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Canon GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old August 19th, 2006, 03:42 PM   #16
New Boot
 
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I won't lie, I get tired and will listen to what the announcer is saying. As soon as they finish that sentence/subject, I'll hit pause and take a quick break while the plane repositions. You don't realize how much the announcers add to the atmosphere of a show until you're filming where you can't hear them. Its not better or worse, just different.

Totally agree on the telextenders. Unless you memorize in your mind what the lowest zoom before vignetting begins, you'll have a lot of "tunnelvision" shots. Pyro displays, close taxi shots and formation crossover all need wide angles. Yet high altitude climbs, detail footage and general in-your-face work needs the zoom power.

Ahem, camera manufacturers of the world, please give us a 3CCD shoulder mount with no silly frills and a big ole 30x zoom that doesn't cost an arm and a firstborn son.
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Old August 19th, 2006, 11:06 PM   #17
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If you find yourself sitting off some distance and having to use a tripod, if the option is there, it is sometimes helpful to move the tripod handle to the front, mount the camera higher on the tripod with an extender or packing piece. Agreed, tripods are a curse for high overheads.

It helps to practice knowing where the selector switch for autofocus is and use this for setting up or recovering focus if you happen to lose it manually.

A useful contraption has been a home-made optical relay (AGUS35 arrangement with flip prism path without the groundglass installed). To this, I fitted up a Sigma 50mm - 500mm f4 - 6.3 still-camera zoom lens.

I have tried using two harmonised cams on the one tripod, one fully wide, one close-in. It doesn't really work as for following movement, the wide cam has no provision to lead the subjects motion for nose-room in the frame, but keeps the subject in centre of frame which compositionally is totally dull.

However, boresighting using a closer frame on one camera, and recording to a wider frame on another, gives you the most incredibly steady follows on the wides. The best method is not to have too much difference between the sighting camera zoom setting and the recording camera zoom setting.

The boresighting camera frame centres on the tail of the aircraft which in the wider recorded shot gives the noseroom for best composition.

You could probably achieve something similar with a single camera by making a transparent mask of coloured filter gel with a centre clear frame for the boresight area, taping this over the LCD screen and wearing close-up eyeglasses to get really close to the LCD screen to detect and follow subtle movements in the smaller frame.
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Old August 20th, 2006, 01:14 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hart
I have tried using two harmonised cams on the one tripod, one fully wide, one close-in. It doesn't really work as for following movement, the wide cam has no provision to lead the subjects motion for nose-room in the frame, but keeps the subject in centre of frame which compositionally is totally dull.

. . . .

You could probably achieve something similar with a single camera . . . . .
Bob, this is EXACTLY the question I was going to raise and you have certainly "filled-in" most of the areas that worried me. But could you please explain a little further concerning the "gels" - please?
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Old August 20th, 2006, 09:04 AM   #19
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The piece of gel would simply be a mask over the LCD screen like safe area masks you see on production monitors in motion picture work. It could have a small frame drawn on it or a frame cut out of it so the smaller frame would be clear and the surrounding area coloured.

To get the magnification, therefore the finer degree of control, you would also need to use close-up glasses, which would enable you to see in detail, within this smaller area well inside your camera's displayed safe frame on the LCD screen.

This smaller frame would need to be about one quarter the size of the full LCD screen or even smaller if you can work with it. The resolution of the LCD screen itself starts to become a problem and it sometimes becomes difficult to know if your focus is off if you have become fixated on maintaining the framing.

It is this smaller scale within the larger picture which enables you to instinctively make finer camera movements. If you can't see in magnified scale, the small deviations from being on target with your camera, then you won't make the fine instinctive adjustments in tracking.

A gel mask is the simplest method.

Alternatively, for sighting, you could twin mount, a stills camera with a long lens on it, best if it is a zoom so you can aquire your aircraft then zoom in on it. If you lose the aircraft you zoom back and re-aquire it.

You could also use a rifle scope sight but aquiring the subject or re-aquiring when you lose it can be much more difficult as this device is usually a fixed telephoto view.

The windage and distance adjustments could be handy for setting up nose-room on a not too different frame size but I found straightaway I simply could not get on with it and moved on.

You need to use the camcorder eyepiece finder with the camcorder view on fully wide to aquire, zoom in to chosen framing, then switch eyes to the scope sight for smooth tracking, a messy business with lots of chances of getting confused and losing your subject altogether.

For best results, you need to train yourself to alternately use both eyes, one for the video camera, one for the sight. It is also not true matching binocular vision. The sight has to be mounted level with the finder eyepiece and the correct distance apart from it as in binoculars.

The mounting of the sight has to be adjustable for vertical centering and also to enable the choice of offset for nose-room if the sight's own adjustments are too small unless it goes much closer in than your camera view.

A rig with two cameras gets a bit awkward for handholding so some sort of brace or a tripod is better, which then brings us back to tripod problems again.

