Video: Adding value to “Hotlap”-videos

First of all: I’m not that fast. Certainly not fast enough to build a channel around setting fast laptimes. “Then why post a hotlap video anyway?” I hear you asking. Well, because I sometimes get frustrated by the quality and lack of effort of these videos.

The reason I’m writing this is because I started coaching a beginning driver in our community. I wanted to show him where he was losing time, and how he could prevent it. This started with me recording one of his laps, and comparing it to one of mine. One thing quickly led to another and I found myself with multiple videos of the same lap.

As I was editing my Misano race recap, I thought to myself: “wouldn’t it be a nice idea to stitch those clips together, so you can actually learn something?”

The result of that thought can be seen below. If you’re impatient and are just here for the video, click here to watch it directly on Youtube.

The video in this post is not meant to start a series of hotlapping videos, but as a commentary on channels that do churn out near daily hotlap videos with minimal editing. I hope, with the constructive criticism and advice in this post, to give advice to these channels looking to improve the value of their product and that we become more professional as a simracing community.

I am sure there are some channels who already do the things I write about below. To them I say: great job, and keep on doing that job. In my (albeit limited) experience, not many do all (or even any) of the things I wish they’d do.

The Problem

Most hotlap videos often only show an onboard video with some sort of proof that they’ve actually set the time they advertised doing in either the title or the thumbnail, or both. That’s it.

Some might show the setup in the video. Some might show an onboard first and an outside view later. Some might talk over the video (which can actually be great if you pause the playback of the video while talking, but then it becomes more of a track guide).

Track guides like this one from Yorkie065 are a great source of information too

There’s nothing wrong with that, per se. However, posting videos like this (on a near daily basis) means it becomes a way of dick-measuring. A lot of channels fail to see the educational value hotlap-videos can have. It’s actually the only reason why I personally would ever want to watch a hotlap video: to see if I am doing something wrong and where I can improve.

I acknowledge that is an easy way to create content quickly. Quantity over quality. If that’s the way you want to run your channel, that’s fine and entirely up to you. I wish you all the best in your endeavours.

On the other hand, there might be some channel-owners who want to improve their videos. To them I say: please read on!

The Advice

Your audience is looking to learn. They don’t care a sub 1:40 time is possible on Kyalami given the right circumstances. They want to become faster themselves. In order to educate your audience on what they are doing wrong or where they can improve, you need to create context.

In my opinion, there are three ways to add context to increase the educational value of your content:

  1. Add an outside view to the video, preferably synched up with the onboard view;
  2. Add the track status you used to achieve the laptime (time, temperatures and grip-level);
  3. Provide the setup (and MoTeC-telemetry) you used to set the time with;

The first is the hardest, and requires you to spend at least some time reading up on how to do this in your video-editor of choice. As far as I know, nearly all video-editing suites offer this as an option. It took me about an hour to learn how to do this and do it right, but I believe it was an hour well-spent. If you want to build your channel’s quality, please take this time too.

Sun goes down, speed goes up.

The second is important due to ACC’s level of simulation. For instance, ACC simulates air density. Denser air means more aero drag. This is why you see many hotlappers driving at dusk or dawn, as this provides less dense air while retaining at least some track temperature to keep the tires up to temperature. This is also colloquially known as “cheat weather”.

Cheat weather is useless, as you’d never find it in any online server. Using cheat weather also only works well in hotlap-mode, as it automatically resets the tire-pressures when crossing start/finish. People setting hotlaps in hotlapping mode often can’t stitch two clean laps together. Seeing someone use cheat weather in a hotlap mode is a red flag: don’t believe what you’re seeing.

The third option enables people to try and emulate your laptime. The setup provides a level-playing-field between you and your audience, the MoTeC allows them to precisely see the difference in braking points, cornering speed, etc. You can enable MoTeC data-gathering by enabling ‘Telemetry laps’ in the setup menu under the electronics tab.

Reading telemetry is a good way of comparing laps

The Video

The description for this video provides all the information I talked about above, as well as a link to this particular post promising to offer the setup and MoTeC-telemetry file. As to that last bit, well…

Click here to learn from developer Aris how to be able to open ACC’s MoTeC-files.

Before this turns into more of a rant, I hope you found this article enlightening. I hope I didn’t come across as ‘holier than thou’, I’m just trying to provide honest feedback here.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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