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Old September 2nd, 2003, 10:33 PM   #1
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Aerial Photography

Hi all,
I was wondering if anyone had any tips or ideas for shooting aerial/fly-by shots of an island. I have access to all kinds of aircraft, but I know the footage is going to come out shaky no matter what I do. Should I try holding a glidecam or something in an airplane?

Has anyone gotten good results without spending the crazy cash for a helicopter with that oh-so-envious camera ball? What did you do? Will post production help any (e.g. Premiere's SteadyShot plugin, etc)?

Thanks!
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Old September 2nd, 2003, 11:20 PM   #2
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Nick,
I don't know the answer to your questions but we had a related thread a while back that might be of some interest.

There are others that you'll find by Searching on "aerial" but this one came to mind.
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Old September 2nd, 2003, 11:53 PM   #3
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Nick,

I rented a helicopter for a very brief flight recently to do some shooting...and the footage did come out a pretty jumpy, but that's what I wanted for this particular situation.

The helicopter service I used, though, had two choppers that were already equipped with cameras that were remote controlled from inside the chopper. Because of a language barrier, I couldn't get all the information I wanted...but they claimed that shooting in several formats was possible, including miniDV, and that the quality was excellent (not only that, they're prepared to broadcast live or shoot film). They also said that most aerial shots you see of Tokyo on TV and in films were made from their choppers (they don't do the actual filming, they just supply the equipment and fly you where you want to go). They've been doing it a long time...their first experience filming was one of the Bond films in the 60s.

Maybe there's a similar service in San Antonio or Houston?
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 07:14 AM   #4
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I've done a fair amount of aerial shots (40 or 50 flights) and have never had problems. I use the 3X XL lens, the wider the better and IS. IS works fine and gets all the major bumps out. I can usually get clips of 10 to 20 seconds. If it's not to windy I try to frame the shots tighter and tighter until I notice the scene jumping too much.

If it's a windy day don't waste your time. No amount of IS will get you usable footage. Wide shots work best. You may want to invest in a WA adapter for your camera if you don't use the XL1 or have the XL 3X WA lens.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 02:05 PM   #5
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I don't want to use the wide angle for my DVX100 too much since I get a bit of barrel distortion (Century Optics .6x). But, I'm eager to try some testing by just holding the cam, putting it on OIS, and then possibly using the new SteadyShot plugin that came with Premiere. Do you know if this is overkill? Will video quality be lost by using the camera's built in OIS and a Steadyshot plugin AND maybe a Glidecam?

I guess detail doesn't matter since this is a wide shot and not a close up or detail shot.

By the way, if anyone has any airplane knowledge in here, is the Piper Cub aircraft okay for this or is it too bumpy? I can't remember...just used to riding old WWII fighters.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 02:21 PM   #6
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Nick... a Cub isn't that much newer than any of the warbirds you've been in. I'm a huge fan of classic aircraft, but can't you get into anything a bit more modern? You won't have very much elbow room in a little Cub!

If you can get up in a four-seater and have the back seat to yourself, you'll be much better off. It's not much more room than the back of a Volkswagen Beetle, but at least you can move a camera around without interfering with the pilot.

A high-wing four-seater such as the very common Cessna 172 SkyHawk or Cessna 182 SkyLane will do with nice visibility if you don't mind the wing struts. A Cessna 177 Cardinal is even better, no wing struts! A low-wing four-seater such as a Piper Cherokee or a Piper Warrior will do the job but you might have to ask the pilot to dip the wing to get a good shot of the ground.

Don't think you'll get a GlideCam or any such stabilizer into any of these aircraft, however!
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 02:31 PM   #7
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Hi Chris!
Well, I was thinking of a Cub since I can open the sides window/door and get some clear footage without worrying about glass reflections, etc....and plus, it's a little slower than Cessnas that way I won't risk getting my hand/arm cut off from the wind lol.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 03:27 PM   #8
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Ask around. A few light aircraft have a camera port. Go to the local airfields and talk to people in the FBO. Another option is to contact the A&E mechanics and ask them. Maybe even ask the FAA field office. They may have a list of aircraft with camera adaptation. Also try the jump schools. They have aircraft that are certified to operate with an open door that you could shoot out of without getting the camera into the slipstream.

How bout a crop duster? Whoo boy. You could sit in the rear seat of a biplane and shoot aft of the wing. Talk nice to the pilot and he can hold you in a nice bank while flying straight ahead by crossing the controls.

I've found that light aircraft with no provision for camera work to be a bit lacking.
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 03:57 PM   #9
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Great ideas, Mike... jump schools usually have a Twin Bo or a Super Otter with a nice, big open door... just be sure to cinch those straps nice and tight!
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 04:03 PM   #10
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Old September 3rd, 2003, 06:19 PM   #11
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Glidecam would be pretty useless in a plane. The Premiere plugin might be needed if it's bumpy. You'll never notice barrel distortion up in the air. The distances are too great and there's no vertical lines to be bent in the air.
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