Action Cam in Kiteboarding (Part 2) The accessories and mounts

 

This is the second blog on getting the most out of your action cam specifically for kiteboarding from my perspective.

I’m gonna deal with Accessories / Mounts, but before I proceed, it is worth taking a little shortcut on the subject of short video production. The greatest downfalls of most self made videos is shakiness, bad editing and lack of different angles. Now off course an action cam is designed to be used at close proximity to the action which does limit your options with regards to angles and perspective, however, you can get pretty creative.
Just get a floaty door so that your camera doesn’t end up recording the bottom of the ocean!

The remote

When I first unpacked the remote I had mixed feelings about it. I thought; “Coool” and immediately after; “how am i going to use it?” However it has become a very useful accessory. It does come with its sets of quirks… Firstly charging it can be surprisingly tricky. (the go pro one at least) Some remotes have the nasty habit of once fully charged, switching off and then on (without charging) so I recommend 1h30 charging time, switch off and then remove the cable. Not all chargers seem to have that problem.

Then the charging terminals and pins seem to get corroded or sometimes not connect well enough to charge. Always rinse you remote after use in salt water, and should it not connect properly, clean them off to remove any corrosion build up, a nice little trick should you still have problem charging is to roll up some small balls of metalic foil paper and stick them into the connecting ports to create better contact with the pins.

If you use your go pro wifi application with other devices, make sure it has been turned back onto remote setting (see wifi settings on the camera). Very irritating to realise this once your kite is up in the air. Generally I test all the connections before I launch.

Having the remote allows you to switch the camera on and off (see first post why that is useful for the fogging up issue) and obviously recording on and off. Personally I like to have short little clips rather than one long one. It takes a bit of getting used to the timing but once you got it down, it’s not that bad.

For me there is only one place to put the remote in kiteboarding, and that is on the bar. Strapped with velcro (I also add an extra leash for it by attaching to the keyring older and tying it to the bar), I strap it close to the centre hole of the bar with the buttons facing towards the end of the bar. That way the remote can be used without actually taking your hand off the bar.

 

The mounts

Mouth Mount

Mouth Mount

Although at first dubious about this mount, it has become my favourite. The great thing about this mount (besides not needing the remote) is that the camera is accessible and you can take it out of your mouth and get different angles holding it at arms length. It is also surprising how much more steady the image is for filming when in your mouth. The closer the camera to your eyes, the steadier it will be, In front of your eyes is not really practical unless you are a ninja warrior.

So great for moving footage and stills.
If going out for a long session with it, I suggest you wear shorts with pockets to put it away once you are done and you want to keep riding (downwinders)
It does get a little tiring in your mouth so taking breaks in between helps.
Make sure the straps are out of the way!
A little tip, learn to look up so that you can get the kite in the shots.

Here is an example of a video done purely with the mouth mount:

Line Mount

Line mount

I have found this one great to capture action with perspective and in context, but it has some limitations. Firstly needs proper setting up and remote usage preferable.
I have gotten mostly great stills out of the line mount. Moving footage can also be great but needs to be on bigger kite in smooth conditions. Small kite and strong winds give you very shaky footage. Sometime unusable. But definitely got some of my best stills out of this mount.
The line mount needs to be safely attached to the lines. I use cable ties and make sure My safety release can still be operated. I just leave it on my lines to cut down on set up time.
Make sure no sand sticks to the lens during launch

One down side is that the camera is unreachable during the session and the lens can get dirty. If you place it closer to you, you can then spray it to clean it, If it’s further it’s not possible.

Play around with how far you position the camera from yourself it will give you different perspectives.

 

Another note is that the floaty backdoor can get in the way of some of the line mounts. You can squeeze it in there with a little help. And no this is not a pick up line!

 

Strut mount

 

I haven’t used this one too much, but much like the line mount you get great stills and some video shots to give you a different angle. Remote also useful here to limit the editing time. Don’t do hard kite crashes!

 

Board mount

Board Mount

Board Mount

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It attaches to the fin mount and is great to get a different angle but not something you will use more than 10 seconds worth in an edit. Can get some good effect if you are using it with another cam and can swop between the shots whilst in action.

 

Hand / Wrist Mount

Hand Mount

 

Just starting to mess around with this. Already noted that it’s not built to withstand serious impact but is great if you want to film someone else riding.

 

Helmet mount

I always got disappointing footage from having the cam on top of my head. You can’t see the camera so you have no idea if it is recording, fogged up or fallen off. It is also super shaky.
I’ve pretty much abandoned head mounts since getting the mouth mount.

 

Chest mount

Chest mount home made

 

I used that a while back, it was easy to build using the base of the go pro packaging by drilling 4 holes in it and using some old ropes. Got some good results but definitely more bumpy than the mouth mount. Also bar tends to come in contact with the cam a little too much!

 

Pole

You can get some great stills with a pole, but your one hand riding skills need to be top notch. I have also found it to be best with stills rather than moving footage. When using the pole to shoot someone else, it is always better to have the camera under the pole rather than on top. It helps with stability. Sort of hanging the camera.

 

Upside down mode

Note that with the mouth mount, line mount (depending on your set up) and the camera below with pole it’s preferable to be shooting in upside down mode. Saves having to flip all the footage later.

Protective accessories

lenses are not scratch proof! I’ve had to change a few over the years. So I try as much as possible when storing the cases away to put some protection over it or at the very least put the cam inside a plastic packet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok so That is my experience with Accessories and Mounts. There are more out there which I have not had experience with. I say experiment and see what works for you and your conditions.

