Improving stability and sound in a 4K60 video of the M25

Oiseau

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Oh dear, I forgot to exempt your forum from my VPN. It’s fixed now, sorry.

Dear sir/madam,

I have a big project that I really want to get done, before bidding farewell to the United Kingdom by the end of this month. I wish to film the entire loop of the M25 in 4K and 60 fps, from Mar Dyke (J30) to Darenth (J2) via Heathrow (J15). I am doing this by car.

I recently held three test runs, and I am actually really happy about my iPhone Xs 512 GB, which could easily accomplish the recording along with a few extra stretches, while the GoPro Hero 7 Black just shut down after an hour due to excessive heat.

However, I have two issues that I would like help with:

1. Shaking

The footage is really shaky, due to the road surface of the M25 (a mixture of asphalt and concrete). I used a Belkin Universal Car Phone Holder (F8M978BT), and I had to mount it on the dash so that the phone could get an uninterrupted view. I find it desirable to reduce as much shaking as possible, to save time with Final Cut Pro.

I do not know if there is a better holder that I could buy, which is designed for smartphones as a dashcam? I am quite lost because although I have Spigen, Arkon Mounts, and iOttie in mind, Amazon is full of… I don't know how to describe the abundance of brands from a certain country without breaking Forum Rule 9. I mean it is simply more about getting the best quality than just going for the cheapest model.

2. Sound

I recently decided to change from a RØDE smartLav+ to a Audio Technica PRO24-CM for the advantages of stereo, but I cannot mount it inside the car because I do not want to record my instructions to the driver (I never applied for a driving licence because I would easily fail the medical due to severe anxiety).

In the previous test runs, I put the smartLav+ microphone on a non-moving part of the engine, and while it works, the resulting sound is too loud. I am thinking of mounting the PRO24 outdoors, but if I do I have to reduce wind noise for up to 100 miles per hour in total (because British weather). Again, I feel that getting the sound source under control is better, to save time in editing.

3. Connecting the sound

Finally, there is the question of how to connect the PRO24-CM with the iPhone to get the outdoor stereo quality: I am certain to need an extension cable.

Your advice is appreciated.

Best,

-- Oiseau
 

Nigel

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How about mounting the GoPro on the bonnet where it will be cooled by the car's movement? At this time of year it should be able to stay cool as long as you don't have it in a waterproof case.

Should give a much better image than an iPhone looking through a windscreen with reflections on it.

I currently have a camera that sits on a gopro adhesive mount that is stuck to a couple of high strength neodymium magnets, so that it easily attaches to the bonnet and can easily be removed. That works really well sitting on the front of the bonnet.

Any mount should be very firmly attached, and the camera firmly attached to the mount, and preferably use a very short mount. It is not the vibrations from the road that are the issue, it is the mount vibrating that causes the problems, the vibrations in the mount being resonances excited by the road vibrations. For something as big as an iPhone, consider using two different mounts simultaneously since the second is almost certain to absorb resonances in the first.

2. Sound,
What sound do you want to record? If it is your engine sound then just move the mic to a different part of the engine compartment, you will probably find some areas around the battery area which are quite quiet compared to on the engine itself even though not a great distance away. Putting it near the entrance to the air filter can give a nice sound and drown out unwanted gear box noise, but not too close, sound volume reduces exponentially with distance.

If you want to record the sound of vehicles passing then consider putting it in the boot where your conversation will be hard to hear and road noise will be more significant. If you're sticking to the speed limit rather than trying to get a record time around the ring then you could mount it in the centre of the bonnet behind the gopro. If you get the mic right down against the surface of the bonet then there will be very little wind there, and with a decent fluffy (not foam) microphone windshield should give decent quality. Might seem like there should be 70mph winds there, but you need to take aerodynamics into account!
 

ThomasR

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If you want to go ahead filming with your IPhone and you didn't experience any heat problems, then looking into a handheld gimbal solution might bring you a bit further.

If you already own a gopro 7, and you are happy with its stabilisation, then you could consider mounting it externally. The wind might help to keep it cooler.
Not sure about this; it's just a suggestion.
A nice side effect would be that you won't see your dash and any reflection.

Generally do most, if not all, 4K action cams struggle with heat when capturing 4K films for a long period of time (hours in your case)

Best solution would be to invest in a proper 4K camcorder with Optical image stabilisation like the HC-VX1 4K Camcorder.

Soundwise, I wouldn't put much effort in capturing the noise of the wind of your drive.
You could capture some sounds of the landscape separately or at breaks and mix it into your road movie.

Best Regards
Thomas

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Oiseau

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Hello,

I have both the iPhone and GoPro, but I cannot buy yet another camcorder at this time: I attach a document that describes what I think the setup could be, for both the iPhone and GoPro versions.

