a "fwiw" post, that once and for all has everything I've found out about working with hatcams. This is a secret for addicts only, and should only be used to film 3dhs planes
1) forget helmets, they suck (was my first hatcam attempt). hats fit tighter, more comfy, and good for it all. Don't use elastic strap hats, needs to be something you can adjust the tightness and have it stay.
2) it needs a firm mount... the biggest gain is simply adding a nice firm mount to a hat. My first usable hatcam simply screwed plywood to the hat visor. Worked pretty well. My latest rig I changed wood for some shaped fiberglass. You can get bolts from the hardware store that match the tripod mount on the camera.
3) camera needs repeatable positioning... cover the bottom of the camera with press-n-seal, mount camera to hat, then smoosh Mighty Putty or equivalent around the corners of the base of the camera. When it dries, remove camera and press-n-seal, what you're left with is a camera mount that the camera will only seat in the one position.
4) reticle... drop a single piece of wire straight down from the end of the cap. in your vision this doubles up, nicely framing horizontally for the sides of the frame. A cross bar will take adjustment, but those will help aim vertically (and is actually most important... if I'm out of frame at all it's on the vertical axis). Will take some practice and testing to aim the horizontal bars on the reticle, and also to get used to it being there and tracking properly (biggest step is to move your head not your eyes), but a few weeks you'll have the plane centered all the time. Until you're used to it, it is a distraction, so fly a little higher... yup, it's another thing that takes practice.
- bolting straight to the visor of the hat, you'll have to put the hat pointing very high. To some, it may be uncomfortably high, and/or hat losing grip. You'll notice in the pics of my latest rig below sets the angle up off the visor, it could actually do with a little more (in fact I'm about to make hatcam-v5 with some little usability improvements that will raise this angle again a little)
- cameras... up to 200 or so grams the visor can take the weight of the camera no issues. Up to 300 grams or more if you tighten the hat a little more. Comfort may be a more of an issue to others, but this is generally what worked for me. Camera in first pic below is Samsung NV 24HD, worked great. Small digicams are getting great movies these days.
- you can take a much heavier camera, my latest rig as pictured uses a full canon camcorder. The secret to taking the extra weight is to counter balance. It takes two 3S lipos worth of weight on the back of the hat to balance the camera (I have a 3S 2200 lipo and a little block of lead). Your head can take this weight fine. Bias the weight to the front of the hat (read: a little less weight than the camera) so that the camera pulls down a little on the front... the reason for this is that when you look up at a steep angle, if there's too much weight on the back the skin on your scalp will shift, could cause the hat to come off and is also a distraction... the little weight bias helps remove this. I have to be looking almost straight up for any shifting to happen.
- if carrying balance weight for a heavy camera, you can probably make it useful as I have by actually useful by having some of the weight be a lipo, and power the camera through a BEC... this is multiples of the stock camera battery, and is easier/faster to charge. Also, means you can take the battery out of the camcorder, which makes the camera lighter which means less to balance on the back.
- turn out the inside brim of the hat... this spreads more surface area across your forehead. I did this by accident once, it's actually a nice help with less shifting...
- zoom, you want to zoom in a little. wide angles are really nice to edit into the middle of a video, but in general I zoom in a little (holding the T button to tighten, which is nice and slow, and counting to three). With practice you'll target well, so this will give nice results across the board... but like everything you can tweak at will.
- parallax error... nothing too much to worry about, but in general the closer the lens of the camera is to your eyeline the easier it is to set up, especially if you want to hover close and still know where you're targeting. Basically all the tweaking will be trying to get your eyes and the reticle on parallel line to the lens.
- repeatability... the more you can do in a consistent repeatable fashion, the better the chances of being able to go out and get the footage you want the first time.
If you get used to it and dialed in, it's a superior result for anything medium-close distance or fast moving. At distance, it's not even close to being as cool as having a really good videographer who can zoom in, but get a little closer and the pwnage starts. And regardless of distance, it's always better than a bad videographer, and you also get to do it alone (don't worry, I haven't gone blind yet).
All the movies in my vimeo account are done by hatcam. Everything before "Nyt Vyper with new hatcam" is with the Samsung (the hatcam sitting on the monkey), and everything after is with the Canon Vixia HF200. http://vimeo.com/user788751/videos
Outside of filming your own stuff, you can't beat the tracking. Tight 3D like foamie freesyles, 3D helis and such, perfect.
...anyways, that's my spiel on hatcams.
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