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Old 11 Mar 2006
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Location: Poole, Dorset, UK
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Camcorders - a slight variation

I am looking at buying myself a camcorder. Prefer sony but needing I believe av in socket to work with my helmet camera from rf concepts.

Any suggestions cos cant always find out if it has av in sockets on the camera.

Hoping someone may be able to put in right direction. Budget isnt primary issue but obviously size and higher pixels are.

Kind regards

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Old 11 Mar 2006
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Depending on what you intend to do with the material you capture there are two types of general categories of cameras you should consider. I will walk you through both, and then move onto helmet cams and other considerations.

First category: If you intend to have your trip broadcasted on television or make a professional video, a regular DV cam just won't cut it, you need a HDV (high definition video cam) with a 3CCD chip set (3x1 megapixel picture chip). Here Sony only offers one model which offers both AV and S-Vid in/out connections (some models only have out). The model is the Sony HDV 1080i, and is also C-Net's editors choise "best camera in the price range". The camera is not as big as it may appear. It is not of the shoulder type and can perfectly be operated in your hands. Read and watch C-Net's video reviews here http://reviews.search.com/search?q=HDV+1080i&tag=srch

These cameras are larger than your regular mini DV cam corder, but are still very much portable, and offer superior video and sound quality recordability. They are also much more expensive and will set you back $3-4000. See C-Nets price comparisons http://reviews.cnet.com/Sony_HDR_FX1...89.html?tag=ut . Remember that these are prices in the US. Additional shipping, handling, etc, may aplly. Prices in other countries will vary greatly.

Second category: Your average mini DV cam corder will work wonders for you average home video. Sony's top of the line is the DCR-HC96E and will set you back about $800. As with the HDV cams, this price estimate is in the US (here in Norway, like everyting else, expect to pay much much more). Additional shipping, handling, etc, may aplly. Other countries may have prices which differs greatly. This camera offers both AV and S-video in/out.

C-Nets taking on this camera: http://reviews.cnet.com/Sony_Handycam_DCR_HC96_camcorder_Mini_DV/4505-6500 _7-31649785-2.html?tag=nav

Helmet Cams: If video captured from your helmet cam will consititute a major part of your final video recording, then go for the best you can find and afford. If recording by helmet cam is a big deal for you, then this is where you should prioritise your money. These cameras optics and resolutions are usually always of much poorer quality than the average mini DV-cam. For my Africa trip I will be using a "Viosport Adventure Cam 3" which offers 520 TV lines and exchangeable grey filters and lenses (I won't purchase any of the latter as I'm not that proficient of a camera man and can live with less than optimal quality). This helmet camera is also used in the professional video production market and in broadcasting. Although I say professional, this does not mean that the picture is even nearly as good as with a regular cam, only that it is among the top notch helmet cams. Some moments are only practical to capture this way. But, if you are really serious about picture quality, then a HDV is the only way to go (either by having a pilion on the back seat filming, and/or mounting various camera mounts on the bike for the HDV cam). But, now we are getting way ahead of ourselves. At such a stage, it is not the camera any longer which is the great issue, but your ability as a filmmaker and camera man. If you were even close to being an able camera man or film maker, then you wouldn't be asking the questions you are asking. Regardless of your intentions, I highly recomend you acquire some literature on filming, editing, and making documentaries. The Adventure Cam 3 will set you back about $350 (or about NOK 4.000 in Norway - or US $5-600).

Viosport: http://www.viosport.com/

In adition to the helmet mount, I would consider purchasing one or more mounts which you can attach and/or move about on your bike. This way you can capture different angles, including your own portrait (cool effect when narrating).

