Show steepness in videos


I am sure I am not the first one thinking about problems with showing how steep hills are in videos. I have already tried several different angles and camera positions but it NEVER looks nearly as steep as it is in realty. You have the alternative to first show someone climbing up the hill but that’s not what I want because it very often destroys the flow of the video.

In your opinion which camera positions or maybe camera tricks show the best results here?

Camera Angle:
A profile shot (from the side) will give the true angle of the hill, however it might be too far removed to convey the emotional response of precariousness that is there in reality. It also hides the ridden line a bit possibly covering some of the technicality of the terrain. Something nearer to a 3/4th angle is probably best.

You might also try a shot from behind as you start a downhill as it will give the viewer the disconcerting feeling of being up on top, making the drop seem more immediate.

Camera Distance:
Closer is better. The shot has to be wide enough to show the terrain and enough background to give it context, but the closer you get the camera the more dramatic the terrain will seem. Sometimes the best way to do this is to mix a wide angle shot with a few closer ones. These need not be close ups of the tire, but also don’t need to keep your entire body in frame for the whole shot. Using a couple different shots strung together you can maintain the feel of one run down the trail but make the action seem closer. The trick becomes mixing short and long clips.

Camera Trick?:
Though I’ve never seen it used for this application you might try using a zoom lens. By moving the camera farther away, but zooming in to compensate, you will make objects in the distance appear closer to those in the foreground. With the rider as a reference point the viewer will perceive more downward motion than advancement towards the camera, hence making the hill seem steeper. The trade off is that this might make you appear to be riding slower, though pedal speed would look the same.

For this to make much difference you probably need a fairly powerful zoom though.

Thanks for your answer. Most of the things you mentioned I am trying to do, but it seems so difficult to find the best angles and camera positions sometimes (especially when there are trees in the way :smiley: )