Tag Archives: Lightworks

Race Report: Chicagoland Inline Marathon 2015

This report is a bit stale at this point.  As I mentioned previously, this was my first and only race this year because of everything that had been going on in life and in my family.  Training was decidedly on the back burner, and I had only skated a handful of times before this race.  The delay in this report is also a result of the craziness of life.

Going into this race, I was aiming for a time less than 1:45:00, but would have been happy with anything under 2 hours.  As usually, this course is difficult because of the hills, and the road conditions are typically an unknown.  This year didn’t disappoint when it came to conditions.  It wasn’t terribly hot, but it was humid.  Earlier in the day it threatened rain, so we had a bit of a breeze and the clouds kept it from getting too hot too early.  The sun did come out later in the race, and the temperatures noticeably increased.  The road conditions were only slightly worse than last year, with the already rough roads seeing some expected degradation, particularly on the long hills on Central Avenue.  The pace was noticeably slower in the pack than prior years too, likely because of the conditions.  And we had to watch out for strange hazards, like misplaced cones:

cones

Off the start, the pack formed quickly.  The advanced group for this race is usually made of experienced skaters and elite masters that drop down to the advanced group because the difficulty of the course.  Off the start, we had the usual sprint to Central to thin out the pack.  By the time we got to the stop light at Huntington, we were moving around 20 mph and had a good group working together of about 30 skaters.  this group stuck together for a good part of the first pack, but those not able to manage the hills started to drop off on Central and on Huntington.  I lost the pack in the same place I have lost them in previous years.  The pace wasn’t terrifically fast, but it was consistent.  Even losing the pack about 6 miles in, I still finished the first lap in about 30 minutes.  I connected with another guy on my team, Tom, and a skater from Iowa, Brad.  The three of us skated most of the rest of the race together.  Tom has been skating for a long time, and he can pull up hills like no one I have skated with.  Brad is a great skater, and definitely took his turn in the lead.  I managed to stay with them until the last couple of miles of the race.  We also picked a nice smooth line down the s-curve hill that is always a lot of fun as a downhill.  For example:

s-curve

I skated this race on a new set of Matter G13s.  I had to see what everyone was raving about.  I also used a fresh set, like just out of the wrapper maybe 15 miles total skating, of ILQ9 Pro bearings.  I have a good history with these bearings.  They come pre-lubricated with a gel style lubricant.  After skating this race, I can say that they require breaking in as they didn’t feel like they rolled as freely as my set that has been cleaned and re-lubricated.  That is totally subjective, though.  I also skated this race on softer wheels, F1s, to be exact.  That is Matter’s footprint system for wheel hardness or durometer.  It measures the size of the footprint patch made by the wheel under load.  This is probably the hardness equivalent of 86a in other wheels.  I went or something softer because of this typically rough course.  They roll well, but they didn’t feel meaningfully different than the 87a WRW Truths I skated last year.  The Truths are cheaper, and as long as that continues to be the case, I will probably continue to race on those in the future once I wear out this set of G13s.  I did notice that my top speeds were lower, but my averages were consistent with prior skating performance.  I can’t tell if this is due to differences in the wheels, though.  This set up is supposed to be lighter than with the Truths, but I couldn’t tell specifically.  The G13s are good wheels, but, for the money, I will probably stick with the Truths.  After all, WRW is a smaller company that makes a good product, and I am only racing myself.  If tenths and hundredths of a second mattered in a time trial or lap race, then maybe $25 per wheel would be worth.  However, for the weekend warrior, it probably isn’t.

My official finish time was 1:38:45.56.  This was far from a personal best, even on this course.  Overall, it wasn’t a bad finish.  I can’t complain as I basically came off the couch to this finish, without any meaningful training for almost a month in advance, and maybe 2 skate sessions in July prior to this race.  The fact is, I need to get back to training, for reasons that really have nothing to do with racing or skating.  I look forward to that happening soon.  In the mean time, the video of my race follows.  Watch out for cones, though.


Race Report: 2014 Minnesota Half Marathon

A lot of people question the value of the Minnesota Half Marathon.  However, after the race this year, this event should be considered a staple of the Midwest outdoor racing circuit and anyone within reasonable driving distance should put this race on their calendar.

