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Old December 15th, 2009, 08:06 PM   #1
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Helicopter & 7D

Here's something that doesn't happen every day. I happened to be invited on a helicopter ride while dropping a friend off at the airport. It was my lucky day because I happened to have my 7D with me and a few lenses. NOTHING PLANNED!

I've never been in a helicopter before so I really didn't know what to expect, how to shoot, what settings, etc... No time to prepare, I just jumped in an was hoping for the best.

I shot handheld in 24p 1/50 with different lenes, but mostly an older 10-22 EFS and 28-135 IS.

Opps! The video is almost all unusable. First it is VERY choppy (probably because of the 24p, huh?) and all over the place. If I stuck the camera out the window, the actual shots were much better but the wind would blow the camera all around. So to get rid of the wind movement, I would bring it back inside, but then I'd get footage of the rotor or the landing legs which I didn't want... Ugh!

I get to go back up next week, but this time I want to be prepared. I read this post about the 5D (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/canon-eo...ml#post1460737) and I assume that most of it applies to the 7D too.

But do you have any other suggestions for this, and in particular for the 7D? I can't buy a gyro since this isn't going to be a regular event.

I used my neck strap as a "tripod" and it helped a LOT except when we'd go up and down.

I will try to post an example shot tonight.

Last edited by Lloyd Ubshura; December 16th, 2009 at 12:44 AM.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 12:30 AM   #2
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Video

Here's one video of the helicopter ride. I didn't know my lens was so dirty till now. WARNING, I didn't dub out the sound, so you'll want to mute it unless you enjoy 100% wind noise:
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Old December 16th, 2009, 12:42 AM   #3
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CMOS is the DEVIL!!!

I could smooth most of thatfrom the original footage. Would be nice stuff. A tripod or monopod would help a lot next time.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 12:53 AM   #4
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I used to spend time in copters. They all vibrate like crazy, but the ones with 4 blade rotors are smoother. Dunno if they're easier to shoot from though.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 05:28 AM   #5
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Hope you had fun Lloyd some of us are lucky enough to do this for a living. After years of shooting from full size machines I never get tired of it. Can be cold this time of year in New England. Your desert footage just gave me a warm feeling. Last week we shot 6 hrs (two tanks) over the ocean at 15 deg F and of course no door with our gyro side system. Can cause a nip when doing 120 kts traveling to the job.

Your footage shows the weakness in the codec for fast motion, I shoot CMOS with different codec and do not get this problem at high bit rates with the Nano. Also a tripod or mono pod won't do much, you need a gyro isolation system so you are not touching the camera. But then again the codec and bit rate are not up to the motion. It will get there but it is not there yet.

IF you don't have gyro options try some type of handle system where you can isolate the camera from the handle. Remember safety line is needed with FAA. Some have used with small success hanging from shock cord with light hands on the camera. Also try to follow your subject more. Pick something ahead and follow that locked onto it while it passes. Also try 720 60 fps and drop on a 24p timeline so it is slow motions and dampens the motions. Think smooth and have fun. Look forward to your next footage.
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Last edited by Paul Cronin; December 16th, 2009 at 06:21 AM.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 07:02 AM   #6
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Llloyd, I'd advise not to take much footage from behind the glass, especially into the sun. It not only degrades quality but the marks on the cockpit glass never looks nice. So try to shoot everything with the door open. If you are being buffeted too much by head-on winds, try to point the lens towards the rear of the helicopter (keeping the heli out of frame) and use your body or door frame to shield the oncoming wind. The footage can then be reversed to show forward motion.

Paul is right about the bigger choppers being far more stable. Looking from the shadow cast on the ground, the helicopter you were in was a small one, and tends to vibrate a lot more and be affected by sidewinds.

If you choose to fly at dawn or very early morning just before sun-up and begin shooting as the sun begins to rise above the horizon behind you, then the air will be much smoother to fly through. Later in the day the heatwaves can cause havoc, especially when flying over water or hilly terrain and mountains, or deserts.

Gyros are best for this work, but even an IS or VR lens will help smooth out some bumps.

