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

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 21st, 2010, 04:36 AM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 38
Shooting from airplane tips?

Hello,

in 2 days I will be shooting from an airplane with my HD200, and it will be great if someone could give me some tip about. It will be a small plane, for 2 users. The idea is to fly around a cliff where a band will be playing. I plan to use the stock lens, and the telephoto.

My concern is about the space inside the plane and to get a steady shot with full telephoto. I've never been in a small plane so I don't know if it shakes a lot.

And I'm afraid of the space because I really don't want to accidentally hit the pilot with the back of the camera and ... you know...

Any advice will be great!

Thank you very much,

Jordi
Jordi Dusanek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 21st, 2010, 06:32 AM   #2
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Allen, Texas U.S.A
Posts: 1,074
Firstly, its a very cramped space. So if you'll have to work with the barest minimum of rigs.

Use 60 P so you can easily stabilize it in post. Cuz you WILL be stabilizing it in post. AE can do the job for it.

Bring something to cushion your lens barrel against the window so it can absorb the planes vibrations.
__________________
Ted Ramasola
http://ramasolaproductions.com
Ted Ramasola is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 21st, 2010, 07:01 AM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: PERTH. W.A. AUSTRALIA.
Posts: 4,094
You may find the JVC a bit of a handful in a small aircraft cabin.

My personal preference is not to brace against the airframe, but if you have to, then Ted's trick of a yielding cushion is valid.

Try to fly in a four-seater. Two seats is just too confined. Use the rear seat and keep both for yourself to gallop around in. You really need all the workspace you can get and it is the only practical way you will be able to shoot and use the LCD screen or the sidefinder because it is the only workspace in the aircraft where you can shoot out through the port side windows.

Why port side? The LCD and sidefinder are on the left side of the camera and to shoot out of the starboard window is very hard if you are in the front seat.

Of the light aircraft I have filmed from, the Maule "M6" style aircraft have to be about the most user-friendly for camera operators.

Don't let the Piper Cub style metal framework, fabric covering, tailwheel undercarriage and its old appearance intimidate you. It has a rear cargo door which can come off, the rear right passenger can come off, the front right passenger door can come off if you really want and I think the aircraft is certified for door-off ops with all those doors off although it gets a bit breezy.

If you sit on the floor in back of the Maule with the rear seats out, make sure the pilot turns off the cabin heat, lest you get a burned arse because the cabin heat comes up through a port in the floor.

Please be mindful of the pilot's workload. A danger unto himself is the pilot who is anxious to please, oversteps his ability and flies himself and you down the funnel of a developing sequence of events.

The best you can hope for in telephoto is about zoom 30mm.

If you have workspace and can shoot with good vision of the LCD screen, try to hold the camera in a pretence of a steadycam isoelastic arm, front left palm under lens hood, fingers out of shot, rear right palm under the battery end and sort of let your arms float with the bumps.

This introduces a more parallel motion and less angular motion to the camera when you hit turbulance. If you anchor an eyepiece to your face, this will cause some unwanted pan and dutch movements if the aircraft bumps. If you can shoot 60P at full 1280 x 720 resolution, use it. As Ted describes, slowmotion is a film cameraman's old trick to deal with movement.

Investigate a polariser filter. Aircraft transparencies are notorious for reflections which ruin your shots. This is why the Maule is so appealing. When you can shoot through an open window or door, there are no reflections and the image is clean.

For safety, tie your camera off with a lanyard so that if there is a sudden violent movement, your camera is pulled up short before it hits the pilot.

To get in some practice, have somebody drive you around in a car and lurch it up a bit. Trust me, you will need it.

Two days is a bit short. For the future it might be worthwhile examining renting a KS6 gyro. It takes up some space and you have cables to fret about so it might be a mixed blessing.

Some clips :-


http://exposureroom.com/members/DARA...2405949b62c92/

MAULE AIRCRAFT shows the right hand doors near end of clip.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdMgDdks8MY

Air-to-air with a PD150 handheld. I had made a tiny steadycam but it did not really work and only floated in the pan and dutch axes. Pan with fixed and much more jittery.

