A two-camera video recording system I built for my Lotus Elise
My goal for this system was to build something that would help me learn during track days, schools, and races. I wanted something that would show the track ahead, my hands on the wheel, and my feet during shifting. I achieved this with two cameras- one in the rear of the cockpit facing forward, and one under the dash facing the pedals.
For cameras, I started with a Chase Cam for the footwell, as these are excellent in low light situations. For the main camera, I went with a Sony CC-5R SuperHAD bullet camera. It handles the extreme contrast difference of the interior and exterior of the car very well. Most cameras will set their auto-iris based on the light level in the cockpit, which will cause the view out the windshield to be very over-exposed. Both these cameras run on 12V, which is very handy.
For recorders however, things were more complicated. Various companies have solutions ranging from $300 up into the thousands. All I wanted was a compact MPEG recorder that would do 640×480 @ 30fps, with no moving parts, and would run on 12V. I needed either two recorders (one for each camera feed), or a box to join the two signals with a picture-in-picture effect. I found what I needed with the Neuros company. Their Recorder2 is cheap, and meets all my requirements It seems to be intended for converting video to run on the Sony PSP, but it’ll do what I want also. Buying two recorders was considerably cheaper than buying one and a mixer box. This has the added benefit of generating two unmodified data sources. In my experience, it’s better to gather audio and video as unmolested as possible, and do all effects and mixing in post production. This leaves one small problem- synchronization. The two recording streams need to be started at the same moment, or matching up the tracks in post-production will be difficult. The solution turned out to be very simple- the Recorder2 has a remote control, so if the units are placed close together, pressing Record on one remote will start both units at very close to the same moment. Okay, there’s one other slight problem- the Recorder2 runs on 5V, not 12V. That was solved with a switching power supply that will also give the electronics a quiet, friendly power source (of which cars usually have neither).
Here’s some sample video shot with this system at a track day. This is compressed for YouTube. The native quality of the recordings is quite a bit better, and a full-resolution (33MB) sample can be downloaded here.
For more samples, head over to my YouTube channel. All race video you see there was shot with this system over the course of a few years of training, practicing, and time-trials.
That’s all there is to it! This was a fun project to put together, and it has given me years of trouble-free performance. It’s been a useful tool for improving my skills at track days and in preparation for races.
Once I’ve recorded a session, I pop the Compact Flash cards into my laptop, combine the two videos into a Picture-In-Picture using Quicktime Pro, then edit them with titles, etc using iMovie. For lots of samples from this setup, head on over to my YouTube channel.