How many times have you been out bashing or turning laps at the track when you’ve wished you were getting your action on camera, either for recording your laps or sharing the fun of the hobby with others, but you’re flying solo for the day? I’ve had that happen to myself a time or two, so I’ve come up with a few easy ways to self-shoot your own R/C action.
Tripod-mounted – This is probably the easiest way to shoot your R/C vehicle by yourself, but you’ll run into some limitations to the types of shots you’ll be able to achieve. If you can drive with one hand and pan your camera’s view with they other…and not crash, you’re pretty amazing. If you’re like me however, you may end up rolled over or slammed into a tree. Self-shooting from a tripod works best if you set up a nice, wide shot and focus on keeping your driving action in the camera’s line of vision. It won’t be as good as having someone else there to run the camera, but it’s a good place to start. Plus, you can get a decent tripod with a full, fluid range of motion for not a lot of money.
Radio-mounted Camera Rig – Taking the tripod to the next level, you could mount a camera to your radio and capture footage of your driving action that way. While this may sound odd, I set up my own version of this rig late last summer and was able to get a first-hand look and felt at how it worked. Using a Joby GorillaPod and a little clever ingenuity, I set up a system that not only let me shoot footage while driving, but I could also drive my Slash through the viewfinder on the camera
In a pinch, this setup will work. That said, it proved to be a bit tricky to drive, keep my eye on the car, and still end up with decent footage. You’ll need to take a few practice runs with the setup in place to get the feel for viewfinder-driving.
Head/Chest/Torso Mounted Camera - If you’d rather wear your camera on your body, there are plenty of off-the-shelf solutions that will help you do just that. In fact, cameras like the ActionShot and GoPro have seemingly endless kits and add-ons that will let you mount a camera to your head, torso, arms, wherever you’d like to shoot from. Again, you’ll need to be mindful of where you’re R/C vehicle is, related to where you’re shooting. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget you’re wearing a camera and can quickly turn a great action scene into a still shot of blue sky, the ground beneath your feet, or onlookers.
On-board, POV camera – While the options above let you capture your bashing or racing action from afar, getting up-close and personal to your R/C vehicle is another great way to share the excitement of the hobby. I’ve been experimenting with camera placement, mounting techniques, and a few different cameras myself and have found some interesting angles and techniques that work quite well, without needing to make drastic changes to your chassis or body, and they don’t involve building a mounting rig. Sometimes, a cylindrical camera and a few strips of electrical tape are all you’ll need to mount your camera and capture some amazing footage.
Of course, we like to tinker with our toys and building a mounting rig (or two) is yet-another way to get unique camera angles and shot composition without having to hold a camera yourself. And you don’t need to work on a complex contraption to mount a camera to your vehicle. As mentioned earlier, ActionShot and GoPro offer a wide array of mounting brackets and systems for almost any setup you could dream of.
Have any other trick setups for self-shooting your R/C vehicle?