vc012: BandanaCam POV Tree Climb

#12 of the #100videoclips project. Testing the BandanaCam (from vc011) on a tree-climbing expedition.

What I Did

I strapped the BandanaCam to my head and climbed up a tree. I like to climb trees, and I have a rope set up on a tree in our yard for exercise.

I also had my regular camera (a Panasonic GH2) set off to the side to record the first and last part of the expedition.

What you see above is actually my third attempt — and given the “hair debacle,” I should have done it another time, but I was getting tired!

Tree Climb #1

I just tucked my phone into the cuff of a knit hat and tied a bandana around it to secure it.

That setup worked, but it filmed vertically rather than horizontally. One is not inherently superior to the other, but since the current world of video is set up for horizontal videos, I gave it another go.

Tree Climb #2

This was using BandanaCam 2.0 (my latest version) to allow for a horizontal image.

This worked remarkably well, given the quick hack of a sock and scissors (full instructions here). However, “POV” filming is trickier than it looks.

Of course, a camera strapped to your forehead “sees” everything you look at.  When one is climbing a tree, what you mostly look at are the branches that you need to grab to allow you to climb higher and avoid falling to an early demise.

This results in a lot of footage that is jerky (“here’s a branch, here’s another branch, here’s another branch…) and not that interesting. It certainly does not give a good sense of the wonder of being up a tree, or the beautiful view and all the rest.

So, another climb it was.

Tree Climb #3

This last time, my goal was to look up at the tree, look around at the surrounding country, look down to the ground below, to give a better taste of what it’s like to climb a tree, for those who don’t do it regularly or who haven’t done it since grade school.

What I found was that it’s rather difficult. As you will see in the video above, you still have to do a fair amount of looking closely at the branches. Climbing is a bit of a tricky business, and this is no ladder with sturdy, regular rungs.  I tried to look as little as possible, but was only moderately successful. At the very least, I tried to look at interesting views in between the necessary searches for the next secure handhold.

What I Learned: POV (Point of View) Tips

  • Just because you have a camera strapped to your head, and you are seeing interesting and beautiful things, your footage may not be as interesting and beautiful as you imagined.
  • When POV filming, you should take time to gaze longer and steadier than might be normal at the sights you think are most worth seeing. If you compare your head to a camera on a tripod, panning slowly left and right  or tilting slowly up and down, your head is much snappier and jerkier, even though our eyes don’t notice it because we are used to it.
  • “Near the eyes” are not the same as “the eyes” (unless exactly in line like Google Goggles), so the angle and perspective might be off just enough to miss the key scenes your are trying to record. Of course, a very wide angle with a very wide and open scene (the classic GoPro on a helmet cam skiing down a gorgeous mountainside) makes it harder to go wrong. In my case, a few narrow views through verdant foliage were not as well aligned as I would have liked.