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Old September 15th, 2009, 11:55 AM   #1
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How can i record audio conversation from the airplanes @ an airshow?

Could you help me in a stepby step guide with suggestions regarding how to record the audio conversations of the fighter pilots @ an airshow?

thx
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Old September 15th, 2009, 01:40 PM   #2
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I assume you have a ATC scanner and know the frequencies that are going to be used? Once that's sorted you need to put it on manual (ie the scanning function defeated) and adjust your squelch so that there is silence between transmissions (not a blast of white sound).

You are going to need some sort of cable to connect the scanner to the camera or audio recorder. Some scanners still have a mono jack connector, but most now have a stereo 1/8″ (3.5 mm) minijack (it's not a stereo signal though, L and R are the same.) Without knowing what your camera/recorder is, it's hard to say exactly what cable you need. A line (not mic level) input on the camera/recorder will be needed and the output volume on the scanner will need to be kept fairly low so as not to cause distortion. The audio quality will be fairly low anyway.
*One other basic point - you will need to set the record gain manually. AGC would not like the bursts of speech separated by silence.

How am I doing so far?

Last edited by Colin McDonald; September 15th, 2009 at 02:20 PM. Reason: Spelling + AGC comment
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Old September 15th, 2009, 03:33 PM   #3
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You'll probably need a relatively high-end scanner as well, military air-band is a completely different frequency range than civilian. While the demo groups might talk to the air boss on a civilian band frequency, their plane-to-plane will likely be in the military band.

A good place to learn more about this might be here: Radio Scanner Guide - Part 3D: Military Aircraft
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Old September 15th, 2009, 04:16 PM   #4
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Plenty of wideband scanners on eBay quite cheap. A pretty common product. I use the short cable I already have for my Sennheiser radio receiver - wiring works fine, straight into XLR. For anyone not aware, airband audio quality is variable - from not too bad, to simply dire! Any aircraft with open cockpit has pilot audio with very high background noise, and often they shout, making it pretty distorted. Audio levels vary greatly - this is the most annoying thing - the local ATC being very loud, the distant aircraft quite quiet. It is fascinating though once you get your ear 'tuned' to the style of speech - fast, clipped and often quite broken up. My favourite scanner is the Icom R2, which mounts quite neatly on the back of the camera, and has plenty of memory channels. Lots of these are much happier being programmed on a PC, as button prodding is often very fiddly doing it on the radio.

I use mine as a check receiver for my radio mics - having all the common channels programmed in. I find it easier to use these receivers to find busy/clear channels than doing it on the proper radio mic receivers.
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Old September 15th, 2009, 05:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcus Martell View Post
Could you help me in a stepby step guide with suggestions regarding how to record the audio conversations of the fighter pilots @ an airshow?

thx
Marcus, I find that during airshow displays fighter pilots don't say that much, just some numbers during their routine.

I park the cam, a radio mic or a recorder next to a PA speaker to get a free commentary. During the US displays at Avalon each year the USAF and Navy bring their own commentators. You can end up with a lot of audio editing but it adds great colour.

Cheers.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 01:51 AM   #6
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Hola guys, i couldn't imagine there out such a lot of aviation shooters out there!LOL
It's the first time i try to record the audio straight from the cockpit but i think that if i'll make it,as you say, it will add a lot of color to the edit! I'm tryin to find on ebay one of those wideband scanners....
What about the airshows in US, r them pretty close to the crowd or everything changed a little bit?Here in Eu something has changed since on aug 28th 1988 in Ramstein (Germany) the Italian acrobatic team had an accident and there were a lot of victims.
Usually how many cams do you use to shoot? Are you free to move in different places of the airbase?
Did anybody have the chance to record video from inside the cockpit?

Thx a lot
P.s:another quest:1/50 shutter should be fine to shoot the jets right?
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Old September 16th, 2009, 04:03 AM   #7
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If you are not sure of the freqs, head to the airport or aero club helping out with the show.
I find if I give them a copy of the DVD, they will help you as much as possible.

Find out the local CTAF (common traffic advisory frequency) used at the airport, as thats the one that will be used. As Allan said, Military pilots dont say much.. even GA pilots conducting a display say little. Only one pilot, the late Pip Boorman of Australia would give a commentary that was broadcast live over the PA.

