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Tip: How To Set The Angle Of Your Onboard Camera

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We were doing a little maintenance on one of our Garmin Virb cases today (replacing the lens on the case due to rock damage), and we figured it'd be a good time to offer some how-to tips on how we set them up for use on our One Lap videos.

Phil Nicoletti with the camera mounted up before press day at Unadilla.

During the National season, we mount a camera on a different helmet every press day. With only two 20-minute sessions, and a 20-minute break between them, there's very little opportunity to check out whether the angle is correct. We also know that there's also nothing as frustrating as trying to watch a video where the camera is aimed too low and you're craning your neck trying to see under the top edge of the video window.

So how do we quickly and easily set the angle? First off, no, we don't try and get the visor in the camera view, or use it as a reference point. For our purposes, we hold the helmet at the angle that we think it'll be worn, and determine an approximate line of sight for the rider. From there, we kick it back about 15 degrees. (Check the illustration below).

You can see how the camera is tilted back to look above the rider's line of sight.

After it's set up and we bring the helmet back to the rider's pit area, the first thing we hear we often hear is that it looks like it's aimed too high. We tell them we hate trying to see under the top edge of the finished video.

One other item we often use is a Schier Clamp ($19.95), which is an eccentric clamp system (similar to a seatpost quick-release on a bike). It makes for a fast and tool-free way to make quick angle adjustments. As you can see below, they dialed us in with a custom laser-etched version for our mount. You can check them out at http://www.schierconcepts.com/


Here's a peek at the Schier clamp. Depending on the weekend, and the contour of the helmet shell the rider is using, we do also occasionally use the stock Garmin mounts. Some shells (like Bell's Moto 9), have a nearly flat spot to mount the camera, while Fly and Airoh shells have a peaked ridge that requires a strip to be cut out of the center of the adhesive. That allows it to get enough grip on each side for the mount.

These work great with GoPro mounts where you can punch the nut out. Then there's a simple knurled thumb screw that's used to adjust the tension, and the clamp fits flush across the front of the mount.

You can check out a few examples from our One Lap videos below, to see how the angles have worked out.



They're also set up with a wide view, and we shoot 1080p at 60 frames per second, in case we want to slow down something in particular later on. Picking a fixed (rather than auto) white balance setting is also a good choice. The auto setting wanders around, making for some odd-looking clips.

This gives you a pretty good view of Ryan Sipes' line of sight, and how the camera is aimed in relation to it.

Hopefully, these tips help you more quickly and easily set up your cameras, and grab some great riding footage.