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Cop-Cams, Helmet-Cams, HuntCams, Etc.

Roger Knights
(A shorter version of this article of mine was printed in Bigfoot Co-op, Nov. 2003)

Cop-cams: Lots of police cars are being equipped with dashboard video-cameras to
document encounters with citizens. I think about 10% of police cars had them a few years ago, so it’s likely up to 20% by now. Dashboard cameras can be activated within a second or two of a sighting. Given that about 30 (??) cops have reported sightings, it’s only a matter of time (say 5 years) before a dashboard’s cop-cam captures a BF on tape. Such a video, because of its credible provenance, should have more impact than the Patterson film, even if it doesn’t show as much detail or last as long, and even though it wouldn’t be on film (which is harder to hoax with than tape). A lot would also depend, of course, on how big the creature is and what it does on camera. An eight-foot BF that crosses a road in three steps (where a tall human would need five), or that goes quickly up or down a steep embankment, or that emits an incredible roar (caught on the camera’s audio) would be doing something that a hoaxer in a suit would find hard to imitate. This is a breakthrough-scenario the BF community hasn’t considered yet, I don’t think. (Late note—within the past 18 months I’ve read that a policeman driving a patrol car with an always-on cop-cam saw a Bigfoot cross the road at dusk—but the distance and darkness were too great for the camera to capture it on tape. Maybe next time.) Leading organizations in the Bigfoot community would make footage-capture more likely by asking a police magazine to run a one-paragraph notice asking police forces to tell their officers to turn on their video-cameras if a sighting occurs. (For that matter, everyone in the country should be urged to carry a small, cheap camera in their glove compartment.) Here is contact information for the two leading police magazines: http://www.policemag.com/t_about.cfm Police Magazine / 21061 S. Western Ave. / Torrance, Calif. 90501 / phone: (310) 533-2400 / info@policemag.com http://www.aphf.org/publications.html The Chief of Police and Police Times / policeinfo@aphf.org A poster named “Sojourner” on www.bigfootforums.com suggested that individuals can buy a cop-cam. I then searched the web and for “in-car police video camera” and found a popular, high-quality offering for $1495 from Martel Electronics. Here are its features: • Powered from the cigarette lighter socket, so the battery is always fully charged. • High-resolution (400 line) Sony Hi8mm camera that has 6 hours of recording time per tape, so the camera could be left running during an entire driving episode. • Time/date stamp. • Fully rotatable and disconnectable. • “Nightshot Infrared System” and “SteadyShot Picture Stabilization System.” • Numerous other features of less interest to Bigfoot hunters. Two versions are offered; both can be detached and switched quickly from car to car:

Windshield-attached. with a suction cup: http://www.martelelectronics.com/mvp.htm • Dashboard-attached (without tools): http://www.martelelectronics.com/Dashhound.htm (If you print out these web pages, use landscape mode.) Two other posters on www.bigfootforums.com had additional comments: “Deanscream”: “For best results with dash-cams, add a roof-bar with big time driving lights, quartz-halogen—some hunters use them—that light up the road 50 yards ahead. Drive with them on, and camera rolling. Be sure to paint hood flat black to avoid glare.” “Deppup”: “Most cams are designed to record a traffic stop about 20-25 feet in front of the squad car, with the light bar lights focused on the subject vehicle. Although ours are equipped with quite a powerful zoom, while going in or out they lose all focus until the subject is ‘locked on,’ so a moving object would be blurry at best if you tried zooming in.” Officials of the US Border Patrol, which now has sophisticated monitoring and visual recording instruments in operation, should also be alerted to look out for BF pix. ***********

