Cambrian College Journalism Student
The future of camera technology is advancing fast at Cambrian College, thanks to Ivan Filion, executive director of Research, Technology and Advanced Learning. He has invented a motion-sensor camera he built himself for researching animals as well as for personal and family fun. “No one has ever invented anything like it,” Filion said. “It’s one of a kind.”
Filion places the video camera in a location outside where he thinks the camera will have the best success of filming wildlife. After he finds a location he leaves the camera and comes back to check on it three or four days later. “The camera is triggered when an animal walks by it,” Filion said. “I also programmed a microchip to zoom in and out on the animals. The camera does it all by itself, no one’s there.”
Watching what was captured on film is the next step. Filion hooks the video camera into a computer, which has a video-viewing and editing program installed. He loads the footage from the camera onto the computer and saves it as video files. These files are now ready to be edited. Editing allows him to add music, voice, and transitions. “You take the best footage and edit it – cut and paste,” he said. “Within an hour or so you now have a movie that you made and created. It’s that simple.”
Doug Reynolds, NOTO’s Executive Director, said he was amazed how fast Filion could put together a movie that had “spectacular” quality. “I’ve worked in the film industry before and there is no way we would ever be able to do what Ivan is doing today,” Reynolds said. “It’s amazing how fast technology has advanced.”
Filion has sold his invention to researchers around Canada. Being able to leave the video camera in the bush saves a large amount of time for researchers. “Everybody who has used it is shocked by the quality of the video footage,” he said. “The quality of the film is fantastic.”
Filion’s camera footage has been seen on television shows on the Discovery Channel. The camera captured the bond between an elk mother and baby, a never-seen-before footage. Mother elk are very protective of their babies and would never bring them out into the open knowing humans were near. Filion said its their motherly instincts, she knows if someone or something is lurking around.
“This camera captured the first ever newborn elk in the wild,’” he said. “To be the person to discover this for the first time is an amazing experience. If it wasn’t for this camera people would never be able to experience the sight.” The video camera is designed for all weather conditions and can take a beating from the jaws of an adult male bear. “The container the camera sits in is made from sewer tubing,” Filion said. “It’s so strong, not even a bear can chew through it and believe me, many have tried.”
Filion said in a survey of those who travel to northern Ontario, 80 per cent of respondents said a major reason they came was for wildlife viewing. “We have in the North some of the last large pine stands in the world,” he said. “We also have the largest black bear population in North America.” With the motion-sensor camera Filion sees future opportunities for tourists to discover the wildlife for themselves. Businesses can purchase the camera and let clients rent them so they can bring home the video footage they made by themselves.
“It would be experience for the whole family to play with,” he said. “For any of your clients who want a copy of their weekend, you play back the digital tape and make a copy for them to take home. You can make as many copies as you want and they will all have the same quality as the first copy because the master copy is digital.”
Filion also sees the video camera as a great way to promote your business on the World Wide Web through MPeg files. MPeg files allow you to take your video footage and attach it to your web page. “If people want to see things at your lodge such as the area and wildlife, they will have a chance to see it right there on your web site,” Filion said. “It would make it easier for people to make a decision as to where they wanted to go. People like to see the experience before they experience it.“
Filion’s motion-sensor camera is an inexpensive device that almost anyone can afford. “All you need is a video camera with a firewire port and a video editing program,” Filion said. “Nowadays video cameras can run from $800 and up and the software is under $120. It’s that simple.”
This article was taken from pages 12 & 13 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, May/June 2003 Issue