The fit race 'cross and 'cross gets 'em filthy!


3 August 2015

Point of view filming has brought along a plethora of action cameras at cycling and other sports or non-athletic events. They bring remarkable, often rarely seen perspectives and angles in activities that range from the mundane to the exciting. And, regardless of the banality, the uniqueness of the video is nearly always interesting at the first time of seeing if not for following every nuance where a camera can go that only the mind’s eye may follow.

NorCal Nevada Cyclocross’ very own Videographer
Still photographers are aplenty at regional cyclocross races but are only able to record one genera of perspectives. One of the first persons to do so, if not the first, Hans Kellner documents his cyclocross races with videography using a first person, point of view helmet camera. He is one of the crowd favorites at ‘cross races and easily spotted by a camera perched upon his helmet, rather like an oxpecker. Starting as far back as 2001, however, recognizing Kellner was neither straightforward nor completely obvious.

“Strangely enough I started to want to document some [of my races] and I purchased a helmet cam,” revealed Kellner. “It was just a rare thing at the time. Back in 2001, I did my first cyclocross race with a helmet cam. That was at Surf City on the old course at Fort Ord, with the 100-yard sand run-up. Looking back at that footage it looks like eons ago.

“When I first started out, the helmet camera itself was actually quite small, almost smaller than the current GoPro’s. But, it didn’t have any recording capability. It was really just the lens and camera. I needed to carry a video recorder and that was a heavy little mini-DV recorder that I had to place in a CamelBak.

“I used to race with the video recorder in the CamelBak with the cables coming out up to my helmet and attached to the camera on top of my helmet. Not many people knew about recording like that at the time. I’d hear comments like ‘why is the guy racing with a light’ or ‘why is he racing with a CamelBak’. So there was a lot of confusion until people started to realize I am the one filming and posting these videos.”

Kellner Sports Several Cameras from the Past, All at One Time

Kellner Sports Several Cameras from the Past, All at One Time

Then mountain biker Kellner was teased into cyclocross by his friends. “Eventually I came out and tried cyclocross,” recalled Kellner, “and had a blast. The social aspect really brought me in with the friends and the attitude at the race. Mountain Biking at the time had dropped off and there was a big aspect to it that was social. Cyclocross had all that.”

Kellner continues to race ‘cross and document his races for himself. Many fellow racers appreciate Kellner’s long standing commitment to the sport and his recording of race laps or relish a hope of taking a starring role in one of his video productions. Kellner himself in part retains a simple satisfaction in filming if only to “look back at the footage and laugh, laugh at my own foibles. If I crash I capture myself crashing and that’s always funny. I’m laughing at that.”

One may view video postings of Kellner’s races at his website HansKellnerDotCom.

Mickey Mouse Races ‘Cross
Without a doubt, the quality and attraction of Kellner’s moving images reflects the steps taken that go beyond “dumping raw, unedited footage” onto popular websites. “I end up usually doing some editing, cutting, or maybe even throwing some music and titles to it. I think part of it is I enjoy doing that and posting something up. Of course it’s nice when people comment and mention they enjoy it. It’s more for my self-satisfaction and enjoyment.”

His approach was never more reflected than when Kellner bristled at the suggestion his is simply first-person videography. “I’m stalling on the [phrase] first-person because when I ride and when I film I am actually aware I’m filming and aware of my head movement,” retorted Kellner. “I might naturally, when I’m riding without the camera, look off to the left, right, or around. When I’m filming, I am modifying my position and trying to keep my head steady or focused on some action. So, it’s a biased first-person.

“I’d actually like to remove the camera from my body and have the camera follow me close enough that it appears as though I am wearing it. We’re seeing some of this technology with drones or UAVs. [Those may] follow someone and either record that person or use that person as the object to track but film away from that person.

“You can imagine that I have something floating near me, looking where I want it to look. Let’s say I am looking forward at a rider ahead of me then the drone would fly near me and focus on the person ahead of me. I might be bouncing or jumping around but because the drone is independent from me and stabilized, it can get a clear shot.”

Such new technology is possibly within sight today but, nevertheless, is a vast step forward to even Kellner’s own early experience as a videographer. “This is probably the most extreme opposite example of the GoPro,” said Kellner. “I wanted HD, I wanted higher and higher quality. At the time the problem was for the lenses. I got a larger mini-DV camera and realised that if I mounted it on a helmet, because I had seen other people do that in other forms of recording, it weighed several pounds.

“If it was on one side then the helmet flops. I had to put a little bar bell weight on the other. My helmet weighed an additional 5 pounds on my head. It got really great footage and it was actually fairly stable because of the weight and counter weight. But, people always used to laugh and they remember it looked like Mickey Mouse ears because of the protrusions on the side of the helmet.

What's next for Kellner and his Helmet Cam?

What’s next for Kellner and his Helmet Cam?

Hans Kellner’s Hand-Up
Kellner is readying himself for the new season NorCal Nevada season, beginning at the Lobster Cup. When asked about his favorite hand-up, he replied, “There are days when I’m wearing some of that gear racing and filming, I’m on my second race, I’m sweating like crazy, I’m hot, and a really cold beer is standing there waiting for me. I usually don’t turn it down!”

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