A final note on Go pro footage and usage within a  video clip, if you are going for a more serious edit, it is great to mix it with some footage from the beach. It does give it an edge. If your angles and  footage is interesting and not too bumpy, you can get pretty good results with around 80 % go pro footage

 

 

 

 

 

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Action cam in Kiteboarding (part1): the cam, the specs and the housing

We’ve all been there; just got the action cam, the water casing the basic mounts.
So with excited anticipation, you charge it up, stick some old mini sd card you retrieve from an old phone, dig your old helmet out, stick the mount on, look at yourself in the mirror and think you look like the droid in star wars. But who care,  you are already dreaming of a far away galaxy where you will show the universe your most hardcore trick. You generally  have a little thought about “What if it comes off?” but brush it aside in the excitement. You spend a few hours trying to understand all the settings but invariably settle on just going with the high quality video. You can always lift the stills right?  and then wait for the first day of wind.

Then the day arrives, it’s blowing, you almost foaming at the mouth at the thought of getting your moment of fame in the pro kiteboarding video game, to getting showered with compliments and reaching god like status on Facebook amongst your admirers. You stick your Star Wars helmet on, switch the camera on, head out and ride like you’re competing in the red bull kind of the air final, until you are absolutely shattered.

Invariably, disappointment awaits you… Using an action cam and getting results is just not that simple. If it’s not lying at the bottom of the ocean maybe these next few blogs can help you.

I’m gonna try and highlight some stumbling blocks I have come across in the last few years dealing with the various aspects.

The Camera

As a rule of thumb, you do get what you pay for with the odd exception. I would say do some extensive research on the various models out there. There are some great sites where you can compare the various makes and models.

In a World of  WVGA ,720, 1080HD, K4 , things can get pretty confusing. Most people don’t understand the various formats and rightfully, it’s easy to get caught up on the technical jargon.
“Hey I should buy the new one cause it has 4K facility and can be operated by farting”
Well firstly can your computer can process 4K? Can your editing software (yes you will need that too) deal with it?  And farting will be a problem in 20 knots of wind (yes we are dealing with action cams in a kiteboarding setting)

So my advice with regards to specs, is also look at the stills options, resolution, burst frame capabilities and overall quality of still shots. I will highlight later why that is also important.

The latest cameras claim to have stabilisation which is a very exciting prospect as it is the most annoying aspect of the action cam footage. I haven’t tested it personally but look forward to it (once money grows on trees)

The cam probably also didn’t come with an SD card. And your choice of SD card will be crucial to getting the most out of the cam. It has to be class 10, but the faster the better. Don’t skimp on this. It would be like putting retreaded tyres on a formula one car. Get the biggest, fastest that you can afford. Nothing worse than your action cam freezing up in those perfect conditions cause you wanted to save a few bucks.

The Settings

Video:

The first question you want to ask yourself is what are you planning to do with the footage?
The Second one is what are you going to use to view /Edit the footage on?
For example if you planning to do semi pro work with slow motion shots, a high frame rate is important (60fps) If you planning to show it to your buddies on the company big screen, resolution (HD 1080 or more) is important.
The latest action cams tend to really offer some amazing performance, but knowing what you want to do first and your hardware limitation is important for your settings.
The best quality is great but not always best suited for what you want. For example slow motion shots need higher frame rate rather then size to get a smooth finish. There is a lot of info out there on all this from people who know way more than I do. Go looking!

 

Photo:

Yes photos are cool. Let me say that again, Photos are COOL! I see so few people taking pics with their action cams and it’s a real pity. They are easy to share, easier to edit and enjoyable by all on many platforms.
To make videos cool, you need it to be steady, to edit, to put some music to it and to have a lot of angles, you need time.  Photos are way easier and quicker to deal with, they are however more difficult to set up. Specific post on that coming up.
But for the settings go with the highest resolution available if you are using stills settings.
You can look at lifting stills from 4k video, but again generally you need to know what you are going after first.

Dealing with the water housing

Lets get this out of the way: Action cams get hot when they run, the air and water around it is colder, this will always result in condensation. I’ll be very surpised if it didn’t happen on your first run. I’ve come across a lot of internet tips some less practical than others: use a blow-drier to get the moisture out (we all have one of those lying around just before heading out), Keep your casing in the fridge (try that in the african sun) Blowing on the cam if condensation occurs (try that when it’s on a line mount)

However, anything which can help absorb condensation in the casing is good. You get little rectangle moisture absorbers, if you don’t have any anti fog inserts, fold toilet paper and stick it in.
If the cam has been lying in the sun or in the heat of the car, I open it up and air it out before launching (with dry hands, Wet hands are a killer!). This equalises the inside and outside temperatures.
Another way of avoiding condensation during operation is to switch the cam on and off, and, of course, if it has a back screen make sure it is off. Not only does it produce more heat but it also chews the battery up.
The more heat it produces the worse it is. Using wi-fi also causes more heat but is a necessary evil when operating via remote. Also be gentle with your casing when opening and closing. I replaced my plastic clip with an aluminium one to avoid frustration on the beach with broken plastic clip.

And get a floaty door, Cause if it does come off and the safety leash of the cam breaks you have a better chance of spotting it on the surface or of it washing up on the beach. However be warned, on some line mounts, you’ll have a struggle fitting it with a floaty door (more on that in a later blog)

Next blog will be about the various options of where and how to set up your cam.

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There’s no place like home

Home is where the Wind blows

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Home is where the Waves pump

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Home is where the beaches are Empty

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Home is where the Sun shines

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Video in the pipeline…

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