Tradesman Status

Well, I didn’t make it to the final round in the Foundry Tradesmen contest. If I had, this post would be instructing you to go and vote for my entry. I found out that I had not made it to the final round a few days ago when Foundry Cycles posted the list of finalists to their Facebook page.

When I decided to enter this contest, I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew I would probably be facing some strong competition and I really didn’t have any expectation that I would win; especially when there was a whole nation of cyclists competing for one of five spots. That said, when I found out that I had not made it to the final round I was disappointed, more so than I anticipated.

I think the disappointment stems mainly from the fact that I ended up putting in a lot of time and effort into creating and producing my video entry. I was pretty satisfied with the end result and a received a lot of positive feedback from my test audience. Sure there are  things I would change in the video if I was going to start over today but, I’m sure anyone who’s ever produced a video has said the same thing at one time or another.

The time I spent creating my video was not wasted, on the contrary, it was a great benefit to my ongoing education. I taught myself a number of new techniques in the Adobe video editing suite. I learned a lot more about Adobe Premiere, a little about Adobe After Effects, and I even learned how to use some additional tools in Adobe Photoshop, an application I have using for 20 years. All invaluable knowledge and more skills I can add to my résumé.

Today, Foundry Cycles published the list of finalists on their website. I looked through the stories for each of the entrants and they all seem to have a ton of experience in cycling. People with 20+ years in the saddle, individuals who have a history working in the bicycle industry, athletes who compete in century races or 24 hour events, and folks that already have a full stable of bikes in their garages or basements. I don’t know if that’s what Foundry was looking for when they selected their finalists, experience certainly wasn’t listed as a prerequisite to enter the contest. I can however see how choosing people with a lot of experience would make things easier for Foundry over the course of the program. Putting their bikes in the hands of individuals that already have solid base and lots of connections in the world of cycling seems like a sound business decision.

Even though you can’t vote for me to be a Foundry Tradesman, I still encourage you to head over to Foundry website and vote for a finalist in each of the five regions. You need a Facebook account to vote but, who doesn’t have Facebook account these days. I’m not going to campaign for any of the finalists but, I will encourage you seriously consider the three female finalists when you vote. Since, it was Arleigh, a.k.a. Bike Shop Girl’s blog that led me to the Foundry contest in the first place, I think I should at least try to persuade you to cast your votes for some Foundry Tradeswomen.

Getting back to my story, I spent the past few days thinking about what I should do now. I went through a series of reactions, from giving up on the idea of cycling again and closing up shop on this blog to dropping some cash on a different lust worthy bike and throwing myself into anything and everything cycling related for the next 12 months, totally kicking ass and “showing” Foundry what could have been.

Now I think my pity party is over and I’m ready to get back on track. I’ve decided to just go back to where I was about two months ago before I started working on my video. I’m going to continue my search for a bike. When I find one that I like that’s in my budget, I’ll get it and start riding. Exactly what I planned to do B.F. (before foundry). 😀

The only thing that’s changed is that I now have this blog. I’ve decided to keep blogging about my experiences with cycling. Instead of writing about all the things I’m doing as a Foundry Tradesman, I just be writing about all the things I’m doing as a regular guy getting back into riding after 20 years. I’m sure there are plenty of other people like me out there that are in the same place I am right now and would enjoy reading my stories and hopefully avoid the mistakes I’m sure to make along the way.

Finally, since it feels like the first chapter in my story has already come to an end, I decided that this blog needed a fresh new look. I’m sticking with the Twenty Eleven theme because it’s just so fully featured. The thing I like most about this theme is the responsive layout that magically changes based on the size of your browser window. This feature allows everything to flow properly whether you’re visiting on your computer, a tablet or a smart phone. To freshen the look, I switched to the light color style with black text on a white background. The dark theme looked cool and it was Foundry-esque but, it was harder to read. I also styled the background with a simple seamless pattern and changed the header image. It won’t be the last time I change the style of this blog but, it works for now. Just for record, here’s a few screen shots of the prior design.

So Chapter 2 begins here, I hope you’ll stick around and continue the ride with me.

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Ride. Report. Repeat. I CAN Handle That.

Foundry Cycles is looking for five brand ambassadors and I want to be one of them. If selected I’ll spend a year acting as an evangelist for the brand, a Foundry Tradesman. My duties will include riding their bike to local events, bike races, the grocery store, and just about anywhere it can take me. I’ll also be asked talk to people about what I think of the Foundry bike I’ll be given, answer questions they might have about the bike and perhaps let them take it for a spin. Additionally, I’ll be asked to document and share my experience through blogging, photography, and video. Foundry makes it clear, their ambassadors will have to earn their keep.

