Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Guitar Cam session two

Guitar cam certainly isn't new, I first remember being amazed by it in the AC/DC video "Thunderstruck" in the early 90's. Concept - rigidly attach a camera to your guitar, the guitar stays still and everything else revolves around it. Heh, everything revolves around guitar, I like it :)

GoPro have specifically targeted this "action cam" scene, and that is the first one I looked at. They have good brackets, but the camera specification is more about being rugged than high performance. Really, any camera you buy these days has the same mounting point so you could use the same bracket with anything. But what really threw me with the gopro was the very wide fish eye lens. I didn't really want to have a "bent" guitar - fish eye is for extreme offroad action. But you need to be kinda wide, so I made sure the camera I grabbed was averagely wide. Wide as in it can capture the whole guitar in the frame even when the camera is really close to the guitar.

I trawled ebay for brackets, and nothing appealed to me. You know what that means - DIY JAW on the scene :)

The first bracket I made was a bit of a mock, consisted of a bit of aluminium, fencing wire and some wood. I didn't even take a photo it was that bad. The second bracket used learnings from the first. And the third bracket, yet to be made, will use learnings from the second!

Okay, things of note:
  • Double clamp - this is just two $1.50 clamps from the hardware store joined together with two little plates. Drill a hole through the plates, screw straight into the plastic handles. Some sheet rubber glued to the clamp faces makes sure it won't scratch the guitar. Two clamps to be doubly sure there is no movement when clamped on!

  • Steel bar - welded to one of the plates on the clamp with a second piece at ninety degrees to the first for more rigidity. The problem is the arm is longer than it needs to be, and because it is steel it is heavy. The heavier, the more mass is bouncing around when I'm rocking out, the more rigid it needs to be so you don't see shocks. And the heaviness makes it harder to play.

  • Angle/position - the bar is long because I wanted, well, the view you see. Of course it means more mass, more bouncing around, and the further out the worse the bouncing. Version 3 of the bracket will have a "more direct" angle/position - same good view of left hand and right hand - but lighter.

  • Camera mount - just a hole in the end of the bracket and a 1/4" imperial thread welded to a tab of metal to make attaching the camera easy.

  • Camera - Panasonic HC-V100. Not amazing, but it has a 32.5mm wide-angle lens, very small and light (lighter than the bracket!) and the iFrame recording codec is nice to work with.
For my first test I played six songs, my arm was tired after that. Of the six, five were "cafe standard" - means not bad, but a few too many fubs for my liking so I won't upload them to my normal youtube channel. One was good, I've already uploaded it :) One key learning was with my nice Zoom H1 microphone, tapping my foot comes through as an annoying thump. Don't tap foot (but I like to tap foot!) DON'T TAP FOOT!

Anyway, here are photos. And since the other 5 songs were cafe standard, that's good enough for my blog. I will be playing and uploading more to my normal channel as I go, but I thought I'd share some more with my !34! mates right now :)

Oh and yep, I think picking up the guitar at the start and putting it down at the end, guitar-cam effect, will be my thing...



  1. Have you tried to play other kind of stuff?
    Like classical music or bossa nova... after many years playing covers I've realised that music _designed_ for guitar fills me much more.

  2. Good question. Yes, I've played classical in the past, especially with a Spanish tilt - never tried a bossa nova though. How I appreciate the guitar I think is at a different level to a musician. I'm very left brain, all maths and logic (that'd be why I'm an engineer) and I think it drives a different "reason" for playing the guitar. It's more about physical challenge - well specifically a mental challenge. My left brain eats it up, particularly the thumb independence stuff. It's what makes me "a programmable guitar playing robot". But you know what? Somewhere along the way my right brain stamped its little feet and has been adding in at least a tiny bit of feeling and emotion to my playing.

    I'm not sure if I'm making any sense, but basically I'm not getting into music written for guitar because it is generally proper music, artistically created for artistic people. Which I'm not. I "engineer" guitar covers which give me a lot of engineering satisfaction. I am however slowly becoming more artistic, so who knows, perhaps one day I will start enjoying "proper guitar music"!

    In the meantime, an interesting cover jumped out of the radio and into my head and I noodled with it just the other night, I think I will be able to make it work. Oh to have some more time! :)


  3. Sorry but that does not convince me, hehe.
    That description of yourself in the first paragraph could perfectly be me.
    I'm also heavily left brain dominant, I'm studying computer science and I'm actually left handed.
    Also I've barely got into music theory and my "musicality" sucks, I can barely tune the guitar.
    So I believe we are pretty much at the same place..
    I also understand perfectly the mental challenge you talk about, as I play TE's beatles medley and a handful of your songs.

    I do also understand that you have talent making covers and it must be fun to exploit it.

    Maybe the best point of playing covers is to get a better response from the audience.

    But STILL, having all that in mind, I stick to my point. So I'll just leave some song names here.
    Mood for a day
    Recuerdos de la Alhambra
    Batucada (by Luiz Bonfa, I could only find Chet Atkins' version's tab, though).

    By the way, sorry for going offtopic. The guitar cam is pretty cool, I had already written 2 messages about it, but somehow both got deleted during the process of sending and I don't feel like writting another one (maybe you should do something about it? it's pretty annoying).

  4. No probs going off topic, always good to follow these things in which ever direction they go. It's annoying to hear that you have lost messages, sorry, that is out of my hands - Google and Da Internet is to blame. I usually write up my messages in a text editor (windows key+r notepad :)) and then copy and paste the final message into the comment field. I've lost messages before on my and other blogs; text editor first is insurance...

    Deep down I know a few things, like I should play on the left knee with a footstool, I should learn music, I should fix my "sloppy" habits and I should put my time into guitar music particularly with a spanish feel. But I'm having too much fun with covers, and I love to see people get joy from hearing them. So yep, I think you are right, "better response from the audience". You read Adam Raffertys blog from last week didn't you?

    Song suggestions, locked in. But not in a hurry. I played exclusively steel string for about 10 years, I only got back into nylon maybe 4 years ago. I didn't like nylon at all when I was playing steel, now I don't like steel at all. Moods do change!

    I love these sorts of chats, and although it makes me sad that we can't have them with guitar in hand and a beer/glass of Scotch in easy reaching distance, it makes me happy we can have them at all. See, the internet is good for something :)


  5. Yes, I know you had written about the risk of losing messages before. I thought there might be alternative blog formats or add-ons that approached the issue more carefully. I have no idea, though.

    It's fun what you say about Adam Rafferty's blog. I've been listening his album lately, but never read his blog at all. I will check it!
    Odd enough, right earlier today I've been attempting a trick he does in Superstition: make a percussive sound and play a note (with a hammer on) at the same time... pretty challenging!

    Of course, I have no personal interest in that you play these songs; I just want to share with you the fun I have playing them.

    I also went nylon -> steel -> nylon (this second change heavily influenced by you), but my guitar carrier is just 3 and a half years long so far!


  6. Jaw, Would you ever consider doing a step by step lesson of one of your interpretations of a Naudo piece? Just sayin'


  7. This makes me think... what songs are in your to-do list?

  8. guiatr cam!!!!!!! So good! retouching on wish you were here as i can see really well what your doing and you've made some changes. Thanks:)