Recording my AutoX Runs

I’ve had enough folks over the years ask me about my setup for recording my autocross runs that I feel like I should make a post about it.  I try to put a decent amount of effort into making my videos actually look and sound as good as they can.  While it is pleasing to watch and listen to, it also reduces the number of distractions when trying to analyze the video between runs.  My camera isn’t shaking all over the place and the clear audio helps me identify throttle inputs on course.

This setup shouldn’t require any specific action camera, but I’ve recorded all of my video on a GoPro Hero 3+ Silver.

First, here’s a sample video:

For mounting the camera to the car, I use Ram Mounts.  It’s a very modular system that lets you mix and match parts for your specific needs.  There is definitely assembly required with this setup, but again, it helps keep it flexible and it helps save you a bit of money when you need replacement parts.  For example, I’ve had a suction cup base go bad on me, and instead of having to buy a whole new mount, I just bought a new base  Here’s the parts list:

Ram Mounts Suction Cup Base

Ram Mounts Double Socket Swivel Arm

Akron Swivel Ball to GoPro Adapter (because this one is better than the one offered by Ram Mounts)

If you don’t have a GoPro, you can always use their generic threaded adapter (Link).  I wouldn’t attach a DSLR to it, but it should handle a $20 knock-off GoPro no problem.

That’s everything you’d need to attach a camera to the car.  Because the arm and the ball connector design have a good range of adjustability on them, you can get really creative on where you mount your camera.

For audio, it’s a little bit more “homebrew” if you will.  Not going to lie, my rig does involve duct tape, and it does involve some “unknowns” that you’ll have to sort out yourself, but, here’s the parts I got:

Olympus ME-51S Stereo Micorphone

12 foot male to female 3.5mm audio extension cable

My old GoPro Suction Cup Mount

A wind muff of some sort

An adapter that connects your 3.5mm audio cable to your camera.  I’m not going to bother linking you to the adapter I use for a 5+ year old camera that may be completely different from yours!

Anyway, couple of things about the audio setup.  First, I like those Olympus mics because they do not require batteries.  I do know that they work with my particular model of GoPro.  I do not know if that mic will work with yours.  That’s something you’ll have to figure out.  Some cameras may need a powered external microphone to work, some might not.

Regarding the wind muff, I can’t give you a link to my exact one.  The business that made the one I use sadly is no longer in business.  The one I linked should work, but I haven’t personally used it.

Finally, using my old GoPro suction cup mount is a matter of convenience.  You could very well do without it.  However, I didn’t feel like taping my microphone to my fender every event.  Instead, I taped the little male-to-female 3.5mm extension cable to the suction cup mount.  I plug the mic on one end and the longer 3.5mm extension cable to the other end.  And honestly, it’s probably far more secure than using painter’s tape.

As far as where to mount the mic, I’ve found that flush against the bumper and not right above the exhaust seems to produce the best sound with the least amount of wind noise.  In these instances, I’ll just route the extension wire through my trunk between my rear seats.  How you get it the rest of the way to your camera is on you.  Different cars require different solutions.  On rainy days, you can also mount the inside the rear tire well (sorry MR2 drivers, I got nothin’ for ya), which is good and bad.  Good because you can keep your mic dry while still getting a good exhaust note, bad because you’ll now hear every single little pebble pinging the underside of your car.

For both the camera mount and the mic mount I use, I’ll always recommend a clean, (mostly) flat, and dry surface to attach them to.  When you do that, the suction those mounts make is strong enough to pull dents out of your fenders.  And if you’re worried about these mounts coming off at speed, here’s me (poorly) lapping Pittsburgh International Race Complex: