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The On-board Camera Guide

Jérémy Roy FDJ Tour Down Under camera

Many saw my videos from the on-board cameras during the Tour Down Under and I’m grateful for it. Now I’ll explain how it was done, writes Jérémy Roy of FDJ.

This is the translation of a piece on Roy’s informative website jeremyroy.fr and he has approved its use here.

Stage 1: Authorisation
To have the right to film and broadcast my images of the Town Down Under, I first contacted the organiser who quickly replied that it would be no problem. But permission from the UCI was needed too. They gave me the green light just after the Christmas Holidays. The FDJ team was of course involved and they had me sign a statement as well. I had all the papers needed to get my project within the rules. For other races it could have been more complicated, especially with RCS Sport and ASO which have big broadcast contracts for the year. I’m keen to own what I do so if I’m given permission but without owning the rights to my own footage I’d say no.

Shimano CM-1000

Stage 2: Installation
The prerequisite is obviously to have suitable and approved cameras. I’ve got a Shimano camera, the model that the team used during last year’s Tour de France (INRNG: a Shimano CM-1000, see cyclingtip’s review for more). It weighs 85g and the mount is 55g, a total of 140g. I’ve also got a more versatile camera, which films in 720px compared to 1080px for the Shimano, and it weighs 73g in total because the mount is made of plastic. To fit the camera you fix the mount on the bars and rotate it towards the front. At the back you install it under the seatpost and it slides in with a click. There’s no risk of losing the gear during a race, no worries about it holding tight. That’s important because if my camera falls in the peloton I’m going to have problems…

Shimano CM-1000 camera

Stage 3: Lights, Camera, Action
Press a button and you’re off. Simple. It lasts for about two hours so I was activating the unit with about 90 minutes to go to be sure. There was one stage in the Tour Down Under where I wanted to film the start, so I activated it on the start line, stopped it 30 minutes after, then restarted for the finish. Filming long sections allows me to load the raw footage to Kinomap and sync the video with my GPS data.

Stage 4: Production
Once back to the hotel I get to work downloading my SD cards. Two hours of video takes 40 minutes to transfer. It overlaps the timing of my massage. When I get back to my room I import all the footage into video editing software and start editing, selecting the content I want to keep for my clip. All this takes time, but if some outsider was doing this it wouldn’t be that efficient either because I’ve experienced everything that’s been filmed out on my bike: I know when there are lively or spectacular moments. I try to remember these moments as best I can so I can find them quickly in the file. Then it’s time to export the video production and then upload it to my Youtube channel and then share it via my social media channels (Facebook, Twitter) and my website. This long process is only possible when the routine of a race allows: for the Tour Down Under we were always in Adelaide and the stages were short. If I had a long transfer and was stuffed for the day I wouldn’t do it.

Stage 5: Going viral
Once the video’s been shared online it’s the spectacular content that determines its success. There was that giant crash in the Tour Down Under that I miraculously avoided. I was in the right place at the right time. The video got replayed again and again in the hotel dinning room where all the teams were seated. Later I discovered it had loads of views on Youtube. The next day riders came to see me to tell me I was so lucky not to crash. Others were intrigued by the camera, they wanted to know the model, how to attach it, if I put it on myself. More than one are keen to give it a go, I’m not the only technophile in the bunch!

No performance loss
I can assure you using an on-board camera doesn’t stop performance. 140 grams equates to three cereal bars… I made the top-20 overall in the Tour Down Under, despite launching attacks, helping Arnold Jeannesson. I didn’t waste any juice to put my recuperation in danger and working on the video is the same as reading a book, a website or watching a TV series. The footage can help the team too, we used it several times for the team briefings and debriefings, a way to review some of our team efforts. In short, yes to on-board cameras!

Bonus
I kept some extra footage from the Tour Down Under in stock.

Big Thanks to Jérémy Roy for allowing the translation. You can read the original piece at jeremyroy.fr where you’ll also find many articles, a biography and more. Follow him on Twitter to see when he next shares a video and more.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 1 February 2015, 10:56 am

    Isn’t this exactly what velon wants to sell? I wonder how they feel about a rider from a non-velon team offering “their product” for free?

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 2 February 2015, 8:56 am

      Presumably Velon will want to corner the market for their teams, giving video rights ownership to them rather than riders on a Velon team. They can then offer a package to broadcasters rather than dealing rider via rider. But of course if you want watch it on youtube instead for free, we’ll see.

      But I think there’s too much association with Velon and on-board cameras, it’s been their only visible policy but they are planning much more.

