Riding with cameras, a deep dive: Part 1: Operation Snap and Evidence Gathering…

Many moons ago we wrote about Operation Snap. The scheme was starting to spread around the country but it was still early days.

Skip forward a couple of years and it appears many of you have been busy. Between November 2017 and October 2018 GoSafe received 2,353 clips. A thousand of those ended up with South Wales Police.

Points mean prizes…

From 1,000 submissions, 100 resulted in fixed penalty notices; 83 court prosecutions and 90 drivers sent on a course. Whilst we two-wheeled folk can’t take credit for all of them –motorists are also investing in cameras to cover themselves, it’s still a good number of questionable drivers who have been given the proverbial clip around the ear.

In a request for further details under the Freedom of Information Act, South Wales Police said it had received 1,000 submissions, with 100 fixed penalty fines issued, 83 court prosecutions and 90 drivers sent on an awareness course.

A further 53 warning letters were sent to drivers advising them about their driving.

via Operation Snap: 2,300 dashcam clips sent to police – BBC News

Now, you may be wondering how you get started, capturing your rides, trimming the excess footage down to the important bits and getting the footage to GoSafe to act upon. It has been a while since we’ve done a deep dive on anything. The last one was for the Cycling Strategy a few years ago, so perhaps it is time for another. First things first, you’re probably going to need a camera…

Choosing a camera

It is fair to say we’ve not been terribly enamoured by many of the technological advances that have entered the consumer space in recent times, but one thing is for sure, companies like GoPro opened the floodgates for an explosion in the action camera market.

There are now durable, all-weather cameras from a broad range of manufacturers, in a range of price brackets. Whilst some are going to be better than others, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a camera to suit your needs and budget. The question is, what exactly do you need?

Megapixel myths

In an attempt to keep us on the upgrade treadmill, new versions of cameras are being released each year. GoPro for example are up to the Hero 7, but it is at most an incremental upgrade on the Hero 6 and Hero 5 before it.

The Hero 5 Black which we recently picked up, shoots in 4K 30FPS and a range of resolutions and frame rates below that. It is more than enough camera for around £250, which will hopefully mean there will be route videos and perhaps even vlogs if I can overcome the camera-shyness. If you are looking for a camera to protect yourself in the event of an altercation with a motorist, pretty much anything you can buy now should be good enough –it’s not like the early days. This AKASO Brave 4 is around £90 but shoots 4K at 24FPS. Most importantly, it’s had a lot of reviews that average 4.5 stars. It also appears to use the same mount as the GoPro, which should make finding accessories easier.

With that said, shooting in 4K is still quite an undertaking. With four times as much data as 1080p to deal with, file sizes can become rather cumbersome. Our short 10 minute loop around Treforest and the back of the Gwaelod (below) came out at 1.6GB. The 30 minutes of footage from the camera weighed in at a whopping 15GB. So, even if you can record 4K, do you really want to have to deal with all that data? A full HD (1080p) should be enough for most use cases.

A more important consideration is frame rate. Most movies are intended to be watched at 24FPS, but there are benefits to shooting at 24FPS on a bike too. The higher the number of frames per second, the more the bumps, bangs and vibrations will make their way onto the video, which can be a little nauseating and may well make things like car registration numbers difficult to make out. Settings are something we’ll talk more about in Part 2.

Coming up in Part 2

In Part 2 we will continue exploring the ins and outs. We’ve got the camera, the mount and the memory card –which you can find on our Essentials page by the way. We need to talk about how we mount cameras to our bikes, or to our bodies; what settings we should use and how we handle the large files that video recording devices can produce.

We can then look at software and how we can turn the footage we capture into something useful, turning a 30 minute ride into a 10 minute clip to submit as evidence, or perhaps as part of an adventure you want to share with the world in a vlog or short film. There are of course many do’s and don’ts where evidence is concerned, but if you are recording for fun there’s a myriad of things you can try.

After that, Steffan will take you through the law part, the terms and conditions of Operation Snap and the process of completing your statement and uploading footage. It’ll be a learning experience for us as well, so if you have any experience with Operation Snap; with action cameras; or with anything else we should cover on this subject we’d love to hear from you, either in the comments below or on the usual social media channels.

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