I have often felt that this race rejuvenates my confidence as a skater after the Chicagoland Inline Marathon, as I haven’t been able to keep up with the main pack at that race since I have raced it.  Coming out of the Chicagoland, I was aggressive with the two weeks of training I had getting ready for this race.  I like this race, generally, even if it is only a half marathon.  The road conditions are decent, there aren’t a lot of big hills, and the pace is pretty fast.  This is a local race for Minnesota skaters, and it usually draws a big crowd from the local speed skating contingent here.  This year was no exception.

I got out of the house and on the road by the time I had planned, but didn’t get to St. Paul, where the race took place, until 7:15 AM.  The race was scheduled to start for the Open Wave at 7:33 AM, so I was very late.  The line for parking was long, and I still had to get to packet pick-up and get my skates on before getting to the start line.  The gear drop was also in an odd place.  Thankfully, one of my teammates from Team Rainbo was kind enough to drop my gear bag for me at gear drop while I got my skates on.  When I checked in and got my bib, I didn’t get an ankle chip.

I made it to the start line, but just barely before the National Anthem.  I got in with the group of skaters in the open group, but was shuffled a couple of skaters back from the start line.  The conditions were tight, and it took a bit to get across the start line.  At the start, the pace was predictably fast through the turn around.  The main group filtered out after a couple of miles.  We had a solid group through the first half of the race.  Oddly, at about mile 5.5, I was pulling the line and found myself alone.  I looked back to see the line dropping off behind me.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold that pace through the rest of the race, and opted to let the line catch me.  We rotated out, I continued to draft, and as we approached the turn around a couple of skaters got away.  Cale Carvell gave chase, and caught the group on the flyer.  The line broke up a bit up the hill to the turn around, and I opted to see if I could catch the flyer. It took about a mile, but I managed to reel them in.  Unfortunately, the rest of the pack came with us.  The last couple of miles were very fast.  I managed to duck in behind Roger Olson and hang on to the finish.  We were cruising into the final sprint, and I looked to my right only to see one of the other skaters closing, so I shot my right foot out to cross the line first, finishing in the top 5 for the wave, first for my age group, and 33rd overall, finishing in 42:02.30.  Full results can be found here.  The open wave was lead by Matt Melanson, Cale Carvell, Roger Olson, and myself.  However, the official results list Dan Stietz as finishing first, though I don’t know we ever saw him in or around the main pack, and he finished about 3 seconds ahead of the pack.  There was some great racing in the open division this year.

Inline Skate Minneapolis‘s race report from the overall event can be found here.  Kelin Dunfree pulled out the overall win, followed by Rob Bell and Alex Fadek with Hernan Diaz and  Team Rainbo’s Steve Meisinger rounding out the top five finishers.  Kaari, over at the Longtrack Life also pulled out her inline skates and raced the event.  Her race report can be found here.

My technique was better in this race, but after watching the video and observing some of the other skaters, I can say that the big problem with my technique is where my center of gravity sits over my skates.  The other fast skaters have their center of gravity further back over the heels of their skates.  Mine tends to be over my skates.  I noticed this after the Chicagoland, but this certifies the problem.  I have been working on this aspect of my technique.  I need to get my balance and weight farther over the heels of my skates, and I will continue to work on this body position.  The big benefit of doing this is it forces me to push out to side more effectively, thereby transferring power to the ground more effectively to generate more speed.

The race was a little slower than last year, but my finish result was better in the main pack.  While there was a little hiccup with the timing because I didn’t have an ankle chip, the race organizers were very accommodating to add my time to the final results.  My helmet camera video follows:

I used DashWare to make the gauge overlay for this video.  This process is shockingly more cumbersome than using CycleCam.  CycleCam creates the gauge videos with just the use of the Garmin TCX file.  However, it doesn’t have very many options for gauges.  DashWare has considerably more gauge options, and the gauge designer is very powerful, though not entirely user friendly.  DashWare, though, is designed to make the entire video, start to finish.  DashWare has options for titling, but isn’t very capable as an editor.  I had to make a background to make the green screen so I could use chroma key to overlay the gauges on the camera footage.  I like the gauge options, but you have to render the video with audio in DashWare then edit the camera video and gauge video in Lightworks.  I am going to keep working with DashWare to see if I can construct a viable workflow.  I will have a review of DashWare specifically in the near future.


