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Old August 18th, 2007, 04:13 PM   #1
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Helicopter scene (stabilization)

Does anyone have any ideas for filming from a helicopter? Stabilization methods?

I want to minimize vibration and film a flying scene...any ideas would be appreciated!!!

Everything I am doing is legal, BTW... :-)

Last edited by Jake Latendresse; August 18th, 2007 at 04:23 PM. Reason: decided it was a bad post...
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Old August 18th, 2007, 07:33 PM   #2
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Don't try to use a Steadicam-type stabilizer.
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Old August 18th, 2007, 08:38 PM   #3
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Depending what you want to spend, take a look at this. When you get to the site, hit the "Video" button, you will be impressed.

http://www.ken-lab.com/stabilizers.html
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Old August 19th, 2007, 10:05 AM   #4
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While I am researching aerial cinematography, I am finding that some camera operators are implying that the built in steadyshot stabilization features in today's small cameras are "good enough"...

...any feedback or personal experience on this?

I will be shooting this scene with Z1 and HC7...
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Old August 19th, 2007, 10:42 AM   #5
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Relevant thread

Hello Jake,

You might find information in this thread helpful.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...ght=helicopter

Gary
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Old August 19th, 2007, 11:47 AM   #6
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indeed...thanks!!
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Old August 19th, 2007, 04:00 PM   #7
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Don,

I would like to try on one of the gyro stabilizers!! what a great idea.


I wonder how useful it would be on an xl2 shooting off a shoulder for fast bird flight??
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Old August 19th, 2007, 09:54 PM   #8
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Dale,
I think you would encounter the same problem of just finding the bird in the first place if using big lenses. The truth is, I don't know if it would help or not. I think if you were on a pelagic trip and you were after birds or marine mammals, it would probably work real well in a off shoulder hand held situation. But then again, in rough seas I don't thing anything would help, because you would be holding onto to something with both hands.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 04:09 PM   #9
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Kenyon Stabilizers

Hi Guys,

I shoot a great deal of aviation, both still and video and I'm told that I have an unbelieveable ability to capture rock steady images in tough conditions. I've long been familiar with the Kenyon's fine products but never felt the need to spend thousands of dollars just to bump my hit ratio up a few shots. The more I found myself shooting HDV air to air, the more I realized that it might well be worth the investment. The Kenyon PS-6 has helped me greatly in both still and video and I have not looked back at the money spent.

That being said, the tool really only works if you're moving along with your subject. By it's very nature, that gyro will fight every attempt to pan or reframe your perspective and it will frustrate the heck out of you. If you're in a boat, car, plane or helicopter and you're subject is in formation with you, it's a lifesaver. If you were trying to pan with wildlife in flight, by the time the gyro settles down from the initial start of your pan, your subject will be long gone.

JW
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Old September 10th, 2007, 04:12 PM   #10
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Kenyon Stabilizers

Rental is pretty pricey, the -6 goes for around $800 for a month, but it's cheaper than spending $3K and discovering it's not the right tool for your needs.

JW
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Old September 18th, 2007, 01:50 AM   #11
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I´ve shot from a helicopter (a jetranger) from the first time this weekend - drilling the knowledge base of the forum really helped a lot.

a few things learned:

