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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old October 10th, 2010, 02:54 PM   #1
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PT-17 and CP's

Hi folks
I've been haunting this forum for the last three years (back when I first picked up my XHA1) and have found buckets of great information.
But now I need to be a little more proactive and directly ask for some input;

My wife just recently bought me (for my birthday) a ride in a Stearman PT-17 bi-plane at the Lonestar Flight Museum in Galveston... and I'm going next weekend!
I had at first considered bringing along the small Canon HV20, but after discovering how bad the video can look with the Rolling Shudder effect and that there pretty much is no way around it since that camera is CMOS... I decided I'll bring a long my XH A1 instead.

Here's where I could use some input. I have been using this camera mainly for night high school football games, soccer, volleyball and little league games. So my experience with it has been somewhat limited to just sports. I am an experienced videographer and have shot pro TV for many years... but this little camera is still a complex little puppy for me... I still have a time trying to decide on the proper settings and not wearing it on my shoulder disallows all the years of experience I have with pro EFP gear.

So what I'm searching for is some input as to what settings would be best for my flight.
What settings... especially shutter speed would you recommend?
What Preset (custom or built-in) would you recommend?
Should I buy a polarizer and possibly sacrifice using the lens shade? (We're flying at 10am in the morning).
I have a Steady-Stick... should I try to use that in the cockpit for smoother video or would it be too limiting (or maybe not even allowed)?
How would you manage the audio? I have a stereo XLR mic that I usually use, but I thought I'd strip the camera down for the flight (for safety reasons)... but I could possibly feed the cable down to the floor or seat and just lay the mic out of the way and out of the wind... but I'm not sure if that's even feasible.

Any help and input would be greatly appreciated since the flight is coming up fast! (Whoo Hoo!)
I will be very happy to upload my posted video as soon as it's ready as payback.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
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Old October 10th, 2010, 04:04 PM   #2
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G'day Kirk.
I can only advise you re. still photography aerials but hopefully it will help. Forget the polariser. Too fiddly and you need whatever light you can get. No zoom. I use a 35mm fixed lens on my Nikon D90 with good results. Image stabilizer on. Shutter speed about 600. This minimized the effect of the vibration/shudder in the plane. Works for my digital SLR. I assume it will do the same on video? Don't lean on or touch the frame of the plane (it's tempting) when filming as this will directly transfer vibration. If you shoot with sun at zenith it will give you more shooting options (no having to come around with sun at your back) which will save a lot of time. If you're shooting around 10am the upside will be that you will have more ground definition due to shadows but will have to manage sun angle. I assume the audio will only be background so just use the on board mike. If you're doing voice over, do it in post.
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Old October 10th, 2010, 04:16 PM   #3
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On second thoughts, not really sure about the frame rate. I think it only relates to sharpness/focus on stills. It will depend on light on the day.
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Old October 10th, 2010, 07:31 PM   #4
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Hi Kirk,

you'll be in the front cockpit strapped in tight wearing a helmet with a mic and goggles. They'll probably offer you some aerobatics which you should take for the experience and if they offer you a few minutes flying it you should do that too. You should have instructions what to wear and bring, don't do it on an empty stomach :(

The A1 is way too big, you'd never see through the viewfinder or manage the LCD, you'd have to have it strapped down too but they probably won't allow it for safety reasons.

Check Utube for rides in Stearman PT-17 vids. note how the cams bounce around.

Just take a stills cam or the HV20 with a good wrist strap, on wide angle, auto focus with the OIS on .. and have the sound turned down to about 1/2 the green dots and wrap a big woollen sock around the cam to help stop the sound of the wind blast. At HARS we find any more than that and folk regret missing the actual experience.

If you can, have someone on the ground with the A1 to capture your take off and landing.

Cheers.
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Old October 11th, 2010, 12:16 AM   #5
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I've flown with the Red Baron stunt team, and they use open-cockpit bi-planes. I had a big Beta SP camera. Just hold on tight!
Take off the lens shade, as it acts as an airbrake and makes the camera vibrate and shake. It's hard to stop the wind noise, it's just like hanging a camera out of a car window at 90mph. Keep your iris on manual - set it ahead before being airborne. Shoot wide, but you will probably have opportunites to zoom in and out. Try pans from the forward view off to the side. If you can, turn the camera around a few times to video yourself.
Did I mention to hold on tightly to the camera?
Take Dramamine, you'll have enough to worry about without hurling your lunch. Have fun!
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Old October 11th, 2010, 12:40 PM   #6
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I have and use and HV-20.
Use shutter preferred at 250th/sec and 30p. You want to catch prop blur.

