Sticking a forward-facing video camera on a race car is certainly an effective way of giving viewers a sense of what the driver of that vehicle sees. For inventor Steve Greenthal, however, it wasn’t enough. He thought that the locked-off shots from his rigidly-mounted GoPro HERO looked “dead,” and didn’t capture the feel of actual racing. This inspired him to create the VectorMount – an aluminum GoPro mount that smoothly pans the camera back and forth, in response to the movement of the vehicle.
The VectorMount is moved both by airflow and centrifugal force.
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A built-in wind vane tail generally keeps the camera pointed ahead and into the airflow, as created by the direction of travel. If there are strong crosswinds, or if the camera is mounted in a location where it’s subjected to turbulence, the angle of that wind vane can be adjusted to compensate.
The arm that the wind vane is mounted on also incorporates a swing weight, which causes the camera to pan left or right in response to centrifugal force. According to Greenthal, this means that the lens will point into the direction of a turn (as the driver would do), as opposed to just remaining pointed straight ahead. The distance between the swing weight and the camera can be adjusted to determine how much movement occurs – the closer the weight is to the camera, the less it will cause the camera to turn.
In order to keep the camera from suddenly jerking into life when it first moves, a silicone inertial dampening system is built into the panning head. Users can also purchase rotation stops, to limit the head’s range of movement.
The basic VectorMount, which includes no hardware for mounting it to vehicles (apart from a threaded post), is priced at US$189. A package that includes the self-leveling three-suction-cup Tribase sells for $249.
Videographers who want to see a different perspective from helmet-mounted GoPros might instead be interested in the unrelated $69 BoomPro – it extends the backward-facing camera out in front of the wearer, so it can look back at them.
In the video below, video shot using the VectorMount is compared to footage shot with a static-mount GoPro. In some cases, it looks like the VectorMount’s movements could almost be considered distracting, although the footage is certainly much more “alive” – which is just what Steve wanted.