What you will find on the radio are the regular conversations asking for taxi permission, entering runways, rolling, display starting, inbound, joining circuit, downwind, turning base and finals as well as clear of runways calls.

These do make the video really interesting and give the viewer a sense of being there.

The biggies tech wise are practicing camera panning techniques, where you have to frame the aircraft for 180 degrees of pan, as well as being able to pan almost overhead.

I find raising the pan bar to the base of the camera to avoid it fouling the sticks when pointing skywards is the first one. Avoiding focus errors by working at f16 and prefocussing is a must. (Switch off AF, as it will hunt around) Also practice working with your eye away from the viewfinder, so you dont trip over the tripod panning to the far right.

Practicing pans at the local airport will help you perfect this.
Not only that, but once the local pilots get to know you, they will offer you a ride or two.. :)

The next one is to make sure you can wire the scanner into the camera. I use a portable clipped into the portabrace glove, and plug into the earphone output to one of the XLR inputs flicked to 'line'. If you dont have a line input, you can make a 10db pad using a 10k resistor.

Of course, the usuals apply... earplugs (or headphones) to stop you going deaf, a water bottle, spare tapes and batteries for the day, and if working airside, a fluro safety vest is a must.

HTH
Ben

My camera has two XLR inputs on the back, so the scanner goes onto Ch1, and the nat sound on Ch2, with mixing done in post.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 06:43 AM   #8
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[QUOTE=Ben Longden;1359321]If you are not sure of the freqs, head to the airport or aero club helping out with the show.
I find if I give them a copy of the DVD, they will help you as much as possible.



The biggies tech wise are practicing camera panning techniques, where you have to frame the aircraft for 180 degrees of pan, as well as being able to pan almost overhead.

I always wondered ho to shoot when a couple of jets pass straight over your head and you have the cam on the tripod.....

I find raising the pan bar to the base of the camera to avoid it fouling the sticks when pointing skywards is the first one. Avoiding focus errors by working at f16 and prefocussing is a must. (Switch off AF, as it will hunt around) Also practice working with your eye away from the viewfinder, so you dont trip over the tripod panning to the far right.


Of course i'll work in manual focus mode....
I was thinking to use the infinity function whaen the planes are in the sky.What do u think?


Practicing pans at the local airport will help you perfect this.
Not only that, but once the local pilots get to know you, they will offer you a ride or two.. :)

I guess theese are not fighter pilot right?Have u ever been in flight on a f16 or stuff like that?



The next one is to make sure you can wire the scanner into the camera. I use a portable clipped into the portabrace glove, and plug into the earphone output to one of the XLR inputs flicked to 'line'. If you dont have a line input, you can make a 10db pad using a 10k resistor.

I have a line input


Of course, the usuals apply... earplugs (or headphones) to stop you going deaf, a water bottle, spare tapes and batteries for the day, and if working airside, a fluro safety vest is a must.

Wow ,what more can i ask you as suggestions?I guess u have a lot of experience in shooting airshows.ISN't it?
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Old September 17th, 2009, 07:42 AM   #9
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Most airshows cannot do the aeros OVER the crowds, as a miscalulation on the pilots behalf can, and has killed many people. So the airshow is held literally in front of you, and above to an angle of about 60 degrees.

Typically aircraft are flown in a low pass above the runway, or to the side of the runway away from the crowd. This means presetting focus is easy. Dont automatically use infinity, as these activities are usually around 100 metres in front of you.
Stopping the lens down to f16 means you will be using hyperfocussing, and you will have a depth of field from infinity to 20 metres or so in front of you, in this case.

All aircraft involved at that airfield have to follow the direction of the resident controller, and must fly in a special pattern, called a circuit, which is roughly rectangular.

Most circuits have a left turn, where the traffic is not flying above the crowd, but in front of the crowd. However, this depends on the local procedures, and also the ATC requirements on the day.

