POV Head Cam

We received an interesting brief for a 30 second online advert entirely from first person perspective. This led to some investigation into the best way to setup the camera to achieve the result we needed.

It was important that we framed the arms for action, whilst making the viewer assume everything they see is from the actors perspective.

The first test was using a GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition. The benefits: it was small, light and built to be mounted to the body. Also we could monitor the footage on an iPad using the cameras built in wifi. The cons: the GoPro isn’t good in low level light and becomes extremely noisy. It also has a lot of lens distortion, so doesn’t look and feel natural to how a human eye would see. The lens is soft in comparison to the high quality primes we usually shoot with. So we recorded a test in 4K which we could then crop down if needed. Here’s a still frame from the test.

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Part of the brief had a scene where the protagonist had to run down a dark path at night, so we really needed a camera that could cope with the low light and still look good. We turned to the Sony A7S mk2 which is renowned to handle these conditions.

Researching the internet on how other people approached mounting a camera for POV shoots brought up some interesting results. Some used complicated custom built rigs, others used a lot of gaffer tape. We knew that ours needed to be worn for two consecutive days so had to be light. It also had to be strong enough to mount a camera and lens in front of it without bending or breaking. There also needed to be counter balance and a wireless HDMI transmitter attached to it. Online we found a Petzl climbing helmet that had an adjustable nape and chin strap which made it firm for the wearer. It also had gaps where you could clip add-ons. The gaps were perfect for cable tying a weight and USB battery to the back. On the side we mounted the HDMI transmitter which drew power from the USB battery. The camera was attached with a small magic arm that went through a hole we drilled into the front.

The final camera setup was a Sony A7S mk2, with a Canon 24mm pancake prime lens. Everything was shot in XAVC 4K and cropped down in the edit for a 1080 final output. We mounted a Rode video micro mic to the camera to pick up close sound. A second shotgun mic was also used onset by our sound recordist.

For monitoring we built a small rig from a tripod which had another USB battery, a Nyrius Aries prime HDMI receiver and our Atomos Ninja 2. We could use this anywhere just out of shot and still direct our camera operator.