Not all who Wander are Lost: Manu’s First Solo Motorbike Adventure

A couple of weeks ago, I got my first motorbike ever. I am lucky enough to live in a really nice area, and I had been looking forward to riding and exploring every single road…

A couple of weeks ago, I got my first motorbike ever. I am lucky enough to live in a really nice area, and I had been looking forward to riding and exploring every single road and trail in the region, and to getting lost in the remote valleys on my bike. So I took a week off from work, packed some clothes and camping gear, grabbed a couple of road maps, filled the tank, and hit the road down to the south of France, chasing the sunshine.  Really just out there, on my own!

I am not the kind of guy that usually takes tons of pictures or selfies on vacation (I know, funny for a guy who makes a living creating content!), and I don’t really share them on social networks. But this time was different; I wanted to document my first- ever journey on a  motorbike and to capture some good memories and landscapes from this brand new experience.

As a professional videographer, I was naturally more inclined to capture this trip on video than to take lots of stills. Plus, motorbiking means lots of motion, so video seemed like the perfect medium to record the action! Above all, this trip was a vacation, so my main objective was to enjoy—and filming the experience was secondary.

With that said (ha!), I still couldn’t help myself from putting some time into my mini-production planning. I had a couple shots in mind before i even left–and this helped me get organized in terms of gear.

One challenge was to travel as light as possible, so I had to be selective on what gear I brought with me.

Tent, sleeping bag, blanket, pillow, a winter jacket just in case, a few clothes, and a light filming setup. That was all I had room for!

Here was my filming setup:

  • 2 GoPros Hero 4 (1 black, 1 silver)
  • Gopro mounting accessories (Chest, handlebar)
  • 1 canon IXUS 175 camera (light, cheap)
  • Gorillapod (to hold the camera)
  • Hexo+ drone with 4 batteries.

Moto_PACA_Blogpost_3

I was really counting on Hexo+ to get aerial footage of my trip, as I felt this would add something fresh to my vacation video. Many motorbike trip videos on YouTube look quite similar: GoPro on the helmet or something else showing the road rolling by. The resulting footage is effective but maybe a bit monotonous.

My aim was to try to add some unusual points of view, using Hexo+ and try to make my video look a bit different from the thousands of random motorbike videos on YouTube.

Using  Hexo+

I was riding on my own, so I did really appreciate that Hexo+ was autonomous and that i didn’t need a remote controller to fly it. It was mandatory actually.

I don’t think any other drone would have made sense for me on this trip to get aerial footage of myself, while riding. I had my two hands on the handlebars, focused on my ride and the drone was flying on its own, managing its speed, the framing, and everything. Normally, you might need 2 people to manage this, but Hexo+ was doing everything by itself, and I was riding.

I had the chance to use the “Magic wand” beta version of the Hexo+ app. Thanks to this, I was able to very precisely set the position of the drone, with almost no limitations of height and distance. It makes the Hexo+ system really more powerful and versatile. I can’t wait for this feature to hit the market and be enjoyed by all Hexo+ owners.

Moto_PACA_Blogpost_5

Speed and Traffic

Since I am a beginner biker, I don’t ride really fast, and my way of riding is more about cruising on really remote roads with as many turns as possible. I am always looking for trails as well, to access even more remote and wild areas. As a result, I ride quite slow on this kind of roads.

This way of riding means also that there is very little traffic to worry about, sometimes not at all. All alone along the way. no cars, no trucks…

My moderate speed and almost no traffic made for perfect conditions to fly Hexo+ in follow mode. Hexo+ can fly up to 45 mph and ( i was rarely riding faster than that on the trails or on the little tiny roads as mentioned above), so the drone worked well for the ‘follow’ shots.

To get aerial footage with Hexo+, I mainly used the follow mode, but from time to time, I also used some of the other camera movements to diversify the footage and capture my surroundings when I stopped.  

Sometimes I played around with the 360 mode while I was riding (in motion). To do this, I left the phone at the border of the trail and then drove through the area as Hexo+ was orbiting the phone overhead. Those shots came out pretty good!

I also did a Hover (high), and rode through the hover range to give a different look and feel to a riding shot. The thing to have in mind here, is to stop before going too far from  your phone so you avoid losing the bluetooth connection. But if it does happen, no big deal, the drone pauses and waits to re-establish the connection, or it simply lands automatically where it is.

Moto_PACA_Blogpost_6

Power

I had 4 batteries with me. Each day I wandered about the countryside without really knowing if I would have electricity available at the end of the ride to recharge the batteries. So, i tried not to waste my batteries. I tried to be sure that the place where I was going to fly the drone would look nice on video. To save flight time, I planned which camera movement i would use, at which position, before taking off. I got everything ready to ride as well before launching the drone in the air (helmet on, cases closed….)

I had the same power concerns for my smartphone. To save juice, I turned it off every time i wasn’t using it (I was on holidays after all). The aim was to be sure to have enough power in my smartphone when I wanted to fly the drone.

Moto_PACA_Blogpost_2

Carrying Hexo+

Carrying Hexo+ the whole time was pretty easy. I removed the propellers, the gimbal, and the landing gear to make the drone fit in one of the side cases. Even with 4 batteries and 1 charger in this case, I still had enough room in this to put some more clothes for the trip. It was the same regarding the weight. 2 Kilos worth of Hexo+ was only a very small portion of the total weight of my riding kit.

Moto_PACA_Blogpost_1

In conclusion, I made this video mixing shots from Hexo+, POV and camera on the ground. I tried to add some kind of funny retro ambiance to this edit. I used a song performed by David Hasselhoff, from the soundtrack of this hilarious short movie I love ; ”Kung Fury”.

Having aerial shots in my vacation edit definitely brought something new, and it added another dimension to the piece. It’s so cool that I was able to do all of this on my own,  with just a drone that fit in my motorbike case, and my smartphone. (no Helicopter pilot were hired to make this video :-))  Enjoy!

Manu

 

 

 

 

Comments/Discussions

Alexis