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How do you take a good video of the road from inside your old car?


pmhowe
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I have seen some very nice videos on this site of the views from inside the car as it is traveling down the road. I have enjoyed them immensely, and would like to try the same with my old car.  I have some questions:

 

What kind of camera has given you success?

Is it silly to try and use a smartphone?

My car has a six volt system. It is really, really short on USB outlets. I think most dash cams require a power supply. How do you work that?

Please provide any other advice (to include; “Oh, no! Not another amateur car video!” if that is appropriate).

 

Thanks in advance for the help.

 

Phil

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You can get very good video from most cell phone cameras--I used one for a while before we got the GoPro, which is superior. The most important thing is the mount--don't try to do it while you're holding the camera in one hand. Get a decent suction cup mount that holds your phone/camera securely and you can get all kinds of great shots. The GoPro is amazing but if you're just playing around it may not be worth the investment. Both your phone and the GoPro have hours of battery life so having an on-board charger isn't necessary.

 

Hope this helps!

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Not silly to use a smartphone and several good body and head harness available for action wear.

For a good driving view and next to no money spent, feed the adjust strap of a baseball cap through a couple good rubber bands. wear the cap brim to the back and the bands to hold your phone tight to your forehead. 

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For several years now I’ve been recording many of my (vintage) “Sunday” drives, especially when on some interesting, scenic roads, etc., and usually have the equipment with me/us on long distance trips also, so I can hook it up if/when encountering cool/interesting roads going through some scenic areas.

 

I also record some of my test drives with clients cars.

For example, last couple of weekends I’ve been doing some comparison testing by recording noise levels inside the cabin while driving at various speeds, in different gears/ and RPMs, etc (although somewhat  “scientifically” by each time driving same routes, in same gears & at same speeds, etc) on couple of vintage Ferraris after designing and fabricating 2 different exhaust systems for one of them on clients request (the other one was used just to document what dB levels on “stock” exhaust produce). 

Included in these footages are two active decibel meters (one analog and weighed, one online app in my iPad), both located ( and visible) between the dash and the camera on special stand I made for these occasions and easily movable from car to car

When I first got interested in this “onboard” video recording, I asked recommendations from couple of friends who had experience with them on motorcycles and one of them gave (lend me) couple of different GoPros to try first.

They (GoPros) had one major drawback for my liking, which was that they didn’t have options for external microphones, which especially in an open car is/was a must (for me) since I want to hear the cars (RPM related) engine or exhaust sound rather than bunch of wind buffing.

 

Eventually one friend gave me Sony HDR-AS300, which has plug-in microphone w/few feet of cord, allowing it to be placed either in the trunk (near exhaust pipe) or against/through firewall to capture engine sounds. I prefer exhaust notes as engine bay usually has too many different noises/sounds from various sources.

This camera also has a pretty good image stabilization and wide angle lens option, which gives about 140-150(?) degree wide view. 

Only drawbacks on it are lack of ability to view instant replay (footage must be downloaded to computer for viewing), somewhat limited battery charge life (I always keep fully charged spare with me) and at times a bit cumbersome to operate wireless remote control which occasionally seems to loose connection while in operation and can inadvertently(?) turn the camera off also.

 

For me, the best or choice mounting location is to have the camera lens in a location were a passenger eyes would be. For this, I’ve made some “permanent” brackets on some my own cars, while on others and clients cars I use a small tripod that I carefully strap on to or right behind the passenger seat with camera lens approximately in aforementioned position.


And pretty much all of my recorded drives are in cars with no modern doo-daads, like USB ports, etc and often  have 6 Volt electrical systems, so power for the equipment must be independent from the car.

 

Oh, and while this is purely subjective, I absolutely cannot watch any onboard driving footages with some musical “soundtrack” edited on it.

I want to hear the car, not someone’s amateur attempt to “sound engineering/track”.

 

P.S. I'm also interested in anything "better"(?) than this old Sony, although it too must have similar (yet "improved") features, i.e. small, independent power source (with longer lasting batteries ?), good image stabilization, wide angle view, external microphone(s), etc.

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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I tape a show for our local village TV station. "The Antique Road Test" at 4 Village Studio, Floral Park, NY. (4VS.org) Besides camera people they also use G0-Rros and with proper editing it comes out great. AACA member John S. is the Co-Host on the show , we have now about 20 we have done together and total is 25. Many are "in studio" . the last one we did was on Hershey ,Pa. annual fall meet! they are on the local tv channel but also on the internet.

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1.  I hope/assume you have no intention of videotaping as the driver... right? :)

2.  Obviously the cheat route... have the passenger do it with their cell phone.

3. If you want something more intermediate, there are a number of dash cam manufacturers.  Most were designed for use by uber/lift/truck drivers drivers trying to document any potential accidents both in and out of the car. Some people have them simply to protect themselves from lawsuits or tickets. Some of the Dash Cams are more robust and can video from the front, back, and inside, and even provide a backup screen for cars without.  Just search for "dash cam" or Google, Amazon, etc.

