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Old January 10th, 2008, 04:25 PM   #1
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RC Helicopter Filming - A Little Advice Please!

Hello all. I'm a pilot by profession, but have always loved video and music production on the side. I'm into amateur video 100% for fun as of now. I've had a GL1 for 6 years and I just purchased a XH A1. "Very nicce.. I likke" (Borat voice)
Anyways. I realize I jumped in the deep end with this camera after I bought it. I love a challenge of learning in depth how to use equipment. I'm a HUGE newbie when it comes to the massive detail of settings and shooting options and I hope to suck some knowledge from a few of the brilliant professionals who converse here.

My friend has just been sponsored by a few RC Helicopter companies. I don't know if anyone is familiar with 3D Helicopter flying.. but it's VERY intense and VERY fun to watch the skill levels of these pilots.
I hope to use this XHA1 to promote him (free as he's a close friend) but I'm having trouble getting the best settings to shoot such a hyper fast moving object with clarity.
I've been using the VIVIDRGB preset, but could you please give advice on all around settings ie: ND Filter, Shutter/K, Gain, 30F or 60i, F-stop ect... I apologize in advance for my novice knowledge in case I ask a stupid question.


Thank you, N8

http://www.theastonisher.com/Nathanimal/IRCHA.wmv

Here is a video of one of the best in the world on a high end Panasonic HD camera. I hope to get as close to this as possible with the XH A1
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Old January 10th, 2008, 06:06 PM   #2
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WOW!! awesome rc pilot! very impressive!
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Old January 10th, 2008, 06:33 PM   #3
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Hello Nate I used to be into radio controled model flying purely aeroplanes dabbled a bit with aerobatics. I have seen a couple of people who could fly helicopters and as I thought flew them well but I have never seen anything remotely like what I have just seen in that video that pilot has got a superb talent for flying model helicopters. Anyway that aside when Ifirst read your thread I thought no problem easy but after watching video not so easy. I would definately use a good fluid head and tripod set up a fair distance away from the model other wise you will be trying to pan like a madman do not try to zoom in close or model will be out of frame more than in frame. I think vividrgb should suit you but that is a matter of choice I would keep frame rate at 60 and adjust shutter and iris to suit. Focus I would try to set for a good depth of field that will keep the model in focus from left to right, if you set to auto focus it will be hunting all over the place cause you will not be able to keep model centre frame all the time. hope this is of some help there may be some people who can give more expert help but I think this is a starting point.

Alan
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Old January 10th, 2008, 08:07 PM   #4
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That guy can fly a RC helicopter.... thats bloody amazing!
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Old January 10th, 2008, 08:35 PM   #5
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Here comes the ignorant questions.

1. What is the proper technique for adjusting the shutter and iris to proper settings?

2. I've read some people saying for fast action use 30f.. is that not true?

3. Do you recommend zooming in and out as little as possible?

4. I've been doing basic color correction and de interlacing in FCExpress. I'm exporting it as ProRes 422 HQ down to 720.. then I'm compressing the exported file. Is there any other technique that would work better? Sometimes the frame rate looks really jumpy. I make sure I "Option R" render before I export it.


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Originally Posted by Alan Craig View Post
I think vividrgb should suit you but that is a matter of choice I would keep frame rate at 60 and adjust shutter and iris to suit. Focus I would try to set for a good depth of field that will keep the model in focus from left to right, if you set to auto focus it will be hunting all over the place cause you will not be able to keep model centre frame all the time. hope this is of some help there may be some people who can give more expert help but I think this is a starting point.

Alan
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Old January 11th, 2008, 02:44 AM   #6
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It`s never easy to film RC Cars, planes or Helicopters.
To film fast actions - use video modes with so much pictures in second as possible - an XHA1 even 60i - and shorter shutter time to avoid bluring.
I think - its impossible to film something like this from a tripod. You will never be fast enough.
You can film a bit wider angle and zoom to the heli in postproduction - even with object tracking (After Effect).
You should good know the flying program from pilot and important - filming by some clouds to show the movements on backround.
This is a really good operator work (and even better RC pilot)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKJXKJ9fsLo
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Old January 11th, 2008, 07:12 AM   #7
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Looks like tremendous fun!

You will want to put your camera on "M" -- full manual. Set your shutter to 1/60 (otherwise the blades look like they are still) and if outdoors in daylight, your ND all the way on and gain off. You set your aperture so there's detail in the sky -- let's hope you have a nice day like in the video you linked to.

You'll also need to use manual focus.

Keep your camera as low as possible so the r/c heli separates from the background.

In the video you linked to, they used a medium shot most of the time to keep the heli in the frame. Don't forget to also shoot extreme closeups and sequences of him preparing the heli before the flight.