Use a wide lens and hand-hold. Do NOT use a pod or tripod because it will just tansmit all the vibrations from the engine and ruin your footage.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 07:41 AM   #7
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Great points Tony forgot the important one "Stay Wide" and shooting through the glass will not produce a very nice shot unless the glass is new and perfectly clean. This has worked for me a few times but only when the producer really wants it.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 11:11 AM   #8
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Thanks for the advise guys!

FYI, the flight was one that I pretty much hitched a ride on and wasn't meant as a video run. It was a flight training for a new pilot, and I was just along for the ride. So there were a LOT of hard banks and fast moving, so half the time I was just trying to hang on for deal life (like the initial parking lot shot). I almost needed a barf-bag, especially while looking ONLY at the small LCD screen on the 7D.

Here's what I used this time around. Please let me know what you think or would change.

1. 1080, 24p, 1/50, f22, Auto ISO (I see the logic in Paul's recommendation of 720/60)

2. I used my 10-22mm (no IS). I had it wide open at 10mm (x1.6) most of the time.

3. I'm trying to run the footage through Magic Bullet Stablizer... (can't seem to keep it from crashing though). Do you think that would help it out, or am I toast with the 24p?

4. I used the neck strap as a sort'a isolated tripod. I'm thinking this is as good as it's going to get since I'm not going to get any gyro system.

5. I'm considering using my Merlin Steadicam (just the handheld arch thing), but I think I might have too much trouble keeping it from swaying around in all the movement changes. I think I'm better off with the neck-strap only.

6. I have a 28-135mm *WITH* IS, but I think it's not wide enough, even though it has the IS which I wish I had on the 10-22mm.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 11:14 AM   #9
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By the way, if you check out the footage around minute 6:10 through 7:00, I was trying to take some stills. I thought you were able to take stills during video recording without any interruption of the video?

You can clearly see the shots I took as they pause the video and skip ahead after the pause.

Suggestions? Or is that how it is?
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Old December 16th, 2009, 11:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lloyd Ubshura View Post
were able to take stills during video recording without any interruption of the video?

You can clearly see the shots I took as they pause the video and skip ahead after the pause.

Suggestions? Or is that how it is?
Depends on card speed. Were you using an Extreme IV or something comparable?
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Old December 16th, 2009, 11:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Depends on card speed. Were you using an Extreme IV or something comparable?
No. I used 16GB Extreme III (30MB/s).
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Old December 16th, 2009, 11:52 AM   #12
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Lloyd use the IS lens. The fact that it is a little longer won't hurt as much as not IS. I don't think 24p is your problem it is as I said, the codec and no isolation. Nice to see you are keeping the shutter in the proper place. Too many people up the shutter and it does not work for smooth footage. It has its place but not for what you are doing. Hell, give the Merlin a try you can always take the camera off quickly. Just make sure you don't put in where it will fall out or hit any controls. Keep exterminating it will only get better. And have fun!
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Old December 16th, 2009, 12:10 PM   #13
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I use a special wrist-strap hand grip for holding SLRs & DSLRs when photographing from planes/choppers/microlights. It helps a lot and also prevents the camera from slipping out of your hands and heading earthbound. :)

There are a lot of different grips for sale, but the ones with large cushioned grip and extra wheel lock for tripod-screw fixing are the best.

Crazy Cameras - Professional hand grip with safety wrist strap for SLR/DSLR cameras, camcorders and full size digital cameras
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Old December 16th, 2009, 01:01 PM   #14
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Don't get me wrong - the biggest problem I saw with the footage was rolling shutter.

But for something like this, you've got enough ambient light to get footage with something with a smaller sensor for larger DOF. I'd have taken my HG20 up on that shoot instead of the 7D - I don't think you would have had nearly the problems you did with rolling shutter.
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Old December 16th, 2009, 03:14 PM   #15
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LLoyd, Deshaker running in virtualdub will do wonders for this - it will take out the rolling shutter problem. I don't know the Deshaker rolling shutter setting for the 7D, but I use 70% for the 5DII and I expect the 7D is very similar. This really eliminates the CMOS issue from aerials. If you don't know how to set up Deshaker for this I can send you a white paper that describes how to do it. This also describes how to shoot through plexiglas without glare, and has a few other tips. Chuck
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