Pro HD Headcam User Guide

Brian Genna -

Overview

This user guide will show you everything you need to know about how to use your Faceware PRO HD Headcam. It contains a lot of useful technical information and we recommend highly that you take the time to read through this document as you open and setup your Pro HD Headcam for the first time.

It is also recommended that you print this document and keep a copy in your Headcam case for reference whenever you setup for a shoot. Our PRO HD Headcam kit comes equipped with many options and parts; it’s important to keep this guide close at hand when setting up to ensure you get the best experience with your camera.

 

Case Contents

When opening your PRO HD Headcam kit for the first time, reference this list to get to know and understand what’s in the case.

  • (3) Helmets (Large, Medium, and Small Sizes)

  • (3) Sets of Helmet Padding (1/2”, 1/4”, and 1/8” Thicknesses)

  • (6) Camera Mounting Bars

    • Long Camera Bar (Left and Right)

    • Short Camera Bar (Left and Right)

    • Hooped Camera Bar (Short and Long)

  • Camera Head (includes HD Camera, Camera Mount, Light Panel, and Breakout Harness)

  • (3) Camera Lenses

    • Long (5mm)

    • Normal (4mm)

    • Wide (3mm)

  • Helmet-to-Belt Wiring Harness

  • Camera Belt (includes Integrated Battery Plate and Light Switch)

  • (2) Batteries

  • Battery Charger

  • (2) BNC Cables

    • 15’ BNC Cable

    • 50’ BNC Cable

  • Tool Bag for Adjustments

    • Mini-Philips Screwdriver

    • 2.5mm Hex Ball Driver

  • Optional Accessories

    • Wireless Video Kit

    • Production Monitor

    • Recording Deck

 

Using your Pro HD Headcam

Consult this guide each time you set up your PRO HD Headcam for a shoot to ensure that all settings are correct and the video footage you capture is optimal not just for comfort, but for both animation reference and use with Faceware software. For best results, use our recommended settings for each component.

 

Fitting your Helmet

To ensure the best video capture, it’s very important to make sure the helmet fits properly on your Talent. You will find that people’s heads come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes it takes a few tries to get the best fit.

Recommended Settings: This will be different for every person. Always take time to ensure a proper and comfortable fitting Helmet for the Talent before moving forward with your Camera setup.

Selecting the Correct Helmet Size

The first thing to do is select the correct helmet; small, medium, or large. Your goal is to achieve a snug fit but it shouldn’t be so tight that it is uncomfortable for the Talent. You’ll be using Helmet Pads to get the fit perfect but you should first choose the helmet size that best fits the Talent’s head.

Padding - Getting the Perfect Fit

Once the helmet is chosen, use the various Helmet Pads that come with your Headcam kit to get the perfect fit for your Talent. It is okay to mix and match the various thicknesses of Pads to ensure a snug fit. Once the Helmet it properly fit to the Talent, remove it from their head while you add the rest of the components.

"How Tight is too Tight?"

It should feel like a motorcycle or bicycle helmet. Ask the talent if there are any pressure points. If so, use a thinner pad or a larger helmet. Conversely, make sure the helmet cannot slide back and forth easily.

"Is it on Correctly?"

Slide the Helmet back enough so that the front rim is at the top of the forehead. The goal is to see the forehead clearly. The back of the helmet is designed to hold on to the occipital bone (the bump on the back of the head), so if you can see the forehead you should be in the right place.

 

Selecting the Best Camera Bar and Camera Lens

Your PRO HD Headcam kit comes with a selection of different Camera Bars and Lenses that work in different shoot scenarios.

Recommended Settings: In general, it is best to use the Short Camera Bar with the ‘Normal’ 4mm lens. The exception is if your Talent has a large face and you cannot see it clearly in the image. In this case, you can use the ‘Wide’ 3mm lens with the Short Camera Bar or the Long Camera Bar with the ‘Normal’ 4mm lens or ‘Long’ 5mm lens. Do not use the Wide camera lens with the Long Camera Bar.