For side-on fly-bys or aeros, the two video cameras, one wide - one tele is not so great and you really need to decide one or the other which is going to be your wanted shot and frame accordingly that camera and ignore the other until you want to switch views again.

Near to front-on to known intended flight direction, the movement is one-way and slower, so you can choose nose-room for the wide camera view and lock it relative to telephoto view. It is still not ideal but will get you good coverage of repetitive and rehearsable events like spot landing competitions also formation takeoffs.

If you can get as safely front-on as you can without getting weedwhacked or causing hazard by way of distraction to the fliers, the harmonised two-camera setup is handy for getting close and wide-angle coverage.

It was mint for covering a simulated forced landing which went short and the propellor picked up the boundary tape with all its little triangle ribbons and wound it all in around the spinner.

You would of course get better coverage with two camera operators but my situation permitted only one set of eyes, hands and feet, my own.

This is probably not the ideal solution for doing this, just one of the methods I have evolved with the PD150 which I am led to believe is fairly close, in a general sense to the GL1 in optical behaviour.

There are more competent others in this game who would suggest with legitimate wisdom the merits of keeping things as simple as possible for ground-to-air videography and not make life so hard as I do.

In trying to follow an aircraft so close-in with the telephoto, I am attempting to pick off details like the pilot and movement of control surfaces, propellor pitch and rpm adjustments, fuel venting during acro routines and wheels touching ground etc..

As mentioned above, you need to have the onlooker coverage and the fixed wide shots where the aircraft does the moving otherwise it becomes dull footage very quickly.

Whilst care needs to be taken not to overdo it, some footage with high shutter speeds, say 1/150th sec to 1/300th sec, strobes the propellor and pulses the smoke trails, adding visual interest.

I'm looking forward to the Red Bulls Competition which Perth WA is hosting in November 2006. Anyone with experimental and ultralight interests may recall the Langley Park fly-ins.

Perth is probably the only capital city in the world where aircraft as large as a DHC Caribou or Buffalo can land and take off within a central city precinct.
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Old August 21st, 2006, 02:22 AM   #20
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Bob, thank you for taking the time in describing in more detail. I can see where I might employ parts of your approach when videoing wildlife too!
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Old August 21st, 2006, 03:53 AM   #21
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Something I neglected to mention is that the tripod I use is an old hickory legged fluid head Miller, dreadful heavy thing for carrying about. An old golf bag buggy can be sometimes helpful for dragging up steep hills if there are not too many rocks. Wheelbarrow wheels in place of the bike wheels also help.

A fluid head is pretty much necessary for smooth pans/tilts. Extending the pan/tilt handle on less smooth tripods, using both arms to move the tripod head, overhand grip on the lens, overhand grip well behind on end of the extended arm, body as close to centre as comfortable and using whole of upper body movements like shoulder rocking over the pivot centre for low positions, the bending of knees for high overheads described above helps.

I set the tripod legs narrow and tall to avoid kicking them. Fast passing movements by aircraft tend to have you pulling the tripod over as you attempt to pan with them.

If setting up on a semi-permanent spot it is sometimes handy to look for things in the ground like reticulation hatches for the gate valve wheels or handles inside, permanent aircraft tiedown points in an airpark or do it youself with a hammered in spike in an open field to pull the tripod down firm from its centre with a tension knot on a light rope or a cargo strap.

With the older fluid heads it is helpful to set them up in the sun some time beforehand to soften the friction material. I also make a habit of storing the tripod with all friction controls backed off to avoid extruding the friction material by pressure.

After set up and when the tripod head has warmed up as much as it will, I also exercise the friction material by moving the tripod head in full circles/long tilts for a few minutes with all the friction controls backed off. Sounds silly but it does make a difference.

CORRECTION TO PREVIOUS POST.

"The boresighting camera frame centres on the tail of the aircraft which in the wider recorded shot gives the noseroom for best composition."

For "tail" - read "nose". For some stupid reason I said "tail" instead of "nose". I was weary at the time.

Sorry for the confusion.
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Old August 25th, 2006, 12:29 AM   #22
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Bob, it sounds like you probably have some excellent footage of aircraft. If you could post some that would be awesome.

Your idea sounds a lot like an LCD alignment scope. Back when I used to use large telescopes I discovered the habit of keeping both eyes open: Look through the aligner with one eye and at the star with the other. If the images matched up, then it was aligned. Of course the stars are well behaved and only move 15 degrees per hours. Airplanes have the unruly habit of pitching up the second you get too comfortable. Try as I might, tripods only get in the way when I pan. In fact a film crew with a much larger setup than mine was at a recent show. After many tries to track fighter jets at 350mph they went to shoulder mounting and had far better success.

In my mind, the best solution would be a sort of boom-pod. A mono or tripod that could be set up behind you and with the camera extending forward on a boom. This would allow the user unrestricted foot movement and vertical tilting. Definitely would need a lot of counterbalance weight but its worth a try in the shop one day...
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