Friday 26 October 2012

SteadyCam -one hand-

That's my own DIY SteadyCam, like others that you can found at the web, but not completely conventional ... 
The origin of this project was to intend for obtaining stabilized footage riding a mountain bike. What about a steadycam that doesn't need use one hand to frame?

 If anybody do not know what a steadycam works, please view the next video from PILOT steadycam.

That is a column-type steadycam, but there are arch-type models, more simple and less professional, that works in a very similar manner:  like this MERLIN or THIS ONE more simple.

Next some photos of joint (or kneecap / swivel) that provides independence from movement for two axis.
The movement for the thirth axis (rotation around Z axis) was solved with a bearing whose friction is Significantly higher that kneecap, but permits to implement the "one hand" system,

In the next, you can see the system to locate the camera to achieve that the exact centre of gravity of the complete steadycam coincides with centre of kneecap.


All the steadycams that I know have to be handled with two hands: Usually one hand for support the weight of the steadycam and other hand to aim or frame the image, gently, using very little force for not disturbing its working principles.

My modest contribution is that two rubber bands are used to mantain (gently) the camera pointing at front. Now the steadycam only stabilizes the fast and short angular movements, but not the smooth and permanent movements. And is possible to frame pointing with the same hand that holds the handle.

SteadyCam -one hand- from montonm on Vimeo.

The video in not a comparison between two similar recordings with or without steadycam.
The sample without stabilization (upper) only intends to show how the violent shaking on the handle of steadycam does not avoid that final result is acceptable enough.
The swinging up-down seems well solved and equally the oscilation side-to-side. But the rotation around z-axis is less smooth due the higher resistance to movement of bearing.

I hope to do some test with the steadycam on the bike... (not too esasy). I promise to report.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

CamOne Infinity 1080 -review & test-

Another "similar-to-GoPro" for test: The CamOne Infinity from ACME (Germany) by courtesy of Action Cameras.

This is all that comes inside the box:  Small camcorder; Waterproof case with curve lens; Handlebar mount; Flat mount with adhesive and fast anchoring; Two arms (short and long); USB wire and adaptator; Audio/video wire; Bag for the camera.

The Camera has some features that I like:
- Both, camera and case, have threads for tripod.
- It's small, but includes LCD screen to view when recording or playing back.
- The waterproof case has the same 6 function buttons that the camera, and you can operate all funtions alike with or without it. You will never need to open the camera on the trail.
 - The lens is interchangeable. Well done!... but only one is included in the box.
- There are two micro SD slots.

Unfortunately, not everything fits well:
- The side cover to protect connectors and cards is crappy and does not close
- It is hard to put the camera inside the case. It fits too exact
- The LED that indicates operations is just behind the rim black, and can not be seen !

Quality of mount system is similar to GoPro ones, but they are not compatible.

Recording mode:
1080p   to 30 fps  (1920 x 1080)   16:9       15.000 kbps
720p     to 60 fps  (1280 x  720)   16:9        13.500 kbps
720p     to 30 fps  (1280 x  720)   16:9         8.800 kbps
WVGA   to 60 fps    (848 x  480)   16:9         4.800 kbps
Bitrate values are aproximate, they are obtained setting the "high" mode. (there are three options: H, S, and L).
The same modes are in PAL too, (at 24 fps). But I have not tested them.
The battery life lets me to record 1 h. 43 min, and to recharge is fast enough.

Lens angle
As ever, no manufacturer publishes understandable and true informatio about view angles. The next data are measured and calculated by me:
CamOne Infinity        1080p     h.ang.     95º    diagonal ang.   103º
CamOne Infinity          720p     h.ang.   128º    diagonal ang.   134º
For comparative purposes:
AEE SD20                   1080p    h.ang.     78º   diagonal ang.     85º
AEE SD20                     720p    h.ang.   106º   diagonal ang.   114º
AEE SD20                     960p    h.ang.  106º    diagonal ang.   118º
GoPro HD HERO           960p    h.ang.   120º    diagonal ang.   130º
GoPro HD HERO         1080p     h.ang.   103º   diagonal ang.   111º
GoPro HD HERO           720p     h.ang.  120º    diagonal ang.   126º
Contour 1080 HD         720p     h.ang.    97º    diagonal ang.   105º
Contour 1080 HD         960p     h.ang.    97º    diagonal ang.   110º
Briefly, at 1080p mode, the angle view is a bit more narrow that GoPro, but at 720p mode is a bit wider.
The following video shows differences between angle view at different modes:
At 720p mode is possible to use the zoom function, but this feature is completly useless for on-board purposes: when camcorder stops and starts again the zoom fits itself to maximum wide.
Testing on ride.
For test the camera I place it on my improved "chesty", fortunately...
The CamOne designers did not implement any "beep" (The CamOne Infinity do not emit any sound, it has not speaker). They did not think of putting a swich instead a push button... and the small size and feeling are not appropriate for using with long gloves.