When to use the Long Camera Bar

The Single-arm, Long Camera Bar provides a less distorted view of face using the Long or Normal lens. It provides an open feel for the Talent and is recommended for users with greater light sensitivity. The left or right side provides the same quality of video so you are free to choose what’s best for your capture scenario.

When to use the Short Camera Bar

The Single-arm, Short Camera Bar is for use with either the Wide or Normal lens, depending on the size of the Talent’s face. Because it’s closer to the face, it provides the Talent with more freedom to interact with objects, and is slightly more stable than the Long Camera Bar.

When to use the Hooped Camera Bar

The Hooped Camera Bar is the most rigid and is used when capturing stunt work and capture scenarios requiring a lot of harsh movement. Because it does not have the “drop arm” design, it is most obtrusive to the Talent peripheral vision.

Selecting a Camera Lens: Long (5mm), Normal (4mm) or Wide (3mm)

The goal when selecting a lens is to fill the face in the frame while not cutting any of it from the picture. The ‘Long’ 5mm lens is for use with the Long Camera Bar. It provides the smallest amount of barreling distortion to the image. The ‘Normal’ 4mm lens is for use with the Long or Short Camera Bars. If the Talent has a medium to small sized face, the Short Camera Bar can be used with the ‘Normal’ lens. If the talent’s face is cropped in anyway, use the Long Camera bar or the ‘Wide’ lens. The ‘Wide’ 3mm lens is for use with the Short Camera Bar sets only (Single-arm and Hooped). The 4mm gives good balance between distortion and operating distance. The 3mm lens allows you to work with the shorter, less obtrusive boom arm in exchange for a slight increase in distortion.

 

Assembling the System

Once you’ve selected the Camera Bar and Lens, the next step is to put it all together.

Putting in the Lens

First, screw the Lens into the Camera Head almost as far as it will go. Leave the screw on the side loose; this will be tightened later after you focus the lens.

Attaching the Camera Head to the Bar

Next, place the Camera Mount onto the Camera Bar using the 2.5mm Hex driver from the Tool Bag. For the single-arm Camera Bar, loosen the Camera Mount then slide the mount roughly 0.75 inch (19mm) onto the short extension from the right angle side of the bar. Tighten it slightly so the mount holds in place, but is still adjustable. If you’re using the Hooped Camera Bar, the back-plate on the Camera Mount can be unscrewed all of the way off to place it on the end of the Bar. Once the Camera Mount is roughly in the middle, tighten it slightly so the mount holds in place, but is still adjustable.

Prepping the Cables

After the Camera Head is attached to the Bar, the next step is to prepare the camera cables. This includes the power for the lights, power for the camera, and the HD video cable itself. The power cable for the lights is permanently connected to the Camera Head. The camera power is a white, rectangular connector that fits into the rectangular receptacle closest to the circular port. The HD video cable is a mini gold video connector that clicks into the circular port. (Make sure it is pushed in all the way.) If pushing in slowly, there will be two “clicks”.

After making sure these are plugged in, wrap the camera cables in four or five loops down the side of the Camera Bar, creating a slight tension on the connectors at the camera head. Don’t leave too much slack at the Camera Head; bumps or jarring could cause loss of video if the connectors come loose.

Attaching the Camera Bar to the Helmet

On your chosen side, loosen the hand screws on the camera block on the Helmet ball joint. Slide the Camera Bar into the double brass fittings. It is purposefully a very tight fit; we recommend a twisting motion to get the bar into the fittings. Once the Bar is through, roughly position the camera straight out from the Talent’s nose and then retighten both hand screws on the camera block.

