:59:19 am »
There will definitely be more entries in HE video salon this year. Well at least one more. Currently finalising the trailer. Will post up here when completed.

In terms of the overall issues I think a lot comes down to the time. People don’t have the time for video. It takes just as long to film if not longer than to take photos, but much much longer to edit and has a much smaller audience to interest. It’s also difficult to get the tone right I think. Caving struggles in the media with just being shown as a dangerous sport or as a squalid ‘why would you do that’ sport, and showin caving in it’s true light is difficult. It’s not got the glamour of climbing or any other GoPro/red bull sports, and I think it’s difficult to do it justice. There may be an element of this as to why people don’t even try  :-\

Retaining some sort of storyline/planning is where I think most videos (caving or general outdoors) fall down. It’s mostly just drone shot after drone shot, and a lot of this is in the editing. I think it’s fair to say that it’s easier to reach a wider audience with photos as a single trip can yield 10-15 different high quality photos where it may take 10-15 trips to get the footage for a decent video.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #18 on: March 12, 2018, 06:58:55 am »
Good to hear there's at least one more video in the pipeline from JoshW but also some points raised which might do well to be addressed, namely:

* Don't give up hope! .... Red Bull/GoPro DO have overlap with caving but it's generally beyond mainstream UK caving so may still lack relevancy, for example:



and

https://www.redbull.com/int-en/into-the-light-climbing-out-of-a-cave-in-oman

... being just two easily found examples.

* Agree regarding plot but disagree about the number of caving trips required to make a video: pretty nearly all of mine have been made off the back of a single cave trip, but here's one I had a hand in which involved a mere two trips (and a drone!), which also hopefully has some kind of plot or storyline and provides a degree of inspiration for people new to caving (filmed by Jonathan Da'Casto and Andy Horeckyj and edited by Jonathan Da'Casto):



* Talking of inspiration and drones, here's a social media advert that definitely worked for me, firstly insofar as after watching it we booked a visit to see the caves in the film and secondly because it gave rise to the idea of taking drone footage in Wookey:



* People do have the time for video editing, if they make time for it: instead of watching TV or irritating the internet for an evening just do editing - about an hour per finished minute and it's rather addictive and satisfying when it turns out nicely.

* Lest I drone on, here's one more:




As mentioned at the start, don't lose hope!...

Offline ttxela2

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2018, 12:16:07 pm »
I've had a Youtube channel for yonks (since 2006) I've recently cleared a lot of rubbish out of it and begun adding to it again. A lot of stuff is not relevant to caving/mining but although I wouldn't say I know what I'm doing at all it is possible to produce something that people will watch using Moviemaker and your phone.

It's getting easier to film underground, years ago my nephew and I tried to make a film using a DV tape camera and a light box made from a bank of 50w halogen spotlight bulbs mounted to the front of a plastic case stuffed with fire alarm batteries. We dropped it in the water near the end and the whole thing fizzed and hissed somewhat alarmingly.



A couple of weeks ago My daughter and I made something much better using one of those LED rechargeable site lights. It's not up to any standard I'd enter into a competition, Keiths are of course way better but it didn't really take that long to set up the camera etc. underground.


Offline footleg

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2018, 10:03:35 pm »
Just came across this gem. Awesome short film Chris!

Offline tamarmole

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2018, 10:26:37 pm »
Just came across this gem. Awesome short film Chris!

Absolutely mental  :bow:

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #22 on: March 13, 2018, 06:33:51 am »
Shucks; fanks! *blushes*

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2018, 08:29:45 pm »
Just came across this gem. Awesome short film Chris!

I agree. It is a fantastic short fillum. I think one of the best criteria when judging a video is how long it is before I click the stop button or I feel the need to watch the video at faster speed. This video passes the test with ease. The tension and drama held me until the end. As has been said before - mental. This video is 6m 11s, the average view time for my caving videos is 1m 43s.

Offline Caver Keith

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Re: A video thread on UK Caving?
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2018, 09:45:56 pm »
Something a little different from Caver Keith Videos - a product review. The team has always struggled to get good video in large cave passages so we tried out some 3800 lumen FD65 focusing torches from Fenix. The torches were able to light up some of the largest passages and proved to be absolutely brilliant for video. The range of light settings and the fact that at flood focus there isn't a trace of a hotspot make them ideal caving video lights. A longer edit of the video we took with the torches will appear on YouTube shortly eventually.