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Old August 20th, 2003, 08:10 AM   #1
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Aerial shots with a kite...

Hi all!

I'd be interested to know if anybody has successfully mounted a camera on a kite. What setup did you use and what sort of footage did you get?

I'm interested in getting some very low budget, fairly high aerial shots, mainly scenic, but ideally with some element of control (of the kite).

This is my basic idea:

Good steady wind, big fixed reel to let the thing out and bring it back down without crashing (hopefully), mount/fix the cam in lots of polysterene or similar, hit record, off we go.

I figure the altitude might reduce the effect of vibrations to some degree?

Or am I being completely mad?

I'd welcome any ideas! Thanks!


Phil
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Old September 4th, 2003, 09:22 AM   #2
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You take a chance....

that the whole thing comes crashing down - end of cam. Not a good idea.
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Old September 4th, 2003, 10:36 AM   #3
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Helium?

I think if I were to try something like this I would use a camera afixed to a sturdy helium balloon that could lift the weight. I think there would be less change of a crash that way.
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Old September 4th, 2003, 10:53 AM   #4
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Yes, sports events often use those remote-controlled helium mini-zeppelins outfitted with little cameras. I don't know what the weight limit might be, but the footage I've seen taken from these blimps have been pretty smooth (blimps can't move or change direction too quickly, so that automatically lends itself to stable shots).

Anyone ever try to rent one? I imagine it's probably more expensive than it should be.

I bet magazines like Popular Science probably have ads in the back of companies that sell them or allow you to build them for cheap.
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Old September 5th, 2003, 02:53 AM   #5
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There are some tiny cameras with miniature transmitters available. Some have even put these things into model rockets.

I thought it might be interesting to put something like that into an electric airplane.

http://www.rctoys.com/products.php

http://www.rf-links.com/

If I can find more I'll post 'em.

Dean Sensui
Base Two Productions
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Old September 5th, 2003, 06:29 AM   #6
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Thanks guys!

I like the helium idea - some great gadgets on the RC Toys/Draganfly site!

The cheaper airships/blimps seem to be for indoor use only although whatever the construction I imagine it will be wise to tether it somehow so it doesn't disappear.

Yes, weight will be the main hurdle I think - I'll have to do some research as ideally I'd like to use my XM2. Time for a call to my freind the engineer I think!

Definitely seems the safest option...


Phil
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Old September 8th, 2003, 07:08 PM   #7
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Those remote control blimp shots are always indoors. Like in a stadium... more or less indoors anyway.

I say try the kite. It's a little known fact that Ben Franklin actually invented the original High 8 Camcorder. The fact that it was 8mm was inconsequential... it was called a "High" 8 because of the kite system. History has incorrectly interpreted Ben's crappy sketches and shown us that he had a skeleton key tied to the end of the string, when in fact it was some sort of Varizoom type controller that he ALSO invented and it was plugged into a 200 foot long RCA cable and lanc.

So anyway Ben couldn't wait to test the grain and resolution on his new device so he hastily set out in the middle of a thunderstorm... thinking he could get some cool time-lapse of lightning strikes. Prevailing winds and poor luck snapped Ben's miracle device free of it's non-locking connectors and his only prototype of this glorious invention was lost! Unfortunately WE, the dv enthusiasts had to wait around 200 years for the next models to be released!

So the moral of the story is that history has taught us it is actually unwise to risk your inventions/possesions on natural consequence because Murphy always wins. It's the law.

Don't strap your cam to a flying device. In the end it won't be worth the cost of the gear you will INEVITABLY lose.
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Old September 8th, 2003, 07:40 PM   #8
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Re: Aerial shots with a kite...

<<<-- Originally posted by Phil Christopher : Hi all!


Or am I being completely mad?Phil -->>>

Yes, You are completely mad. Have you considered possibly using aerial stock footage? (Don't know if you just want aerial shots of landscapes/cities/ocena or actually want to shoot the scene from above.

Don't risk it!
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Old September 10th, 2003, 04:13 AM   #9
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Thanks guys!

Yes the footage needs to be specific and ideally with some level of control - i.e. just getting maximum bang for the effort really.

However, I believe we have now moved away from the relative danger and excitement of kite-based cam activity and into the - hopefully - slightly less dangerous world of helium/hot air balloon based footage... (perhaps Ken Kesey would classify this as simply the 'lesser of two insanities').

Some good sites about offering advice on DIY balloons - e.g. this article has some good basic info - http://www.rcmicroflight.com/library/light_than_air.asp - on how to go about it.

I'll post again if we get off the drawing board although it could take a while!

Phil
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Old October 14th, 2003, 06:52 PM   #10
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Phil,
Did you ever do the helium/hot air balloon thing. I'm curious as to how it turned out.

John
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Old October 15th, 2003, 12:24 PM   #11
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Hi John!

Eventually decided to leave the idea for a quieter time when it can be planned/executed sensibly. Still keen though, so when I finally get around to it I'll make sure I post the news and some footage!

Phil
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Old October 15th, 2003, 12:27 PM   #12
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I'm going out to shoot some fall foliage from an ultra light in the morning. If you can find any of these guys they are usually game.
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Old October 27th, 2003, 09:03 AM   #13
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Yes you CAN use kites!

If you are really interested in lifting cameras with kites then visit my home page.

http://www.kaper.kiteaerialphotography.com

The Links page is the most comprehensive on the subject.

Most that practice the hobby use still photography but there have been small camcorders lifted by kites. The cameras are suspended from the kite line.

Weight is a big factor when using kites. Four pounds would be on the Very High end of the weight most are lifting. More weight could be lifted but the proceedures, Kites, and handling equipment would become much more complex and expensive.

Most video that I have seen taken from a kite is shaky. I haven't seen anything that you would want to use in a video production, unless the shaking fit the subject matter. The shaking comes from a variety of factors, line vibrations, oscilations induced by the wind on the camera suspension, the variation of kite pull as the wind changes speed causes changes in altitude. Camera platform stability is something that is constantly being worked on.

A word about balloons. Balloons work fine when there is no wind, but become hard to manage when the wind picks up. The balloons you see in sports arenas are using small cameras with transmitters. A 16 foot blimp might lift a 35mm SLR still camera with a motorized platform for aiming, but not much more.

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Old October 28th, 2003, 02:22 AM   #14
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I think the actual link may be

http://www.kiteaerialphotography.net/

or

http://www.kaper.kiteaerialphotography.net/

The link you posted didn't work for me, so I googled the subject. I found both of those links in the search.
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Old October 28th, 2003, 10:00 AM   #15
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Bryan,

You are correct, it's .net not .com-

http://www.kaper.kiteaerialphotography.net/

The other link is to a Dutch site on the same subject

Here is a link to the only kite-borne video clip that I am aware of on the net.

http://www.park.nl/catalog/1showrec.php3?688

I have seen kite video that is more stable than this example. The video that I sell on my web site has at least 4 different video clips along with almost 16 hours of other useful information about KAP.
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