Making Paddling Movies: Helmet Cam

Saturday, 02 February 2008 02:29 | Written by 
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Several readers have asked about our helmet cam setup - here's a brief description of what we use.

Surfski helmet cam
Surfski.info's custom helmet cam!

GoPro Digital Hero3 Camera

The first part of the solution is the camera itself.  We bought the GoPro Digital Hero3 camera from Amazon, where they're available for about $140.  You can also buy them direct from GoPro Camera.

GoPro's website is at: http://www.goprocamera.com/

Since we bought ours, GoPro have started selling a couple of specialize mountings for the camera - like their helmet mount.

When we bought our camera a couple of months ago, these weren't available so Alain modified an old bike helmet to take the camera.  He cut a notch in the front of the helmet, then glued a piece of Velcro in place.  The other side of the Velcro went neatly onto the back of the camera housing.

Helmet & camera
Helmet & camera - helmet sacrificed by Alain Jaques!

Using the Camera

So far we've only used the camera mounted on the helmet, although Al made a small mounting to go on the deck of the ski too.

The first time I used it I found that I tended to watch the horizon instead of the front of the ski.  This meant that whenever I caught a run, the nose of the ski tended to drop out of the frame and you'd have no idea what was going on.

Using the helmet cam
Using the helmet cam

Since then I've developed the habit of watching the nose of the ski - this gives a much better impression of what it's like to catch waves and the spray flying around the bow shows the speed quite effectively.  It's good too to get other paddlers in the frame - to give perspective to the size of the waves.

Jean Austin taking off down a wave

There are other guys playing with these cameras here too - Rich Kohler just posted a clip made with the camera mounted on a mast at the back of the ski.  This has a great perspective - shows the paddler as well as the view in front of the ski. 

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=K5sVMpIaifE] 

Someone else who's been experimenting for a while with cameras is crazy Australian OC1 paddler Rambo - check his website at http://rambos-locker.blogspot.com/.

Editing and Posting Clips

I edited the last couple of clips with nothing more than Microsoft Windows Movie Maker.  I also have Pinnacle Studio ver. 9 but it choked when trying to load the raw .avi files.  (Reviews say that Studio 11 is an excellent product but I've yet to buy the upgrade.)

Youtube restricts you to ten minutes and 100Mbytes and I've found that it's best to push those limits (at least on the file size) in order to get the best resolution on the site.  I used the "High Quality Video (small)" setting to create the output file.

(The first helmet cam clip I posted for my "Extreme Millers Run" blog is much worse quality - and was created using the default "Best Quality for playback on my PC" setting.  Don't use this if you're intending to upload to Youtube!)

Have fun - and post us the links to your clips!

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