    • Bruce Monday, 2 February 2015, 6:47 pm

      No. This is not what Velon wants to sell. They want to sell LIVE camera footage. There are a whole host of problems precluding LIVE pictures at the moment.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 1 February 2015, 11:48 am

    The link-up with kinomap is very exciting – INRNG has often mentioned the possibilities of live on-screen metrics when watching races (à la F1) and this is kind of on the way, non? Thanks Jérémy!

    • Brian Monday, 2 February 2015, 1:30 am

      The GIS link-up with on-bike video has been around for a while. Here in northern California Nate Dunn of Data Driven Athlete, a cycling coaching outfit and competitive amateur race team, has been filming crits for a few years and uploading videos with the course route, rider location, and speedometer on screen; check it out https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFH6_cYPn0hLp1RdxHiMndQ . It’s not that the technology isn’t out there.

      • Brian Monday, 2 February 2015, 1:53 am

        On screen metrics: heart rate, watts, speed, course, rider location on course, grade…

        • Anonymous Monday, 2 February 2015, 12:35 pm

          Could it be shown live?

          • Philippe M Monday, 2 February 2015, 12:44 pm

            Going live is challenge. Quite easy for data including GPS, cadence, power or HR as the size of data is minimum so using ANT+ to GPRS bridge does work well. Video may require 4G or LTE and even if available when doing a race recognition, this is usually no longer available during the race having too many people around, willing to get access to there network at the same time. Alternative is to transfert data using wifi between a camera and car or bike following the race and being nearby the cyclists. Radio is another alternative too but like Wifi, it should be done in 23 steps from the bike to a first relay following the race, then the upstream to board casters from that car or motorbike.

  • Sam Sunday, 1 February 2015, 12:12 pm

    Good piece! And answered my initial question on whether it will affect a rider’s performance too.

    • Anonymous Tuesday, 3 February 2015, 6:26 am

      Well there’s no mention of the aerodynamic penalty, which would be greater than the weight penalty.

  • Marcus Sunday, 1 February 2015, 12:26 pm

    “I can assure you using an on-board camera doesn’t stop performance. 140 grams equates to three cereal bars”

    Wow…I’m sure bike manufacturer’s are really going to like reading this. Especially while they’re try to sell the story that shaving 30grams from a frame and making everything super aero matters.

    • Larry T. Sunday, 1 February 2015, 4:52 pm

      +1 My thoughts exactly. But watching this “bonus” footage makes it clear than some sort of stabilization device is going to be needed unless one wants to make the viewer sick or the rider just-rides-along rather than working the bike side-to-side. On-board telemetry is going to be key here, does anyone know what the setups on MOTOGP bikes weigh? Might be a reason to keep the minimum bike weight where it is at present and let the video equipment replace the ballast so many teams need to add? In the grand scheme of things concerned with televised bike races, this on-board stuff is a case of “a little goes a long ways” as I think it’s overused in F1 and MOTOGP to the point where it’s hard to tell what’s going on in the race when the producer insists on so much on-board video.

      • Cameron Isles Sunday, 1 February 2015, 8:19 pm

        The stabilization device required is called a gimbal. Wouldn’t be too complicated to mount a smallish one. Make every rider in the peloton ride with one and any performance disadvantages are cancelled out.

        Didn’t know cameras could include GPS coordinates in the raw data. That’s handy. Wonder how long it takes him to sync all his other data (heart rate etc) with the footage and whether that could be automated somehow.

        The bib short advertising is in the wrong place for onboard.

        Wonder when drones will make an appearance. A larger quieter version of the Airdog would be ideal for the mountains at the Tour.

        Well done Jeremy.

      • MikeEvs Sunday, 1 February 2015, 10:17 pm

        Here’s a diagram of the MotoGP gyroscopic onboard camera http://www.motogp.com/en/photos/2010/Gyroscopic+OnBoard+camera+vs+Tail+OnBoard+Camera

        • Philippe M Monday, 2 February 2015, 9:55 am

          MikeEvs, there 4 models on the market right now having built-in GPS sensor : Sony AS100, contourGPS, iON adventure and Garmin Virb Elite. if your camera doesn’t have built in GPS, you can still record your GPS track using another device : GPS watch or smartphone running strava or equivalent. synchronisation between a video and GPS track is done later on but remains an easy task. You just have to identify a picture on video (turning right or left, a bridge or any location you can identify and make the link on a map. If your GPS device can export a TCX file rather than more basic GPX, you will get all data with it. some camera like Shimano CM-1000 or Garmin virb have ANT+ on it to pair with your sensors : HRM, speed&cadence sensor or power meter. Jeremy did mention 2 web sites for sharing videos : youtube being for sure the most popular but have a look on Kinomap on which all data remain interactive rather than playing with the time bar. Live example with this video on Mont Ventoux, showing all data. : http://www.kinomap.com/watch/f7gru2… something like Velon would like to promote indeed

  • huphtur Sunday, 1 February 2015, 1:40 pm

    Hellyeah, this is awesome. You rule Jeremy!