An important aspect of video is sound and narration. When riding, wind noise becomes an issue (and even often in many regular out-door conditions as well where you stand perfectly still, but where gusts of wind ruins your whole take). If you want to capture narration while riding, you need a mic inside your helmet (a regular communication headset will likely do). The problem with this option is that it will block out much of the background noise, such as the engine, etc. Another problem is that the sound recording will not be of very great quality. This can be resolved one of two ways. The first is to record the narration at later time and superimpose the sound file on top of the other in the editing process. This option also allows you to add reflections about what one sees and the total experience. It is a great effect! The other option is to narrate while riding, but cheat a bit by adding the engine noise in the editing process later on. The latter require that you make different recordings of your engine at different speeds (inner city, tunnels, passing cars, highways, etc). When making sound recordings of background noise, wind will be an issue, you will be needing a mic hidden out of the wind, and have the mic wrapped in a low density foam. A third option, which I will likely be using, is a mix of all the options above. Although narration while riding doesn't offer as great sound quality, it sure makes a cool effect of capturing the exitement. Adding narration to give more extended reflections of the moment, adds much to the video, as does background noise and music. (Don't tell anyone that the engine noise in my video may be superimposed --- funny how that scooter sounds like a Harley )

Tripod. I would strongly consider bringing a tripod, atleast one of the miniature types, or both (keep tripods consealed in war sones as some may mistake it for a weapon and blow your brains out).

You are investing a lot of heart, energy and money in your trip, capturing it on video is a big deal. You ought to invest some money in literature covering filming, editing and making documentaries. Do a lot of practice with all your equipment before you go on your great trip. Helmet cams can be tricky to use and takes a while to get used to. Consider taking a general filming course. When on your trip, bring lots of tape and keep it rolling, you can always edit away those parts you don't want at a later stage, but you can't recapture a "Kodak moment".

Wind noise allways ruins a great recording if you don't take care when recording. The problem is that when recording, you can't really tell if wind is a problem. The mini DV cams are especially prone to having sound ruined by wind. In Emergenices, cupping your hand arround the mic while filming (with plenty of air arround the mic), often work wonders. You should however consider purchasing a separate mic and have it wrapped in low density foam.

What will I be using? I will be using the helmet cam above, together with a 5 year old Sony PC110 mini DV camcorder with a huge after market battery (lumpy but longer lasting). As for sound, I will use a combination of all the options described earlier. If I had more time I would likely try to make something broadcastable and purchase a HDV cam corder. But, as I lack time to prepare my camera and filmmaking proficiencies before I go on the next trip, as well as lacking the time on the road needed to make a great video, I will just go for a home video type project. I will likely broadcast parts of it on the internet though.

Note: regarding connectivity and compatability of helmet cam and cam corder, don't take my word for it. You should always verify this with the helmet cam manufacturor or vendor. If this information is difficult to get, purchase the helmet cam first and bring it to the store and have it tested for compatability.

I can also highlt recomend Microsoft's movie maker for video editing. It is the only one offering a "Story Board" view (extremely user friendly for beginners). I've tried a couple of editing software, but none are as appropriate for the begiiner as this one. MS Movie maker is very easy to use. You should be up an running within a couple of attempts if you purchase the book "Movie Maker for Dummies". Most things are possible to acchieve with this software, but the really advanced stuff is either not possible, or at best cumbersome. Regardless, I would start out practicing my editing proficiencies in this software and than switch to other software once I felt restrained by its capabilities.

I Hope this information was useful to you. Sony's own home pages combined with C-Net provides excellent sources of information for your purpose.

[This message has been edited by Wheelie (edited 11 March 2006).]
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Old 29 Mar 2006
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Location: Changchun, Jilin, PR China
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Hi, I just went through exactly what you have been asking about. I chose not to go with HD because of problems in editing and the amt of digital info in a single tape (something like 8 or 13 terabytes). Instead, I chose the Panasonic AG-DVC 30 and did invest in additional (phantom) mike for better sound and a lav for really good "interviews" and commentary.

On the road,

Jack & Janet
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Old 29 Mar 2006
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Almeria, Andalucia
Posts: 185

That's a lovely looking camera. I've gone for the Panasonic GS400 -- less obtrusive (and cheaper!) But there is a serious issue around the GS400 and image stabilisation - basically, it can't handle the wobbles and bouncing around of a bike trip. Especially the way I ride.

So I'm also buying a smaller, cheaper camcorder -- the Sharp VLZ5 -- for use *on* the bike. Haven't got the helmet cam yet -- Wheelie's advice much appreciated.

Loks like there's going to be a flood of trip DVDs around in the next year or so.. I'll buy yours if you promise to buy mine!

---I'm back. Now what?---
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