If you have an HD camera and you have attached it to your aircraft or any vehicle, there is a good chance you have experienced "jello effect". Jello effect is slang for what is technically called global shutter. When your video picture waves as though you are viewing it through a bowl of jiggling jello you are experiencing "jello effect".
What causes this? Nearly all HD sports cameras today use CMOS technology. Rather than taking a series of snap shots or still images each second, CMOS cameras take numerous scans per second. You can think of it like a copy machine or scanner. If you move a piece of paper on a copy machine during the scan, the copy would have a wave or distortion to it. This is similar to the wave effect created with HD cameras. As the camera shakes, the scanned images are moving just like the paper on the copy machine. When all of the images are tied together you end up with a wave in the video. Even a high frequency vibration that a person may not feel can shake a camera causing jello effect. Jello effect usually cannot be corrected with editing software.
With years of experience mounting cameras on many aircraft, I have found it difficult to forecast whether or not one air frame will be worse than another. I have mounted the same camera on two identical make and model aircraft finding vibration on one and not the other. There are many variables that come into play, Propeller and engine balance, weight, rpm, speed, air frame design, to name a few. I have even noticed that a change in fuel load can change the video quality on occasion.
The following are key tricks I have learned to help you successfully mount your camera with vibration free video.
The number one and the most important is having a good rigid camera mount. Any flex in the camera mount or play in how the mount is attached to the aircraft will cause camera vibration. Most camera mounts on the market are made of plastic. Many plastics flex causing the camera to shake. Even worse, if the plastic doesn't flex there is a good chance over time vibration will cause the plastic to break. Losing a camera from the outside of your aircraft only costs a few hundred dollars. The liability of the camera damaging persons or property could be far worse. Metal mounts are slightly more money, but worth every penny in functionality and safety.
Another key to eliminating jello is knowing what kind of vibration you are getting. There are two general causes of camera vibration, air buffet from turbulent air flow, and airframe vibration from the engine and prop. The best way to trouble shoot which one you have is noting when you experience it. When you review your video footage if you find more vibration on the takeoff roll or during high power and low speed you are probably getting airframe vibration. If you find more vibration during higher speeds and low power such as in descent you probably have more of an air buffet issue.
Air buffet vibration can have a lot to do with the mount and the location of the camera. Naturally one would think protecting the camera by mounting it close to or behind parts of the aircraft would shield the camera from the airflow. I have found this can actually place the camera in turbulent airflow causing more vibration. More times than not, having the camera right out in the steady airflow works the best.
To fight airframe vibration, try and isolate the camera from the airframe as much as possible. Once again a rigid mount can help. Experiment with different camera locations and power settings. Sometimes, just a few inches can make a big difference between getting or not getting airframe vibration or air buffet. I have also noticed that 1900 to 2000 rpm in many aircraft generates a frequency that HD cameras don't do well with. Try experimenting on a flight by varying cruise rpm in increments of 50. You can rock your wings with each rpm change so you know where in the video you made the change.
So what do I use? The one that works every time. The VibeX mount, from vibexmounts.com. The VibeX mount eliminates both airframe and air buffet vibration. VibeX mounts are all metal aluminum construction that will never fail. A variety of bases are available that attach to nearly any type of surface or shape. The mount swivels 360 degrees on metal locking discs allowing limitless rigid camera angles. The slickest part of the VibeX mount is the isolation technology unique to the VibeX mount. The camera fastens to a patented VibeX gel designed to isolate any camera from the most common types of vibration that causes HD camera jello effect. Most camera brands fit the VibeX mount. Check them out on www.vibexmounts.com
Another versatile and safe mount is RAM ball mounts. There are many base and camera options available. You can find most of the mounts common to aviation at www.flightflixcameras.com
Share the gift of flight with your HD video. Impress yourself, family and friends by having stunning footage with a clear, concise, anti-jello video.