Cameras on bikes

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  • With all the action (both good and bad) on two wheels, lots of people in the club were discussing getting cameras. I thought I would briefly share what I've learned from getting one (Replay Prime X) about mounting it with some example footage.

    For commuting, as a record of what happened should I ever need the footage, I wanted to mount it on my helmet as I thought this would give a better understanding of what was happening, where I was looking etc. Also, if there was any followup 'interactions' then they would also be captured. This was what drove the choice of the above camera as it's pretty small and light but still with a decent battery life.

    So here's some raw helmet camera footage from my commute around Old Street:

    As you can see, it's pretty shaky! Although your body damps the small vibrations, you still end up like a nodding dog with lots of movement. This can be post-stabilised to improve things:

    This was done in Adobe After Effects. I didn't really know what I was at, so I just clicked a bunch of defaults but you can get the gist. I think you can also get it to crop out the black surround. However, this took a really long time to process (1080p @ 60fps) just for a 5min clip. Can't remember how long, but definitely ~1hr+.

    To try the alternative of mounting to the handlebars, I got a cheap mount from eBay and here's some footage:

    It's much more watchable without stabilisation but still has little vibrations from the crap roads in London. I'm sure this could be stabilised much more easily than the helmet mounted footage.

    From a commuting perspective, I would still be inclined to keep it helmet mounted as it follows where you are looking. But if I actually wanted to record to watch back for something other than getting a number plate, I think handlebar mounted is the way to go.

    Hope this is of some use!

  • Good post, i find it better on the handle bars. tried it once on the helmet and it just felt too heavy and big. the footage was also as shaky but you do see what you see rather than the direction that your bike is facing.

  • You do notice the weight a bit when handling the helmet but forget about it when you're wearing it. Although this is ~105g mounted vs I guess 200g+ for a Garmin Virb, so half the weight.
    I just made mini-cradles on each end of a helmet vent out of Sugru and strap it on with a length of velcro. Mount weight is ~5g and reasonably low profile which also helps I think.

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  • So, I've got my Garmin Virb and tried it out for the first time yesterday. I have a million questions and will try to work my way through them (and hopefully get some answers).

    First up, here's the edited down video of the first little bit of the ride yesterday:

    I've managed to get the data on there that I want (more or less). Alex told me how to sync the picture with the data by linking a particular frame to an exact part of the route. I noticed that you have to keep doing this for different sections because every time the Garmin goes off (e.g. if you stop at a junction for a few seconds) and the camera is still running they get out of sync again. The data that's in this clip seems to match pretty much to what's happening (the 'bearing' gauge is useful for judging this). The things that don't seem to work so well are, I assume, because of the way the Garmin measures them, rather than a syncing problem. For example, if you look at the cadence just after the 1:00 point of the video, you can see it tumbling down from 90ish to zero over a few seconds - obviously in reality I didn't slow my cadence, I just started freewheeling, so the change should have been instantaneous. Also, jump to 2:23 and you can see me starting the steep climb out of the underpass. the 'grade' gauge reads zero for about two-thirds of the climb and then rises from 3% to 7% once I'm back on the flat - but this is what happens on the Garmin itself, there's always a lag between the actual gradient and the data on screen.

  • Really annoyingly, I don't have any footage of the second half of the ride and I don't really know why. As I understand it, you don't actually need to turn the Virb on in order to start recording - you just slide the 'record' button forwards and it will turn the device on and start recording (the only advantage of having it on before you slide the button on is that the device starts recording slightly earlier). And I definitely slid the button forwards. I slid it back to temporarily stop recording at The Castle at Woodford when I met Alex, then again when we met his mate at the green hut at High Beach, then again when we got held up at the junction near the roundabout at the top of the forest and then again at Toot Hill when I stopped to wait for the other two. I have no footage after that, but I'm certain I put the button forwards - I even joked to Alex about how I'd probably get home and find I'd been pushing the button in the wrong direction the whole time and so I'd only have footage of the bits where we standing around. But I have clips of the whole ride up to Toot Hill and nothing afterwards. I wondered if I'd not pushed the button far enough forwards, but I've just tried it out and it's actually impossible to do this - the button automatically goes all the way forward and clicks. I've also tried to turn the device off once it's recording and this is equally impossible. So what on earth happened?

