The Picture of Versatility: Canon 5D Mark II Helmet Camera

I designed a helmet mount for the Canon 5D Mark II with Gary Hatfied, Dan Owens from Panavision to capture the first person point of view action in a new way.  The camera is extremely versatile with the carbon fiber helmet designed by Troy Lee because it can be mounted on top, in front and from the left and right sides. It has V-Block technology, night scope adaptability and wireless follow focus.

Helmet Cam

Helmet Cam

We have used it successfully to fast rope out of helicopters for my current project about the undercover operations of the Navy Seals produced by Bandito Brothers, Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers. The main purpose of the design for this project was to roll out with a Navy Seal and feel like you are one of them on a mission. You see them grabbing guns, holding them up in front of the lens and moving with their movements. If another Seal comes up next to the bad guy with the helmet camera on, the camera rack focuses to his face and you get more of a cinematic feel from this particular helmet camera than one with a huge depth of field. We want to be the Seal, not treat it like it is a helmet camera broadcasting back to base.

What can you design? How can you take the creative ideas in your head and work with your team to turn your vision into a reality? Have fun with the creative process and you will be amazed at the results of the final product!

  1. Georg 6 years ago

    Hi, that is an impressive rig, especially with the focus-pulling.
    I’m about to make a helmet-camera project with a a 5D II in an ambulance/paramedic environment in a few days.
    Which focal length are you using? I decided to go with the 24mm 1.4., mostly because I can borrow that lens (It’s a no budget student project) and I really want to use a prime to minimize distortion that might distract the audience.

    • Author
      Shane 6 years ago

      Georg, when I was shooting 2:35 aspect ratio on the Navy Seals movie I went with an 18mm to take in as much of there hands, guns as possible. When shooting 1:78 aspect ratio, the 24mm and or the 28mm are awesome on the 5D. You can use Nikon glass for a much sharper image. The Canon wide lenses are not so sharp, plus they fall out of focus on the edges. Nikon seems to have a flatter field of view.

  2. Chris 3 years ago

    That is so awesome, I made a helmet mount for a GoPro the other day and thought it was useful, but I like the idea of using a focus enabled lens and camera. What you said about “being the seal and not just broadcasting back to base”, makes a lot of sense. Was it difficult for the actors to hold the weapons perfectly in front of the lens vs their own face to appear as though it was in fact in their field of view? Or did it not really matter since you had a wide angle lens? Thanks and love the site, very informative for those interested in the DP world.

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      Chris, thanks so much for your kind words. The Seals had no problem getting the gun in the right place once we rehearsed a couple times. Thank you for your support

  3. James 3 years ago

    OK, I’ll give, why is the camera off-centered and no over his forehead? Was it a balance thing? Or a “the mule can’t see” thing?

    • Author
      Shane 3 years ago

      James. You would never put it on your forehead because it is not at eye view. The perspective would be off, so we mounted it off to the side and panned the camera to get the right parallax so it feels like it is out of the viewers eyes.

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