In the chest-mount the camera is at sight, but is almost impossible to see blinking  the LED to know if the camera is recording or not. If you put your CamOne on the helmet you can not to know if it is working !!!

Bicuerca - CamOne Infinity 1080p test from montonm on Vimeo.

On the good side the camera has a very good performance for measuring the light exposure. I think that is better (or more properly, less bad)  that GoPro, Contour, etc... and the rest of POV cameras that I have tested. The CamOne Infinity is not mistaken easily when a portion of a bright sky comes into the frame.

The colour feels something subdued and the image has a low contrast... but that can be improved in the edition process. The sample video shows the latest seconds of each secuence with filters to increase contrast, colour saturation and lights the shadows. The rest of time the images are as coming out of the camera.

On the negative side all footage seem some blurry. As slighty out of focus, but I have not been able to correct it by screwing or unscrewing the removable lens...
Sound is really bad (like others cams with waterproof case)

El Campillo from montonm on Vimeo.

This second video confirms the first impression about good performance in hard lighting scenes (backlight, bright sky, sun in the frame...). All footage are filtered with same settings.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

AEE SD20 -Review & tests-

That's the new clon of GoPro that AEE manufactures in China and several resellers distribute around the world: ActionPro (in Germany) Yo! HD 1080 (in Spain)...

The AEE SD20 includes together most of the accessories that are optional in the GoPro brand, and also laser pointer and wireless control.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Discovering Philip Tschersich

First let's see three videos by Philip Tschersich at very differents scenerys, but all of them carefully edited using a wide range of shots and camera mounts:

Beside the impressive landscapes, good footage selection, and the great work mixing them with music, the most important success is due the diverse and innovative points-of-views that Philip uses to take the shots.

"Propeller head"

Is not the first time that this device runs in the web, but the results are specially good using it moderately and mixing it with other shots.

The system is simple. Philip describe how he do it:
"I used a plastic chunk cut to allow me to velcro it to my helmet using the vents, and on top of that I used a spare Heim chain guide roller. Bolted to that I have an aluminum plate that I can hose-clamp some rod or dowel to. I used a 1/2" wooden dowel first, but I promptly broke that. Now I have some cheap WalMart tent pole sections. They flex and bounce, so some stiffer tubing would probably help, but I can take the two sections apart and the pole ends up half as long so I can pack it around. The camera is mounted on one end via the GoPro seatpost clamp mount, and I have a 12 oz fishing weight taped to the other end for "balance." I actually have the rig set up slightly camera-heavy so I can position it somewhat by leaning my head. The whole thing is a bit of a millstone and your helmet had better fit pretty tight!"

This 'simple' cable-cam contrasts with the sophisticated system MirloCam by Emilio Avila. But results are vey interesting too. First the how-to-do video:

The shuttle is a length of plastic that I simply bolted a RAM ball mount to, and on either end is a small pulley. I dremeled a slot in one side of each pulley so I could slip the shuttle on and off the fishing line. The line itself is a spool of 300 yards of 100 pound test dacron halibut line. I put a dowel through the spool secured on either side so it would spin on the dowel, and I put a small bolt through one flange so I could crank the spool and take the line up again quickly when I am done.

