Nano with Helicopter Shooting, EX1, handheld Gyro HELP what settings? at DVinfo.net

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Old December 17th, 2009, 12:20 PM   #1
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Nano with Helicopter Shooting, EX1, handheld Gyro HELP what settings?

Hi guys got a helicopter shoot this month and was wondering what settings guys were using to get the smoothest images, the last shoot I did was with EX1 gyro and 720p over cranked which produced some nice results, I wanted some more detail in the buildings so bought the nano flash, been playing with the settings and not been able to find one which I like for conforming to 25p in cinema tools for over cranking, tired the long gop and i format also with a variety of recording rates. I am using FCP so far 140 in LONG GOP looks best in terms of smoothness.

Any advice greatly accepted.

Thanks Jonathan
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Old December 17th, 2009, 12:43 PM   #2
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Jonathan, you might want to define "smoothness" as it could represent a lot of different things.

When I see the term smoothness I think of framerate like 60p, but that is a choice outside of the Nanoflash.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 01:15 PM   #3
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I have been doing a few tests today with a steadicam with Long GOP 100mbs and I frame 140mbs and the sony ex1 in camera overcranking, settings used 720p 50 frames. The results I found were that when I conformed the Long GOP and I frame to 25p I found that both did not seem as smooth as the ex1 in camera over cranking in terms of what I could only describe as data judders. The ex1 in camera recording seemed to provide a much smoother image in terms of less data judders stop start when doing fast movements. The Nano recording in much higher bit rates just seemed to be a little more stop start maybe its the conforming in cinema tools? I took the shots into fcp batch converted out of FCP and than conformed. I am using FCP 7 and a quad core mac pro.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 02:45 PM   #4
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Are you shooting with the EX set to 720P50 or are you using 720P25 with S&Q set to 50fps? With S&Q the output from the HDSDi port is only 25 frames per second whatever frame rate you set S&Q too.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 03:06 PM   #5
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Hi Alister been shooting with 720 50p 60 frames SQ, when using the nano I have tried with both the S&Q motion on and off to see the quality difference but still not happy with the motion smoothness. Thanks Jonathan.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 05:33 PM   #6
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First things first.

A good Gyro mount and some experience.

The first time out is not for prime time, though you will get some good shots, a little experience will help to get an idea of what works.

The biggest thing is the pilot and shooter as a team. The pilot needs to understand what the shooter needs, and he/she needs to be very smooth.

If everything is smooth then shoot whatever way normally works for you. If not really sure I would shoot some over-crank.

Bring a really good field monitor and check how your shots come out. Once you have your chops down it is easy and very satisfying.
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Old December 17th, 2009, 08:38 PM   #7
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Jonathan,

I can help. I shoot about 60-80 days a year from full size machines through all types of weather and locations. The last two years I have used the EX1 and other cameras a lot with the Nano.

I need you to answer some questions before I can give you the best settings.
1. What gyros and mount?
2. What machine?
3. Does the pilot have a monitor?
4. Does the pilot fly a lot for video?
5. Is the producer flying with you?
6. How much finished footage is needed compared to flight time.
7. What are you shooting? City? Over water? mountains? Country?
8. Ask the pilot how many hours he has flying helicopters?

If you don't have time to answer questions so we can dial in your setting I will give you a few important tips.

You will need at least 4 - KS8 gyros, better to have 2 – KS12’s to make this work properly for broadcast level footage. We were up to 6-KS8 gyros and have found 4-KS12’s a HUGE improvement over the 6-KS8’s. Olof is right it takes a long time to dial it in with the pilot but it sounds like you don’t have practice time.

I will not fly with pilots that don't have at least 2000 hrs. It is a very different flight for the pilot since he is a HUGE part in framing the shot in his monitor. There is a lot of extra pressure on the pilot. NO hot dogs that does not help the footage at all. Stories some other time.

You have to understand what his controls are doing so you can talk controls to him and not what he sees in the frame. Read up on helicopter controls. It never hurts to fly the machine as a second pilot/student in the left seat some time with out your camera. If the pilot is a qualified instructor he will like that you understand the feel. The first time I did this years ago it all started to make sense. I am from a family of pilots so I was lucky here.

Know the machines limits as the shooter you should not push the pilot outside the machines limits.

Do not shoot overcranked. Whenever I hear this it tells me the shooter did not have the right stabilizing gear to shoot. And the EX1 does not look as good overcranked compared to crisp 1080p. We did multiple flights to test this and I am more then convinced.

I shoot 1080p. I shoot 30p on all of my shoots. Do not shoot interlaced it is a waste of time with the new cameras that shoot progressive. I stay at 1/60 shutter again higher shutter has it place but not for the pretty shot.

Set the Nano up at 100Mbps Long GOP. I have tried all the settings and if you are stable this gives great results from all of our test. Going higher bit rates and I-Frame will only show your mistakes if you are not stable it will not improve the shot.

Postproduction software will help but also reduces the resolution and sharpness greatly. If I think I need to stabilize the shot afterwards well I blew the shot.

Lock on the subject and follow it with light hands. Think smooth and look at the horizon. Keep the horizon as level as possible. It will not always be level but work toward it. Don’t move the frame quickly to level it out and loose that clip. Breath slowly sounds funny but is very important.

Stay wide and only zoom if you are very very confident that it is rock solid. I have with two KS-12’s been able to do 3 min clip at 60% zoom on the EX1 doing 40 kts. This takes time so stay wide. Use a remote to start and stop the camera. But make sure you are not holding it and zooming with out knowing.