Helmet-cams: I’ve read about sightings where the witness had his camera in
his pocket, but couldn’t get it out before his car drove past the BF, or where witnesses have “frozen” and been unable to make the large movement needed to raise the camera. Several cases and countermeasures were noted in The Grail Bird, a recent book about attempts to photograph the ivory-billed woodpecker. For instance: • • • • • • P. 25: “But he was in so much shock, he didn’t think to get it out and take some pictures.” P. 116: “We each had a palm-sized camcorder strapped to our right hand.” Unfortunately, this was not done consistently, so a big opportunity was missed, namely: P. 125: “Bobby reached for his camcorder while I tried to keep track of the bird.” P. 181: “Hey, if this’ll buy me a couple of extra seconds when I’m coming up on an ivory-bill, it’ll be worth it.” P. 209: “Suddenly they spotted a large black-and-white bird slipping through the woods …. David tried to swing his camcorder around, but it was already too late.” (A helmet-mounted camera would have captured what they saw.) P. 221: “He bolted a camcorder to the top of a hardhat and canoed down the bayou with it strapped to his head, automatically filming everything he looked at. But he had to scrap that idea after a couple of days [because] his neck got so sore ….” (But today’s lightweight flash-memory models would be less tiring, and models that require only a cable-linked lens to be helmet-mounted would be non-problematic. P. 221: “Bobby always kept a camcorder running. He mounted a … tripod in the front of his canoe with a camcorder screwed on top of it, set at a wide angle.” (This is similar to a cop-cam.)

I’ve also read that BF doesn’t like people pointing things at him. (Again there is a precedent in the hunt for the ivory-bill: P. 109: “Why he put the camera on top of his head, I have no idea, unless he thought it would somehow be less threatening to the bird.”

Whatever, it worked.) Would-be BF photographers should therefore consider a “helmet camera.” These are used by motorcyclists, bicyclists, and skydivers, among others. The shutter control, I assume, is at the end of a cable that runs down inside your shirt-arm to your hand. I guess every different kind of camera (still or video) could be helmet-mounted. Type “helmet camera” in Google; look at the sponsored links on the right edge of the screen. ************

Clip-on Lenses: Squatchwatch and tarran, posters on BFF, provided this
feedback to my suggestion above. (I’ve merged their comments.): “The HuntCam is something that might just be the video ticket and is not at all as cumbersome as a helmet cam. The HuntCam is a tad pricey ($299.00) and requires that you already have a camcorder with audio-video input (Sony, Canon), but the results are impressive. You carry the camcorder in your pocket, fanny pack, or sidebag (so the record button is easily accessed), and the 3 oz., wire-connected lens clips onto the bill of your cap, ATV handlebar, gun barrel, bow, etc., providing for hands-free operation. The power source is good for 10 hours operation. The lens is available in 3.6 mm, 8 mm or 12mm. Features are a camouflage, weatherproof exterior, autofocus, and an automatic black-and-white mode for low light conditions. The HuntCam kit includes the lens, rechargeable battery, battery charger, mini microphone and hat attachment. Check out the video gallery on the site for some cool demo shots ....” Their website is http://www.thehuntcam.com/products.htm. (Specify landscape mode if you print it out.) *************

Disposable cameras: A low-end gadget that would help in some cases is a disposable camera kept in one’s glove compartment. These cost under $12. The one I got came loaded with 27 shots of 35 mm color film & a built-in flash. Investigators might buy several, to hand out to witnesses or potential witnesses. They’re also useful for taking pictures of an accident scene, which could be helpful in court or with an insurance company.
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Sunglass-Cams: Here’s a quote from a story about this futuristic item, “Camera specs take candid snaps,” from the BBC, online at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3111004.stm: “… sunglasses developed at the Hewlett Packard labs in Bristol … sport a camera that constantly takes images of what a wearer sees. The camera also has an off-switch to preserve privacy. ‘If you are capturing your life as you walk around and you can simply and easily filter through that when you get home and get the important shots …’” The usefulness of this gadget, like a helmet-cam, is in its immediate accessibility, which is the same advantage provided by helmet-mounted cameras. But this HP sunglasscamera is even better than a helmet-cam, because it would be “always-on,” meaning one wouldn't have to fish for the switch at the end of a shutter cable running down one's sleeve--a potential weak-point in the helmet-camera system. Other advantages over a helmet-cam are that it would be lighter-weight and less conspicuous (i.e., not “incorrect attire,” as a helmet would often be). The disadvantage is that it’s still only a prototype that mightn’t be available for years (if ever), and might cost a lot.
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The Looxcie: This is a recent ear-mounted camera that is much superior to the items above for Bigfooters. It is described in an article of mine in Bigfoot Times of

February 2012, which is posted on Scribd at http://www.scribd.com/doc/104551771/TheLooxcie2-Look-See-2-an-Always-on-Dash-Cam-Ear-Cam