  • Matthew Davies Sunday, 1 February 2015, 1:51 pm

    I really like on board footage. It gives a much more dynamic look at the race – the sound of the peleton is really cool too and not heard from heli shots. I saw a video on youtube which was like a first person sufferfest.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwkrvN-4NqI

  • Qwerty Sunday, 1 February 2015, 10:53 pm

    Roy makes it sound so easy, an email here, a bike mount there and you can film the world tour. Kudos to him for making it seem so simple.

    Also interesting to see two fingers pointed up at Velon, he’s got control of this for himself ahead of some clique of teams.

    • RooBay Monday, 2 February 2015, 3:34 am

      Velon needs to be cut a bit of break (generally speaking, not aiming this at Qwerty). Just to be clear – Velon’s platform is not just about putting on-board cameras on bikes. The on-board cameras platform is a starting point for a much, much longer game, the aim being to present a united front of teams to work towards modernising the sport structurally, financially and technologically. This is ultimately likely to be a good thing for us cycling fans. Problem is that the extra-large elephant in cycling’s room is the ASO and the ASO have no interest in doing anything that hurts their interests. They pay lip-service to modernisation and change but that is where it stops. Without the ASO along for the ride nothing will happen with current structures in place. Even the UCI plays second fiddle. At the moment Velon is a fairly neutered group given this dynamic however it is a step towards some cohesion and a step towards change. Its platform runs much deeper than on-board cameras and the other things mentioned in the press release at their launch. Who knows what the balance of power may look like if someone like Vivendi or IMG were to buy the Tour from the ASO. The matriarch is getting old. Velon’s start has been modest, at best, but we shouldn’t be hasty in trivialising it. There is no magic bullet to cycling’s issues but the teams need to be well positioned and united for a time when more substantial opportunities may knock.

      • Larry T. Monday, 2 February 2015, 7:41 am

        I guess we have to wait for Velon to move beyond the “MBA-speak” stage and let us all know what their intentions and methods will be. Until then I still think pro cycling needs to go BACKWARDS to the pre-World/Pro/Whatever Tour days. I’m still puzzled as to what “Heinie’s Folly” was supposed to fix.

  • MD Monday, 2 February 2015, 4:54 am

    Thanks for sharing Mr Roy ! And well-in.

  • Philippe M Monday, 2 February 2015, 7:59 am

    Thanks for the article. Here’s one of Jeremy’s videos, fully geolocated on http://www.kinomap.com/welcome. GPS track is fully synchronized along the video recording and a move of the bike icon on the map self positions the video. Elevation profile and speed are interactive too. Note that contributors can also upload data like power, cadence, HRM…

  • Timo Monday, 2 February 2015, 9:09 am

    I watched the crash vid a few times, amazing how he was lucky enough to mis it. But then I saw how the front fork of the red Canyon broke and I realized that this is one of the disadvantages of the material: it snaps and leaves sharp edges, I don’t like to think what damage it can do on a human body… 🙁

    • BenW Monday, 2 February 2015, 1:12 pm

      It’s funny you should mention that, I’ve always wondered about potential for stabbings. My best mate fell off his mountain bike years ago, and his handlebars stabbed him in the side. He didn’t have any bar plugs in and ended up in hospital with a lovely circular puncture wound and some heavy bruising.

  • GB Monday, 2 February 2015, 9:41 am

    Thanks to Roy for the article and inrng for the translation. It goes to show, if you want to try something new, it might be as easy as just asking.

  • Matt C. Monday, 2 February 2015, 3:11 pm

    Live streaming from on-bike cameras and drones was trialled in Australia at the end of last year.
    There were quite a few teething problems in the first big attempt, but progress is being made.
    This CyclingTips article http://cyclingtips.com.au/2014/12/behind-the-scenes-live-streaming-the-shimano-supercrit-with-on-board-cameras/ answers some of the questions asked above about connections and data transfers.

  • Skater Monday, 2 February 2015, 8:41 pm

    In skateboard filming, you put your hand in front of the camera, with fingers outstretched in the “Five” position for a couple of seconds after somebody lands a trick. This makes it easier to find the position later on when skimming through… so just a tip to all you handlebar filmers… if something exciting happens, give the camera an extended peace sign or something…

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