I have a cable with a 1/4-inch mono phone plug to 3.5-mm stereo plug.
You will also need a 1/4-inch mono plug with two 1/4-inch mono jacks Y-plug for the headset jack. This will enable you to plug in your headset and pick off the intercom audio to feed into the HV-20 3.5 mm stereo jack.

Make certain the mic has a good foam muff to reduce wind noise. You can adjust the Stearman's seat height to suit your needs for windscreen protection.

Teather some parachute cord to the HV-20 tripod attach with a bolt/screw long enough to fit securely with a couple washers. Sandwich the paracord between the two washers and tighten the bolt/screw. Should the plastic hand strap attach points fail, you still have a secondary, secure attach lanyard.

Pan SLOWLY so as not to create a blur with the slow shutter speed and frame rate. Use the viewfinder and medium/wide zoom setting. Where you look is where the camera will focus. Use two hands. You will most likely have a lap belt and an additional four-point harness (and maybe a parachute).

If you are doing rolls, point the camera toward the down going wing, at the center of the strut between the top and bottom wings. Hold it still throughout the roll.

If you are doing loops, start with the camera aimed at the top of the cowling at the top of the cylinders. As the nose comes up, slowly pan your head back to you can see the top of the top wing (cutout) and hold through the loop. As the horizon becomes visible, slowly tilt your head/pan down to capture the top of the cowling. You will feel the G's come on as the loop is completed, so try to hold very steady. Brace your arms against your chest to help keep the camera from going below the windscreen.

Hope this helps.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 07:48 AM   #7
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Thanks for the input, guys.
I guess I'll go with the HV20 instead of the XHA1 in this case... the HV20 being so much smaller.

BTW on these museum flights they don't do any acrobatics. From what I understand it's pretty much take off, do a loop around Galveston and then back to the hangar. I'm hoping though that I can talk the pilot into a steep climb, dive and maybe a wing-over or two. :-)
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Old October 12th, 2010, 08:05 AM   #8
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If the pilot's not going to go gangsta up there, I strongly urge you take the XH A1. I did it with an old betacam and those things are boat anchors. In fact, I might have even done it with the old 3/4" deck between my legs, but I can't remember now. If I could do it with one of those, the A1 would be a cinch. To me, the A1 is a small camera. Go with the best camera you've got - this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Take full advantage of it.

But whichever you decide, have a fun flight!
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Old October 12th, 2010, 11:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen Vandermolen View Post
If the pilot's not going to go gangsta up there, I strongly urge you take the XH A1. I did it with an old betacam and those things are boat anchors. In fact, I might have even done it with the old 3/4" deck between my legs, but I can't remember now. If I could do it with one of those, the A1 would be a cinch. To me, the A1 is a small camera. Go with the best camera you've got - this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Take full advantage of it.

But whichever you decide, have a fun flight!
Glen, did you use that EFP camera in a PT-17?
I'm 5'11" and weigh about 198... will I be like a Chilean miner coming up in the rescue pod? :-)

I hear ya about this being a once in a lifetime experience... and I really do want the best video... but I also want to enjoy the flight. Humm.....
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Old October 12th, 2010, 06:33 PM   #10
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Okay, I'm coming down to a final choice of the HV20 over the XHA1... mainly because I don't want to risk injury to my XH. :-)
I seem to be finding a general consensus that Tv at 1/250 would be best, but I'm still stuck on whether to use 60i or 30p... and/or should I use Cinema mode?

Well, I dug out the manual and I'm going through it again. I'll make my best judgment call (and keep googling right up to that day. Ha!)

Thanks for your help, guys!
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Old October 12th, 2010, 07:13 PM   #11
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I suggest the HV20 at TV @ 50, otherwise the prop will strobe and look unnatural.

Also I was videoing Sydney Harbour recently and had time to try all HV20 speeds and I found that any faster than TV 50 the lovely sunlit blue colour of the waters turned into a light grey/blue colour, worse at 250 and up.

Cheers.
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Old October 12th, 2010, 09:41 PM   #12
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If you can, go to the airport early.
Shoot some 'test' video at the different settings:
shutter 100 @ both 30p and 60i
shutter 250 @ both 30p and 60i
Replay and determine which settings give you the results you want.
The Stearman prop will turn about 1500-1800 RPM at normal cruise.

As part of your test shots, if there are other rides before yours, see if they will let you on the ramp off to one side by a wing. Be on the up-sun side and video the engine start and taxi to takeoff. This will give you some footage to edit into the beginning of your video. Also shoot the aircraft as it return, taxiing back to the ramp and shutting down.
If you have an external shotgun mic with a foam muff and dead cat, that will help cut the prop blast noise and give you cleaner engine sound audio.
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