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I’ve been working with a great athlete lately Zach DiPaolo.  He flies through the air on motorbikes (a skill I can’t possibly fathom to develop). To do this I needed some specialty gear. This week, Director of Photography Jim Ball and I set out to really capture Zach in as many ways as possible.

I turned to LensRentals.com to supplement my grip kit.  After all, how many times have I needed to capture a motorcycle 100 feet above ground before?

We want to really put people on the bike with Zach and let them feel the experience of riding. This meant mounting the cameras in some traditional (and several nontraditional) places. Let me walk you through some of the choices we made.

GoPro Body Mounts

Two of the more standards mounts we used were a chest and a head mount.  Each of these really gives you a first person point of view.  With the chest mount, the world seems to rotate around the rider.

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Make sure the mount is snug and place the camera over the sternum for maximum stability.

Putting the camera on the rider let’s you see through his eyes.  Due to the GoPro’s wide-angle style, the chest mount actually seems to give the best point of view shots.

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Yes… his feet sometimes go in front of the handlebars.

Attaching the Camera to the Bike

While attaching the camera to the bike first seemed east, it proved far harder than we thought.  As the bike goes through the air, it slams down hard.  I can’t imagine how the rider feels, but we managed to break several mounts.  The standard GoPro plastic mounts, dead on impact.  The GoPro roll bar and handlebar mounts, would turn with vibrations and movement.  Mind you these mounts work great for most other shoots, but with this much metal and impact, things just kept shaking loose.

Enter the Manfrotto Superclamp.  Finally a piece of gear that lives up to the Marketing Department’s name.
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gripsuper

The Super Clamp can hold just about anything.  It can be attached to any tube type surface from 0.5″ to 2.1″ diameter.   It also has a wedge with it for flat surfaces.  The built-in socket let us use grip studs that the GoPro could be attached to.  This thing rocked (in fact I ordered two for the shoot).

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The key is to get a tight mount that won’t shake loose.

To tighten things down, I recently picked up a new wrench specifically for GoPros. The Fotodiox GT-Shark GoTough SharkBite Metal Wrench. And yes, the one end is for opening bottles after the shoot.

gpwrench

This mount was tough and held up for every shot.  I can’t recommend it enough.

Go Low

We took the GoPro wrist mount (actually two of them to make the strap bigger) and rigged it as a boot camera.  Initially the orientation of the camera was wrong (vertical video), but with a little creativity we figured out how to rotate the body 90˚.

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While usually worn on the wrist, this housing was solid and rugged. Our biggest problem was keeping mud off the lens.

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I really liked seeing the body of the bike as it raced around the course.

Going Aerial

Want to get an idea of how high a professional motocross rider flies?  Then try putting the camera in the air next to him or overhead.  This worked really well to get a sense of perspective.  We flew two helicopters over our subject, one with a GoPro and one with the native DJI vision.  These devices are fun to use and quite easy to learn.

A view from above thanks to a DJI Quadcopter.

A view from above thanks to a DJI Quadcopter.

The Results

We’re still working on the final video project.  But I asked editor and aerial copter operator Francis Torres to put together a few clips to show you are fun day.  I hope this inspires you to try new shots and put cameras in unusual places.  A big thanks to LensRentals.com for beefing up our kit and letting us make some great shots.

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

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Cinematography, Gear, Gear, Photography, Reviews, Reviews, Shooting, Shooting, Sports

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