With practice, you can do much better than the one you linked to.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 07:24 AM   #8
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The thing that I think would help a lot is after getting to know your camera first, try to learn their routine, if you know where the heli is supposed to be going you will be better suited to film it. I understand that is easier said then done but it will help.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 09:43 AM   #9
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Ivan the reason I suggest A tripod is your arms can get a bit tired swinging a camera all over the place unless you are used to swinging wieghts around also the strain on the neck when your trying to keep the subject in frame when it is at a good altitude.Thats why I said to keep a good distance between you and the model to keep the panning arc small that way you only need small ammount of pan to keep up with the action.
Nate I would not recomend too much zoom as you will find it hard to keep subject framed correctly. shutter speed and iris depend on the available light at the time but you do not want to use a slow shutter. I would definately use 60frames not 30 unless you want to try and emphasise a bit of speed which I do not think is what you want in this particular case.

Alan
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Old January 11th, 2008, 10:34 AM   #10
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I see him fly so much it does help that I kinda know what he will do next.

The biggest goal is for me to learn to correct camera settings and then practice shooting. It's only as good as me knowing how to setup the camera 1st.

This is a short one.. the DAY I got the camera. It's horrible video and I was in all the wrong settings.

http://www.theastonisher.com/Nathani...st%20Crash.mp4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Chesarek View Post
The thing that I think would help a lot is after getting to know your camera first, try to learn their routine, if you know where the heli is supposed to be going you will be better suited to film it. I understand that is easier said then done but it will help.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 10:58 AM   #11
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The advice should be get a 'decent' tripod. This kind of thing is where the shortcomings of a tripod really show. You need one that can have the pan/tilt adjusted to have a similar feel, that way you can go diagonally just as smoothly. Ones that have dreadful slapback in the head are also poor. This is exactly where the ever so popular Vintens and manfrottos don't do so well.

For fast moving and especially aerial stuff, I've got an old Vinten Cygnet post head which is really good for this kind of thing. As it pivots around the centre of gravity of the camera, you can knock all the drag settings right back and do super fast changes of direction, just the thing for material like the R/C heicopter.
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Old January 11th, 2008, 11:19 AM   #12
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That's so funny. I told my friend after he flew I need to design a tripod that pivots around the CG of the camera so that everything stays even with fast movements. I should have known one exists, I had never seen one.


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Originally Posted by Paul R Johnson View Post

For fast moving and especially aerial stuff, I've got an old Vinten Cygnet post head which is really good for this kind of thing. As it pivots around the centre of gravity of the camera, you can knock all the drag settings right back and do super fast changes of direction, just the thing for material like the R/C heicopter.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 01:47 PM   #13
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Firstly, don't even think of using any sort of tripod. RC planes and heli's fly around so fast that you need a shoulder brace to get the best results, I use Varizoom's DV Media Rig Pro. With a tripod you'll end up just tripping over the legs when moving around.

I shoot a lot of RC planes, (my site www.rcflights.co.uk ). I use the VividRGB preset, usually 1/32 ND filter (this helps in using a slower shutter speed and keeps props looking fluid) and Auto exposure and White balance. I've tried using manual gain set at -3db but didn't notice any difference than that of auto, I think this is because your not really shooting in low light conditions.

I also use manual focus. I zoom in fully then set the focus to infinity then zoom out. Everything will now stay in perfect focus, as long as nothing comes in too close to the camera (it shouldn't if your filming heli's).

Oh and I always shoot in 50i.

Mark

Last edited by Mark Rook; January 14th, 2008 at 03:30 PM.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 03:02 PM   #14
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Mark hello again, I would agree with you mark if you were going to film models or fullsize that were flying from one end of the runway to the other end of the runway and you were panning in a 180 degree arc but looking at what Nate is talking about filming the panning arc will be drasticaly reduced to I would think about one third around 60 degrees give or take a few
which I think is well within the realms of keeping up with the action without tying your legs round the tripod. I am not saying that it is better than using a shoulder brace cause I dont own one never used one and never even seen one so for me in ths cicumstance I personally would opt for the tripod Of course I don't know wether Nate has a shoulder brace if he has he could try both methods . I used to fly RC planes I dabbled a bit with aerobatics but not very good then I eventually went onto RC gliders but have had to pack up now cause my hips and knee joints are past there sell by date.

Alan

Last edited by Alan Craig; January 14th, 2008 at 03:32 PM.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 03:36 PM   #15
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Hi Alan,

I'm affraid I'll disagree. A tripod is extremely difficult to use on fast moving objects, especially for RC flying which will have the heli/plane moving around in different directions very quickly. The Media rig gives you freedom of movment whilst eliminating camera shake, although they still need a little practice to get the best out of them.

Mark
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