Attaching the Helmet-to-Belt Wiring Harness

Once the bar is on it is time to connect the Helmet-to-Belt Wiring Harness. The harness has power cables for the camera and lights and a BNC cable for the video feed. First, connect the 2’ BNC cable to the black BNC plug for HD-SDI video (OR the yellow BNC plug for SD composite video). Next, attach the 4-pin Mini-XLR camera power cable to the 4-pin Mini-XLR power lead coming from the Camera Head wiring harness. Next, do the same with the 4-pin Mini-XLR lights power cable to the 4-pin Mini-XLR lights power lead coming from the Camera Head. Dress the cabling through both hook and loop patches on the back of the Helmet in order to keep the cables running down the back of the Talent. Included with your kit are black reusable zip-ties that will help with routing the cables, especially at the bundle point.

 

Setting up your Camera Belt

With the Camera setup and almost ready, the next thing to do is setup the Camera Belt. This involves plugging in the battery, the light switch, and hooking up the wireless transmitter (optional).

Attaching the Battery

First, attach a fully charged battery to the Battery Plate. This is done by sliding the Battery on the plate until you hear and feel it click into place. (Make sure the battery is flush to the plate before sliding it on.) DO NOT slide the battery at an angle tilted up, it can damage the connections. Wrap the loose elastic strap around the battery to ensure it stays in place.

Attaching the Light Switch

The light switch should already be on the belt. If it’s not, it sticks on with Velcro to the belt and should be placed closest to the buckle. Attach the longer free power lead (Male, 4-pin Mini XLR) coming from the battery plate to the light switch.

(OPTIONAL) Attaching the Wireless Transmitter

If the wireless transmitter is being used, it should already be attached to the belt when you receive your PRO HD Headcam kit. If not, you can attach it by placing the two ¼-20 thumb screws through the two eyelets from the back of the belt, then through the two holes in the transmitter and securing it in place with the ¼-20 thumb nuts. For power, attach the 2-Pin Lemo power connector from the power plate to the transmitter and turn the power switch on. Connect the video from the HD-SDI connection to SDI-In on the transmitter.

Adjusting the Camera Belt Size

Adjust the belt to the size of the actor to clip around their waist with the scratchy Velcro side on the inside. Slipping out one loop in the belt slide makes adjustment much easier.

 

Putting the Pro HD Headcam on your Talent

Putting on the Belt

When placing the belt on, we recommend the light switch on the actor’s left side and the battery on the center back. If applicable, position the battery and cabling in a manner will not occlude your mocap markers. Click the buckle in place and give the belt one last cinch, making sure with the Talent that the belt is not too tight. For thinner actors, the excess belt slack can be folded up on itself and tucked under one of the spare elastic loops on the belt.

Putting the Helmet Back On

Next, you’ll put the Helmet back on the actor. This starts from the front side. Position the front of the helmet just above the eyebrows then roll and slide the helmet back into position, making sure to expose the forehead. This keeps the hair back and out of the face. For Talent with long hair, make sure it is behind their ears first. If they have their hair in a ponytail, ask them to loosen it and lower their ponytail to the base of their neck.

Connecting the Camera to the Camera Belt

Place the Helmet back on the Talent and connect the three cables to the belt. First, the Camera power connects to the free short 4-pin Mini XLR cable coming from the battery plate. Next, the Lights power cable connects to the Light Switch. (The power cables are labeled CAM PWR and LIGHTS to prevent mix-ups.) If using the wireless system, plug the BNC cable into the SDI-In input on the transmitter. (Note the transmitter only works with the HD-SDI output from the camera.) If not using wireless, we’ll discuss using the video cable in the next section.

If applicable, dress the slack in cables in an “S” pattern on the Talent’s back and secure with Velcro strips, leaving enough slack at the top for full head movement.

 

Framing and Focusing your Camera

With the Camera components hooked up, the next step is to properly frame and focus the Camera. For this, you’ll need a monitor that supports HD-SDI video (not included).

Viewing the Camera Feed (Wireless)

First, power the wireless receiver using the AC adapter. Next, connect the receiver output to an HD monitor or a video recording device (i.e. AJA Ki Pro). This can be done via HD-SDI over a BNC cable or HDMI over an HDMI cable. If using a video recording device you should then connect the output of the device to your HD monitor to view the video feed. Turn on the wireless transmitter on the belt, then turn on the wireless receiver.