My pilot always ask when we take off what I want so the producer knows. My response “Low and slow”. Never happens but at least they know what I want.

Stay relaxed it is a fun way to shoot and the Nano/EX is a great combination. Shocking how much better it is with the Nano.

I read your post while coming back from dinner with my wife and felt I needed to give my two cents since so many have helped me on this site and maybe now I can help. More tomorrow if you like but time for bed.

Don’t hesitate to ask more questions as you can see you have struck a cord with my passion. Next we can talk about shooting from boat to boat or on boats.

And please let us know how you make out!
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Old December 18th, 2009, 12:27 AM   #8
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Hi Paul

Thank you so much for your time in helping me with this, I have already made one flight which went reasonable, client was happy so thats a good point, as always I could see a lot of room for improvement. That day I over cranked just with the EX1 no nano. In the next few months I will be purchasing a mount for the gyros but not till more money in the bank.

1. What gyros and mount?

2 x KS8 Gyros with Micro Mount Hand Held, use a foam pillow on leg to absorb shocks as I hold the unit.

2. What machine?

AB-206

3. Does the pilot have a monitor?

No Monitor

4. Does the pilot fly a lot for video?

Yes

5. Is the producer flying with you?

No need for producer this is purely archive footage which will be cut at a later date used for documentary footage.

6. How much finished footage is needed compared to flight time.

1 hour flying finished footage after each flight when cut maybe 5-10 minutes

7. What are you shooting? City? Over water? mountains? Country?

Over a construction site, buildings and some boats. All the terrain is flat, last flight was 50-500 feet dependant on what height I required very flexible.

8. Ask the pilot how many hours he has flying helicopters?

Pilots over 2000 hours, pilots here all fly to the oil rigs and back so very experienced.

Thank you so much for your time,

Jonathan

I also have an EX3 to use if required but think the EX1 would be better as a little lighter.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 04:17 AM   #9
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The old AB-206 Jetranger is not the best machine for video work. The rather old design, twin blade rotor head produces a lot of vertical vibration and rotor slap. If you can use a helo with a 3 blade or higher rotor you'll have a much smoother ride.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 04:48 AM   #10
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Hi Alister

I would love to go for a bigger helicopter however the client will not pay for the bigger one, prices out here for helicopters is rather a lot considering fuel is so cheap, the 206 is costing around 3000USD per hour the bigger 3 blade helicopter is around 7000USD per hour.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 06:35 AM   #11
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Two blade machines can work fine I use them for 3/4 of my shooting. But it has to be properly tracked and balanced. Also when they get close to rebuild the parts from rotor head to power source wear out and start to increase in vibration. We just replaced all the moving parts from rotor head to transmission and what a huge difference. And that is a two bladed gas engine machine R44. Nice you have a turbine.

Three blade machines are better but very temperamental to track and balance. The best machine and my favorite is a Huges 500 four blades that was dialed on track and balance. But the pilot was always trying to impress us and the footage suffered. Glad you have experienced pilots.

I would for that very high price per hour ask for track and balance. I can't believe those prices two to three times what it cost in the US and islands.

Also see if you can mount the gyro on a seat and not on you. Too many ways for the system to move while on you and better to have it locked down with straps. The FAA in the US would never allow that one.

Shoot out the right side if the tail rotor is on the left side. We have found with any crabbing that it is better to have the tail rotor behind the tail and right side stability fin.
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Old December 18th, 2009, 06:43 AM   #12
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Hi Paul

Yes prices over here suck, unfortuanlity there is only one helicopter company and they have a take it or leave it policy, there business is oil and gas flying guys out to the rigs so for filming gigs this is a bit of a pain in the backside for them, but anyhow thanks for all your tips, no can do on mounting to seat as two of us are the back of the helicopter one taking stills and the other video so has to be hand held gyro system to save space. So I take it from what I have read you are using the Nano on 100mbs, you are using the EX1 in 720 progressive why not interlaced?, do you think I would benefit with my set up using overcranking in camera or do it by conforming footage afterwards or just using the steadicam in fcp?

Cheers for all your help

Jonathan
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Old December 18th, 2009, 06:52 AM   #13
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Yea sounds like they got you on price oh well.

Yes I shoot Nano at 100Mbps in 1080p not 720p overcranked. Interlace is not happy with the motion. I will get hit on this one but I have never done a test with interlace that looks close to progressive quality while flying.

If you have time and can quickly change shoot both and test it. But that is an expensive test at those rates.

Also take my advice with a grain of salt. What works for me and my setup might not work for you. Maybe you should go I-Frame 280Mbps and overcrank. It will be smoother but it will also be lower resolution with less detail from my experience. It is all a trade off.

Sounds like a fun challenging shoot.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 02:05 PM   #14
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I agree with Paul on progressive. Interlace tends to show up the high frequency vibrations more than progressive.

Did a bit of shooting from an R44 this year, been a long time since I've been in a non turbine chopper. I was really surprise how smooth it was. I guess the fact that it was an almost brand new machine helped. Will be interesting to see how the turbine version works. Beware of 206's going backwards. I was in one where the pilot got caught out by a strong tail wind while in a hover at 2000ft. We dropped from the sky like a rock only getting out of the tumble at 200ft with no power. A very hard autorotate into a field, collapsing skids and seats saved us but not the helo which was a total loss.
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Old December 21st, 2009, 04:25 PM   #15
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Wow Alister,

Sounds like your pilot did exactly the perfect auto rotate. And that can be violent. Build up energy in the rotors and then use the energy to smooth out the landing/crash while picking a "soft spot" to land/crash.

We always say any landing you walk away from is a good one.
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