Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

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Snowboarding Helmetcam: First Test!

I shot footage of some friends skiing and snowboarding at Hintertux in November. Finally, I’ve found time to stabilize the video files and edit everything. At some points, it looks almost as good as a steadycam would be. A few shots are not so stable; the first few (when it was cloudy/dark) were harder to stabilize. Here it is:

YouTube Preview Image

Watch “Testing the Helmetcam” in HD on YouTube.

A few notes for the videographers out there. Optical stabilization sucks in high-G environments. In skydiving, and apparently snowboarding, it can make your footage even more shaky/unviewable than having no stabilization at all. This is due to the mechanically controlled optical element bouncing around in the lens at high-G.

Also, in these vibration-heavy environments you need a fast shutter speed. Otherwise you get strange moments (like you see in my video) where the scene seems to pop in and out of focus: these are heavy camera shocks blurring the motion!

To make the videos stable, I used Virtualdub (open source) with the Deshaker plugin (open source). It was a huge effort to set up and learn, and I’d only recommend it to fellow computer geeks.

For the next shoots, I’m going to use a shutter speed no less than 1/250th. I also have a skydiving ring sight on the helmet now, so I can keep the subject centered in the frame.

Camera: Canon Vixia HF200. Shot in 1920x1080PF. Editing software: Pinnacle Studio 14. It is a royal pain working with full HD files, even on a 3-core 2.something.GHz system. The high-quality deshaking method I’ve figured out takes 30-45min per minute of video. But the results are pretty!

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Posted in Photography and Skiing+Snowboarding 12 years, 9 months ago at 12:47 pm.


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8 Replies

  1. yeah, stabilization is a huge pain in the ass….. unless of corse you use iMovie, in which case you hit the Stabilize Video button and select how much should be cropped, with live previews, and be done with it! 😉

  2. Well, that looks like about the same quality of stabilizing as I got from Pinnacle Studio 14 and Cyberlink Powerdirector 8. They have a similar 1-click, 1-slider solution with how much is the “max crop.”

    Expensive software like Final Cut, Premiere, etc probably do a similar job as this open-source solution… for roundabout $500-1000 :-/

    I should put up a comparison vid of what it looked like before stabilizing. The shocks were much higher than your truck vid in acceleration… that’s probably why the comsumer software (like the two I tried, and most likely iMovie) would still have problems with it. I can send you a few Gb raw footage to play with… 😉

  3. Bernd Jan 4th 2010

    Nice Vid. Just bought an Pana TZ7 und doing my first steps with HD-vids at the moment. Looking forward to meet you in the snow, regards,

  4. Hi Bernd, thanks! Yep, the boarding season will really start full-on now. I will email you about possibly going soon!

  5. Colin de Silva Feb 10th 2010

    Nice footage! I have the same problem when the subject wipes out, I practically run over them! Suggest a 0.7x wideangle lens to give you a wider field of vision, and make life easier for you. Plus it will have a percieved effect of stabilising footage somewhat, albeit with the side-effect of making it looks slightly slower.

  6. Hi Colin, actually this is with an 0.5 wide angle lens. I was just sticking pretty close to the subject, although now I am farther back. This is also before I had the ring sight, which lets me keep the subject much better in the shot :-)

  7. vannie Nov 21st 2011

    Snowboarding is really amazing!.. I love watching them.I must say you have a very cool camera. Perfect!

  8. Thanks! This was just my first video, some of the others are a lot more advanced filming…

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