- foam core pillow strapped to your thigh does a reasonably well job of stabilising
- the more of the movement can be done by the helicopter the better, trying to counter the helicopters movements with the camera is very difficult and pretty pointless for anything smaller than a house, unless two seconds of "well this might be saveable in shake" is enough for you
- fly with door removed to reduce reflections, the small windows are not enough.
- climbing harness is a must - two attachments to the helicopter and one to the camera
- stay inside the helicopter as much as possible, getting even the tip of the camera into the wind makes it very difficult to control
- depending on what you´re filming, either sit slightly angled or perpendicular to the flight direction; slightly angled gives you better stability and you can stay inside more, but it´s more difficult to track objects as you fly around them
- travelgum if you haven´t done this before. looking through the viewfinder adds a whole new dimension to disorientation and while nobody puked on our flight, the photographer was a very interesting shade of yellow-green when we landed.
- long briefing with the pilot beforehand, it helps to have satellite maps of the area you´re flying in and to familiarise yourself with the diction - you need to be able to tell your pilot quickly what you want.
- start every ad-hoc flying request with "would it be safe to..", it´s very easy to get into sticky situations even without attempting something stupid.
- see that your pilot has experience with the kind of terrain you´re flying in - hills and mountains are much MUCH more difficult.
- if you intend to shoot small or moving targets such as people, do it where the conditions are most controllable or you´ll be stuck with footage of jumping blobs.. shooting these things while taking off or landing is a good way of getting close to the ground without risking your life.
- gaffer tape EVERYTHING that mustnt move. there´s a loot of getting banged around if the wind gets you - this means all switches, as well as the focus gear. i wasted a few good shots because something banged against the lens and twisted it out of focus.
- plan 5 minutes extra to just sit there and enjoy the ride if you haven´t flown before.
- dress warmly, it does get chilly. gaffer tape your trouser legs shut or they´ll be flapping a lot. that, and wind inside your underpants if you don´t.
- shoot HD and frame wide so you have enough space to stabilise in post, at least 20%, more if your target is smaller than a house.
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Old September 18th, 2007, 10:36 PM   #12
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I did quite a bit of helicopter work at my last job. Most of it was with IR cameras and using a small external monitor. We used a twin engine Bell Ranger, which isn't the smoothest aircraft around. My rig was really hi tech, and it worked great. You have to fly with the door off on this one. You get 2 bungee cords and attach each to a point above each side of the door and adjust each in a "V" to where you would be sitting. I fabricated an plate about 6" wide x 24" long. In the middle of this plate (12") you drill a hole and install an "eye" bolt. In front of the eye bolt, you drill a series of inline holes. This is where you mount the camera. Now then you go out and get the handle bar off a child's bike. You mount the bars on the end of the plate nearest you using "U" bolts. I usually adjust the handle bar down at about a 45 degree angle from the surface of the plate, but the angle can adjusted to suit. Are you forming a mental picture of this. Now you get 2 snap rings and attach them to the "eye" bolt. OK, this is where the adjustment comes into play. First of all, you want the bungee cords long enough to go through the snap rings and go back up to the attachment points above the door. With the camera and bars mounted, you may have to move the "eye" bolt to balance the assembly out. **IMPORTANT** You want to select bungee cords the will give you at least 4" to 6" of vertical travel when you can apply moderate downward movement with your hands, not to stiff, not to soft. You may have to try different stiffness in bungee cords until you get the right tension, depending on the weight of your rig. The whole secret to this method is when your flying and bouncing around and thinking the camera is also bouncing up and down, the fact is that the aircraft moving around the camera, and not the other way around. The handle bar is for you to move and point the camera. You don't have to have a death grip on it. Let the bungee cords do all the work. Easy way to test and tweak this set up, is to mount it in the rear of a van with the rear doors/door open, and then go out and drive on different road conditions. Don't forget to attach a safety line to the rig. Good luck and have a safe trip.
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Last edited by Don DesJardin; September 19th, 2007 at 01:06 PM.
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 03:16 AM   #13
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Don

sounds cool this chopper rig of yours, do you have any pics??

thanks

Adam
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Old March 3rd, 2008, 06:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Weilguny View Post
- long briefing with the pilot beforehand, it helps to have satellite maps of the area you´re flying in and to familiarise yourself with the diction - you need to be able to tell your pilot quickly what you want.
- dress warmly, it does get chilly. gaffer tape your trouser legs shut or they´ll be flapping a lot. that, and wind inside your underpants if you don´t.
- shoot HD and frame wide so you have enough space to stabilise in post, at least 20%, more if your target is smaller than a house.
If possible, know the lat. & long. of your destination. Helicopter rental is by the hour and the pilot can enter a direct path in the GPS. Things often look different from the air than you expect, so you can save some time not having to hunt.

Adiabatic lapse rate is about 2C or 3F per 1000 ft., so at 5k ft. the temp will be about 15F cooler. If you are flying early morning, near sunrise, check the temperature and dewpoint. If the differential is less than 5F there is risk of fog. You can also use the adiabatic lapse rate, temperature and dewpoint to estimate the height of the cloud base, which would be useful if you were planning to fly to the mountains, need clouds in your shots, etc.

Helicopters are permitted to fly at lower altitudes than airplanes as long as the pilot determines that it's safe to do so.
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