I struggle a lot to find a quality dashcam mount for my iPhone (dash or windscreen) or GoPro (bonnet). I do not want to sound rude, but Amazon's search results for dashcam mounts and extension cables are flooded with obscure brands, which often makes me feel that I want to give up in frustration.

The stability and sound management of the GoPro is very respectable, but I can only consider using the GoPro only if I am sure that I can get the problem with processor heat under control: for either models, I use a matte black cloth to reduce reflections.

If I stay with the iPhone, I could pop into John Lewis to see if they have black fabric with less reflection, and I probably ask here what settings would be best for recording the M25 motorway.

In terms of sound, I plan to record about 50% of the engine and 50% of the vehicles passing. I felt that putting the microphone inside the bonnet was the only option due to wind noise concerns. I consider sound to be equally important with the video, because I feel that stock music or silence will damage the quality of the video.

Best,

-- Oiseau
 

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Nigel

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If I stay with the iPhone, I could pop into John Lewis to see if they have black fabric with less reflection,
You would get a better result from using a CPL filter, not sure what is available for iPhone but there must be something, just a bit of linear polarising sheet stuck over the lens would do if you put it the right way up.

I struggle a lot to find a quality dashcam mount
There is an official gopro bonnet mount:

Although if you are using suction cups then I strongly recommend also having a tether in case the suction cup leaves go! In which case a much cheaper and non-brand name mount would probably be fine.
 
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Oiseau

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In respect of the GoPro, I am looking at the following items:
  1. GoPro Suction Cup Mount: https://gopro.com/en/gb/shop/mounts/suction-cup/AUCMT-302.html
  2. GoPro Frame: https://gopro.com/en/gb/shop/accessories/the-frame/AAFRM-001.html It came with the camera.
  3. GoPro Smart Remote: https://gopro.com/en/gb/shop/accessories/smart-remote/ARMTE-002-EU.html
  4. Roland RHC-25-3535 Extension Cable for 3.5mm TRS: https://www.roland.com/uk/products/rhc-25-3535/
And the fallback tether ropes, obviously.

That leaves the USB-C extension cable and the dash car mount to figure out if I go with the iPhone. Sorry for the rushed message.
 
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Nigel

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Given the price of those GoPro items, I think I would look at getting a good phone mount, Manfrotto do a decent phone clamp with tripod attachment: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/B0169SORDW and also a suction cup, although I'm not sure their suction cup is suitable for windscreens and if you look for DSLR suction cup then there are a number of decent ones with 2 or 3 cups, the more cups the more stable it will be, although 3 might give a problem for getting them out of the camera view. And I still suggest a CPL filter for the phone to remove the reflections.
 
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Oiseau

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Given the price of those GoPro items, I think I would look at getting a good phone mount, Manfrotto do a decent phone clamp with tripod attachment: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/B0169SORDW and also a suction cup, although I'm not sure their suction cup is suitable for windscreens and if you look for DSLR suction cup then there are a number of decent ones with 2 or 3 cups, the more cups the more stable it will be, although 3 might give a problem for getting them out of the camera view. And I still suggest a CPL filter for the phone to remove the reflections.
CPL filter is in my checklist, but I wish to ask if anyone has any luck getting the iPhone to recognise a 3.5mm stereo microphone?
 

Nigel

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You can use the GoPro just for sound and the iPhone for video, just stick the GoPro under the bonnet so that the microphone cables are easy to run and forget about the GoPro video. Any decent video editor should be able to stick the GoPro audio into the iPhone video. Then you don't need to worry about how to route cables to the iPhone without getting in the way of either the image or the driver.
 
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Oiseau

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I will come back to the iPhone mounting thing later, after getting frustrated by road rage/political banter in the process of finding test videos of the iPhone as a dashcam on YouTube. My project has no politics, it is more like the front view videos of the New York Subway.

As far as the GoPro is concerned, the only remaining item is the USB-C extension cable, because I feel that the GoPro Pro 3.5mm
Mic Adapter should be indoors. This is another bottleneck because the marketplace for cables is a bit of a jungle.
 
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Oiseau

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I am pleased to tell you that the GoPro passed the wind tests at 4K60, with the battery removed, and have full confidence that the GoPro will safely record outdoors, with the necessary safety tethers in the unlikely event of the suction cup and duct tape combo failing.

I managed 4 hours, 25 minutes and 4 seconds before halting the recording due to boredom (and not heat). We have also identified that the iPhone XS was responsible for the extremely loud volume, possibly due to automatic gain. I guess the only thing the iPhone will be doing during the recording is to play songs and take recording notes.

All that remains is finding the best position to the microphone that will have a decent balance between the engine and the outdoor environment. Ideas welcome.

-- Oiseau
 
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