The two units should join within 10 seconds. If there is a connection problem, cycle the power and check your connections. If using multiple units, wait 60 seconds between powering on the transmitters. If the receivers are spaced at least three feet (1m) apart, up to four units can be used in the same space.

Viewing the Camera Feed (Hard-Wired)

Walk the Talent to a monitor. Using a BNC barrel adapter (included), connect the BNC cable from the Helmet-to-Belt Wiring Harness to an HD monitor or the input of a video recording device (i.e. AJA Ki Pro). If using a video recording device you should then connect the output of the device to your HD monitor to view the video feed. Before connecting the long BNC cable to the Talent, loop the cable through an elastic loop on the Camera Belt. This acts as a strain relief in case of an accidental cable tug.

Framing the Face Properly

The goal is to get the camera directly in front of the Talent’s nose, just under their eye-line. To get started, you may need to roughly focus the lens by twisting it in its housing. Don’t worry about it being perfect; fine focusing is next. Let the Talent know you will be turning on the lights, then do so by flipping the Light Switch on the Camera Belt. There is a rubber capped knob on the Light Switch box that adjusts the dimming of the lights. Try to keep the lights as bright as possible, this will ensure consistent lighting and improved facial tracking. Loosen the camera block on the helmet ball joint again and adjust. The Camera Mount can also be trucked along the bar laterally using the 2.5mm hex driver. To get the framing perfect, you may need to adjust the swing and rotation on the camera block as well as truck the Camera Mount side to side. Once the Camera is squared in front of the actor, tighten down all points.

Fine Focusing the Image

Next, fine focus the lens by physically twisting the lens in its housing. Try to focus on the inner edge of the Talent’s eyes making sure the image is as sharp as possible from the mouth to the brows. The lens can be locked down by tightening the screw on the lens mount with the mini-Philips screwdriver from the tool bag. Be careful not to over tighten the lens mount.

 

Adjusting your Camera's Settings

With a framed and focused image, we can now dial in the camera settings. The main goal is to maintain a clean, clear, neutral image of the Talent’s face. The camera comes calibrated to the optimal settings but here we will cover the settings you may need to adjust.

Recommended Settings: Your PRO HD Headcam camera will be completely setup upon arrival and is calibrated with optimal settings.

Environmental Considerations

Adjust your camera settings where you will actually be shooting, not in a staging area. The difference in lighting may lead to a less-than-optimal setting. If you notice any harsh lighting that may affect the capture, look to diffuse the lighting on the stage area.

Changing the Camera Settings

Find the control joystick on the back of the helmet by the Camera Head breakout harness. The camera menu will appear on the image itself. To view the menu, click the joystick. Navigate the menu using the joystick to make any desired changes. When completed, exit out of the menu at the bottom of the list to save the settings.

When you’re finished with the settings below, the joystick can be removed from the breakout harness by pulling off the plug. This way, the on-screen menu cannot be accidentally pulled up while shooting and the settings cannot be changed.

Setting the Shutter Speed

Set the shutter speed to manual, and go in to its menu page. Make sure the shutter speed is set to a minimum of FLK (which is 120th of a second). With suitable lighting in the stage, you can select a higher shutter speed, such as 1/250th of a second.

Turning on Back Light Correction

In most cases, the image behind the actor is lit differently than the exposure on the actor’s face. Turn on the BLC setting in the camera to compensate for this difference.

Setting the White Balance

First, make sure the light switch is on. To set the white balance of the camera, hold a white card or piece of white paper in front of the camera, filling the frame. Navigate to the white balance setting and select AWC -> SET. Click in on the button, holding for 1 second.

Resolution & Frame Rate

We recommend using a resolution of 1280x720 with a frame rate of 59.94p or 60p. 1920x1080 at 60p is not an ATSC standard and cannot be recorded by many hardware decks. On top of this, the data stream and file size is massive. 720p resolution is more than enough data for our facial tracking technology.

 

 

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