May 10, 2011

Sphinx-cam takes JVC to new heights

WWProd, an Alpe d'Huez-based production company specialising in extreme sports, particularly skiing, has bought JVC GY-HM100 ProHD camcorders for use in its Sphinx-cam miniature helicopter systems.

To capture aerial shots, Lionel Géhin, WWProd's founder, designed a remote controlled multi-rotor machine for filming in-flight. The compact Sphinx-cam Pro XL6 and XL8 machines can carry 2.5kg and 4.5 kg of equipment respectively.

After the Sphinx-cam passed vigorous tests, the company had to find a camera suitable for aerial use, and eventually decided that the lightweight form factor and CCD sensors of the HM100 met its requirements and worked well on the Sphinx-cam.

"We encountered the phenomenon of image distortion during fast movements related to rolling shutter CMOS sensors in camcorders. The GY-HM100 cameras, which use CCDs, remained free of these defects,” explained Géhin.

“As the GY-HM100 has detachable handles, we can reduce the camera’s weight which enables us to reduce the burden of the Sphinx to carry two cameras at the same time. This provides us with the option to shoot the front and the rear and also in 3D.”

The Sphinx-cam Pro XL6 and XL8 have also received interest from other filmmakers, production companies and architects, as it can provide very smooth, controllable movement from a small platform at low-cost.

On WWProd's Vimeo page ( there are demonstrations of the Sphinx-cam systems with a Canon DSLR, a GoPro 3D rig (anaglyph glasses required) and the JVC (late in the video below). The DSLR sequences show the problems Géhin described with the rolling shutter effects from its CMOS sensor - even in normal flight there is a lot of unsettling skew and ripple.

SphynX-Cam XL6 from SphinX-Cam on Vimeo.

By David Fox

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