Digital Revolution


It’s been longer than I planned between blogs and I have been working on this on over the last couple of weeks.  Been a little bit busy with road trips, car repairs and events.  Plus that work thing that I have to do to pay for it all.  But here we are, a shiny new blog to play with.

I’ve had a few people ask how I get the telemetry data (speed, course map etc) into my videos so I’ll do my best to explain the various bits of hardware and software I use to get the end result you see after most events.  For example the day and night runs from this weekend.

I use a combination of 2 GoPro cameras, a smart phone and some software on the PC.  Note that I use an Android phone, so this will be specific to the app I use on it.  I’m sure the iPhones or Windows phones will have a similar app available.  Feel free to comment if you know of such an app.  The more we share our knowledge, the better for everyone.

As mentioned, 2 GoPro cameras.  I’m sure pretty much any action camera will work so long as it can save the videos on one of the many common formats. For example (wmv, asf, avi, mp4, mov, qt) to name the first half dozen listed in the open video screen.  Enough people have in car cameras now, I probably don’t really need to cover these in much depth.  I mount mine, one on the roll cage to cover the view of the front of the cockpit and through the windscreen.  Most of the time that works fine with occasional issues with significantly different light levels.
The other camera I mostly mount in the front bumper.  Gives a go-kart like view.
So many options for mounting though.  Completely up to personal preference.

The second part of the data gathering is the phone based app.  I use RaceChrono.   Or from the App Store link.
Interestingly, while browsing their site I discovered they actually sell a hardware/software package that comes with the device to run the app on.  So that could be of interest if you are looking for a dedicated system.  Couple of options available by the looks of it, one with external GPS receiver.
I just use the app on an old phone.  Doesn’t need to have a data connection for the app to run which is handy for those of us who like gravel as most of those events tend not to be anywhere near coverage.  If you do manage to get data, you can get the google maps view which may make it easier to place start and finish lines on courses.
Another trick if you know the road you’ll be using, you can locate it on the internal map prior to the event which can cache the map data for when you are actually at the event.

Mapping the track

Mapping the track

The app itself is quite a good data logger and lap tracker.

Lap comparison

Lap comparison

All laps plus reference lap

All laps plus reference lap

As you can see from the screenshots above, you can see all the laps for time comparison and you can then pick laps to compare in the track viewer so you can see where you are faster or slower through the course.

Once you’ve completed your day you can export the laps in various formats.  For use with the next step of the process, I use .CSV format.

The final part of the package is the PC based software to combine the above two parts together.  For this I use RaceRender 3.
Short version:Import video and data files, synchronise the start times, compile the final video.

Actually, once you’ve set up a template the way you want to have the final display, it’s pretty much as simple as that.

First select the type of project you want.  In my case, picture in picture with data.

Race Render Project selection

Race Render Project selection

Then select your input files.  Main video which is the full screen one.  Secondary video which is the smaller picture in picture one.  I use my bumper camera for this one.  And lastly your data from RaceChrono.  I think you can add a few other additional videos etc.  Possibly other data input files.  I don’t have any more to add, so I haven’t had the chance to play.

Race Render file selection

Race Render file selection

Next step is to choose the template.  Took me a while to figure out that I could save my own template but figuring that step out has been a huge time saver and good for consistency.  I don’t have to keep rearranging the display elements each time now.

Race Render template selection

Race Render template selection

Once all the initial steps are done you are presented with the project screen and the payout you’ve chosen.  Here you can move things around, add or remove display elements and generally set up the display to how you want it.

Race Render project screen

Race Render project screen

Alongside this, you have to do useful things like synchronising the inputs so they all match.  Useful if you want multiple video inputs happening at the same time.  But also so the telemetry data actually makes sense.  It’s not too hard once you have done it a few times.  Basically frame advance until the car starts moving, then tell the data that where it starts.  You can also trim the inputs so you don’t have heaps of time before the start or 15 minutes of the pits when you forget to stop the video after your run.  Not that I ever do that of course.

Final step is to compile the video in one of several formats depending on your chosen use of it. Then upload and enjoy the feedback from the cool display.

I’m not planning on doing a full step by step tutorial but if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer them.  I’m by no means an expert with any of these pieces of software, it just looks like it because of how easy they make it to pull it all together.

Until next time, happy video editing.

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