Indoor Traveler collects films from around the world made with a particular purpose: to provide an immersive experience of virtual travels while exercising on treadmills, elliptical cross-trainers or exercise bikes. We call such films “travel videos”. To be able to fully enjoy virtual travels, you will have to have the right equipment setup. For more details, read our post “Indoor Traveler Home Setup“. Once your setup is ready, all you have to do is choose a location from Indoor Traveler’s interactive map, and start your workout trip.
“…to provide an immersive experience of virtual travels while exercising…”
We’ve defined four rating criteria to assess how enjoyable a traveling experience our collected videos give. The total score of a given video will be calculated as a weighted average of all criteria. During the evaluation per criterion, penalty points will be applied when certain flaws are identified. Penalty points can be applied many times in the same criterion, e.g., (-1) x 5 for Silence in Sound criterion.
Extraordinary and beautiful scenery is probably the most important factor in choosing travel destinations. Here at Indoor Traveler, we want you to see beautiful places you’ve never seen before. We want you to be immersed into the site and feel the excitement that arises when you experience something extraordinary. We want you to visit not only the most popular tourist destinations but also local hidden gems, discovered and recorded by our members. Videos presenting sites of outstanding beauty, such as UNESCO World Heritage sites, will receive the highest scores in this criterion (max 5 points), while common roads and flat areas will receive no points at all.
(-1) People or other objects covering the view on the video (e.g., other cyclists, parts of a bike or a car).
(-1) Poor weather (respectively to the place).
2. Video Quality
|Photo: Cinetics – CC BY||Photo: Flou-Net – CC BY-NC||Photo: steve lodefink – CC BY|
You won’t be able to immerse into any scenery without both a proper display device (of appropriate size and quality) and high video quality. Projectors and big flat-screen TVs have never been as affordable as they are today. This is why we set the minimum resolution for all films submitted to Indoor Traveler to High Definition (HD) level (video mode “720p” – 1280×720 pixels). You won’t find films here below that resolution (e.g., recorded in standard-definition “SD” mode or in DVD standard), simply because they won’t look good enough on the displays we suggest in our home setup guide.
Full HD videos (1080p mode: 1920×1080 pixels) and higher resolutions will fight for the highest scores (max 5 points), while films recorded in HD format (720p mode: 1280×720 pixels) won’t receive more than 3 points. In the future, when Ultra High Definition (4K) videos become more and more available, these rules will be updated to favor the highest quality recordings.
Nevertheless, the final score for this criterion will be awarded mainly by subjective evaluation of the recording, including the perceived focus area, sharpness, color saturation, brightness, lighting, etc. In other words, the film will be scored based on how it appears to the viewer.
(-1) Upscaling the original recording (converting to higher resolution) just to get a higher score.
|Photo: Chris Bird – CC BY-NC-ND||Photo: Jonathan Cohen – CC BY-NC|
While the first two criteria assess aesthetic aspects of films, the flow criterion focuses on the quality of the experience provided during exercise.
The perfect video will allow you to easily immerse yourself into the place you are virtually visiting. The only effort you will be making is related to your physical activity. The camera will show you the scenery from the perspective of a person walking (or running, or cycling) smoothly forward in the same pace, without stopping. There is no traffic, and no distractions. You will be naturally focused on the traveling motion, moving your legs or arms according to your exercise machine specification, enjoying the scenery and noticing its various details.
After a few minutes you will enter the state of flow, when you will feel so engaged in the activity that you will no longer perceive the passing of time. You will be curious about what you will see after the next turn, and what new views will unfold before you after you reach the top of the mountain. Since exercising will be your main energy-consuming activity, you will stay aware of how your body feels and reacts to the workout. You will feel body warmth and muscle fatigue, like during a real trip. (You can also use a fan to both cool your body and simulate a breezy sensation).
Depending on your exercise goal, you might choose to just finish the trip’s route or to stick to your workout plan. In the first scenario you will feel like you’re perfectly capable of getting to the end of video, simply because you will have full control over your exercise tempo and the machine’s resistance or stride. In the second scenario, you will be extra motivated to carry on, because you will be in the flow, feeling the desire to stay in this state and to get to the end, where your satisfaction both from the workout and the virtual trip will be complete and well earned.
If a film is made to fit the purpose of walking (including power walking), the camera should move within a speed that ranges from 5.0 km/h (3.1 mph) to max 9 km/h (5.5 mph). For running, it should range from 9 km/h (5.5 mph) to 15 km/h (9.6 mph), optimally 12 km/h (7.4 mph). For cycling, the speed variation can be even higher, ranging from 15 km/h (9.6 mph) to 40 km/h (25 mph). No, we are not aiming to break world speed records during virtual travels.
(-1) Camera move speed is slower or faster than in the guidelines.
Most studies show that cardiovascular training requires a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times a week to guarantee increased aerobic capacity in about 8 to 12 weeks. And this is how long the video should last – at least 30 minutes, because a shorter recording will interrupt the flow.
This is still probably one of the most challenging aspects of the filming process: making recorded video stable. It is enough that, during exercise, a person moves up and down as they bounce off the treadmill. Shaking the picture can really make the material unpleasant to watch, rendering it useless for indoor traveling purposes. Therefore, additional camera stabilization is a must. The easiest (and probably the cheapest) way is to use a car as a stabilizer. A camera mounted on the front of a car (with a soft suspension) may be stable enough, provided that the road surface is smooth and speed is low. Recording while riding a bicycle can be a real challenge. This is where professional stabilizers should be used. Videos will be scored based on the final result, regardless of the type of stabilization used.
This is very simple: The camera should always be pointed in the same direction as it’s moving. The immersive perception of traveling (while actually staying in the same place) is totally dependent on how the motion is conveyed by the video. Panning or changes of angle, even to show some beautiful details, can disorient and interrupt the flow experience.
Planning the shooting route is just as important as the shooting direction. An ideal route goes through soft turns, so that the spectator can anticipate the change that is going to happen. Very sharp turns can disorient and interrupt the flow.
Editing raw video material can sometimes make a big difference in the final result. If the original video contains stops, sharp turns or other flaws, they can be edited to create an artificial perception of continuous motion. Also, adjusting picture parameters, like the level of brightness after the camera enters a dark tunnel, can save Video Quality scores. On the other hand, editing done incorrectly can decrease video quality and flow.
|Photo: Keith Williamson – CC BY-NC-ND||Photo: Soujirou – CC BY-NC-ND||Photo: Audio-Technica – CC BY-ND|
Original, high-quality sound can significantly improve the overall experience, especially in videos recorded for walking or power walking. Unfortunately, the faster the camera moves, the more disrupted the sound will become because of the sound of the wind.
On the other hand, we have to take into account the habits of people that exercise. With moderate and high-intensity workouts, it is often very helpful for the person to play their favorite piece of music that has a regular beat and tempo that matches exercise speed. And because people have various tastes in music, we should assume that they will choose their own playlists. This is why the weight of the sound score will be much lower than other criteria. The presence of music in the video won’t impact the final score. Sometimes it might be even better to mute the sound in the entire video to avoid making spectators biased by the editor’s choice of music (that viewers may not like), or by the noise made by the wind.
Videos that recreate scenery ambience or reconstruct original sounds will collect extra points.
(-1) Original but low-quality sound.
(-1 x 5) Music or training instructions.
(-1 x 5) Silence.
|Author: Tom Steck
Professional coach and mentor in London startup scene. Enthusiast of new technologies that improve the quality of our lives.