    The other possibility is that I did record the second half of the ride, but then accidentally deleted it, but Alex says there is a three-step process to deleting clips so it's very unlikely I could have done this.

  • David - where do I get sugru from and how easy was it to make the shapes for the cradle and attach them to your helmet? Also, where do you get the velcro straps from?

  • I have four clips from yesterday. Last night, when I was trying to make a video using all four of them, the Virb Edit software just kept crashing over and over again. In the end I decided to just make a video using the first clip. I've just gone back into the software again now (to have a look at the other clips and see what's worth saving) and thought I would delete the first clip (seeing as I've already taken anything I want from it). It tells me that if I delete this clip it will 'affect' my video. How can this be? I've already made and saved the video and uploaded it to youtube. Does it just mean it will affect my ability to edit that video?

  • Hey Jamie. I just got the Sugru from eBay I think - took a single 5g sachet to make both parts for my small camera I think (see photo). It's like blu tack that turns into rubber so you stick it on the helmet and mould/poke it into shape. I've got tonnes of the velcro strap so just give my a shout if you want some.

    This simple mount works well with the Replay Camera as it's a small, light cylinder. Might be a bit more complicated with the Virb with its tapered shape and buttons?

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  • I don't think it would be a problem, but there's only way to find out (i.e. get one of the other Virb users to try it and see if their camera falls off and breaks)

  • OK, here's my second video. Some issues with glare as you go in and out of the tree cover. Is there anything you can do about that (either at the recording or editing stage)?

  • The plot thickens...
    I've now viewed all the clips. It seems that the Virb automatically creates a new clip at a point between 23 and 24 minutes of continuous recording. It did this at the top of Mott Street (about 24 mins after setting off from The Castle) and it did this on the country lane towards Tawney Common (about 24 mins after setting off from High Beach) and then there's nothing. So it can't be anything I did (on the bike ride itself) - either the device spontaneously decided to stop recording anything at that point (very unlikely) or I somehow managed to deleted a load of stuff when I got back and tried to play it back (also unlikely, but less unlikely). So how do I go about trying to retrieve deleted files from a Micro SD card? Is this even possible?

  • Hmmmmm. After two hours of scanning the card, the software claims there are no files to recover. So my clip called VIRB0006 ends on a random section of riding on a country lane after just under 24 minutes. The next clip is called VIRB0007 and has no size at all. It's just a file name, but there's no actual file content. It was created at 14:13, immediately after the previous clip ends. But there's nothing there. The next clip, VIRB0008, is a photo accidentally taken in my hallway an hour and a half later when I was trying to work out how to replay footage. I don't understand. Software glitch? Human error? I don't want this to happen again, but don't know what actually went wrong.

  • Is all the firmware on the camera up to date? Sometimes things ship with a few bugs.

  • I think maybe not - I seem to recall that when I first connected it to the laptop it said there was an update available and asked me if I wanted it. I declined and it hasn't asked me again. Will have to investigate further.

  • New question: what's the best way to mount a Virb for shooting backwards? It looks like you can either get a mount to fix it to the seatpost or get a different mount to fix it to the saddle rail. I got the K-edge Combo Out Front mount last summer, which goes onto the handlebars and lets you put the Garmin on the top and the Virb underneath (upside-down) and then used the supplied adaptor to fit the Virb to that.
    If got this K-edge saddle rail mount, would that be the most straightforward for transferring the Virb from the front to the back? Would I even be able to do that simply mid-ride (if I had both mounts on), or are there bits that needs to be unscrewed etc.?
    Alternatively (and more cheaply), this Garmin thing says it will fit on the seat post. But I can't visualize it - how would you set it up so that it didn't hit your legs? Also, would the fact that this is made for Virb (not Go-Pro, like the front one, which is why it uses an adaptor) make it more difficult to transfer between the front and back?

  • Jamie get this in addition to the k edge mount and all sorted. Garmin Cradle Mount for VIRB and VIRB Elite­ef=cm_sw_r_cp_awd_blC0wb55E2ABJ

  • Isn't that what I've already got???

  • Yes but that means you can switch view mid ride. No tools required.

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Cameras on bikes

Posted by Avatar for DavidV @DavidV