The line has an eye in its end that I have put a basic metal snap on. A couple of feet up the line is another eye. This is so I can loop the end of the line around a tree or branch and put the snap through the second eye and secure the end of the line without having to tie a knot. A couple of feet further down the line I have a short length of bungie attached that has a plastic washer on its end. The washer does not fit through the pulleys, so as the shuttle runs along the line and then along the line and bungie, the bungie stretches and acts as a soft stop. I spool the line out to another tree and give the line about 10 wraps around a branch. That seems to offer enough friction to hold the whole mess

Other bike clamps
Other shots was taked from diverse positions from bicycle, helmet, chest and a pole with camera at the end, (my favourites).
On-bike scenes were generally done using RAM mounts. has an excellent selection of RAM stuff. I use the 1" ball head metal system ('B' size). The plastic RAM stuff flexes too much. I use them with a GoPro, but a Contour HD is pictured here:

For the ground-skimming shots I just used a pole similar to the propeller head contraption, but I just hold it in my hand and either ran or rode behind Barny and held the camera a few inches off the dirt as we moved along.

Stuff enough for inspiration... is not?
Thanks to Philip Tschersich.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Fix the horizon

Perhaps the main problem to resolve when you want shot a helmetcam video is how obtain the correct frame, for a long time!
It is not difficult when you places the camera in the helmet: Once the position is verified, all you had to do is to maintain your head an point to straight.
The problem is bigger on chest-cam assembly, because the angle of trunk is variable depending ride situations. Unavoidably.

This is my first invention that really runs. It is a simple seesaw or swing, with a hydraulic damper of a modelling shock absorber. Aspect is pretty bulky, but it's only a first prototype.

The camera is the Lumix TS1 with the wide angle adapter.

Next some pictures:

Thursday 10 February 2011

MirloCam Evo3 -CableCam- (Blackbird Cam, from Spain)

Absolutely impressive is the work done by Emilio Avila, from Cordoba (Spain)
Just a home-made cable-cam fully operative and functional. Is not a "helmetcam", but it's 100% "experience"

Watch this:

Is not easy reach that quality level. That is the third evolution for this 'blackbird'. At next photos you can see the previous 'Mirlo I' and 'Mirlo II'

and finally, the "MIRLO EVO3 CARBON", ¡great!

* Carbon fiber chasis and aluminium
* Tamiya engine with electronic speed control
* Futaba servos tuned to 360º (transverse and longitudinal axis)
* Radio controller and receiver, 4 channels, 2.4 mhz
* Wireless video transmitter 1.2 Ghz
* FPV case with 7" monitor 12v.
* 100 meters rope. (waiting for a 200 meters steel wire)
* Cámera: GoPro HD. (waiting for a Canon 550d

As you can see the results are very proffesionals. Movement is sweet, and speedy enough, and the vibration and oscillation are not notable.

I hope watch soon the next full mtb video by Emilio ('Agacha el Lomo' team) using the MirloCam
Next time in HD quality (I expect), like this: (select 720p to view)

Monday 31 January 2011

Ian Baquerin

I want submit you the splendid work that Ian Baquerin (Ian Freerider en Vimeo) shares with us from his own blog about mountain outdoor activities, snow, hiking and mountainbiking... Ian's work joins riding skill and video quality.

One of the more surprising landscapes in Spain: Las Bardenas.

Bardenas from ian freerider on Vimeo.

I recommend you to see the next videos in Vimeo:
"Nomadas vol.1"
"Nomadas vol.3"
"Btt por Santa Elena"

Ian himself tell us some words about his videos, (I'll try translate them to my poor english):

Generaly, If I go out without determination to record, I usually carry with me only the GoPro HD with several mounts, and a little tripod with a mending to fit GoPro to tripod screw. If I go out determinated to record some video, I also carry with the big camera, a CANON HFS200 and a wide lens angle 0.45x and some filters, and a more stabile tripod.

In my opinion, for a good results, You must have diverse shots, fixed shots, point-of-view shots from helmet, zooms, far shots, close ones, etc... and a previous idea about you want edit before going out to record the necessary shots.

About subjective (POV) shots, I try to vary and to look for new shots, I try to watch videos enough on the web to take ideas: helmet, frame, chest, pole from helmet, etc. I try not to buy too many mountings but I try to make up them, cheap materials and sticky tape...

Unquestionably the final results, joining together every assorted shots, looks very well. Another matter is the (I suspect) great difference between a 'normal' ride with a simple helmetcam and a 'filming' ride ... but I'll do it someday... I'll tell you.

