You've seen it before. Yet another POV video... It is so easy to be lazy and just throw them together, I admit guilt, but it can be so easy to put together creative video using some different perspectives. GoPro's POV cameras have what are generally acknowledged to have the best mounts in its class. The popularity of the GoPro POV cameras have resulted in interesting mounting ideas using not just the GoPro mounts, but many refined and not-so-refined garage-engineered third party mounts.
Part 1 of this two part series will explore some mounting options for the GoPro with an emphasis on the chest mount and hopefully give you some ideas on how to shoot creative video. Part 2 will discuss more esoteric mount options.
GoPro chest and helmet mount
Two different helmet mounts on a full-face helmet (Picture courtesy of Watermarks Online). The most common mounts for the GoPro are the helmet mount and the chest mount. GoPro recommends those mounts and they work well for biking. I won't talk about the conventional forward-looking helmet mount as the GoPro site and manuals already discuss them in some detail and almost every GoPro bike footage you see will have helmet cam.
GoPro vented helmet mount works on XC lids and skate lids with vents (picture from Gramslightbikes.com). You'll get a vented helmet strap mount if you bought the GoPro HD Helmet Hero or you can buy it is as an accessory ($ 14.99). That vented helmet strap works on any lid with vents. Sticky pads work on full-face helmets or skate lids without vents. You can buy a chest mount harness ($ 39.99 ) or make one yourself using the instructions I provide later in the article. Getting these mounts gives you an entry into the world of POV video.
Setting up the chest mount properly
The standard GoPro chest mount - $ 39.99. These have the extra arms that come with the HD Helmet Hero on the chest mount built as an extension (photo from gramslightbikes.com). The chest mount shows the hands, stem and wheel of the rider. The helmet mount shows a portion of the helmet and doesn't show the bike unless you point it down, which usually means you don't get to see all of the trail in front of you. The chest mount involves the person watching the video as you get the POV of the person filming. The helmet mount tends to remove you from the action. What mount you prefer is subjective to personal preference.
I often see videos featuring the chest mount which are pretty shaky or are poorly composed (usually too much bike and not enough trail
). Here are some tips on how to correct this.
• To get the correct filming position the GoPro should be almost pointing at your chin when you're standing straight up. Remember that you are riding downhill and that the rider ahead will be below you - adjust the GoPro accordingly. Usually if you think the camera's pointing too high, then that's probably the correct position. It also helps if you position the GoPro pretty high up on your chest.
• If you have the extra arms that come with the HD Helmet Hero use those extra arms and you can extend the camera a bit further away from your chest so you can get the correct upwards tilt and mount the GoPro right side up (see picture below
). If you don't have any extra arms you might have to flip the GoPro upside down so that you can tilt it upward enough to get a good camera filming angle.
• Tighten the strap on the chest mount so it doesn't move around. If your pack has a sternum strap put that strap under the GoPro chest mount plate . It keeps the strap from flapping in front of the lens and also helps keep the camera from being knocked around or creeping down your chest
• Be sure to check that your Camelbak hose or pack straps aren't flapping away in front of the stem.
Proper inclination of the chest mount if you're riding downhill - it should look like the camera's pointing at your chin. This has the GoPro mounted upside down. Use the UPD camera feature or flip the video in your software to get the footage right side up. Picture from "varaxis" via mtbr.com
Setting up the reverse chest mount
I tilted the camera a bit to show the sternum strap position; note that it goes over the GoPro chest mount plate. Tightening the strap secures the chest mount which helps a ton with video quality.
This is a stable mount that works well for filming someone chasing you down. It will work when you're wearing a pack but only on low profile packs (the camera will sit awry on big packs
). It will also work on someone with a huge chest or if the rider is wearing body armour as it's then possible to get the chest mount tight enough so that it's stable. All you have to do is flip the chest mount in reverse and wear it so the camera is pointing backwards. If you're wearing a pack, the pack actually seems to absorb some vibration and impact so that the footage is relatively smooth. The fisheye wide-angle also amplifies the feeling of speed.
• Ensure that any dangly pack bits aren’t in front of the camera lens.
• I found that the best position is somewhere in the mid-point of the pack. Too high and you’ll see the pack itself. Too low and the chest mount straps will constrict your neck. You should loosen the shoulder straps if you’ve been using the Chest Mount conventionally as it’ll be a tight fit worn over a pack You should cinch the chest strap part of the mount as tight as possible.
• On most packs, the camera should be perpendicular to the pack and then inclined about 5 to 10 degrees from perpendicular towards your head. When you’re standing up it’ll look like you’re taking pictures of the ground. However, when you’re riding downhill and it’s steep and the person you’re filming is behind you, then the angle will be perfect. Resist the inclination to tilt the camera forward. As always ask the person riding behind you to check camera angle.
• This works best if you have straps on your pack that allow you to cinch the chest mount down tight. It also works well if you're a big guy as you'll be able to get the reverse chest mount suitably tight.
Chest-mount on a pack filming backwards
Here's a video that shows a properly setup forward and reverse chest-mount
How to make the head strap mount into a chest mount
Because I'm a cheapskate, and because I like monkeying around with tape and webbing, I took the GoPro headband elastic mount (which I've never used
) and made it into a chest mount. Skip this part if you'd prefer to pay the $ 39.99 for the chest mount or if you don't appreciate ghetto engineering.
• I cut the elastic piece which goes around your head when you're wearing this contraption as a headband mount into two. I then joined the pieces together with fastex buckles that you can buy from any outdoor store (buckles cost me $ 0.75
). This will now go around your chest. Trust me - you'll be able to put this on and take it off a lot easier if you go through this step.
• You now need something to go over your shoulders. I took off the elasticized one-piece webbing that would normally go over your head. I then bought a ring from that same outdoor store ($ 0.25
) and some webbing (about a meter length did the trick, $ 1.30 - I bought the good stuff
), then I taped the webbing together into a shoulder harness. It doesn't need to be super-nice as it's not taking a load (the elasticized chest strap should take most of the load). It just needs to work. Pictures below will show more details of this bastardized creation and how the two pieces of webbing are attached to the rear.
Here is the finished chest mount once the headband mount is converted. The GoPro headband elastic mount was cut in half and joined with buckles. Note that I've mounted the GoPro upside down so its the right angle
Here is the homebrew chestmount from the rear. It looks like the kind of braces your grand-dad might wear. The buckle on the lowest strap ($ 0.25) lets you tighten the two shoulder straps. The ring just splits the shoulder straps so that you can put one strap around each shoulder.
If you want to treat yourself to the real meal deal buy the GoPro HD Helmet Hero HD via the Pinkbike store