Everyone knows POV shots are super cool. But what everyone (probably) doesn’t know is how to capture such immersive, stylish footage. Ever wrapped your arms around an actor, while holding your camera, while riding a bike, all in an attempt to pull off an authentic POV shot? Yeah, no one wants that. Instead, become your own lean, mean, one-person POV-shooting machine – build a POV helmet rig!
There’s nothing to it – just tape your camera to a bike helmet, and voila! Okay, maybe it’s not that simple, but thanks to Vlad Jakovlev (with some inspiration from Enrique Rodriguez Bencomo), we’ve got a quick, frugal method for building a sturdy, rockin’ rig. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Motorcycle helmet (everyone has one laying around somewhere!)
- Screws, bolts, nuts, and washers
- A drill & wrench
- Tripod head, baseplate
- Monitor mount
- Common Sense, as with anything head related, please be careful with using your gear in this manner
Vlad’s video does a great job of laying out the steps in a clear, efficient manner, but let’s do a brief, written recap:
1). Remove whatever visor your helmet may have.
2). Drill a hole in the bottom front and the center back of your helmet.
3). Insert screws through the holes, pointing outward.
4). After securing the screw on back with a washer and nut, put a couple of small counterweights on the screw. Secure those from the outside with a washer and clamp.
5). Attach a tripod head to the front screw, secure with washers and nuts.
6). Drill a hole in the top center, and screw in a monitor mount. Be sure to drill the hole at whatever point will allow for optimal monitor placement. Once you’re set, attach your monitor (upside down).
7). Attach a baseplate to your camera, and insert it into your tripod head (upside down).
8). For an extra secure rig, run the camera neck strap tautly around the back of the helmet (use the weights to hold it in place).
9). Admire your wonderful creation.
Once you've double-checked that everything's securely in place, it's time to see what this thing can do! Here are a few important points to keep in mind:
- Weight: The amount of counterweight you’ll need in back depends on the weight up front. With a heavier DSLR like a 5D, you’ll need more counterweight than if you’re using a lighter DSLR, like a Rebel.
- Lens choice: You'll want a wide lens for capturing dynamic, full compositions that resemble the human field of view. Vlad used a 16-35mm lens for his rig. Moreover, a wider lens will keep your shots smoother and more stable. A short focal length will also keep more of your shot in focus — saving you the trouble of constant, manual focus adjustments. And when considering lens length, don't forget about crop factor!
- The world at your fingertips: Should you choose to include them in the frame, your arms, hands, and fingers will become significant visual elements of the shot. Act accordingly, and vary their distance from the camera until you find that sweet spot.
Once you've chosen a lens and evenly balanced your rig, it's time to turn your vision into a reality (literally!). If you're looking for some adrenaline-fueled, creative inspiration, be sure to check out the exhilarating results of Vlad's rig in his city-spanning, day-in-the-life POV film "24 in London":
[clip:48433749] And the atmospheric, long-take POV film "Woken Up" (watch this one with the lights off):
As these videos demonstrate, you can apply this distinct shooting style to entirely different genres of filmmaking. Furthermore, this rig equips you with the means to reproduce the natural, human frame of reference, which is equivalent to a focal length of about 47mm. With this compact, easy-to-wear beast as part of your filmmaking arsenal, you can become the active cameraman you were born to be — all the while injecting a fresh dose of visual style into your latest work. Fasten your camera strap, keeps arms and hands inside the frame at all times, and enjoy the point-of-view! Wearing a helmet just got cool again.