Covert, Pinhole or secret filming camera technology is a real balancing act of quality verses size, power consumption and recording device. As a rule, the smaller the whole package is the lower the video quality but this does very much depend on the applications. MiniCamPro builds very small full HD pinhole/covert cameras into bag cameras, jacket cameras, rucksack cameras and hat cameras but to get the HD quality a HD recorder such as a PIX-240i or a AJA KiPro Mini is required. These recorders are small but not small enough to fit in a breast pocket; and then of course you have to power the whole system. Our technicians work with the production team to design and build the perfect covert/hidden/spy/pinhole camera that the programme budget requires.
But you don’t need micro-minicams for complete surveillance or hidden camera entertainment shows, we have converted over 200 day to day bits and pieces in to larger cameras and Pan & Tilt camera hides. These include a variety of different speakers; floor and wall book shelves and cabinets; microwave ovens and small stacking crates; and wheelie bids and bird houses. We used to have a great deal of success with hidden cameras in tube TV’s but with the influx of flat screed TV’s these are no longer an option. So it is important to really understand the production, people you are filming and the location before deciding on a camera hide. It is also important to have at least one person in the production (within the hit), in the know as this person can always divert any suspicion away from a camera/camera hide.
Sometimes the quality of minicameras can actually be negative to certain productions. In a recent hidden camera production for the BBC there were articles in the press suggesting the shots were too good to be hidden cameras and therefore must have been staged. Our technicians are often asked to film the set of the hidden cameras so that the production has proof of the minicam build and the option of using the footage with the programme, in the opening or closing sequence.
These days there are many types of hidden camera stitch-up shows and the hides are very much dependant on the type of hit/production. If the hit is a stitch against on an individual or unbelievable prank the target person or persons, often one of them will turn around and say “Ok… so where are the cameras?” but it is also important to remember, when thinking about camera hides on your next hidden camera production, that it is really surprising how unobservant people are and how little you really need to hide cameras. MiniCamPro have placed numerous Pan & Tilt cameras in large shopping centres and not bothered to hide them. It is just not human nature to look up and even if they do, no one really thinks they are being filmed in day to day locations or well staged set ups.
MiniCamPro offers a show and tell service on all our equipment. We are happy to come to any production company to demonstrate our equipment or can cater for up to 12 people at our offices in West London.