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HPI MT2 Video, If You Go Down To The Woods Today...

Don't Laugh Too Much At The Edit... It's My First Go At This Type Of Video



HPI MT2Here we go again - another video of my HPI MT2 RTR 4wd Stadium truck, this time it's bashing around my local wooded area. I had high hopes for the concept of this video, but it didn't quite turn out as I'd hoped, but I did learn a lot more about the MT2's handling and performance.

First, the location. My local small woods, next to the harbor, which has a few nice paths that are smooth if a bit slippy in the wet (as it was today). I went early morning to avoid the dog walkers, but when they started to arrive I had to stop. Next to the wood is a grassed area, which I thought would be great for some speed work.

So the idea for the video was to have a simple story - the MT2 doing a lap of the local woods, combining tripod and in-car footage, so it would be like a lap from a real motoring TV show, with no stops apart from cuts between the views.

Back to the truck. Although I thought that the woodland paths would be good for the MT2, they weren't good for my driving experience. Being used to Nitro Touring Cars like my Viper, I was accustomed to just pointing the car in the right direction and nailing the throttle. With on-road cars this isn't a problem, their low stance and grippy road tyres means traction is taken for granted, and the car just accelerates away. This doesn't happen when you're driving off road. What I found that although I could be facing in the right direction and pootling on nicely, if I was too heavy on the throttle all four wheels of the MT2 would spin up in the damp conditions and I'd end up in a bush. Oh dear.

After about ten crashes I got the hang of being gentle with the throttle and not wacking it full open like I would on a road car. With the MT2 on the damp woodland paths it was a case of easing the engine to full throttle and full speed to maintain traction and control. It wasn't the case that the 4wd couldn't grip at full wack, you've just got to ease it up there without losing it.

The same goes for slowing down, if I just let go of the throttle the back of the truck would lighten up, and any steering input would lead to a spin. So again it was a case of the light touch, slowly backing off the speed before applying the brakes.

I also found that my T15 engine at the moment has quite a vicious power-band, probably because it's still really running in. This means that the MT2 can leap forward really aggressively when I'm accelerating, which looks and sounds great, but in damp conditions led to spin outs or me just heading for the nearest bush.

Next up was the grass, which my MT2 didn't like at all. It tried its best, but the grass kept wrapping round the driveshafts, and the thickness of it was lifting the truck up, meaning the wheels kept spinning out. So running a 1/10th scale Radio Control Truck on grass is not recommended unless it is cut very, very short.

After I'd finished filming I fueled up my truck and headed back into the wood to see if I could conquer some of my driving demons. Once I had got used to being gentle with the throttle I was taking the paths much faster, not having to worry (much) about losing control. The next obstacle I had was the MT2's turning circle, which at speed on a slippy surface was terrible. It was time to get practicing the Scandinavian Flick - or pendulum turn. This technique involves trying to get the back end to step out and slide round, over steer, so the truck can then get back on the power and accelerate. Rally drivers use this all the time, it lets them get around hair-pin bends quickly. It sort of goes against traditional cornering technique, where you brake first, turn in, hit the apex, then accelerate out smoothly, carrying momentum through the corner. The pendulum turn takes the view that off-road cars, especially 4wd ones in slippy conditions, accelerate fastest in a straight line, not smoothly out of the corner, so the turn is all about getting the car to face the right direction as fast as possible, then get on the gas in a straight line. Phew!

So how does this work with a Radio Controlled Car? We can't brake and accelerate at the same time to get the back-end to step out, so we have to adapt the technique. What works for me is to back of the throttle lightly before the turn, then steer in the wrong direction. This has the effect of transferring the trucks centre of gravity and weight to the front wheels, giving them more grip and letting the back tires start to slip. The turn in the wrong direction starts the pendulum effect, which we will now use to oversteer the truck and spin it around. We now get on the gas, which makes the rear wheels slip more, and steer the direction we want to go. The front tyres should be gripping, while the back oversteers and swings around fast. As the truck now should be facing in the right direction we now turn into the slide to stop the pendulum swing, and accelerate away in a straight line. If you're too heavy on the throttle the truck will either spin out, or fish-tail excessively. The art is to make a very aggressive maneuver seem smoothe and controlled, and obviously the amount of grip you have available can be the deciding factor.

Enough of the driving, what about making the video? Well first I must say that my trusty Vivitar Digital Video Camera performed flawlessly. I've strapped it to all my Nitro cars, crashed it, slid it down the road, soaked it (today!) and still it works. Ok, the quality isn't superb, but its ok for Youtube videos edited using Windows Moviemaker, and doesn't create huge files.

If only my planning of the video had been more thorough, the finished article would have been a lot better. What I've learned is that I should have story-boarded in advance, and then I would have been able better to visualize what I wanted. If you watch the video you might agree with me that the best tripod edit transitions are those where the truck races towards the camera, then cuts to it racing away, then towards, etc. Where I then cut to a cockpit in-car view, which matches the previous clip that works too.

The differences in sound volume between the in-car and tripod views are huge, so for next time I'll have to figure out how to equalize the levels.

As for making a video of a lap of the woods, I obviously failed, the wet long grass prevented that, but I do know that next time, in a different location, it will be better hopefully more like this rally video. Watch this space.

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