Monday 6 September 2010

VholdR Contour HD 1080 vs GoPro HERO HD

The two "blockbusters" helmetcams one beside other for a raw comparison... (Thanks to SportKam, for supply the units for the test).

Thursday 8 July 2010

"Los Pepes" trail. Multicam.

The next video almost burns me...  My computer hangs continously. Too many bytes and rare codecs...  too many hours of edition.
I hope, it will be interesting (curious, at least)

Senda de "Los Pepes" from montonm on Vimeo.

Lumix DMC TS1 + wide lens 0,45x
This is my 'main' camera, recording at 720p on the helmet with the handicraft angle lens conversor that you can see here.

Is a not well known camera, was mounted on the top of the helmet of Ruben. Ruben follows me riding 'Los Pepes'. You can see here some extended videos.

MiniDV MD80 "shitcam" + wide lens 0,38x
The 'shitcam' was mounted on the helmet facing back. Helmet is not the best place to mount back-cameras, becouse in cornering the image moves out excessively to sides. Camelback is better place to do it.

Definitely, the 'shitcam' has not quality enough to fill an HD format. The video comes with 30,9 fps more or less (not any standard), jumps every few frames and has a lot of wooble.

Footage from X170 and 'shitcam' fits well into little windows, but  in the big one  the difference with  Lumix is notorious. So I decided to use short appearances and colours.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

The "follow-cam"

There is a new place to put a 'helmetcam'

The Anti-Gravity Follow-Cam on Rio from Dean Wilkes on Vimeo.

Dean Wilkes discovers an original system to record himself and the trail where he is riding. ¡incredible trail!, I think.

I dont have seen what is the mounting system, but I suposed it could be easy to try. With some material that I had I improvised a mounting and a very first experiment.

custodio-cam / follow-cam from montonm on Vimeo.

Next coming more... I hope

Friday 7 May 2010

Expanding Lumix FT1 (TS1) capabilities

That's 'MASSA Optics 30,5 mm Professional 0,45X Wide Angle Lens for DC/DV Japan'. Becouse it is intended for a 30,5 mm thread, was necessary to do some handicraft for to attach it.
An aluminium plate fixes the lens to the camera helped by a kind of 'super-Velcro' and some rubber band (piece of inner tube) for greater attachment.

The angle vision of Lumix DMC FT1 (TS1) improves notably. HD mode (narrowed than VGA) can now be used easily. Subject does not go out of frame and the perception of shaking decreases too. Please look at this video test without any edition or stabilization:

Espadan en crudo - Juanma from montonm on Vimeo.

If you are thinking about to do some similar, please note that 30,5 mm is not big enough for size of the DMC FT1 (TS1) objective. (at VGA resolution all four corners are trimmed...)

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Rocket-style on-board point of view.

Thanks to Rich Staley from Great Basin Bicycles we can appreciate these mountainbiking videos 'rocket-style':

Mount Rose Meadows - Tahoe Rim Trail - POV - Great Basin Bicycles - Singletrack - Reno Mountain Bike Trail from Rich Staley on Vimeo.

Really, I would not call this 'helmetcam' but all kind of on-board or subjective video riding bicycles are welcomed in this blog.
Rich recorded his videos with a Sony lipstick camera plugged to a miniDV camcorder. The camera was holded in front of the bike frame: 'The clamps that I made for the bike are relatively simple. There are two clamps, one around the bottom of the head tube, and one around the top tube of the bike. They are simple circles cut in half then jointed at one end, with a bolt on the other side so that they can clam shell around the frame. I have then tapped one bolt hole into the clamp to hold the camera'

I like very much the speed sense that is transmited by this recording system. I think is due to combination of a low point of view and a narrow trail. The angle on inclination in corners adds dynamism.
Of course this setting thrashs largely the more usual mounting in handlebar that, in my opinion is not good because of infuriating movement from side to side, mainly in slow paths
Here you can see one more:

Caughlin Mountain Bike Singletrack - Great Basin Bicycles- Reno Tahoe Nevada from Rich Staley on Vimeo.
Many other videos from Rich Staley in Great Basin Bicycles in that you can find trail maps arround Reno, Nevada (USA)