Randy Mamola.

Does this name ring a bell? Let us refresh your memory.

1980s world class MotoGP rider, a true king (without a crown), fan favourite, and runner-up in four MotoGP seasons.

Back in 1985, Randy became the first ever GP rider with an onboard camera. This was mind-blowing for everyone involved as it filmed never seen before live POV footage straight from his bike. After this revelation, companies started to invest in onboard technology to enhance TV viewing and eventually created what we know as an ‘action camera’. An action camera is a custom-made piece of technology that can be mounted to within reason, any surface and will continuously record footage alongside your chosen sport or activity.

The miniaturization of the onboard action camera system came in 2002 when bikes were becoming more compact and competitors tried to cut weight from every possible component on the bike.

Having reduced the weight of the onboard filming system by half from 2002 to 2006, companies were able to attach more cameras per bike. The partnership with Gigawave/Vislink from 2003 was crucial in this, allowing four cameras to be attached instead of two. Various improvements were introduced slowly over the years, with a breakthrough in the switch from analog to digital in 2007.

In the past five (ish) years, the major development in onboard camera technology saw the jump from standard quality to high definition (HD) resolution. In 2011, the very first 1080p (1920 x 1080) HD video was recorded from a bike. The video was astounding to spectators because the image was so clear! It could pick up very fine details in the distance, things like signs and numbers.

What’s changed?

The equipment we use today in 2015 is proven to be SEVENTEEN times lighter than the first onboard action camera system used on Randy’s MotoGP bike thirty years ago.

HEDCAM Ten80 on the BAC Mono driven by Oli Webb
HEDCAM Ten80 on the BAC Mono driven by Oli Webb

So, what’s the future of onboard filming?

Well, one of the latest innovations is the 360° gyroscopic camera, it basically provides chase and panning video action from a chosen rider. Another big favourite at the moment is quadcopter and drone filming, most of the quadcopters we sell come with integrated cameras which means as soon as you get the package, it’s ready to fly! These quadcopters can go very high up and provide you with a wide sight of fields, villages, towns even cities. Along with high flying, you can also access abandoned buildings, underground or even straight down the lane! Just be careful because there are some no access parts of the country.

Check out our selection of DJI quadcopters >>

-Here’s to the next thirty years of onboard action cameras!

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