Videoing a track day
Once you start attending tracks days, adding a video camera is a great way to improve your driving at low cost. A video will allow you to study what you're doing in detail and will allow your buddies to see also. This can be very useful and they can usually spot problems with your driving and there's no denying it once it's on video.
Video systems for cars cost from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
Low cost but not low quality car video systems
This is where the author is. I have a Porsche 996 with a Das Sport Weekender rollbar in the car. I bought an IOPort video camera mount that I attached to my rear cross braces on the roll bar. I'm using a Sony P200 Digital camera attached to this mount. The mount costs around 110 dollars and the camera is now 300 dollars but a 2GB video card is 170 dollars. This will let you record around 60 minutes of video as 640x480 and 15 frames per second which is pretty high quality. While it's not DVD quality, it's plenty good for internet and viewing your-self.
You can probably buy other similar cameras for around the 150-200 dollar range and for video, they will be just as good. Same zoom, same video quality.
The camera itself includes a LiION rechargeable battery thats lasts around 3 hours of recording at the lowest resolution. One battery lasts a day of sessions. The batteries are around 20 dollars right now. Each battery takes 3 hours to recharge so I think this setup should work for most people.
Once the camera is mounted then I use no zoom and set the focus to focus at infinity. Then turn the display off which saves battery. Now, just start recording and drive.
The digital camera has advantages over a camcorder. It's lighter and smaller and this makes it a safer companion in the car, this is important to me. Battery life is much better than a camcorder (3 hours). No tape means it's less sensitive to vibration and you don't need to bring a bunch of tapes to the track. Just copy the videos to a laptop and then clear the card for the next session. Copying the files is slow though, about 20 mins for a GB of video. Best of all, you can just take the videos straight on to a computer with no conversion.
I can edit and recompress the videos from the camera using Windows Movie Maker which comes free with Windows XP. This lets you do on the spot editing and add titles/transistions to your driving art. You can buy more expensive software but movie maker hits the spot.
Sample of video from this setup
Tips on processing the video
I use trackvision to add the telemetry from our G2Extreme data logger to the video. These are available from Kary at http://www.group9motorsports.com Here are my steps:
Open the telemetry file in the DataLink software. Open All laps. Click on the file tab and select long/lat G and GPS MPH. Click on the view menu and select auto scale, you should be seeing ALL data in the window now, not just the first 600 seconds. Now click File Menu, Print/Save as ascii and set the sample rate to 0.05 and use a comma to seperate fields. Save it to a file with a csv extension.
Copy video from camera
Don't edit it yet. Just get the raw movie.
Add the telemetry using TrackVision, DashWare, RaceRender, or RaceChrono2AVI to make a new movie. If using TrackVision, use the 720x480 dashboards, as other sizes seem to ignore the telemetry in the final video (ignore = there is no numbers being printed).
Now edit it
Now, you are free the edit the video with the telemetry.
Sharing video on the internet
This is pretty easy these days if you just want a low quality version for your friends and the community to see. I've used the following sites:
YouTube is a fast site. Uploads are limited to ten minutes though which means no full sessions. It's a very fast site though and uploads happen quickly. Videos are limited to 100MB and 10 minutes.
MySpace is probably the most popular one but the site seems very slow and uploads are about 50% the speed of youtube. But, the videos can be longer so you can upload a full session if you want. Videos are limited to a 100MB.
This offers fast uploads and unlimited video size but we've stopped using it in favor or YouTube and MySpaces.
Great site for unlimited size video sending. You send a link so the downloads are fast. You also don't have to share things with the rest of the world.