Standard Operating Procedure for Aerial Recording:
Please see the general methods sop on how to set up lighting, white boards, cameras, illuminators, and recording systems.
Recording positions change depending on the behavior of interest. In general, recording from above is a good option especially when recording stereotypic behaviors, but sometimes the details of behaviors are recorded best from the side of the cage see standard operating procedures for recording behavior. There are basic disadvantages to every camera position. When recording from the side, there are problems with depth perception and visibility. Side recording loses information about the animal's exact location in the cage, which makes it difficult to accurately measure some movement behaviors like bar-mouthing. When recording from an aerial position, the animal's movement in the cage is easily detected, however the details of body positioning become harder to measure. In this recording position, general visibility obstruction is dramatically improved by 1) minimizing the amount of food on the cagetop, and 2) by replacing the water bottle with a long, clear tube attached to a water source outside of the recording area. In any recording position, the lighting source should be moved relevant to the position of the camera. It is also important to focus the lens of the camera in infrared conditions, because the focal length of camera is different under visible light conditions.
Cameras, lights, and water bottle are mounted approximately 18 inches above cage. A plastic water tube and a couple food pellets on the cagetop reduce visual obstruction. The cage is placed on a nonreflective surface to minimize glare.
It is very difficult to set-up lighting conditions that do not cause a glare off of the materials under the view of the camera lens. For instance, materials can often be reflective during the night but not during the day. Checking recording conditions in the dark can help reduce this problem.
The pictures below are an example of aerial recording set-up with side camera set-up. Notice the positions of the white boards, cameras, illuminators, and the computer recording set-up.