Hugo Pettit - Capturing the Ride Across Britain image

Hugo Pettit – Capturing the Ride Across Britain

We talk to Fixation ambassador Hugo Pettit about the challenges of filming one of Britain’s toughest cycling challenges

Our intrepid explorer and ambassador, fresh from filming a surfing expedition to the coldest reaches of Scotland, has moved onto his next challenge.

This time it’s the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, one of the country’s most iconic cycle events. Organised by Threshold Sports, the ride takes 600 cyclists of all abilities from Land’s End in Cornwall to the top of John O’Groats. And for the past six years, Hugo and his team have been there to capture the action.

This year the crew had a more demanding brief – and a more expansive kit bag – than ever before. Fixation kitted Hugo and the team out with a Sony FS7 camcorder, a selection of Canon cine lenses and a DJI Phantom drone, to allow them to capture what for many participants was the event of a lifetime.

We caught up with Hugo, hard at work in the edit suite, to find out how it all went down…




Fixation: Thanks for talking to us, Hugo. Can you tell us about the project – what was your brief?

Hugo Pettit: I worked for Threshold Sports for many years, and what we always used to do in terms of photography and video for the Ride Across Britain was create highlights packages. However this year, with the creation of the agency we’ve started up, we had a lot more scope with the creatives we could use. Threshold had also upped their budget and wanted to do something different to any other event in the country. So our task was to produce a short documentary on the event, which was a really exciting prospect because nothing like it had been done for this event.

People approach this event in different ways. It can be something you do just because you’re good at cycling and you enjoy it, or on the other end of the scale you have people who are approaching form the other end of the scale, where an event like this is the absolute pinnacle of their fitness and the biggest challenge they’ll ever do.

So our new challenge was how do we portray this in in a two-minute video – the most exciting part of this event is that there are just over six hundred people doing it, and the variety is vast. How to illustrate that?

With the help of Threshold, we picked out six individuals to focus on for the film. We tried to make the spectrum of people as broad as possible – first there were two girls who were part of Deloitte, the sponsor of the event, so that covered the corporate angle. We also picked one girl whose sister had passed away the year before, so she was raising money for MacMillan, and had one guy who was your typical MAMIL – ‘middle-aged man in lycra’.

So we had our guys we wanted to focus on. We would usually flit around and capture what we considered the most visually beautiful aspects of the ride, but this time we were following these people, all of whom were of varying shapes and sizes. We felt like we were finally getting under the skin of the event, learning the riders’ differing perspectives on the event and getting into what it’s like to ride it.




F: Tell us about the shoot – how did you approach the task?

HP: We had our team: we had Finn solely on photography, we had Jack who was using a Sony FS7, we had Ollie who was editing, we had Alex on the drone, and myself on the Sony Alpha 7S II. It was basically directed by Finn and I, and we kind of storyboarded the whole thing

It was a mammoth challenge: it’s 969 miles in nine days, so just under 110 miles per day, and they definitely don’t pick the easiest or flattest route. It’s pretty lumpy.

We split the team up into two cars, one of which would shoot ahead and focus on the front of the pack, including the leaders out of our six. The other car would focus on the back of the pack and the slower guys.

Threshold built from scratch this little village of 700 tents for the riders and the crew, with catering, showers, massage, doctors, bike racking, bike mechanics – it was an amazing logistical feat. So every day we wanted to not only capture the race but also the base camp, the pit stops, and the best parts of each day. It was mayhem. We probably spent a week beforehand mapping out the exact movements of both cars. Finn and I have done this for the past five or six years and we know the route very well.

We’d be in constant contact with regard to who we shot, who we missed and what we needed, and then every night we’d go to a meeting point and discuss our day’s shooting. Usefully, Threshold provided each of our six riders and us with GPS trackers, which gave us the ability to very accurately find out where our six people were in relation to us. With the FS7 in one car and the A7S II in the other, as well as the drone in play, we had to be strategic about exactly what we were going to shoot with each camera. For example when the riders got to Cheddar Gorge, we knew that the drone would have to stay there basically all day to get the best footage possible, and we wanted the FS7 placed at the right spot to get slow-motion, beautiful, crisp footage of people climbing it.


F: And I assume, since you had the Sony Alpha 7S II, you were the low-light man?

