Tinkering on the Internet

Posted on Hobbies

Ever since June I have been mounting a GoPro camera on my bicycle handlebars and recording the view ahead as I explore the city in which I live. I do so for many reasons — personal, archival and in some way spiritual — but it’s also proven to be a cornerstone hobby for me in 2020.

My humble YouTube channel, accessible at cycling.raygungoth.net

I’ve become surprisingly familiar with linear video editing software, being both an indie game developer and a lifelong tinkerer with digital media. I churn out bicycle films as fluently as I used to edit photographs, back when it was safe for me to spend more time out in public spaces.

That’s not to say I pretend to any sort of professional competence in the medium. Rather, video editing, photography and web design alike occupy a nice space in my life, of hobbies I pursue as a hobbyist, free of any pressure to somehow monetise them. Nevertheless, video editing was something I tended to do ‘on-and-off’. Now that I’ve been practicing for a few months, I find I have been feeling things out a bit more. I’m starting to feel more confident in the style and delivery of my films, even though they’re not subject to critique.

A recent “cycle clip” in which I feature Stockholm’s newest bridge, unveiled in October 2020

Perhaps it goes without saying that the biggest challenge has been to feature parts of a ride which might actually be interesting. It’s easy to discard long stretches of featureless apartment blocks, and sections of woodland through which sunlight will tend to strobe against the camera lens. But even though my objective is to present cycle rides which eschew intrusive music and dynamic editing in the hopes they might be relaxing, I’m not pretending to make documentaries. What I’m actually trying to do is present mundane journeys as occasionally-pretty stories.

So what is the story of Stockholm’s cycle routes? There is evidence of change already in my films: seasonal shifts, and the progress of construction sites at Haga Norra and Slussen are foremost in my most recent films. But that’s only part of what the journeys mean to me. They are a story to me, but is a story like that only made interesting by being the one in the saddle? Perhaps.

As I said earlier: I make these films for many reasons, but exploring what makes them relevant or half as interesting as I find them is only a small part of my motivation. One day they might make a useful reference for someone — local historians, perhaps — but maybe that too is a bit grand.

Fundamentally: it just amuses me to make these. My solo bike rides feel less lonely for having the camera there, recording. Editing the video afterwards is a pleasant few hours’ activity. And the videos themselves shall remain for me to look back on in future, similar to how I have already been able to show my partner some of what the rest of this city looks like.

And it all happens thanks to playing around with a computer, and posting to the internet. That feels like a pretty wholesome thing for a millennial like me to have rediscovered, especially during a year like 2020.

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