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Old January 7th, 2010, 04:09 PM   #1
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Settings and Gear filming from a Helicopter

I will soon have an opportunity to film from a helicopter using my 5D. Doors will be in place. I will be seated up front opposite the pilot. Obviously I need to insure a clean windshield. I normally shoot through a Zacuto z-finder but that places the camera against my face and far away from the windshield. Seems that I should have the camera lens near the windshield to minimize glare. Suggestions?

What procedure, equipment would you use to insure the smoothest capture possible? This is not a regular occurrence for me so consequently I do not want to spend a lot on exotic equipment. What can be done to minimize the vibration?

With regard to camera settings. What would be optimal? I would think a 20mm or wider lens, ISO of 100, f/8 or f16, shutter @ 1/125, N/D Filter adjusted for proper exposure.
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Old January 7th, 2010, 06:10 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Kent S. Jakusz View Post
I will soon have an opportunity to film from a helicopter using my 5D. [...] I normally shoot through a Zacuto z-finder but that places the camera against my face and far away from the windshield.
Since you're shooting from a helicopter, I would think you won't be pulling any focus but just leave it at infinity -- hence, no Z-finder needed.

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Old January 7th, 2010, 08:07 PM   #3
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I took some video from a biplane last month. I fully intended on using deshaker in virtualdub to clean up any shakes in the video.

Here's a couple observations based on my results.

When using deshaker you should use a higher shutter speed. At least 1/250. This is because if there's any picture blur from any shaking when deshaker stabilizes the film, you get strange "blur" hits in otherwise nice smooth video.

Deshaking footage makes it highly sensitive to barrel distortion. You actually introduce "jello" effect from this alone. This is because when stabilizing footage with barrel distortion the picture looks clean but near the edges of the video you can see "wobble" from the picture perspective changing with shaking. It looks just like rolling shutter "jello".

Most wide angle lenses exhibit some barrel distorion. This can be corrected and I do intend to try to do barrel distortion correction to my footage to see if I can eliminate the "jello" effect. I have not tried this yet so I cannot comment on any result. If you know a lens or zoom setting that minimizes barrel distortion then this would be optimal.

If you have no intention of doing any post electronic stabilization then these points are meaningless.

Good luck.
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Old January 7th, 2010, 08:23 PM   #4
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Peer that is a good point. Thank you. I will not be pulling focus and will not need the z-finder. Any suggestions as to how I might best insulate the camera from the helicopter vibrations?

Rick, I would use the smoother tool in FCP if need be. If I understand you correctly higher shutter speeds, above 1/250, allow a post smoother tool to do a better job.
Am I correct in assuming that if I use a lens with Image Stabilization that I should turn IS on?

Thanks Guys
Kent
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Old January 8th, 2010, 03:33 AM   #5
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Mike Fletcher has done some nice heli work. eg: vimeo.com/6639576... If you read through his comments you'll find (somewhere) he says he used a monopod jammed under his leg near his seat. might be worth a trawl...
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Old January 8th, 2010, 07:49 AM   #6
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The best way is to use a gyroscope.

They can be rented fairly inexpensively. And they make huge difference.

I would suggest a Kenyon Labs KS6 or KS8.
Kenyon Labs stabilizers

Definitely use manual focus.

It is not a good idea to shoot through plexi, if at all possible remove one of the doors.

It is a good idea to use an external monitor with a sunshade not mounted on the camera so you can tilt and turn the cam and still see frame clearly. This is very hard to do with just the MKII.
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Old January 8th, 2010, 10:59 AM   #7
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As far as I know in video is not recommended to have an exposure time shorter than 1/125th.
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Old January 8th, 2010, 11:57 AM   #8
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Helicopter shooting

Thanks men;
Olaf, the stabilizers certainly look like the way to go and they are not as expensive as I thought. they also look very portable.

Christian, Philip Bloom suggest shutter speed of 1/60 when possible. He also recommends that if higher shutter speeds are needed to increase in intervals divisible by 60. I am just repeating what I have read.

Thanks for the input

Kent
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Old January 9th, 2010, 07:37 AM   #9
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Even cheaper:

iSteadii 2.0 - Image Stabilizing Unit


And you definitely want to use a polarizer filter.
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Old January 9th, 2010, 07:52 AM   #10
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low tech IS (BS)

Justin;
I am not very handy. What would you charge to make a second one for me?
Thanks
Kent
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Old January 9th, 2010, 09:13 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Justin Kuhn View Post
And you definitely want to use a polarizer filter.
I do lots of aerials and never have much luck with polarizers. A risk is that you get the sky too dark and you can't work with it in post. It can reduce a little glare off the windows, but not much, and you need to avoid this glare anyway. And it can sometimes reduce haze a little, but it is more effective to control haze in post. Others may have better luck with polarizers, but I've had quite a bit of experience with this.
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Old January 9th, 2010, 09:26 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Olof Ekbergh View Post
It is not a good idea to shoot through plexi, if at all possible remove one of the doors.
That's for sure. In my case a lot of what I shoot is through plexiglas and I've tried lots of things to eliminate the glare. The best solution I've found is to use a soft bellows made from cutting up a truck shift boot from Pep Boys. This is soft enough you can press it against the plexiglas to block the glare, and flexible enough it doesn't transmit vibration.
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Old January 10th, 2010, 03:29 PM   #13
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rubber lens hood

Charles
I like your pep boys idea. Have you seen the rubber lens hood on ebay? I have used them. They collapse nicely, are inexpensive and do the job. I use variable ND filters and the rubber lens hood screws onto it. It acts as a hood but also allows a larger surface for adjusting the filter. These hoods are not real stiff. Your opinion.
Thanks
kent
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Old January 10th, 2010, 07:21 PM   #14
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Have you seen the rubber lens hood on ebay? ....Your opinion.
Kent, I'll try one. I need to go very wide angle now and then but it looks these hoods slip back to a wide angle position. Thanks, Chuck
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Old January 10th, 2010, 08:10 PM   #15
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I have a client that shoots forest fires almost every day in the summer from a chopper. He has a wild set up that I think has a 5D on it. He used a Glidecam cut down to fit in the front seat and has a string attached to the bottom of the sled to do tilts, he then feeds the video out of the cam to a pair of those "Eye glass" TV screen things and sticks his arm out the open window to shoot. Looks crazy and I'm sure I would barf from motion sickness wearing those glasses but he seems to make it work.
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