HP: Yes, exactly. I was shooting with my own A7S II – I love it, it’s brilliant.


F: What were your favourite moments from the shoot?

HP: On Day Nine, up in Scotland, we were up on the moors and the sunrise was absolutely spectacular, genuinely the best I’ve ever seen in my life. We were just driving in the car, taking in this absolutely breathtaking scenery, smiling at all the riders coming past and giving them a jolly wave. We didn’t realise how cold it was outside – it was pretty Baltic – and we did a lot of filming out of the back of the car that day. It was absolutely stunning.






F: And were there any low moments or difficult points?

HP: I suppose just tiredness. We were up at around 5am every day, and didn’t get to bed until 1 in the morning, and when I say ‘bed’ I mean the back of a car. It was exhausting. Finn and I also had the onus of people management – the guys we had on our team are absolutely amazing, but they’re all alpha males. So good people management was important!


F: Are you heading back to the ride next year?

HP: Definitely. One hundred per cent. It’s an event that Finn and I love and would love to do every year. There is no better way of seeing this country – it’s stunning.



Hugo Pettit was speaking to Jon Stapley. To see more of Hugo’s work visit his website 


Close Up: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Video Settings image

Close Up: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Video Settings

Looking at the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV for video? Here’s what to expect using our short Canon Mark IV tutorial

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark IV is the first model in Canon’s long-popular EOS 5D line to feature 4K video, a feature that has been rolled out over many cameras in recent years.

An important thing to remember, though, is that not all 4K cameras are equal. Aspects like compression options, frame rates and output possibilities all vary from camera to camera, and all have an impact on the kind of footage you can produce.

If you’re thinking of picking up a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, it’s worth knowing exactly what the camera is capable of accomplishing. In addition to the usual Canon EOS 5D picture quality, there are a host of options for video that make it a compelling buy. Here we take a look at some Canon 5D Mark IV tips for what it can do.

The Basics

Like the recently announced EOS-1D X Mark II, the EOS 5D Mark IV records in the 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) resolution, rather than the more common 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) resolution.

The difference? 4K DCI is the standard for professional cinema production and digital projection, putting out a resolution of 4,096 x 2,160. However,  4K UHD refers to Ultra High Definition and is essentially the next step up from Full HD. If you’re planning on shooting video to professional standards then 4K DCI is a must.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

It’s worth being aware, however, that the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV only uses a central portion of its sensor to record 4K footage (ie without pixel binning). This means that there is a crop factor of around 1.74x to consider. You’re changing the effective focal length you’re using, just as you would if you were using an APS-C-designed lens on a full-frame body.

When recording Full HD and Standard HD footage, the camera returns to using the full width of its sensor so there’s no crop factor to worry about. However, one thing to bear in mind is that the aspect ratios of 4K DCI and Full HD are slightly different, the 4K DCI being 17:9 and Full HD recorded at the more common 16:9 aspect ratio.


Canon EOS 5D Mark IVYou can set separate sensitivity ranges for 4K and HD videos, with a base ISO as low as ISO 100 and a top speed of Hi2 (equivalent to ISO 102,400). This is useful if you want to limit the maximum sensitivity to reduce noise from appearing in footage.

Noise reduction is only possible when recording footage in Full HD, and is on by default when set to the Auto exposure mode. Otherwise,  it can be adjusted over their levels for optimal noise performance. It is not possible to use noise reduction when the camera is set to record in 4K quality, however.



Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF system has made autofocus during live view and video recording much more usable than on previous cameras, opening up new possibilities for shooting fast-paced video with accurate focusing

Best of all, the live view focusing marries perfectly with the 5D Mark IV’s touchscreen. You can simply press the screen where you want the camera to focus, and the camera will acknowledge your selection with a white box. The camera will now be able to track this the subject as it moves around the scene.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

You can adjust both the tracking sensitivity and speed of the Canon 5D Mark IV autofocus video if you wish, meaning it can be customised to exactly the right settings for your subject.

For more considered shooting, many videographers will no doubt be using manual focus instead. It’s worth being aware that focus peaking, a feature that’s found on an increasing number of other systems, isn’t natively available on the Canon 5D Mark IV. If you want to use focus peaking you’ll need to get hold of an external display that supports it: something like the Atomos Shogun would work well.

