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Bullet cameras - 23rd February 2006 - View the entire paragliding news archive

Bullet Cameras
So you wanna be a movie star?


If like me, you want to film your flights for prosperity (or even editing) then you have probably discovered how tricky it is to film and fly using a hand held camcorder. What`s more, you`d like to actually be in your own film.

The bullet camera is the simple answer.

It is a small external camera of surprisingly high quality that can enable you to get the kind of shots you see on the TV. This page is aimed at those pilots thinking about flying with a bullet camera and those pilots that already do, and what to get more out of it.
First off, let me say these little cameras are excellent BUT they do take a beating and are prone to the wires breaking inside the connection at the base of the camera (How to fix - See Video here). Any quick search in Google will turn up RF Concepts as THE best place to get bullet cameras. This is where I purchased mine. It is very high quality and delivers crystal clear images. They also have a massive array of accessories that can be used with the cameras. Once you have your bullet camera and all the leads you will be trying out different ways to mount the camera. The first, most obvious thing to do with it is stick it on your helmet (the one on your head..). This is great for the first few flights and you will be pleased with the results, but pretty soon you will be finding that all your footage looks the same and is, to be honest, pretty boring. The answer is to mount the camera in several different places with different lens attachments to get different shots that can be edited together using your PC.Helmet mounting (Helmet mount - See Video here) is easily achieved by covering the bullet camera in velcro and slapping a piece on your helmet too. It would seem that this is fairly easy, but there are problems that can occur. It is very difficult to get the camera to line up exactly where you are looking. Consequently it is somewhat hit and miss when you are filming as to what gets in the shot. With some practice you can get an idea of what makes it into shot but this takes experience. A wide angle lens is the best solution to this problem since it fits in much more than would otherwise be the case you can get away with imperfect alignment. Another problem is getting the horizon level. Often when you are turning (or even in level flight) you will find that the horizon is off by as much as 30 degrees and the footage is pretty much ruined. Again this is best overcome with practice and a check before take off that everything lines up ok.
Foot mounting (Foot mount - See Video here) is less commonly used but is very effective. Once again, the camera needs to have a wide angle lens attached. This enables you to fit yourself and the wing in shot. The camera should be mounted several inches from your boot (I simply used an old coat hanger and some string and velcro!). It needs to be set up to enable you to be able to walk, and should not impede your launch. The major draw back with mounting the camera in this way is that you need to hold your leg out in front of you for long periods of time, but the results can be quite good.Pole mounting (Pole mount - See Video here) is pretty risky during take-off, since it adds something else to the list of `things to go wrong`. I have experimented with a cut down landing rod (from a fishing tackle shop). It cost me about $15 and I had to modify it to reduce its length. The major advantage of this type of pole is its strength, rigidty and light weight. With a bit of ingenuity you can modify it to a three peice extendable pole. One major problem I had with `pole cam` was the amount of fiddling that was necessary in flight. It is easily possible to lose two thousand feet by the time you have everything running. It is also quite tricky getting the horizon level.


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The content of this site is Mark Andrews 2005-12, mandrews1973@gmail.com

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