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 21st, 2010 at 07:15 AM. Reason: error
Bob Hart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 21st, 2010, 07:12 AM   #4
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Maryville, Tennessee
Posts: 63
Shooting from a small airplane is probably the worst platform you could choose for shooting aerial footage. Add a telephoto lens and you have the makings of a disaster.
Small airplanes are notorious for bouncing around. also, you know what a telephoto lens does when not firmly anchored. Try hand holding your camera and shooting from a car going 80 mile per hour on a bumpy gravel road with a telephoto lens mounted on your camera, and pushed in to a distant subject. The image would be bouncing around more violently than a wild man dancing on the stage.
The only successful way to shoot from an airplane is to remove the door from the airplane and use a gyro stabilized mount of some sort, then use a wide angle lens on the camera. An additional problem is not getting the wing of the airplane into the shot. If you are in a high wing airplane one of the wing struts will be dead in front of your lens. . . a low wing aircraft will most likely have to be rolled over on to its side to get the low wing out of your way.
Another obstacle you may encounter is the FAA. Minimum altitude for flying over a populated area is 2,000 feet. This puts you a long way from your subject.
A helicopter is the only truly dependable platform one can use. . . again, with a gyro mount. Your view is not restricted by a wing or strut, you don't have short-burst scenes because of the need to maintain forward airspeed in an airplane, and with FAA clearance you can operate a helicopter at any altitude over a populated area.
I was a pilot during the Korean War and have since logged many hundreds of hours flying and shooting from both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. The only way to successfully capture useable aerial outdoor concert footage is from a helicopter.
Good luck.
__________________
Ken
Kennedy Maxwell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 21st, 2010, 07:41 AM   #5
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Maryville, Tennessee
Posts: 63
Shooting from a small airplane is probably the worst platform you could choose for shooting aerial footage. Add a telephoto lens and you have the makings of a photographic disaster.
Small airplanes are notorious for bouncing around. also, you know what a telephoto lens does when not firmly anchored. Try hand holding your camera and shooting from a car going 80 mile per hour on a bumpy gravel road with a telephoto lens mounted on your camera, and pushed in to a distant subject. The image would be bouncing around more violently than a wild man dancing on the stage.
The only successful way to shoot from an airplane is to remove the door from the airplane and use a gyro stabilized mount of some sort, then use a wide angle lens on the camera. An additional problem is not getting the wing of the airplane into the shot. If you are in a high wing airplane one of the wing struts will be dead in front of your lens. . . a low wing aircraft will most likely have to be rolled over on to its side to get the low wing out of your way.
Another obstacle you may encounter is the FAA. Minimum altitude for flying is 1,000 feet except for landings and take-offs. This puts you a long way from your subject.
A helicopter is the only truly dependable platform one can use. . . again, with a gyro mount. Your view is not restricted by a wing or strut, you don't have short-burst scenes because of an airplane's need to maintain forward airspeed, and with FAA clearance you can operate a helicopter at any altitude.
I was a pilot during the Korean War and have since logged many hundreds of hours flying and shooting from both single and multi-engine, fixed and rotary wing aircraft. I feel that the only way to successfully capture good aerial footage of a ground subject is from a helicopter.
Good luck.
__________________
Ken
Kennedy Maxwell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 21st, 2010, 07:08 PM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Sydney.
Posts: 2,571
Jordi ..sounds like you're shooting a music video and from how you describe your intentions this looks like being in the too hard basket to get usable footage .. unless you can get a chopper.

If you can't get a helicopter I'd have a backup plan .. maybe a crane or shooting from an adjacent cliff. Good luck.

Cheers.
__________________
30+ years with our own audio and visual production company and studios.
Allan Black is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 21st, 2010, 07:50 PM   #7
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Maryville, Tennessee
Posts: 63
Jordi - I did not intent to sound negative in my earlier post, just realistic. If you are stuck with using the 2-place airplane I suggest that you rehearse the "around the bluff" shot from the air well in advance of the production shoot. I suggest that you shoot the camera rehearsal, then view it (on the ground) and note problems, then make any adjustment you deem necessary. Shooting another aerial rehearsal . . . critic it then make final plans and shoot the show.
Best of luck.
__________________
Ken
Kennedy Maxwell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 21st, 2010, 08:17 PM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 1,324
Another suggestion that may or may not work depending on the aircraft is the hard mount a tripod head.

I have had success with this using large suction cups much like a car mount...but on the inside of the plane.

Filmtools 6" Vacuum (Suction) Cup w/ 3/8-16" Threaded Spud

I use a 701hdv head with a riser.

makes everything smoother.

early attempts at handheld turned out crappy.
__________________
C100, 1Dx, 5Dmk3, 70D, Kessler goodies, Adobe, Pro Tools and more!
Robert Turchick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 22nd, 2010, 12:29 PM   #9
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 38
Thanks to everybody for the quick responses.

I don't have the option to chose the airplane, the producers are lucky enought to get ANY airplane for the budget. After reading all you posts I've been talking about it with the director, and at least he understood the problems, and that probably the footage will not be very good.

I'll be using the advice given by Ted, put a cushion below the lens, and shoot 60p. I've asked about the minimum altitude to fly in the zone we'll be filming, and the pilot said there is no problem with flying low.

Also we've been shooting some chase scenes from a car today and I've tried a bit to keep it steady, with... ehem...not too much success.

Anyway, the shooting is tomorrow... so now I can only hope to have nice weather and to make at least some watchable footage.

