My new Camera Rig for shooting from a Jet Ski

Saturday, January 03, 2009 / Posted by Rambo /

This is what i’m using to shoot Karel Jr with from the Jet Ski. Purpose built for shooting Hi Def from a Jet Ski, with 7” external framing monitor, remote control zoom/record with TOSLINK fibre optic extender,1080i Hi Def Cam 2hr recording to SD Card, 4 hrs external battery pack. Comes with waterproof covers for the cam, monitor and remote.

Don’t be fooled by the little cam, it’s basically just a big Hi Def Bullet Cam, no moving parts and an awesome optical stabilization system.

A 12v battery in the bum bag runs the big monitor and the Cam. It has an 8.4v regulator in line to the HF100 and full 12v to the monitor.

The base of wheel has a 3/8 adapter to take a Gyro Stabilizer, but at $2500 …… well have to sell some DVD’s first. But i hired one and it’s awesome. It spins at 20,000rpm and trying to turn the wheel is like fighting a Formula 1 car around a corner, but dead steady footage even when the jet-ski bounces.

The monitor is already splash proof, the cam has a clear WP bag with glass port and the remote has just a clear bag (Not shown). It’s not for IN water only ON water. The cam bag had to have a breather as it generates heat, but that’s no problem. It’s definitely more versatile than a shoulder mount and more stable.

On mild days when there's little chance of getting the Cam wet, i just put a ziploc bag over the Cam with a hole for the lens and a small breather hole cut in the top of the bag. There is a UV filter for protection and a rubber band keeps the bag in place around the filter. Other times i put the Cam into a housing i adapted from an Everready 6v waterproof torch and mount that to the tripod head with the quick connect tripod mount.

The cam is secured inside the housing by foam inserts.The Canon HF 100 fit's perfectly into the area where the battery was and i have replaced the original torch lens with a low iron glass. Cables are routed thru a small rubber port in the torch housing to connect the extn monitor, extn power and fibre optic remote cable.

That is about prototype 10, i keep changing it all the time. I have clip on mounts for duel lights, external shotgun mike and a laser pointer and the best thing is, all the cam controls are available with both hands on the wheel and that is important for steady footage.

I suppose i should explain the Laser pointer. It helps train your coordination to keep a steady position even when bouncing around on the back of a Jet Ski. You aim it at say a white area on the hull of a canoe and try and maintain the spot in the monitor, especially when zoomed in. It also allows you to take your eyes off the monitor for a while, knowing that if you hold the spot, you have the framing you set up.

How it's made
The wheel is made from flexible 25mm poly pressure pipe and joined at the bottom with a copper "T" piece and riveted together. The Tripod head fits over the single end of the "T" and is also riveted in place.( The Slik tripod head still works as normal and the whole wheel will attach to a tripod just by screwing it on to the normal tripod screw mount via an adapter thread on the bottom of the wheel)

A car steering wheel cover is then stretched over the pipe for looks and to hide all the cables. The monitor clamp is adapted from a bike handle bar mount that comes with a GoPro Camera kit i had. Car DVD Monitor mounts will also work.

As i only use the Monitor for framing not focusing (i only use auto focus), the Sony DVD Car Accessory monitor is sufficient for my needs. Actually, its very good resolution and has good brightness controls. It's connected via av (composite) and works in playback or record mode.

I use the remote control to steer the Jet Ski while facing rearwards. .... Only kidding. I engage a driver and i sit facing the rear and shoot both sides and rear. Also turn around and stand and shoot over the drivers head. The wheel gives great stability control and you can access the remote with both hands on the wheel. You can see some footage here.

That was my first time using the wheel, I have got better since and when i use the Gyro, it's steady as a rock. Requires good team work and communication between the Jet Ski driver and the Cam operator ..(me)

Ok, here are the pictures of version 12 ..whew. Will i ever leave this thing alone.

The HF100 is fully "dunk" proof now and the case looks less like a torch housing with the handle removed and painted. For on land shots, i just remove the glass screw on front and replace it with one with no glass.

The Button on top is a waterproof cable gland adapted to work as a power button to turn the Camera on and off. so now most all the controls are available from out side the case.

There is a tripod quick release mount fixed to the base of the housing for easy removal.

Cheers Rambo

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Comment by Randy on January 04, 2009

wow that is sooo fucking cool.i like the gyro scopes,
kinda lost me on the lazer pointer
did you use this to make the cannioning video that you posted on the video blog list?
where did you get that water proof bag?
i gots to konw

randy mann
dont know if thats right

Comment by Milt Lee on January 07, 2009

Very Nice! The footage really did look great. I would like to see the footage on a big screen to see how it holds up. I need to see what camera you are using, and if it has external mic inputs. It's really looking good. B&H rated one of the canons at the best flash camcorder of the year. I need to check and see if this is that.

Comment by Rambo on January 07, 2009

Hi Milt, thanks for the comments on the video.

Yes the cam was the Canon HF100 and it does have external mike connections via 3.5mm socket and level controls while recording.

Hf100, Hf10, Hf11pretty much all the same performance wise. The Hf11 has a slightly higher bit rate, but most cannot tell the difference in the pic.

On my Hi Def big screen TV the picture via HDMI is awesome, the cam seems to run its best in Easy mode (auto every thing) and that makes my job easier on the jet ski. No time for focus or mode changes.

Thanks again.

Cheers Rambo

Comment by clarkie on February 11, 2009

I need a partner for the Kaua'i World Challenge so can someone please hire Rambo so he can make some money and join me for the race!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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