Category:Video and Photography

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Video and photography are essential research and documentation tools. To be effective, researchers must follow consistent protocols for capturing, labelling and filing images.


Video Capture

In-fire Video Capture

In fire camera.jpg

In-fire video capture using specially designed heat resistant housings allows fire behaviour researchers to document fire behaviour characteristics such as rate of spread, flame length, ember transfer and spot fire development.

FP Innovations Wildland Fire Operations Research Group uses in-fire video camera housings designed by Missoula Technology Development Center and developed by the University of Alberta's Mechanical Engineering department.

Some general guidelines for video capture with the in-fire camera boxes include:

  • If possible, at least two in-fire cameras should be set up in each burn plot
  • In-fire cameras can be set up several days prior to burning. However, video cameras can only capture a maximum of 6 hours of footage so cameras must be placed in the camera boxes on the day of burning as close to the ignition time as possible.
  • At the end of the day (regardless of whether the fire has burned over that plot or not) the cameras should be removed, video footage downloaded and batteries charged for the next day.
  • Camera placements within a burn plot will vary according to fire behaviour and features under study but some general guidelines for camera placement can be applied. Cameras should be placed strategically to capture the following fire progression:
    • the point of ignition and accelerating rate of spread from the ignition point
    • fire behaviour at the peak of its intensity
    • the fire spread as it passes through the plot center
    • fire progression through features under study (example - change in fuel type, thinned stands, structures)
  • Place a barber pole in view of the cameras to indicate flame height and passage of the flame front.
  • Hang ribbon in the view of the camera as a wind indicator.

The placement of the in-fire video cameras is illustrated in Schroeder and Mooney (2009) Fire Behaviour in Simulated Mountain Pine Beetle Attacked Stands.(p.9)

In-fire video capture can be supplemented by video cameras placed outside the burn perimeter.

In-fire video cameras have been used on experimental burns at the International Crown Fraction Modelling Experimental Burns in Northwest Territories. Taylor et al.(2004) describe the placement of in-fire video cameras throughout the burn plots and illustrate the results with frames extracted from a 2.5 minute video capture within the burn.(pp.1563,1568)

In-fire video capture was used in the Surviving Fire Entrapments Comparing Conditions Inside Vehicles and Fire Shelters research program led by Richard Mangan of the USDA Forest Service Technology and Development Program. Detailed instructions for setup and operation of the in-fire cameras can be found in Appendix C of this documented project.

Video Capture Documentation

Documentation of video capture will be critical to successful interpretation of footage and application to data analysis. Some general guidelines can be applied to ensure adequate documentation. Documentation should include:

  • Videographer's name
  • Camera location (latitude and longitude, map description and/or written description of site location
  • Elevation
  • Azimuth - direction the lens is facing
  • Height from the ground to the centre of the lens
  • Date and time - turn date/time stamp on video camera
  • Time of ignition commencement
  • Type of ignition (Heli-torch, Terra-torch, Hand)
  • Time of filming start and completion

Operatonal audio can be captured during the burning event by placing a hand held radio next to the microphone on the video camera (not applicable to in-fire cameras). Several channels are often assigned and all radio channels can be captured by placing the radio on the scan mode.

Photo Documentation

Documentation of still photographs should include:

1. Photographers name

2. Camera location -

  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Physical description of location on fire

3. Elevation

4. Azimuth of the direction the lens is facing

5. Height from the ground to the centre of the lens

6. Date and Time of ignition commencement

7. Type of ignition (Heli-torch, AIDs, Terra-torch, Hand)

8. Time photo series begins and ends

9. Time interval between each photo


Taylor,S.W.;Wotton,B.M.; Alexander,M.E.;Dalrymple,G.N. 2004. Variation in wind and crown fire behaviour in northern jack pine - black spruce forest. Can. J. For. Res. 34: 1561–1576 (2004)

Schroeder,D. and Mooney,C. 2009. Fire Behaviiour in Simulated Mountain Pine Beetle Attacked Stands Interim Report 2008 Archer Lake Burn Trials.

Kautz, J. 1997. Appendix C — insulated boxes for protecting video cameras. In Surviving fire entrapments: comparing conditions inside vehicles and fire shelters. Edited by R. Mangan. USDA For. Serv. Missoula Tech. Dev. Cent. Tech. Rep. 9751- 2817-MTDC. pp. 39–40.

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