22 Switchbacks on the Ken Burton Trail
May 9, 2016 11:03 AM   Subscribe

22 Switchbacks on the Ken Burton Trail
A short film I threw together all slapdash of me riding my bike down the side of a mountain.

For the past several months I've volunteered with the Mount Wilson Bicycling Association (MWBA), the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Associating (CORBA), and US Forest Service working to repair and rebuild the Ken Burton Memorial multi-use trail in the Angeles National Forest above Altadena, CA. It was destroyed 7 years ago in the Station Fire, which obliterated nearly all of the vegetation along the trail and, as time and weather passed, much of the trail bed itself.

This is an important connector trail between Brown Mountain Truck Trail and the Gabrieleno NRT, closing a 15-mile loop that has remained frustratingly inaccessible for nearly a decade. It was built in the 1990's by MWBA as a memorial to Kenneth Burton, a USFS ranger and firefighter who died in a car accident on the Angel's Crest Highway. The trail descends from the Brown Mtn saddle to the floor of the Arroyo Seco in less than three miles, dropping nearly 2,000ft along the way. The narrow trail and steep descent are accomplished over the course of 22 switchbacks, each of which I've documented here.

I totally stole loquacious' music without permission—if you haven't already please support him by buying some tunes: Thee Seldon Crisis

Here's a work report on the last day of restoration from CORBA (incl. cool walkthrough video).

Excellent history of the Ken Burton Memorial Trail from MWBA.

As I mentioned above, this is a very rough cut and I feel like I could polish it out a bit more. The cuts between the long shot and switchbacks 4-7 could be tightened up, and I'd like to add some bloopers at the end. But for about an hour's worth of editing in OpenShot I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. Thanks for watching!
Role: Director, Performer, Stuntman, Editor
posted by carsonb (6 comments total)

I feel compelled to add that this is not a go-pro video.
posted by carsonb at 11:43 PM on May 10, 2016

Need a drone dude :-)

I jumped through it so don't have a super strong opinion on the cuts , actually the first one is a tad long until the rider, I had time to think "is this just a sequence of stills of each switchback?" :-)

Needs a bit of initial long establishing shot at the start. Upside down shot doesn't work for me.

All in all looks like a fun ride.
posted by sammyo at 8:39 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the feedback!

The follow-me drone is near the bottom of my seemingly endless bike-related shopping list.

I've come to really enjoy the languid pace of this cut because I dig the audio track and the scenery. But after listening to some feedback I wanted to try re-cutting it to speed up the pace some. It was suggested I actually change the playback speed to make it look like I was going harder than I actually did, but that's sort of antithetical to my riding style and—FWIW—cycling philosophy. Plus, I like how the sounds of my bike and the bugs and birds out there with me blend into the music, and changing the speed would mess that up (unless I went all-out and re-cut the audio separately, ugh no thank you). So I didn't do that, but I did cut a lot of 'plants dancing' out of each shot and wound up getting the meat of the video in under 3 minutes.

Then, 98% done with the whole flippin' thing, as I was messing with the music to make it fit OK, OpenShot barfed all over me and I lost the project. Apparently the auto-save feature was not on my default for my installation. My wrist hurts too much to try it again tonight, but I definitely checked that box in Settings and hopefully it won't happen again.

Practice makes perfect, right? Same goes for riding switchbacks, you know.
posted by carsonb at 11:23 PM on May 13, 2016

It crashed again on me this morning, but I was prepared this time! Editing time reduced drastically now that I know a little more about what I'm doing; got it done in under an hour! Also reduced the actual riding portion to under 3 minutes, so now the little stinger at the end seems like it takes forever. And you don't get to hear the whole music track, BUT it is a better length for the MTB community/target audience. Still not very 'rad' but let's see *you* ride those switchbacks!

Shorter 22 Switchbacks on the Ken Burton Trail
posted by carsonb at 7:34 AM on May 14, 2016

Well this is why I'm staying away from videos :-) just so friggn many details and crashing and contradictory aesthetics.

Wow, incredibly better cut!!! leaving my gratutious rambling below that I started before taking a full look. Only thing I'm not sure works now is the fade to blacks in the middle. Well not in love with the out of focus at the title, unless you had a lens that could be set so you biked into focus. hard that wouldn't that be a cool shot?

Yikes, I was thinking about how you did the logistics with another rider/cameraman then I saw that last cut, you ran up and down setting up, you're CRAZY MAN!! :-) that's intense!

Is there any way to get a real long shot of most of the trail? Especially if it's a languid sensory feel you're going for I think it needs more establishing of some kind.

Think a bit about the "crossing the line" rule, I'm not quite sure how it works in this case but just got a bit of "where is that" feel in some turns.

The transition from one turn to another needs some context.

posted by sammyo at 1:01 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Again, thank you for taking the time to watch it and comment sammyo. I really appreciate the feedback.

I thought a little bit while editing about the whole 'crossing the line' rule and decided to not care. What's most confusing about the video is that some switchbacks just get one shot, some switchbacks are intercut with a long shot*, and two of the switchbacks have "alternate takes" where I picked a second spot for the camera and rode it again. If it was just a series of quick shots of each switchback it would make more sense. I tried to take out the fades on all of the long shots, and I think I just missed one while I was flying through the process this morning. That also might have been lost when regressing to a save point during a crash. Funny, didn't crash my bike once filming it, but I crashed my software like 5 times editing this video.

If I had my druthers I would have gotten a shot of me riding past the sign at the trail head to establish and serve as an opening shot. But it's a rest spot and even on Mother's Day there were several groups chilling there that I didn't want to disturb/trouble by being a weird camera guy. It's a personal preference, naturally, but I like the out-of-focus first switchback. I had an old Tyvek sleeve on my (new) phone for that shot, and the camera-hole covered the focus lens. I had to sit there and cut it out with my knife. Thankfully that was the most wrenching I had to do on this ride.

* That long shot was a big commitment, and if that section of trail had come any later I probably would have opted not to do it. I was seriously pooped by the end of this shoot: Yes I did it alone and yes I hiked down to each switchback, set up the camera, ran back to my bike, rode the switchback, and then ran back up to fetch the camera. Over 22 times. Then I had to ride home to Koreatown, another 15 miles or so.
posted by carsonb at 1:44 PM on May 14, 2016

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