4. If you're looking for something higher quality then thats out of my area of knowledge.

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/electronics/3248689011

 

 

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I do use a Dash Cam.

Some of my 6-Volt cars have an inline power inverter, changing 6V negative, or 6V positive voltage to the current standard of 12V negative.With this setup, I can drive cross country using a DashCam, GPS, cellphone charger, tire/raft, basketball inflation device, radar detector, coffee warmer, and just about any other appliances.

 

An easy alternative is to use your 12V “Jumper Box”. It will likely last all week long powering a cellular phone or GoPro type device, but can easily be recharged, even in your motel room.

 

Life is easy with the right support.

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@Matt Harwood  has given you probably the best advise but I’ll toss in my $0.02.

 

USB power: I used to use a regulator to take the 6+v car electrical down to the 5v DC that USB uses. But I fried the regulator when the outside ground shield on a USB cable touched some metal in the car. For the last couple of years I have had a Custom Autosound PGPI-HC 6v positive to 12v negative inverter/converter hidden under my dash powered from the ignition switch. I can use that to charge a cellphone or run a dashcam via their standard 12v to USB converters.

 

View out the front: A dashcam is hard to beat. A long while back I was involved in a collision with someone who ran a red light. If very nearly came down to a “I said, they said” situation. After that I decided I wanted to have a reputable witness with me at all times and a dashcam can be that witness. I have put a second dashcam mount in my old car and simply move the dashcam between cars though I guess I should just get multiple dashcams. For a sample of what the through the windshield dashcam view can look like, see https://video.fitchfamily.org/videos/watch/b7185a0a-e150-40e5-97c8-d89e92866036

 

Having a passenger shoot the video: An older car on a rough surface can make things very bouncy. Some newer cellphones and cameras have fairly good image stabilization but having a stable mount is still a very good idea. I got a low cost cellphone stabilizer for other reasons but found it really useful when making this video: https://video.fitchfamily.org/videos/watch/ad1a2ac8-59ad-4d0c-b5d9-4822641b7aa6  

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Many thanks to each of you for your comments. I have learned a lot.

 

My first step is to order a phone holder with a suction cup base. It should arrive later this week. Since rain is predicted through the weekend, I probably won’t use it until next week. However, as soon as good weather and sunshine arrive, I’ll give it a try. If successful, I will post the result.

 

My next step will be to consider a dash cam of the sort ply33 used. That should meet my needs and also be very useful on long trips with my daily driver.

 

I really like TTR’s suggestion of a plug-in external microphone. I have watched numerous sports car videos (mostly British - Jags, Morgans, MGs, etc) where the wind noise was annoying and the superb sound of sports car exhausts was lost.

 

On my list to get is a 6V positive to 12V negative converter. Thanks, Marty and ply33, for the suggestion. I didn’t know they were available. However, that opens up lots of possibilities for my car.

 

It will be a week or so before I re-post with a video. Meantime, stay safe and keep driving.

 

Phil

Edited by pmhowe (see edit history)
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On 10/4/2021 at 10:21 AM, Marty Roth said:

I can drive cross country using a DashCam, GPS, cellphone charger, tire/raft, basketball inflation device, radar detector, coffee warmer, and just about any other appliances.

I can drive cross country (and have done so, more than once) without any of the aforementioned “appliances” or gizmos. 😳
Even with 6V vintage cars. 😉

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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10 hours ago, mike6024 said:

Here's a driving video. Notice anything strange about it?

I admittedly wasn’t able to watch it entirely and not sure if following things I noticed can be considered “strange”, but…

… the camera mounting/stability or lack there of is rather annoying/distracting.

… someone blabbering something (irrelevant to driving) on it is rather annoying/distracting.

… while the make/model of the vehicle driven doesn’t appear clear, it didn’t seem or sound anything old or interesting enough worth watching.

… I didn’t find the driven road/scenery interesting or worthy of watching.

 

OTOH, at least it hadn’t been dubbed with any (annoying) sound track music. 👍
Is that the “strange” you’re referring to ?

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1 hour ago, mike6024 said:

 

I will look for it! Glad your house is still standing with Gary Maynard driving past it.

 

It is the little white home next to the old farmhouse on the corner.

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Here’s a still image of the onboard view my previously mentioned small* Sony video recorder offers when mounted at approximate eye/head level & location on the passenger seat. 
Being a “still” captured from the video, the image appears somewhat less clear/sharp than the footage itself.

Image copyright © TTR

 

*3" x 2" x 1" (L x H x W)

 

FACD8FC5-9C00-4149-8F18-9F1319B10AEF.png

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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On 10/6/2021 at 2:45 PM, TTR said:

I can drive cross country (and have done so, more than once) without any of the aforementioned “appliances” or gizmos. 😳
Even with 6V vintage cars. 😉

 

I can too, and have done so many times,

but sometimes having dependable backup isn't a bad thing.

 

... a dash cam when somebody else does something stupid, like when we got broadsided on the interstate,

... reviving a dead cellphone in the middle of nowhere,

... having the ability to help the other guy,

 

I don't need these things, but appreciate the ability when they come in handy.