Race Report: 2014 Chicagoland Inline Marathon

This year, the Chicagoland Inline Marathon took place on July 20, 2014.  The weather is usually a source of concern for this race because, as one friend and fellow racer of mine put it, its like racing on the surface of the sun.  It is usually brutally hot and terribly humid, but that is what you get when you schedule a race in the Chicago area in July, basically the dog days of summer.  This year, though, the race start for the Advanced division at 8 AM, the weather was reasonably pleasant.  The temperature was in the mid 60’s and the humidity was around 70%.  The Elite group had a little tougher time weather wise, but it never got much more humid.  Generally, pleasant conditions for skating, all things considered.

The race started shortly after 8 AM, and the group came off of the line typically quick, with the speed of the lead pack jumping quickly up to 20 MPH.  As the group thinned to the 20 of us, or so that could hold that pace.  The pace stayed in that range, and for the first half of the race, we were averaging 18+ mph even over the hills.  Last year, I got dropped after the the hills on Central, headed up Huntington toward Lakewood.  This year, I managed to stick with the lead pack through the entire first lap, and through the long outbound stretch on Central to the turn around about 12 miles in to the race.  For this race, it is the longest I have managed to stick with the lead pack.

Like previous years, we lost half of the pack on the hills on the return on Central.  This group got together and hung together for the rest of the race.  The lead pack put some good distance on them in the half of a lap or so after we got away.  However, it wasn’t too much longer before I lost the lead pack.  At the turn around, I got shuffled to the back of the pack.  When we came around the corner back onto Central, I had the opportunity to jump up the line, but, mentally, I wasn’t there, and miss the opportunity.  The guy in front of me lapped the line, and I got stuck in the accordion effect of the sprint back toward the hills on Central.  I couldn’t get my legs under me and sprint after the pack to stay in the draft.

I lost the pack after 12 miles, and then skated the remainder of the entirely alone.  I tried to pick up a skater or two on the way, but wasn’t able to find anyone to skate with.  Another skater was on my tail, but not closing fast enough to allow us to work together.  I think we both may have done better if we managed to connect and work together.  Regardless, after seeing one of my team mates with a bit of a lead, I was hoping to catch him.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t close the gap and I spent the rest of the race in no-man’s land, skating solo in the wind, fighting for every minute I could manage.  I finished the race in something of a disappointing 1:35:20, 5th in my division and 16th overall in the wave, as I hoped to finish around 90 minutes.  However, I do think this is one of my highest overall finishes at this race, which does give me some hope that the work I have been doing on technique and fitness are helping.  This time was better than last year, but not better than the year before, which was a personal best at this course, if memory serves.  The advanced division race results can be found here.  The rest of the results by category can be found here.

This race is challenging.  While the road conditions get a lot of complaints, that isn’t what really makes this race hard:  it’s the hills.  To race Chicagoland, you have to be ready for hills, intervals, and hot weather.  Without that combination, you won’t last.  The road conditions are just another layer that will separate those who are comfortable skating on any surface from those who aren’t.  I will keep attending this race because I like the challenge.  I wasn’t prepared mentally, and could have used a little better physical preparation, but I learned a lot (like how my form on hills falls apart when I get tired, leaving me with heel blisters to remember the experience).  My hips were pretty sore after the race, too, which also gives me confidence that my work on technique is helping as the kind of soreness and fatigue I came away from the race with is a good indication that my technique wasn’t as bad as my feet would have me believe.  That said, the goal for next year is to hang with the lead pack through the entire race.  I have a better idea of how to train now, generally, and will be adjusting my off season work to accommodate a lot more base cardio, something I missed this last winter.  Mixed with a strong helping of weight lifting, a little bit of ice skating, and a mix of other things that I will probably discuss more at length come October, I am hoping for a stronger finish next year.  Overall, I can’t complain much about this race.  I did better than last year and placed higher, overall, than I have at this race.  My time wasn’t spectacular, but given the other gains, I can’t say that this race was a total loss.  I know now what I need to work on, and if I am not learning something in this sport, I am doing something very wrong.