Foundry Cycles Router

So let’s see, I’ll be given a fantastic, high-tech, lightweight bicycle which I will spend a year riding. As a result, I’ll reap all the health benefits such as, increased strength, enhanced muscle tone, improved cardiovascular fitness, and better heart health. I’ll also be “required” to meet new people who share a passion for cycling and spend time talking to them about my cool new bike. Finally, I’ll have to spend time taking photos, making videos, and sharing all the fun I’m having with the world through this blog.

It really doesn’t seem much like work to me.

Foundry want’s to know why I should be selected to ride for them. Why they should choose me as a finalist to for this program? I’ll be up against other entrants that will likely have more experience riding bicycles. Perhaps, people who have spent a good part of their lives riding bikes and competing in bike racing. There will also be individuals who have more connections in the world of biking. Maybe people who work in the industry, lead bicycle tours, or put on events. None of that means I’m not a good choice for Foundry.

I’m committed to this project, I’m committed to immersing myself in the bicycle lifestyle and I’m committed living up to Foundry’s expectations for their Tradesmen and women. I’ll turn my dream into a reality and 365 days later, I know I’ll be proud I’ve done it.

What’s my dream? With the help for a few friends and family members, I’ve created a video to illustrate just that. Michael Bay, Peter Jackson, nor even Kevin Smith are worried about my freshman foray into directing. Still, I think my video turned out pretty good and more importantly, I had a lot of fun making it.

Enjoy!

Credits

This post is reserved to provide credit and attribution to the photographers who’s images helped make my Foundry Cycles Tradesmen video possible. I want to thank all these individuals for making their works available to the public under a creative commons license. All creative commons licenses require attribution be given to the original owner or artist. The following is a listing of all the still photos used in my video. No credit is given to website screenshots, licensed stock photos, or images provided by Foundry Cycles. I’ve included the title of the work, the photographer’s name and a linked image to the original posted on flickr. I’ve organized this list in the order that the photos appear in my soon to be released video.

Cleveland Welding Co. Skiptooth Chainring – Arturo Sotillo
Cleveland Welding Co. Skiptooth Chainring

Coyote Hills Regional Park – Nina Stawski
Coyote Hills Regional Park

Coyote Hills – Jim Bahn
Coyote Hills

Univega Rover 304 – 1,2 & 3 – Todd Barber

Foundry Router Studio – Composition by Todd Barber

Kim & Alexis – Richard Masoner
Kim & Alexis

Todd & Dan – Kathleen W.

Land Park Criterium – Todd Barber

Bike Lane – Michelle Barber

splended morning – Robert Couse-Baker
splended morning

Margaret biking – Russell Brennan
Margaret biking

Umpqua River Mountain Bike Trip 6/11 – Gabriel Amadeus
Umpqua River Mountain Bike Trip 6/11

Mountain Bike Wilder Ranch – Richard Masoner
Mountain Bike Wilder Ranch

Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz – Richard Masoner
Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz

Sunset at the Bike Park – Todd Barber

Todd at the Post Office – Michelle Barber

Mailing a Letter to Foundry – Michelle Barber

City Bicycle Works – Todd Barber

Madcat Bicycles – Todd Barber

Heading to Roseville – Thirteen Of Clubs
Heading to Roseville

I would also like to give some extra recognition to Richard Masoner he has over 10,000 photos posted on his flickr photostream. Richard is also the primary blogger / owner of cyclelicio.us. I don’t know Richard but, he asks that inviduals using his images link to his website and I’m more than happy to oblige. From what I have seen, both his blog and all the fabulous photos he’s taken are a great contribution to the bicycle loving population. Thanks Richard.

In the Studio

Earlier this evening, we shot the second segment of video for my Foundry Tradesmen video project. It was exciting to create something of my own. In my day job, I work in Information Technology and at my current job I wear a lot of different I.T. hats. One of the things that I do, is support teachers and students involved in video production.

I recommend audio and video equipment. I help with questions on software and hardware requirements for video editing applications. I provide training and support. I specify computers that will meet the requirements for specific audio and video editing suites. I’m involved supporting teachers and students involved in our Broadcast Journalism programs. My work however, doesn’t allow me many opportunities to create or edit content on my own. I mainly just swoop in when there are problems, get them resolved, and go on my way.

When I found out about the Foundry Tradesmen program and read that they would accept video submissions, I figured this program would be a great excuse to make a video. Foundry had already defined the project but, it was up to me to bring it to life.

Foundry Tradesmen Studio Still Image

We did a two camera shoot in an interview style format. The camera angles are supposed to give you an idea of what the final product of this imagined interview would look like and also give you a behind the scenes look at the studio production. I hope the final result is believable.

