Friday, September 16, 2016

Tip: Endoscopic Camera Fun!

I'm always on the lookout for weird, cheap stuff that can be used in interesting, filmmaking ways. My latest find was a $5 endoscopic USB camera on eBay. This small camera lives at the end of a USB cable that plugs into your computer. It's water-proof and has four tiny LEDs that flank the camera, and illuminate anything directly in front of the lens. Made for inspecting drains and other tight spaces, this thing has to have some good filmmaking applications, right?

Now to be totally fair, this is a very cheap camera. It shoots grainy, soft, jittery, 4:3, standard definition video, that uses an auto-iris, so video levels are all over the place. You also must be connected to a PC (or Android phone for a more portable setup), which limits what you can really do with this thing.

Aside from creating some strange POV stuff (see the video), one very practical application here is pre-visualization, or pre-viz. This is the process of creating a quick and dirty version of your film using action figures or toys to create a "living storyboard" of what your actual film is supposed to look like. It can also help show how you want to create a complicated sequence in the cheapest way possible.

Whatever you decide to do with this gizmo, your mileage may vary. It's a cheap tool that may come in more handy than you think. And you really can't go wrong for the price.


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