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Old June 29th, 2008, 02:33 PM   #1
New Boot
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Columbia, California
Posts: 17
help with video for aerial wildfire fighting

I知 a wildfire pilot wanting to get audio/video from my plane to folks on the ground after landing. Currently I知 flying on a large complex of uncontrolled fires in Northern California, and would appreciate if net gurus could offer input on the configuration and concept below. At first this is an unfunded effort that I will just buy, but if low cost video works, then it could be expanded to other aircraft.

Background: We fly 4 hour missions for reconnaissance (finding new fires), Initial Attack (first on site to assess and start suppression) or sustained attack. In all cases it would be nice to bring back meaningful video for tactical (mission planning and our replacement team), strategic (resource and fire planning) and post (analysis, environmental and training). In flight I知 just the pilot and am very busy. Even more busy is the Air Attack Supervisor in my right seat who is managing air & ground operations.

My idea is to mount a small solid state consumer camcorder with good OIS (Canon HV10?) to the inside frame or back seat (Helio Courier) looking out the right side window. Recording would start before departure, and stop after landing. The intercom/radios will be plumbed in through a beachtek box, but because tough talking firefighters are worried about being continuously recorded, I値l need to engage the audio (push in the plug or create a switch) only when we we池e talking nice (but the rest of the silent video will still be useful). To sync the camera for post processing with other separately recorded GPS tracks from the filmed tanker bombers & helicopter drops, I値l take a quick video shot of my own GPS time screen since all GPSs are satellite time sync壇.

Making the video initially valuable with little to no post-processing is important in hopes of getting people to immediately use it. Sifting through 4 hours of flight, or not knowing which way the plane/camera is pointed will be deterrents. If this catches on then eventually someone will pickup the SD chip from me when on the ground to refuel.

Input (net-wisdom) on this plan would be appreciated. Here are few specifc questions:
- is there an easy way to transpose GPS info over the video in real-time?
- I知 headed toward the Canon HF10. The great OIS of the new JVC Everio is very attractive, but I don稚 trust the harddiskI have a Sony SR1 with a harddisk that locks up within seconds (buffer overload).
- Future option to plan for: it would be nice to include handheld high-IR, but that would likely just be a separate tape unless someone can suggest a better idea.
- Future option to plan for: it would be nice to have a remote display to watch for zooming the camera by wired remote control. The camera position is changed by moving the plane (I already specially position the plane during each bomber drop so the right seat guy can observe it accurately straight outside his window)

Mark Zaller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 29th, 2008, 10:48 PM   #2
Inner Circle
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,814
Mark -
You might want to do a quick search, believe it or not there was an extensive thread on this exact topic last fire season, might be a good jumping off point for you.

A couple preliminary observations - anything vibrating violently enough to shut your SR1 off (presuming it's clamped firmly to the airframe?) is going to overload an IS, either optical or electronic - they are designed to take out minor handheld type motions, and arguably don't do it terribly well... although some have rated Panasonics OIS rather highly, but I have my doubts there.

One thing that might help is mounting a wide angle lens, as that helps make the bouncing about a bit less obvious in some situations. Might be helpful if you're flying tight so you get more of what's going on in the picture.

There are a ton of threads here on special mounts and stabilizers for difficult environments race cars, speedboats, and yes, airplanes. I and others have found it plenty difficult to keep HD cameras steady enough to get good video even on the ground, but it can apparently be done with some effort (your budget may enlarge significantly).

Hope this will help you find some more info in the existing threads!
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 30th, 2008, 11:19 PM   #3
New Boot
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Columbia, California
Posts: 17
You might be thinking of a thread form me last December. You replied back then too, thanks. If you're thinking of a different thread, then maybe you can give me a unique key word to search for.

I got too busy last winter and am now finally implementing because the need is so acute. It could be that OIS won't handle the continual motion. New JVC Everio in addition to Panasonics have good stablization, but only for hard disk cameras I think. At first I won't have time (working 12-14 hour duty days, 10 on, 2 off) nor money for fancy stabliization, but I could at least attach the camcorder to the cushions of the seat for some dampening.

I'm not yet worried about the angle of view, but may maybe I should. Here is an example of a still shot today through a 35mm equivalent lens.
Mark Zaller is offline   Reply

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