I think the biggest part of what I had to do for the shoot tonight was coordination. I needed to get my cast, crew and props all to be in the same place at the same time. All the people involved in the production are family and friends, who all have other full time responsibilities. I want to thank everyone who’s helped me with this project. I wouldn’t be able to pull this off without you.

Foundry Tradesmen Studio Still Image

The thing I was most worried about was my performance. I’m not an actor but, I hope I managed to fake it tonight. I guess that’s really what makes a great actor, the ability to fake it and have people believe your not faking it.

I’m not ready to reveal any more of the details on what my video is all about other than what I’ve already shared so you’ll just have to wait for the premiere. 🙂

Video Captured

Earlier today we recorded the first footage for my Foundry Tradesmen video entry. The footage we recorded today was for the intro and the conclusion of the video. We shot the video outdoors in a local park adjacent to a bike trail. The shoot was a family affair, with myself and my daughter as the talent and my wife was kind enough to play the roll of camerawoman.

We shot the video using the Canon XH G1s. This is a high quality HDV camera. It’s funny because it uses tapes. In the world of smartphones that can shoot HD video, it’s weird to use a camera that still uses tapes for recording. I setup the camera at a lower aperture because I wanted a shallower depth-of-field. I had plenty of light entering the lens at the lower aperture so I engaged the ND filter on the camera. For those of you who are not familiar with photography, the ND or neutral density filter is a glass filter you attach to your camera to reduce the overall light intensity. In the Canon XH G1s and other higher-end video cameras these filters are built-in to the video camera and you can engage them by simply moving a lever.

When I imported the footage to my computer tonight, I noticed it looked grainy. My guess is that the light conditions changed enough from when we setup the camera to it’s final position that the amount of light was too low. Grainy video is common on consumer cameras in lower light conditions. The video isn’t unusable but I wish it had turned out better. If I had more time, I would probably reshoot this segment. If I had a bigger budget, I would buy the Neat Video noise reduction filter. I’ve read that it can do wonders to clean up video noise.

Still Image from Video

Since my crew was small, I used two Sony UWP Series wireless lavalier microphones. The wireless microphones allowed my daughter and I to move about freely in the shot without a wired connection to the video camera. The wireless lavalier mics are the kind that you clip to your clothing. They are very small in size and with some strategic placement and careful clothing choices we were able to completely hide the microphones in the shot. There was a gentle breeze blowing today and we did pickup a little wind noise in the audio but, I should be able to tame that in post-production. That’s just a fancy way of saying, I’m going to adjust the sound on my computer so you can’t hear any wind noise.

You might be wondering why I went through all the trouble to use wireless microphones. You might ask, “Why didn’t you just use the microphone built-in to your video camera?” For those of you who are new to shooting video, I offer you these two very basic tips for shooting more professional looking video.

Tip 1: Use a tripod.
While films such as the Blair Witch Project have made it to the big screen without a single tripod used during the production, that’s not the norm. You simply can’t hold a camera still with just two hands and certainly not for long periods of time. So unless you have an expensive steadycam type device your best bet is to use a tripod.

Tip 2: Get your microphone off the camera and close to your talent.
Nothing sounds more amateur than hollow distant sounding audio. Even the best built-in camera microphones will not do a good job picking up soft sounds from a distance. Plus the built-in mic is going to pickup all the unwanted sounds between the camera an your subject.

Overall, we shot about 12 takes. The perfectionist in me would have shot a few more takes but I think we got what we needed. It was fun shooting the video and I love the other actress and of course the crew. 🙂

Location Scouting

Earlier this evening after I got off work, I decided to stop by a local park to scout out some locations to shoot part of my video. I didn’t really find an ideal location at this park but I did take some photos and got some ideas for other elements I might add to the video.

They recently added a dirt jump bike park at this park so I spent some time taking photos of some of the riders. The sunset shot shows some bikers in silhouette at the top of the tallest hill in the bike park. I couldn’t see a thing through the viewfinder because of the sun but I just snapped the picture and got lucky. The second shot is a “sweet jump” a caught on camera. The last shot in the gallery of the bike path is inspiration for a possible shot in the video.

Getting Started

Yesterday, I went out with a couple of my friends to take some still images I plan to use as B-Roll for my film. My friend Kathleen took some photos of me and Dan riding our bikes on a couple local bike paths. I’m not quite sure how I’ll use these photos in the final production just yet but it’s a start. Here’s a few of the better photos.

We also shot a few seconds of video just to test out the video capabilities of Kathleen’s Canon Rebel T2i. We didn’t do anything special with the settings. After figuring out how to shoot video on the camera it was just point and shoot.

Watch the video on YouTube if you want to see the full 1080p version. Ooooh! There was really no reason to post this video, other than to prove that we mixed a little fun into our photo shoot. Thanks to Kathleen for taking the photos and video for me.