 

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36 minutes ago, Marty Roth said:

 

I can too, and have done so many times,

but sometimes having dependable backup isn't a bad thing.

 

... a dash cam when somebody else does something stupid, like when we got broadsided on the interstate,

... reviving a dead cellphone in the middle of nowhere,

... having the ability to help the other guy,

 

I don't need these things, but appreciate the ability when they come in handy.

 

I didn’t really think otherwise.  Just took an opportunity to joke about the brave new world where so many nowadays appear inept to get through their day, let alone life, without all these modern day digital gizmos.

On the other hand, I do appreciate the ability to video document test drives like in above post and I too occasionally utilize my iPad for route mapping, but still prefer old fashioned print maps, especially when traveling vintage.

As for helping other road users, I couldn’t even start counting the times I’ve done that over the decades and can appreciate your mindfulness to be prepared for such.

I do carry a small array of hand tools, extra fuel, jumper cables, fire extinguishers, duct tape, zip-ties, etc in all my cars and most have seen more use in fixing other peoples cars than my own.

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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I finally made my first video, which is attached. It shows some fall scenery on a road nearby. The eastern continental divide is within a mile from here, and the Blue Ridge Parkway is nearby, also. If you decide to watch it, turn off the volume, as it is nothing but wind noise and the sounds of a few bad shifts. The video is a bit disappointing, as there are many sunlight reflections off the windshield. I find them distracting. Also, I had hoped to mount the camera so that its long axis was horizontal, but my cheap mount wouldn’t allow it. The video flattens out the road a bit, as the camera tilts with the car’s axis rather than remaining vertical. The road is really quite steep in spots - it gave my car’s brakes a good workout.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNRNkNWjBGY

 

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That's another thing. Not just the orientation but the aspect ratio. You can choose the aspect ratio. What is the best to use? is it 16:9? Meaning 16 wide and 9 high?

 

A 16:9 ratio is typically seen as optimal because it is capable of the highest resolution. It is also easy to capture this aspect ratio on almost all devices. To determine which video aspect ratio is best for your content, consider its purpose and where you'll be broadcasting the video.

 

what is video aspect ratio

 

https://www.dacast.com/blog/video-aspect-ratio/

 

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I know it's more personal preference, but setting the camera/phone further back from the windshield (perhaps like in my "still" image above) would provide not only wider view of outside scenery, but would also show the dash and perhaps some instruments, i.e. speedometer = driven speed (?), etc. and give the viewer a sense like being a passenger in a specific (vintage) car, instead of something generic or unidentifiable.


Besides, how many of us drive or ride along with our eyes or face pressed against the windshield ? 😉

 

  

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12 minutes ago, TTR said:

I know it's more personal preference, but setting the camera/phone further back from the windshield (perhaps like in my "still" image above) would provide not only wider view of outside scenery, but would also show the dash and perhaps some instruments, i.e. speedometer = driven speed (?), etc. and give the viewer a sense like being a passenger in that car.
I mean how many of us drive or ride along with our face pressed against the windshield ? 😉

If you can pull this off (camera with wide enough dynamic range) then I agree. Unfortunately you might end up with either the view out the windshield blown or washed out or the interior too dark to see any details. I guess the answer, at least for us amateurs, is to try it and see how it looks. I would not be surprised if the pros add strategically located lights inside of the car to balance the inside and outside exposures.

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2 hours ago, ply33 said:

If you can pull this off (camera with wide enough dynamic range) then I agree. Unfortunately you might end up with either the view out the windshield blown or washed out or the interior too dark to see any details. I guess the answer, at least for us amateurs, is to try it and see how it looks. I would not be surprised if the pros add strategically located lights inside of the car to balance the inside and outside exposures.

All my aforementioned filming efforts and equipment are quite amateur level stuff, although I did receive my camera and tips from others with more experience, including one life-long friend, who's a professional video photographer (and a vintage car guy).

 

Only pro appearing things are the overlaid texts (as seen in my "still" image) and other super cool features (not shown in the image), like various fade-to-black transitions between different footages/scenes and these transitions also include brief preparatory titles for the next scene, etc were all just quick editing experiments my wife (retired H.S. teacher) did one evening last week.

 

But basically I agree, best to try different equipment and mounting locations, etc until you find your own preference.

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Here's another screen shot/still from a video recorded about two years ago with same camcorder (Sony) and approximate mounting location* in a different vehicle and route.

In the actual video, the sound is recorded via external (plug-in) microphone routed into the RH rear (inside) corner of the trunk, near the tailpipe end, so it's mainly capturing the exhaust "note" of the engine at different RPM & speed ranges and no wind noise.

 

*In this car, I've fabricated two (built-in) mounting locations for the camera, one at approximate eye level/location/distance of a passenger and another just between two occupants at approximately same height/distance (from the dash/windshield).

 

P.S. Most of my videos are either for private documentation (test drives, etc) and/or future enjoyment/recollections should I ever become unable to drive, for whatever reason. 

 

Image copyright TTR 2021

Screen Shot 2021-10-17 at 8.51.05 AM.png

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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