Asphalt & Rubber was recently up on Pikes Peak to watch the 89th Annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and one of the things we notice there was the proliferation for digital video cameras on the race vehicles. Part of it had to do with the mountain’s fastest man, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima being sponsored by GoPro HD cameras, but the reality is that affordable high quality consumer video recorders are readily available and come in pint-sized packages. The Contour HD GPS cameras, which shot the great on-board video of the two MotoCzysz motorcycles that we brought to you yesterday, are smaller than your fist, while the GoPro units are even smaller.

With these tools, videographers are getting some great footage from places we never thought possible, and in ways we’ve never seen before. So when we saw footage of the RotoR system, a helmet-mounted, counter-balanaced, camera mount for GoPro cameras, we knew that the bar on how motorcycle videos got shot was just raised significantly higher. Creating what appears to be an exceptionally light rig, we’re still not entirely sure how RotoR achieves its sweeping shots, but the “right over your shoulder” perspective looks fantastic in the skiing and motocross videos that are waiting for you after the jump.

The videos are a bit surreal, and now all we have to do is wait for someone to mount this camera system to the top of a sport bike helmet while having some fun in the canyons. More videos after the jump.

  • irksome

    “Motorcross”? Really? You sound like my Dad in 1973.

  • Ugh

    uhhh, you tell us about an amazing product, yet no link to where to buy or more info? Does anyone know where to get one of these?

  • PD

    Wow, these are fantastic!

    Don’t know how cumbersome they are (though, at first glance, they don’t look to be bad at all), but, if they indeed are negligibly restrictive, the possibilities for amazing videos are truly exciting.

    What’s really impressive is how secure (rigid) the connection to the helmet seems to be – any flex between the camera and the helmet is virtually undetectable. You would expect a mounted “stalk” that is designed to be light enough to be unobtrusive to have some flex (bobbing motion relative to the helmet), but there is essentially none of that. Very impressive.

    Initially, it actually appears that the riders’/skier’s head movements may be somewhat impeded/limited by the existence of the mount/camera, but, upon reflection, that could easily be just due to the simple fact that the camera’s movement rigidly follows the head movement, i.e., independent head movement is undetectable, as any such movement directly results, due to the rigidity of the mount, a corresponding movement in the camera. You can see the body move around below, which obviously indicates that the head/body interface is behaving rather naturally; yet, due to the unusual nature of the POV, this doesn’t appear very natural. Again, it sort of gives the impression – falsely, I think – of unnatural (hindered – sort of like a person walking with a book balanced on top of her head) motion, but that may just be due to the “new” POV, particularly due the rigidity of connection between the helmet and the camera.

    Anyhow, again, impressive.

  • Ugh, if I knew where to buy one, we’d already have a sportbike video made.


    Please put me on the list, because I would like to buy one as well.

  • Thats F&%king awesome put me on the list I want one… thanks for sharing

  • sp33dwagon

    fishing pole with a gopro on the end. im on this…

  • GeddyT

    My impression is very different from yours when it comes to these “high quality” consumer video cameras. I have friends with GoPros, and I own a Contour 1080p. I was really excited about the Contour when I bought it, and therefore deluded myself for quite a while that it was actually a decent camera. Eventually I just had to accept reality.

    I ride offroad, and grew increasingly disappointed in the quality of the footage the camera was producing. The shaking was horrible, even with the camera mounted to my head. Suspecting that the problem was slop in the mount, I even went so far as to buy an excellent machined aluminum helmet mount from Xtreme Vu, but this only barely helped.

    After hours of research into the technical side of things, the problem with these POV cameras became plain as day:
    1.) Rolling shutter. Look into it. ALL POV camcorders (and nearly every digital camera and camcorder nowadays) have ditched CCD sensors for CMOS sensors with rolling shutters. Rolling shutters create awful distortions in any clip with lots of motion. PERFECT choice for an “action” camera, right?…

    2.) Low bitrate encoding. I get that they want the videos to fit on smaller, more affordable cards, but it’s exactly in fast motion scenes where low bitrate encoding falls flat on its face. Muddy video, macroblocking, pixelation, whatever you want to call it, is all you’re going to see. I fail to see the point in recording a video at 1920×1080 resolution when the results are so muddy and lacking in detail every time there’s motion in the scene that it looks no better than SD video anyway. (When the camera is held still, the detail looks decent.)

    3.) No B frames. These cameras encode with just I and P frames, which are less efficient than B frames. So, although it allows for a cheaper processor to handle the encoding, it also leaves less room at a given bitrate for image quality.

    4.) .MOV container. Ugh.

    Technical issues aside, it was also unfortunate that the camera didn’t even last a year before it went dead and wouldn’t turn on anymore…

    Maybe this isn’t the forum for this whining about this issue, but perhaps the POV crowd is reading. I’m far more concerned with being able to buy a decent POV camera than being able to buy novel and interesting mounts for current cameras that suck. If GoPro or Contour read this blog:

    Global shutter. At LEAST 24Mbps. B frames. .MTS or .MP4 container. Choice of focal length (maybe replaceable lenses?). Canon currently sells a camcorder out of Costco, the M301, that’ll do all of this except global shutter (although I find my VIXIA’s rolling shutter is WAY less intrusive than the Contour’s), has a ton more features than any POV camera–including touch LCD, easy photo mode, and manual controls and adjustments. It’s hardly bigger or heavier than a Contour and costs only $350. The video it produces DESTROYS anything any POV camera can produce. Ruggedize it and I’d buy one.

    Then I’d look for cool helmet mounts!…

  • Joe

    I almost yacked in the first couple of minutes.

  • Westward

    Is It me, or did I see essentially a bar of a couple of feet in length attached to a mount on the helmet… Is that even safe in case of an accident…?

    @ GeddyT

    Do you ahve any links to an example of the video quality you are referring too? I am looking into both the GoPro and the Contour, and have not really come to a conclusion which is better, or if at all…

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  • GeddyT

    Westward, got an email address? I don’t want to bitch too much about a company’s cameras on a totally unrelated blog TOO much! I can fill you in in more detail off this board if you’d like.

    Short version, though, is that I haven’t fought this battle in a long time, so don’t have any example clips off the top of my head. You’ll do just as well searching as I can. Just search for “GoPro rolling shutter” or “Contour rolling shutter” or substitute “rolling shutter” with “shaky” or “blurry” in Google. You’ll see what you need to see.

    My impression that GoPro has slightly better image quality is purely my observation from looking at clips online. And by slightly, I mean SLIGHTLY. They both suffer from the same issues mentioned above. I think the form factor of the Contour blows GoPro’s out of the water. GoPro cameras just look silly when mounted on a helmet, whereas Contour cameras are very sleek and “tactical.” I didn’t like that there is no LCD on the Contour to set the camera up with (I don’t think the lasers were aligned that well), but sounds like they’ve fixed that with the Contour+. In fact, I’d buy the Contour+ in a heartbeat (even at the high asking price) if they upped the bitrate to 24Mbps at High/4.1 level/profile (B frames). This would require completely new internals, though.