From a gear perspective, I have been messing with my frame placement, and I think it was a little off on both skates, but more so on my left skate. That is where the biggest blister was after the race.  I skated some earlier this week and noticed the placement issue.  I moved the frames in a couple of millimeters, and they feel dialed in at the moment.  I am going to stick with this placement for the near future, probably through the end of the season.  While cleaning my bearings before the race, it became apparent that my Adam’s Swiss bearings were dead after not being properly clean after getting wet during the Apostle Island race.  It was a stupid mistake that forced me to replace the bearings with ILQ9 Pro bearings.  I like the ILQ bearings from TwinCam generally.  They are a good product, but I wish I had more break in time on them.  They roll very smoothly, and I couldn’t complain about the team price.  It is also what a lot of the guys that skate in Minnesota run, too.  The WRW Truth wheels seem to be doing reasonably well, but they are wearing more quickly than I anticipated.  I will have to see how they fair over the next two races to provide a better review.  Any experience I had at Chicagoland this year will be colored by a lot of other gear changes that contributed to my struggles in this race.

The next race is the Minnesota Half Marathon on August 2. I don’t feel ready for this race, but I didn’t feel ready for Apostle Island this year or the Minnesota Half last year.  My goal is ambitious, though I don’t know if I am capable.  Last year, I accomplished my goal of staying with the lead pack.  This year, I am shooting for a top 10 finish in the open division.

My race video follows.  I am switching to DashWare to create the gauges, but building custom gauges in that program takes some time.  I hope to have that program in the mix for the NorthShore in September.  Beyond that, I used Lightworks to do all of the editing, rather than having to create the titles with an image editor and importing them into the video.  The new version of Lightworks is great.  If you need an NLE video editor, check it out.  As for the video, judge for yourself:

 


How To: Video Overlays (Updated)

Recently, I have had a couple of additional requests for instructions on how I make my race and training videos with the gauges showing speed, heart rate, and other metrics from the work out.  Since I last did a post on this topic, a lot has changed with the software I use to create the videos.  I used to have to jump through a lot of hoops, but now the process is a little more straightforward.

Disclaimer:  This process works for me after a lot of messing with the work flow.  Also, this process was developed for Microsoft Windows.  VeryMadMart has instructions on his site that works for Mac.  Linux users who have access to Lightworks can also try, since CycleCam is a Java application, but it has not been tested on Linux, so use it at your own peril.

Before you start, you need the following software:

You will also need some additional data to work with:  Your point of view video and GPS data in TCX format from your fitness tracker.

I suggest you use a .TCX file because CycleCam was designed to work with the Garmin proprietary format.  However, you can get this kind of data from most kinds of fitness tracking apps that are made for smartphones, like Endomondo, RunKeeper, and Wahoo.  After you download your GPS workout data, open CycleCam.

CycleCam:

CycleCam is an open source project that is made by a guy in the UK as part of his cycling hobby.  I don’t get picky about features because the guy designs the software for free.  I tend to work with what he provides, and if I really want to get crazy with overlays, will look for a different product, like DashWare, in the future.

To use CycleCam, start the .jar file by double clicking it after the download.  It opens a window that has a blank layout on a black background.  If you have your TCX file, you can click the file button, and then click “Load Garmin TCX.”
CycleCam 1
After the TCX File loads, you will get a default layout with a variety of gauges on a black background.

CycleCam 2
To edit a gauge, double click on the gauge, and the gauge editing dialogue will appear.

CycleCam 3
With this dialogue, you can adjust all of the parameters tracked by the gauge.  Note that if data does not exist in your TCX file, the gauge will not do anything.  The TCX file predetermines the information for data sets like speed, GPS, and heart rate, based on the input.  Essentially, if you don’t have a heart rate monitor, but tell a gauge to read heart rate, it won’t do anything.  An example is my video of the Chicagoland Inline Marathon, which, due to my error, did not have heart rate data.  The result is a dead gauge that does nothing.  You can also add gauges using the “Add Gauge” menu.
CycleCam 4
Once you have your layout organized like you want it with various types of gauges, save it.  When you create your next project, you can load the layout from the File menu as shown here.

CycleCam 5
Once you have your layout, you are ready to make some final detail choices and create the gauge video.  First, in order to complete the overlay process in Lightworks, you need to select a Chroma Key because the Chroma Key effect will be used to merge the gauge video with the helmet camera video in Lightworks.  Chroma Key is a special editing effect commonly known as Green-Screen or Blue-Screen.  You can change the Chroma Key setting in CycleCam using the Chroma Key menu.