Again thank you all for your support!
Jordi Dusanek is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 22nd, 2010, 08:08 PM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: PERTH. W.A. AUSTRALIA.
Posts: 4,094
Try gaffering a 6"x 4" paver to the bottom of the camera or maybe the ball and tail off a tripod fastened to the bottom of the camera and a small round fitness weight fastened onto the end of the tail to add ballast.

Try gripping the stem of the tail between the bottom of the ball. Wrap foam around it and tie the combination off short of the pilot on a stout lanyard. You may be able to float the camera with the ballast weight countering the camera mass steadycam style above and below your hand grip.

If that fails, hold it in the pretend steadycam arm front and back grip for wides to about 16mm zoom. Beyond that, continue to try pretend steadycam or cushion brace to the airframe which may work better for you. Added mass will help reduce engine and propellor vibration coming through the cushion.

Airframe vibration may otherwise fuzz your image.

Take off the front lens hood. It will give you a bit more working room. Gaffer strip around the end of the lens rim so that you do not scratch the aircraft window.

It may be helpful if your pilot is able to fly a circle with the subject as centre of his turn. You brace the camera and shoot directly down the radius to the centre of the cone of the turn. This will be dependent on the pilot's skills at maintaining the turn, weather conditions and aircraft structures like struts.

Altitude will determine if the subject will remain in the natural centre of the cone of the turn. Too high or too low for the radius of the turn and the pilot will have to disharmonise the turn to retain the bank angle.

If he gets it right, this will make your job a bit easier and you might be able to get in a bit closer on the zoom.

In my formation shots, the weather conditions on the dull day were bumpy. I was into about zoom 40mm for some of that shot out the left window across the front of the pilot. My stabiliser and steadyshot helped but my stabiliser was not that good.

Check the resolution from your camera at 60P. I think you will find it degrades to SD or DV quality and won't lok all that good.

If you are finishing in HD or HDV, you might be better off sticking with 30P.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 22nd, 2010 at 08:09 PM. Reason: error
Bob Hart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 10th, 2010, 02:25 PM   #11
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 33
How did it go

Hi: I just found this thread and I'm in a similar situation (having to shoot out of a plane). How did it go for you Jordi? Any recommendations?

Thanks!
Tommy Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 11th, 2010, 06:33 AM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: PERTH. W.A. AUSTRALIA.
Posts: 4,094
For curiosity sake, here is one of my stabiliser efforts for use in a confined 2-seat cabin. My next intention was to use a gyro in place of the lower ballast weights.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaKc6i3i9-0


The JVC GY-HD*** has a bonus I had forgotten about, being able to reset the LCD back into the body facing out to the left. still doesn't help when you have to shoot from the right seat. If your pilot is an instrtuctor, he can fly right seat but may not choose to if any hazard is introduced.

As it is presently built it is a design dead end. With the gyro, hopefully it will behave like a normal gyro dampened camera.

I want a bit extra, to be able to hands-free the camera once I am on shot with a long a lens as I can fit and let it float on the subject, locked by the gyro but capable of being trimmed without being squirrely like it is now.

Last edited by Bob Hart; May 11th, 2010 at 06:34 AM. Reason: added URL
Bob Hart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 8th, 2010, 05:20 AM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: New York
Posts: 392
No update on this pretty much means disaster haha. I wish I could have commented on this before he was going to have a go at it.

There is literally no way to get useful professional footage from the setup he was going to do. All the money spent on the plane could have gone to some other great idea like a crane shot or many many other options.

Spending money on a plane and then not having the proper gear to shoot from it is like going hunting with the best gun out there and not bringing the bullets. Just defeats the whole purpose.

Please update us, I am curious to see what happened.
Giuseppe Pugliese is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 11th, 2010, 12:57 PM   #14
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Warren Vermont
Posts: 73
I've shot a little video from a plane, and a lot of stills over the years.
The best small plane I've used (and among the very cheapest to rent)
is a Cessna 172, and sitting up front with the pilot. The 172 has a window that flips up
and is held up by airflow. The pilot can tip the plane over as he/she is circling so you can
get the angle you need. A good pilot knows what to do to minimize vibration as much as
possible (gliding, for example). And the recommendation for a cushion is a good one. You can rest the lens
on the window with a thick piece of foam (taped firmly to camera or window!)
Ed
Ed Dooley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 8th, 2010, 04:24 PM   #15
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: State College PA
Posts: 45
Cheaper and smoother to put a camera in a radio controlled helicopter. Some of these shots are pretty good.

Aerial Photography - New York, New Jersey, San Francisco



Tom Majeski is offline   Reply
Reply

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

Omega Broadcast
(512) 251-7778
Austin, TX

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

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

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

 




Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:20 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2014 The Digital Video Information Network