View Full Version : Sailboat filming from a motorboat. Help needed to start.
February 12th, 2011, 04:43 PM
I have been asked by a Large sail maker to assist them in some filming. It would be everything from shooting footage of lectures to following along the boats in a motorboat filming the boat while the driver narrates the situation. It's going to be used for training and coaching purposes mainly, but will have to be high enough quality for production and distribution.
I have several issues that i'm concerned about. I'll start with the top 3.
1. I need to pick a camera that will suit. My research has drawn me towards the Canon XF100/105 (as soon as it's release). I like the compact size and it's being tapeless, but it's still full featured enough that I can shoot a wedding, lacrosse game... and not feel immediately as if I need a new camera. Most all my footage will be outside or in a well lit hall so I don't believe the single cmos will be a huge issue for me. What ever I get, I want to be a good enough camera that it can be my second once I can afford to get a XF300/305 for my main camera.
2. I need to be able to support the camera and record quality footage from a pitching moving surface. I don't know what type of Stedicam type support would be best. What ever it is, I would like it to be single handed, (so I can hold on to the boat with the other) and it has to be compact enough that I won't snag and get in the way of everything else in the boat (they are small motorboats that we will be following from.
3. I need to work out a mic set-up that will record the the voice of the driver as he narrates the situations while blocking out the noise of the wind and minimizing the noise of the motor. Our boats are open so when driving at speed following a sailboat as they sail up wind the wind speed in your face could be about 20+mph. My thought for the set-up is a Lectrosonics 100 series lavaliere set-up with a headset mic like a Lectrosonics HM162MC.
Am I on the right track?
February 13th, 2011, 05:29 AM
I busy working and don't have the time to reply to this properly right now but you might want to do a search about filming from boats. There are a few threads on this subject already. They may answer some of your questions. But probably not all.
February 13th, 2011, 08:55 AM
Thanks, I've been looking. My problem is that it's a daluge of information. I'm overwhelmed and thought if I started a thread to have my questions answered in one spot. I guess even a link to another thread would be helpful.
February 13th, 2011, 09:11 AM
Also take a look at the aerial and filming from helicopters threads. Photos of some rigs here -
Paul R Johnson
February 13th, 2011, 09:26 AM
From my own experience of boats in the sea, they're horrible. When boats go fast, the water is like concrete. Not so bad on inland waterways, but the ride is rough and boats change direction very quickly. A proper stabiliser will work, but there's a really good chance the lurches will bottom it out, or actually crash the rig into the boat. Wide angle and hand held works, but any form of zoom rather than getting close is a problem. They make helicopters seem stable!
Do you have to record the driver live? Probably I'd use a headset mic with small hairy windshield, to get the mic as close to the mouth as you can. An omni will help a little with wind noise. In the past, I've used a short shotgun in a basket windshield with hairy cover VERY close in - but it looks horrible. A voice over added afterwards will be much, much better.
Don't forget that water is a big problem. No way I'd take a naked camera into a power boat. See if you can borrow/buy a waterproof cover. I have two - a Sony hard case (which I can't use because the camera it was designed for died - and the current one doesn't fit) and a bag type - optical glass in a flexible plastic bag with compression seal. These are essential - and if you drop the camera, it floats! If you don't have these, then get a screw in polariser filter or other clear one, and then put the camera into a see-through bag and tape the opening shut around the new filter. It's not fully waterproof, but will keep the worst off. If the sailing is at sea - salt water kills electronics.
Feet apart, wide angle, bent elbows and it's not too bad.
February 13th, 2011, 10:50 AM
When they filmed "Swallows and Amazons" in the 70s and they wanted close ups, they attached a raft to the dinghy and set up the camera on that. I suspect it slowed down the dinghy a bit and might not be popular in a race. Roll tacks might be a problem as well.
I drove a powerboat for a BBC crew once. It was inland and fairly quiet. The cameraman sat at the front with the camera on his lap and I steered the boat to get the shot. I think it helped being a cameraman, powerboat drive and racing sailor as I knew how to get in close without impeding any of the boats (well not too many).
February 13th, 2011, 12:33 PM
Thanks guys! That helps. A few things. Most the filming will be during tuning sessions so the boat will be by themselves and we can get as close as we'd like to them. We won't be going more then 10 MPH or so. The main thing we will be focusing on (because of who the client is) will be the sails so we just need to be close enough to get the whole sail plan in the shot.
With regard to the voice... I need the driver live. He's the sailmaker and we don't have time to voice it after the shoot. He wants to use it as soon as we hit shore. a typical day's events are lecture in the AM, time sailing, then watching film of the sailing. We're going to save all the footage though and narrate it for the distributed part of the project.
I'm thinking that i'll just try holding it, and see how it goes. i'll re-evaluate stabilization after that. You're right about waterproofing. that was next up on my concerns. I guess i should have prioritized it higher. Would you recommend a hard case if I could swing it? Or are the bags good enough?
Thanks for your help.
February 13th, 2011, 02:57 PM
Hi Paul - I was part of a crew filming a national sailing regatta a couple of years back. Hand held with OIS worked best. Light water protection was enough. We weren't concerned about sound, but if I had to be in that situation I'd be thinking dual sound: on-camera mic for synch with a face mic to a PVR on the commentator.
February 13th, 2011, 03:12 PM
So, why the dual mics? I had thought of just a single wireless headset mic with an on camera receiver.
I think I may be misunderstanding you. I really don't need to record audio from anything over then the driver.
February 13th, 2011, 03:15 PM
And I just realised you won't have time to put it together. No, wireless is fine.
Paul R Johnson
February 13th, 2011, 03:34 PM
I've found the bag to be fine - mine's flexible enough to allow me to start and stop properly, but any small switches need setting. It works underwater too, although the hard case is waterproof to a greater degree depth wise. For spray, the bag type one is great. I was trying to find a little windsurfing material to upload - but can't find it at the moment.
February 15th, 2011, 03:03 AM
Here are links to a couple of threads which may be useful:
February 15th, 2011, 05:40 PM
I've done a bit of filming from a boat, here's the sound setup that I used and it worked quite well.
An Audio Technica lavalier mic with a foam windscreen glued on did a pretty good job. Since I've only recently registered, I can't post the file here. But here's a quick youtube video with a sample of the sound:
YouTube - Motor boat sound demo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBCi2R3Y708)
I recorded dual sound, with an on-camera shotgun being the second source. The shotgun picked up a lot more wind noise, I think the low profile of the lavalier helped quite a bit with this. As far as the camera goes, I use a Petrol PRC-10N all-weather bag to cover up my Sony AX-2000 and it works very well. One thing I did do, which I highly recommend, is tethering the camera to your wrist. I just used a velcro surfboard leash.
Handheld is the way to go, especially if you need to hold on!
February 16th, 2011, 09:32 PM
I film a lot on Lake O and if you want smooth "chase" style footage, use the largest boat you can to film from. Filming hand-held from a bouncing skiff is a sure recipe for disaster, or at least really shaky footage.
With the larger boat you worry a lot less about spray and damaging equipment. And if you really don't think you can afford to use two hands to operate the camera, the boats probably too small...
February 21st, 2011, 10:46 PM
I'd be worried about CMOS + motorboat = jellocam if I were just holding the cam (ie not on a gyro stabilizer). Just something to think about.