By practicing at the local airport, you will see these things at work. Approach one of the pilots and ask questions. Tell him/her what you are doing, and they will happily oblige and show you where the traffic will be. If the airport has a flying school, even better.
Ask them to give you a hand, and help point out where the circuit turns are (especially if a student is flying and doing circuits)

For planes that are going overhead, then work with your eye away from the viewfinder, and feet out of the tripod, so you can still frame the shot, but be able to move the camera really REALLY quickly... This takes a lot of practice, and is best done at the end of the active runway.. well, not ON the runway, but somewhere safe on the extended centreline of the runway.

Most aero clubs are really active on the weekends, so head down on Saturday mid morning to see whats happening. Don't be afraid to stick your head in, as every club needs a video enthusiast they can call on.

Ive never flown in a military jet... yet... just lots of Cessnas and Pipers.. (yes, I am a qualified pilot, so that does help)

Ben
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Old September 18th, 2009, 03:25 PM   #10
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I knew u were a pilot...lol
I'm bringing with me a wide , but unf i don't have a tele......Do u use it?
Shutter speed suggestions?Do u shoot with one or 2 cameras?
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Old September 18th, 2009, 04:42 PM   #11
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Most UK displays operate a hold, a place where the aircraft due to display wait - if you listen in to ATC for the display, you'll get useful information on what is lined up, and hear them give the 'clear to display, or clear to commence run-in' - very handy so you are ready. You sometimes get cancellations and changes this way too. At the Lowestoft one recently, the second day weather was a bit grim, and some planes in the hold decided not to display at all, and went off to their next one.

The best comms is the Red Arrows - dial up 243.450MHz, AM and you hear non-stop instructions from the leader, including all sorts of shouting and grunting. Any display that has two or more aircraft will have comms between them on a different channel usually, although some of the French teams do their comms on the general airshow channel, in French.

Even if you don't use the audio, it's really handy.

One thing worth pointing out is that strictly speaking, a license (almost impossible to get) is required for receiving aviation transmissions. Incorporating them into your edits is something that I guess you shouldn't do, but plenty do. This is the state of play for the VHF civilian airband. The UHF Military airband is even worse, because you can't even get a licence if you applied. Pretty obvious reasons really.

As a bit of background, aviation enthusiasts have also got some other interesting kit that strictly speaking may or may not be strictly legal. Most people have seen movies or documentaries where the radar screen has little blips for the aircraft, and each blip has the callsign, type, height and other data just underneath it. Each aircraft is fitted with a transponder and when the ground radar 'interogates' it, the unit replies with a little burst of data. This is where the data on the radar screen comes from. You can now buy a receiver that connects to your computer, and duplicates these on your computer monitor. So you can have your own radar and see where all the aircraft are going in real time. I've got one of these, and very annoyingly, all military aircraft keep their location secret - sometimes kind of saying who they are, but not where they are!

These systems would be pretty good added to the edit - but the users are unsure of the legality again. If you're into aviation, there are plenty of goodies available.

For those with no interest, sorry for going off on one!
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Old September 19th, 2009, 02:32 AM   #12
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That's very interesting info, Paul. Of course, the concept of needing a license to 'receive' a transmission is totally foreign (forgive the slight pun!) to those of us on the other side of "The Pond." Here in your former colonies, the airwaves (with a few exceptions) are considered a "public" resource and the public can receive any transmission a citizen is willing to buy the equipment to pick up. We only require licenses if you want to transmit a signal. Equipment to receive the aviation band is widely, and cheaply, available here. Since Marcus is in Spain, I wonder what the radio regulatory scheme is there. Do they follow the UK model you described, or are they more like the US in that regard, or perhaps something totally different? I guess that's something Marcus will have to investigate for himself.

Also, I'd like to hear a bit more about receiving the radar transponder for display on a computer sometime. I wasn't aware that such equipment was available to the general public. As a pilot, IT consultant, amateur radio operator, and amateur videographer, that's something I'd be very interested in exploring one day.

Thanks for going off on that tangent! We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread discussion...
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Old September 19th, 2009, 04:42 AM   #13
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Priceless info guys on this site!That's what our wifes don't understand when we'r awake on late knight typing and typing on dvinfo !
Same over your houses i guess, isn't it?
Last suggestion:i'll use a rode ntg-1 to cop a good audio from the jet engines.Do you suggest me to not go over(which meter line)?
thx

Last edited by Marcus Martell; September 19th, 2009 at 09:42 AM.
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