Shooting from an Helicopter - Page 2 at

Go Back   DV Info Net > Most Recent Additions... > Flying Cameras

Flying Cameras
UAV, Helicam, and all other aerial videography topics.

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old August 27th, 2009, 06:03 AM   #16
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 1,212
Over the past 30 years I've shot from helos (Jet Ranger, Squirrel) (and microlights - up to 11,000ft on occasion)) in many countries and with proper TV cameras (BVW507) and film cameras (Aaton, Arri). I've shot with and without mounts, but never with Wescam which is no doubt the best if you can afford it.

Best alternative is to mount the camera on the helo and control it remotely but I always preferred to let the pilot do the movement.

Main trick however you're filming is to use the widest possible lens, try to keep the horizon out of shot and watch for flies/oil/water getting on the lens - I always had a colleague watching a 9 inch monitor for such things. Remember that if the camera's mounted outside you have land to wipe the lens.

Last edited by Philip Howells; August 27th, 2009 at 06:05 AM. Reason: clarity
Philip Howells is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 29th, 2009, 02:11 PM   #17
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: spain
Posts: 1,169
Hey Phil, what do u mean 4 helo (i guess helicopter right)?So should i bring with me one of that shoulder mount?
so here's my first experience (few weeks ago):
First time i went on the chopper i had anything like that(mounts, or wescam)...just tried to don't diffuse-propoagate the vibrations of the chopper avoiding to lean my arms to the cockpit part.
I've always shot in wide.I had my wide hg0872 on and i was sitting outside with the door open for a few minutes. Awesome experience!There was a photographer with me and the spot was too smal 4 2 persons sitting outside.BTW awesome experience....
Now i wanna ask you: shoulder mount yes or not?
Guys i love this forum cause thanks your knowledge you can learn something day by day
Marcus Martell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 30th, 2009, 05:18 AM   #18
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 1,212
Marcus, sorry yes helo - helicopter.

This is only my 2c so please listen and try other people's advice/experience.

Unless you're recording something that needs the drama of flying, the main objective is to keep the camera on the subject, static and level. I'd never share with a photographer - our needs are entirely different.

Wescam does this best because it's gyro controlled and hanging outside on a pod - and the price of the Wescam helo is phenomenal.

Second best is a wired pan/tilt fastened on the front of the jet helo. Great stability especially on a Squirrel the three blade rotor of gives less vibration or something similar to the two bladed Jet Ranger - a pilot explained it once and although I have a licence it's only fixed wing so I don't understand these whirlybird things.

I've never worked a piston engined helo but my guess is that the vibration will be awful.

I have used a spring-loaded support arm mounted inside the helo. The camera is over your shoulder and the mount is supposed to smooth the movement but I found it restricting - and not worth the money compared to:

Sitting on the side of the helo, door off, with a climbing body harness so you can actually stand on the skid and brace yourself by pulling against the harness. Separate harness on the camera too - a must.

Regardless of whether you're sitting or standing use your body to provide the stability. Let your pilot make as much of the movement as possible. Ours used to have a 9" monitor beside him so he could see what we were taking.

Talk the whole shoot through in detail on the ground before you take off. Our pilot was formerly an RAF helo aerobatics instructor and it really helps if you have someone like that.

We once had to do a shoot in Turkey with a pilot who spoke little English, didn't know where we were going (Ancient Greek site called Termessos high in the Anatolian mountains) and in Turkey at that time aviation charts were state secrets - he had a BP road map on his knee (I swear). He had to land in an orchard and ask the way, and all he could offer me in way of harness was a seat belt! Beautiful shots though.

All my helo work was with BVW507 or same head but separate recorder unit. We invested in a beautiful superwide short zoom lens (I think it was 5-47mm) and losing that lens was the worst thing about moving to DV/HDV. As I said before, the movement appears to be reduced if you keep the horizon out of the frame.

All my microlight work has been in the French Alps with a young pilot. Until he changed planes he used to let me sit in the front (and control the boost on takeoff and the brakes on landing) but the view was great. Hand held Z1 was no problem but again, fasten everything separately, ie you and the camera. The last thing you want is a lens cap hurtling through the fan at the back.

The main problem with the microlight is cold (incredible) and my weight. Fortunately my pilot was willing to use the thermal updraughts in cloud to get us to our highest working altitude, 11,000ft (500ft above the top of Pic Blanc from which the world's longest and highest mountain bike marathon starts). For clarity, we took off from mountain airport (altiport) at 6000ft.

Manouvreability of microlights mean they can be very effective. Obviously they can't hover but a helo at 11,000 ft might struggle a bit also depending on other factors.

If you have to sit behind the pilot, keeping wires out of the frame is more difficult but again rely on the pilot to create the movement.

In all cases use your body to cushion any movement - and remember that the temperature drops by 3 degrees C every 1000ft of altitude so keep your camera/batteries warm. Mind in all my helo work I never had a camera freeze - which did happen with a film camera I was using on the North Side of Chicago in the winter of 1970-71!

Hope this helps.
Philip Howells is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 12th, 2010, 06:19 AM   #19
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: spain
Posts: 1,169
My friend let's recapitulate cause next week i gotta go back in "HELO":)
I don't know if i'll use an FX1 or an EX1 (i guess an fx1);i'll use a wideangle converter for sure, i'll sit in the back so....said that ihave to:
A- shoot in the rear direction so i won't get the wind in the front of the camera
B- shoot as wide as possible right?
c- Keep the horizon out of frame (u mean no mountain and sky just the land)?
D- what do u mean when you say keep the wire OUTOFFRAME? u mean electricity cables?
E- do u think a pillow would be useful (against vibrations)?
F- Should i bring this shoulder support i bought on ebay(is a cheap one)?

Mate thank you very much
Marcus Martell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 12th, 2010, 06:48 AM   #20
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 1,212
Marcus, I can't quote you so my letters refer to yours.

a I don't think I mentioned the direction. Unless you have a major problem with insects I wouldn't say there was much difference. Shooting backwards probably makes your eyes water less!
b yes, you'll minimise any movement
c I mean no horizon, whatever that is.
d I was referring there to shooting from a microlight. I'd stay away from electricity cables whatever I was flying in.
e My opinion is no - it would have to be fastened down and would be one more piece to get in the way. Unless you're very bony, your legs and padded trousers (I used to fly in ski pants) will be sufficient.
f only if you're sure you can change it with no risk of dropping it. In UK and I imagine elsewhere it's illegal to drop things from aircraft and that includes by mistake. Again my view is keep it simple. The simpler the flying biut the better you'll be able to concentrate on the pictures - which is why you're there.

Good luck, safe flying.
Philip Howells is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 12th, 2010, 04:15 PM   #21
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: spain
Posts: 1,169
Hey Phil, thanks a lot, i really appreciate your help!
Hope to show this footage soon
Marcus Martell is offline   Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Most Recent Additions... > Flying Cameras

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:45 PM.

DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network