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Old Feb 15, 2008, 05:59 PM
Flagstaff, AZ
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USA, AZ, Flagstaff
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Helmet Cam Video... a work in progress

I am an avid slope soarer and especially enjoy flying acrobatic gliders. I recently got a nice video camera (Canon HV20) and since I mostly fly alone I had to devise a way to shoot and fly at the same time.

The solution I came up with was to build a helmet cam. I started with an old kayak helmet and carved a piece of EPP foam to work as a camera mount. I glued the EPP mount to the right side of my helmet. I use a small velcro strap to hold the camera securely to the helmet. I was hoping I would be able to track my plane "as is" but quickly realized that I need some sort of tracking aid.

I used some scrap plywood, coat hanger wire and tape to fashion a "sight." I bent the wire into an "L" so I had a nice horizontal reference line so I could match the horizon and keep the plane centered vertically in the frame. I put a small vertical wire so I could track the plane left and right.

I drilled a hole in the sight mount for a bolt (matching the tripod mount of my camera) to attach sight to the camera.

The attached pictures show how it looks.

I have taken several hours of video and have had some good success in recording my plane. I still find it quite distracting to fly and shoot. The video quality suffers as the flying gets more fun/difficult.

I mostly like to fly close-in so I use a wide angle setting. However I find that the camera will often lose focus as it tries to track to plane. The camera will also change the exposure as I fly over the ground and then into sky. To solve these problems.

I set my camera to:
Wide Angle
Focus at Infinity
Exposure to Manual

That seems to work well... just as long as I stay close to the camera.

I have posted some recent videos on my Vimeo site:
Le Fish at Mormon Lake Overlook, Flagstaff, AZ (2 min 32 sec)


There are also some at the RCGroups Sailplane Video Forum:
http://www.rcgroups.com/airplanes-sa...es-videos-274/

and Steve Lange's Slopeaerobatics site:
http://www.slopeaerobatics.com/
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Old Feb 16, 2008, 10:13 AM
Peace
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Kona, Hawaii
Joined Aug 2005
352 Posts
Very intriguing. I've wondered about how to do that myself. Does the camera tire your neck out? Do you know if it's possible to zoom in on a video after it's shot, as you can do with Photoshop on still frames?
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Old Feb 16, 2008, 10:40 AM
Flagstaff, AZ
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USA, AZ, Flagstaff
Joined Mar 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tioli
Does the camera tire your neck out?
No. I duct taped a pound of lead on the left side to balance the camera. I have considered adding a "neck brace" to further stabilize the camera. (I also have a tendency to angle my neck a bit while flying... better 3-D visualization????)

Quote:
Originally Posted by tioli
Do you know if it's possible to zoom in on a video after it's shot, as you can do with Photoshop on still frames?
Not with my current software... iMovie'06.

I have experimented with using some zoom while filming... with some practice I think you could do fine at moderate zooms. I need to try that some more... so I can mix in some tele shots with the wide.
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Old Jan 04, 2009, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawsonh
No. I duct taped a pound of lead on the left side to balance the camera. I have considered adding a "neck brace" to further stabilize the camera. (I also have a tendency to angle my neck a bit while flying... better 3-D visualization????)



Not with my current software... iMovie'06.

I have experimented with using some zoom while filming... with some practice I think you could do fine at moderate zooms. I need to try that some more... so I can mix in some tele shots with the wide.
Hello Dawson,
I just found several of your Vimeo videos.. Gosh they are Great to Watch.. I've been doing some helmet cam shots with my Canon HF-100 and a poor-mans rig that sits on TOP of the hemet.. but find all the typical "issues" you are also dealing with have come up.. i need to try adding a "sight" aligned with the camera base as well, cool idea.. .. I and using PhotoShop Elements 7 and find it's a challenge to do a 10th of what you have succeeded in .. but will keep at it.. I have a HD vimeo account but can't seem to get "contacts" on it.. Thanks for posting this! JimS
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Old Jan 04, 2009, 01:33 PM
Flagstaff, AZ
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USA, AZ, Flagstaff
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Jim:

I hope to get some new videos up this Winter. I have totally redone my helmet cam and am now using Final Cut Express for editing... a very HD friendly program.

I hope to see some of your stuff.

Dawson
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Old Jan 04, 2009, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawsonh
Jim:

I hope to get some new videos up this Winter. I have totally redone my helmet cam and am now using Final Cut Express for editing... a very HD friendly program.
I hope to see some of your stuff.
Dawson
It's coming.. but not very quickly and I definitely plan to take some of your tips and advice to heart.. Today i was shooting and apparently there were some little specs that I'd missed on the lens filter, that sucked the focus thru 1/2 of the video onto them .. and not the plane.. so i need to set Focus manually out at infinity, and also seem to have a problem centering on the plane .. the camera is on a bike helmet on top of my head on a velchro'd Tripod mount .. so it's all a guess as to what's in the frame till i get a site guide or some sort coupled to it's base too. Looking froward to more rolling fish and great videos of other planes.. i did not expect there'd be so many nice flying sites for slopers in Az.. i am tempted to drive out there some time.. but it does look cold as heck right now.. burr..
Regards, JimS
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Old Feb 11, 2009, 01:38 AM
Use your imagination....
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Turkey, Izmir, Seferihisar
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Good idea, I'll try.

Cem
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Old Feb 11, 2009, 07:48 AM
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A quick update on my efforts with the helmet cam

Well I figured out how to set the Canon HF-100's cam to MF ...(Manual Focus).. and got one pretty good set of videos ( which you saw posted DH) ..then the next time I did it .. the MF was stuck not at infinity but at about 6 feet so it was a bit blurry the whole time and I'd zoomed in a bit, so almost everything shot was slightly out of the frame .. You know the story .. one step fwd .. two back.. I 'm just using a $7.00 tripod mount velchro'd to the top of a bike helmet.. so tho it's balanced.. mounting a sight and aligning it from up there is problematic.. I may need to switch and mount it on the right side as you have done Dawson, so I can rig a similar sight up that traverses my view of the plane yet doesn't obstruct the lens.. More later. I didn't think the camera would run with the LCD lid closed as yours is. But I know the one-BEEP= ON/ two Beeps=OFF indicator works well between scenes/ .. so I've got to try it your way instead. JimS
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Old Jul 28, 2009, 08:36 AM
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Santa Fe NM
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glacier ridge

Hey D,

I am LP and met you at greens peak over July 4th weekend. I went up to Glacier Ridge last weekend and it was really great. Strong lift for my DG-600 and Minimoa. It's just outside of Breckenridge. One of the best slope site so far.
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Old Sep 21, 2009, 10:46 PM
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United States, CA, North Highlands
Joined Aug 2004
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Hey Dawson,
Great videos and a fine helmet cam rig you have there.
I just put one of my own together using yours as a pattern, I managed one decent video out of two attempts. The second attempt ended up being way off target, I am guessing due to having not put the helmet on in the same position as the camera had been sighted in.
Do you have ant type of rear sight to aid in alignment?
I like the laser sight mentioned in another thread but I don't think it would be practical at my flying site.

Dave
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Old Sep 24, 2009, 10:13 AM
Flagstaff, AZ
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USA, AZ, Flagstaff
Joined Mar 2003
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Dave:

You helmet cam looks good. Good luck in your shooting.

I have added a picture to the blog page showing V2... what I have been using this year.

Dawson
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