CycleCam 6
Once you have the Chroma Key color set, the background of the video will change to the desired color from black.  You next need to select your frame rate from the “Rate(12)” menu.  It is important to match your frame rate to the frame rate used by your helmet camera.  If you import the wrong frame rate into Lightworks, the video will play at the frame rate set in Lightworks for the project.  If the frame rate in CycleCam is higher, the video will play slower, and if the frame rate is lower, the video will play faster, resulting in video that cannot be synchronized, and causing odd results once the final video is exported from Lightworks.  I use a Contour+ camera, and have it set to shoot video at 29.97 frames per second.  You can choose to set the frame rate in CycleCam as either 30 frames per second or 29.97 frames per second.  Generally, I have better luck with 30 frames per second, and suggest you use that frame rate for your gauge video.

CycleCam 7
You can see in this picture that the background color has changed, and the data is loaded.  Once the frame rate has been set, you are ready to render the video.  Select the “Render” menu for these settings.  At this point, you have three options for the quality of the output video.  I tend to favor the lossless format.  It will have a larger file size upon export.

CycleCam 8
When you select your render setting, you will be prompted to save the video file.  When you are prompted to save the video file, you must also put an extension on the end of the file for the file type as CycleCam does not do this automatically.  The proper file extension is .mov, which is added to the end of the file name as shown below.  If you do not do this in CycleCam, you can add it later, but it is easier to do it as part of this process.

CycleCam 9
Once you have designated the file name and save location, the software will begin the work of rendering the video file.  This process can take several hours depending on how long your video will be.  The video produced by CycleCam will have the same duration as the recorded work-out.  For my Chicagoland race, it was approximately one hour and thirty seven minutes.  The render took several hours.

CycleCam 10
Once the process is complete you have a video with the gauges converting the TCX data into the information tracked by the gauges.  The next step is to convert all of your source video into a format that will work with Lightworks.  For that you need to use EyeFrame Video Converter.

EyeFrame Video Converter:

EyeFrame Video Converter is a piece of software developed by some Lightworks users to convert video into formats and codecs that work with Lightworks Free and Pro.  I work with Lightworks Free and convert all of the video using the default EyeFrame settings for Lightworks Free.

A tutorial explaining how to do this can be found HERE.  I won’t reiterate the process as it is handled completely by this tutorial.

Once all of your source video is converted, you can bring it into Lightworks for editing.

Lightworks Free:

Working with Lightworks can be complicated if you have never used a video editor before.  I suggest you review all of the offerings for tutorials on the Editshare YouTube page before working with Lightworks.  Of particular note, you will want to know how to install the software, start a project (use 30FPS settings), and import videos.

Once you understand how this process works, follow the tutorial concerning the Chroma Key Effect that follows:

Once you have your video edited together, you are ready to export the video.  Follow the tutorials on the Editshare YouTube channel on how to export video from Lightowrks.  Use the 10 bit video using the uncompressed YuYv AVI or MOV format.  This file will be very large, and you will need to use another piece of software to compress the file to a file type that will work for uploading or storing locally.  Unless you have access to limitless digital storage, you will want to compress your 20+ gigabyte videos using Handbrake, AnyVideoConverter, or EyeFrame.

Video Conversion:

This process will require the use of EyeFrame, AnyVideoConverter, or Handbrake.  Select settings from these applications that fit your purpose.  Generally, I try to keep the quality of the video as high as possible while getting a file that is as small as possible.  My video from the Chicagoland marathon was approximately 30 gigabytes upon export from Lightworks.  I used AnyVideoConverter, with settings for a .AVI file using the xvid codec, MP3 audio, and an 8000 bitrate.  It reduced the file size to around 3 gigabytes.  I have also used Handbrake.  I have not tried EyeFrame for final video, but since there are settings to make video specifically to upload to YouTube or Vimeo, I will experiment with it for future projects.

Finished Product:

In total, this is a bit of an involved process, and takes some tinkering to get the kind of video that you want.  All of the videos on InlinePaceline, with rare exception, were made using some version of this process.  If you want a solution that will produce the videos with gauges for you, consider DashWare, but note that it costs $60.  My goal with this software workflow was to develop a process that used free software.  This makes the steps a little more complicated, but provided you have a camera and a device to track your work outs that will output data in TCX format, you can start creating your own overlay videos and share them with the world.  Please let me know if you have any questions or if I did anything wrong in the comments.