Exposure and lens corrections

You can use Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimiser and Highlight Tone Priority for the Canon 5D Mark iv settings when recording video, and they can prove useful for keeping your exposures balanced and your highlights in check.

You can also enable both peripheral illumination and chromatic aberration correction, although Canon’s other corrections for distortion and diffraction, as well as the Digital Lens Optimiser feature, are not available for video.

Physical Controls

Canon EOS 5D Mark IVIf you’re wondering what a 5D camera is, simply put it was the first model to give full-frame DSLR capability into a standard body camera. With the advent of Mark IV, Canon has made impressive progress.

You can customise the physical controls of the EOS 5D Mark IV, mapping specific functions to specific buttons. The shutter-release button, for example, can be set to either focus on and meter a scene, or just to meter it. Alternatively, you can set the shutter button so that it simply locks the exposure when pressed – essentially, AE lock for movies.


If you want, you can also customise either the SET button and Depth Of Field Preview control to initiate movie recording or cease Movie Servo AF.

On-screen controls

You can also use the touchscreen to control a handful of recording features.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Before to recording, you can adjust things like Picture Style, White Balance and recording quality, either through a combination of touchscreen and physical controls or just through the touchscreen alone.

Once you’ve started recording, your options are more limited, although it’s possible to change adjust aperture and exposure compensation, and also the volume of the audio through the headphones. 

Recording Media

Canon EOS 5D Mark IVIn contrast to other models that support the XQD and CFast formats, the EOS 5D Mark IV sports separate card slots for SDHC/SDXC media and CompactFlash media. Presumably, with a maximum frame rate of 25p in 4K (or 30p in NTSC), one of the newer formats is not required.

The SDHC/SDXC slot supports cards up to the UHS-I Speed Class 3 (U3) standard while the CompactFlash slot supports UDMA 7 cards. You need to use one of these for 4K video recording as the camera will otherwise stop recording after just a few seconds. Interestingly, the camera does not support UHS-II type of SDHC and SDXC cards.


Time-lapse shooting

In addition to time-lapse photography, Canon 5D Mark IV provides time-lapse video. Time-lapse recording is also possible with the EOS 5D Mark IV. Here, you have control over the interval between images (at a minimum of a second and a maximum of a second under 100 hours between frames).  The total number of images that can be recorded is up to a maximum of 3600. This is an upgrade from the time-lapse photography of the Canon 5D Mark III.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Usefully, the total capture time and playback time of the footage at your chosen settings are displayed in advance, as is the time left on the memory card in use. The feature lacks some of the more advanced options seen on other cameras, such as Nikon’s Exposure Smoothing option that attempts to maintain balance between images should there be any sudden changes in the scene. 

Post-capture editing

There’s not much in the way of editing footage in camera once you finish recording. You’re limited when post processing to trimming the beginning or end (or both) of any videos, and you can either save this as a new file or overwrite the original version.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Frame Grab

You can, however, extract 8.8MP frames from 4K footage and save them as JPEGs. Footage can be played back frame-by-frame to help you decide on the most appropriate point. As the camera uses Motion JPEG for capturing 4K footage, images do not display the same kind of artefacts that you tend to find when extracting frames from videos compressed in other ways.

This can be a great way of making sure you capture the exact right moment from a sequence of fast action and continuous shooting even at high continuous shooting speeds.

That said, it’s worth being aware that noise reduction is not available when capturing 4K footage, so any frames extracted from high-ISO footage are likely to show noise.


The camera has a built-in mono microphone just underneath its name badge, and offers the option of attaching a 3.5mm stereo microphone through a port at its side.

Audio can be left to Auto, controlled more precisely on Manual, or disabled if you don’t need it. A wind filter and attenuator can also be accessed through the menu system (although the former is only effective with the built-in microphone rather than external models).

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Thanks to a headphone port you can also monitor audio while it’s being recorded, and you can use the touchscreen to adjust the volume being output to the headphones. Accurate audio monitoring is hugely important, and the EOS 5D Mark IV makes it pleasingly straightforward.


The HDMI port around the camera’s side allows you to output footage at a range of frame rates, including 24p. You can also append the time code to the footage as this happens.

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