GoPro car rig

We just finished a project (Anne på väg, SVT) where we shot interviews with multiple GoPro camera inside a car. I was asked to setup the solution for this and one of the things we wanted was to be able to monitor the cameras from a follow car to make sure the cameras were rolling, composition etc.
The rig is pretty simple. (After all the HDMI mess) we hook up each GoPro to continues power to bypass the battery problem. A micro HDMI is also attached to each camera and all the cables are run to the back of the trunk. Here we installed the control plate with the HDMI-SDI converters and our quad split. The signal from the quad so then transmit to the follow car for monitoring.

First we have the control panel.

Contol panel
Contol panel

1 Convergent Design Odyssey 7q which acts as our monitor and quad split.  We could easily switch between full frame (for composition) and the quad. Then we have 3 Aja HMDI-SDI converters which converts the GoPro signal to SDI for the quad.  The 4th camera in the car was wild and unmonitored. Everything in the back is DC powered by V-lock batteries.  We left the OSD (On Screen Display) on in the GoPros so to see that the REC was on. The quad signal from the Odyssey 7Q was sent to a Pix240 which recorded a proxy with timecode for logging purpose and the signal was looped on to the link.

The trick here was to sync the GoPros for the edit.  For budget reasons external recorder with locked TC was opted out which would have been the easy choice. Instead we had our Master Timecode in the Sound Bag, which was a TIMECODY BUDDY, feed an iPad with synced code.  This code visually slated each go pro to easy sync in post.  (Actually every goPro clip was later transcoded into a new clip with correct/soundmatched timecode and DNxHD.) Very easy way to establish correct Timecode to non-timecode cameras.

CarRig4

 

Timecode buddy
Timecode buddy
Timecode Buddy
Timecode Buddy

For the link to the follow car we chose the Bolt2000 from Teradek. We put the antennas externally on the car with helped with range. This is a line of sight system which looses the connection if you drive around the corner of a street. It will reconnect however one yore back in line of sight.  The system has one problem though.  If power is lost the units they don’t reconnect, it seems, without a reboot.   This needs to be addressed in future firmwares!   The system worked ok. It had some drops but recovered once back in range. It was really only a backup system for us to be able check that the cameras were rolling during the 20-30 min takes.  Audio was easily monitored via a wireless boosting a 1w transmitter, with great quality and reliability.

All in all this was a very successful setup. The wireless link had it’s dropout, mostly due to to travelling at speed in a car, but the rest of the system was rock solid! During 18 days, and countless hours of footage, we did NOT  loose 1 clip due to a GoPro shut down. The new firmware in the GoPro with options to the flat picture profile was great.

Bolt2000 receiver in follow car
Bolt2000 receiver in follow car
CarRig3
Teradek Bolt 2000 transmitter in the hero car
CarRig2
monitor setup in follow car
CarRig6
antenna on the back of the hero car.

 

Running everything on DC, including some lights is a bit of a charging mess at night though.   I think we had something like 14 V-lock batteriers in use. 😉

CarRig11

 

 

HDMI mess part 2

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So this finally got a solution. After a looooot of trial and error, ordering new/different HDMI-SDI converters, quad splits etc etc, AJA was the solution.
I am trying to monitor 3 GoPro cameras to make sure they are recording inside the main vehicle as we are riding in the follow car. My thought was simple enough, run the GoPro signal with on-screen display (OSD) into an HDMI-SDI converter, connect to Quad split and transmit signal to follow car. In reality is proved not so easy.
The Atomos Connect didn’t work at all, would not convert 1080/25p to SDI.
The BMD battery converter converted the signal to SDI but somehow corrupted it. It showed up fine on Sony OLED monitor but would NOT monitor on Marshall 5 inch or our Odyssey 7q (our quad solution)
Ordered the Decimator Quad split box. Is converted the signal in 4:3 and only put out a SD/SDI and I needed to have and HD out.
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So it was as easy as AJA. It converted the HDMI to SDI and showed on the Sony and the quad mode in the Odyssey 7q.
The reason I tried Atomos and Black Magic Design first was that they had a built in battery, which the AJA does not.
Also I need to give lots of credit to Scandinavian Photo I Malmo which has has been so helpful in ordering gear and helping out.

Here is first try on a finished rig. Missing some wiring and stuff but I now see the light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂
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