Putting myself in harm’s way, for safety’s sake

Here’s a set of videos I shot recently at Irish International for the Road Safety Authority (RSA), to help raise awareness of cyclist’s safety on the road. They were published through the RSA’s social channels during National Bike Week (11th-19th June 2016).

The scenes look dangerous, from the cyclist’s perspective, intentionally. These videos were shot in 360 to give people a first-hand view of what it’s like, when motorists aren’t aware of cyclists or don’t consider their safety. Although there’s plenty of opportunity to observe this kind of behaviour during the course of an average cycle on Irish roads, I did bring along a driver to play the part of the inconsiderate motorist.

I don’t get a chance to cycle often, so it was an eye-opening experience for me. Some of the hazards weren’t actually that apparent while on the bike. When you’re cycling, you tend to focus on the road and the repetitive effort. Quite often you may be listening to music and you may place your trust in other road users to avoid you. Cycling along the country road, I was less aware of the traffic coming from behind, so the potential threat is more obvious in the video. But of course, it was there, even if it wasn’t on my mind at the time. What was also very interesting about this project, was to place the camera on the car, and see what it looked like from the driver’s perspective. The camera was mounted on the driver’s door (in the ‘door-opening’ video) and on the front wing of the car in the overtake video, giving a clearer view than you’d normally get from the driver’s seat.

I’m looking forward to making more of these kinds of videos in the future. 360 VR is a fantastic medium for providing not just an informational piece of film, but also an experience that is a lot closer to actually being involved in the action.

At this time, 360 video is not natively supported on Twitter or Instagram, so I also made non-360 versions for use on those platforms. Working with 360 footage gives you a range of views to select your shots from. From a single sequence, I was able to edit shots looking forwards and also looking backwards from the camera position. 360 video is supported on Facebook and YouTube, as well as many other networks. Some browsers or operating systems, such as Safari, may not allow you to view these videos.

These were shot with a Ricoh Theta S – a deservedly popular entry level 360 camera. It’s a small, light, pocketable camera that is extremely easy to use. It can take decent quality still images. The video output isn’t as good as you’d like it. It shoots HD, and the raw footage looks clean enough, if shot in decent lighting conditions. The 360 player engines in YouTube or Facebook produce a noticeable degradation in quality. This is a rapidly developing area, with many 360 cameras already on the market and some that capture video in 4k. Over the coming months, many more are due to be released and I’m looking forward to getting one of those as soon as possible. However, with the majority of social content being viewed on smartphones, the quality of the Theta video is good enough for now. I would expect support for 360 (with VR options) to be widely, or even universally supported over the next year or so and also for the quality of the picture to improve substantially through the main platforms.

Here are the non-360 edits of the videos.

 

 

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