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Old January 3rd, 2009, 10:14 AM   #1
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Close Range Imaging with Helicam

Hi,

I wanted to share with everyone some details about how our helicams work. We use very large twin cylinder gasoline powered models that can carry gyro stabilized cameras weighing up to 25 lbs. For the last 2 years we have been using the HVX200 and more recently the HPX170. Later this month we will also be testing with the Red camera.

I have flown RC helicopters all my adult life in international competition and as a consultant to the defense industry. I became interested in putting cameras on these after being asked to fly in a movie that was being filmed nearby in Cincinnati. Here is an example of the types of shots that are possible:

Montana Flyfishing Demo - HVX200 Helicam on Vimeo

I also have lots of photos of the equipment in action if anyone is interested.

Thanks!
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 11:22 AM   #2
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Wendall:

We would love to see the equipment itself, photos or video. Nice job, by the way.

So, seems like you have a lot of trust in the equipment and your flyer to mount an HVX200. I was thinking I might consider risking a HV20 on something like that.

Have you flown any CMOS chip rigs. Is rolling shutter an issue ?

Edit:

One other question: How do you monitor ?
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Old January 3rd, 2009, 12:01 PM   #3
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Wendell,

That is so Cool! Would ditto Chris that you share some shots of your rig.


Ted
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Old January 4th, 2009, 01:13 PM   #4
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Chris,

The only CMOS camera I have used is the Sony HC-5. It works okay but if the helicopter is not perfectly balanced in every way it suffers from flagging (jello-vision). I'm also not a fan of interlaced cameras for this type of work. All solid state progressive cameras seem to work much better which is why we use the HVX200/HPX170. People who have tried the HV20 on helis haven't had much success.

The image from the camera is downlinked to a set of video goggles that the camera operator wears. The camera operator has control of pan/tilt/zoom/iris/record on-off and gyro stabilization rate.

Here is a recent photo of one of our large gas powered models. We also use smaller electric powered models for flying indoors or in very tight quarters. For shots above 400 feet we use a full size Jet Ranger.
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Close Range Imaging with Helicam-bridge-flight-5.jpg  
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Old January 5th, 2009, 02:25 PM   #5
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Too cool. I can't imagine any camera with a CMOS sensor would perform well in a heli situation; the rolling shutter from what I've heard, sinks the ship so to speak. I'd kill for a heli rig!
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Old January 5th, 2009, 02:59 PM   #6
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Lets see, I'm gessing the HVX and battery, add about 5 pounds or more, if I recall right. Adding the sending transmission unit adds costs a lot more weight. How much are you actually lifting with those rigs ?
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Old January 5th, 2009, 08:41 PM   #7
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Chris,

Flying the HVX and all the necessary accouterments, the whole enchilada weighs 35 lbs. With the Red it comes in over 40 lbs. total.
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Old January 5th, 2009, 09:09 PM   #8
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Wow... Getting close to FAA licensing levels...:)
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 11:27 PM   #9
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To address the CMOS question:

I've flown the Sony EX1 quite a bit and it holds up quite well in the aerial environment. But it obviously is leaps and bounds above the smaller HDV cams like the HC5.
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