Filming from a Bi-Plane at DVinfo.net

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 May 8th, 2010, 07:16 PM   #1
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 55
Filming from a Bi-Plane

In a few days, I will be filming a sequence with two Bi-Planes performing aerobatic maneuvers. I will be in one plane filming the other plane alongside us. This is a pretty low-budget shoot, so no gyroscopes or helicopters, just me with a camera.

The Planes are in the first picture at this link:
http://www.vintageaircraft.com/vafleet.htm

This will be a first for me, and I was hoping for some advice on camera choice. I have 3 cameras available to me:

Canon XH-A1 - Will probably give the smoothest image stabilization, and the most easily adjustable picture, and doesn't have a CMOS, but it is big and more cumbersome, and I'm afraid the wind resistance and weight will make it very hard to hold this camera up while at speed.

Canon HF200 - My first choice because it's small and maneuverable and gives a great image, but I am afraid of the CMOS sensor. Any experience with this camera in conditions like these?

Canon 7D - Probably won't use this because of the CMOS and will be a lot harder to handhold.

I will also have to GoPro Hero HD cameras attached to the talent's plane, as well as a camera on the ground.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks,
Brandon
Brandon Katcher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 8th, 2010, 09:50 PM   #2
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 1,384
A few things come to mind...

1st, do you have the proper gear to mount cameras securely..like safety wires and hard points to mount to? Also there might be some insurance issues. Open cockpit planes doing aerobatics...you might need to research with the FAA a bit. I was told by a couple of pilots that mounting a camera on the outside of a plane is not a small deal.

2nd, I have mounted a ContourHD inside the cockpit of a B-17. The vibration from both the plane and the wind leaking through a seam rendered the video pretty jello-ey. Mounting it on the outside of plane will probably be much worse without some sort of housing to keep the wind buffeting at a minimum.

Handheld with any camera is going to be pretty much impossible. Once again, I have tried inside the B-17. The best results were solidly mounting the camera using a large suction cup and tripod head. Also had luck with a monopod. My partner used a 5D with shoulder mount and it worked only because it was an incredibly smooth flight. In a biplane, you wont have much room for those. I will be doing filming from an AT6 later this year (about the same amount of space but closed canopy) I plan on using the suction cup on the canopy with a tripod head so I can move smoothly. You could use some grip-style gear to get a point for mounting a camera and head but need to check with the pilot to make sure you don't interfere with cables used for flight controls.

Sorry to seem like a nitpicker, it's an incredible opportunity for you to film but all my concerns are from a lifetime hanging around aircraft and pilots and the last few years, hooking up with a museum to film all their aircraft on the ground and in the air. Safety has to be priority one.

So ask the pilots and if possible get in touch with some official people who know the laws concerning what you are doing. And in a nutshell, see if you can hard mount the camera with a head and your video will be much smoother.
__________________
A7RII, C100, 1Dx, 5Dmk3, 70D, Kessler goodies, Adobe, Pro Tools and more!
Robert Turchick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2010, 03:46 AM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brandon Katcher View Post
In a few days, I will be filming a sequence with two Bi-Planes performing aerobatic maneuvers. I will be in one plane filming the other plane alongside us. This is a pretty low-budget shoot, so no gyroscopes or helicopters, just me with a camera.

The Planes are in the first picture at this link:
http://www.vintageaircraft.com/vafleet.htm

This will be a first for me, and I was hoping for some advice on camera choice. I have 3 cameras available to me:

Canon XH-A1 - Will probably give the smoothest image stabilization, and the most easily adjustable picture, and doesn't have a CMOS, but it is big and more cumbersome, and I'm afraid the wind resistance and weight will make it very hard to hold this camera up while at speed.

Canon HF200 - My first choice because it's small and maneuverable and gives a great image, but I am afraid of the CMOS sensor. Any experience with this camera in conditions like these?

Canon 7D - Probably won't use this because of the CMOS and will be a lot harder to handhold.

I will also have to GoPro Hero HD cameras attached to the talent's plane, as well as a camera on the ground.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks,
Brandon

I used to do all the VO work for McDonnel Dougless back before Boeing bought them and had a lot of opportunities to talk to the guys who shot from the chase copters and fixed wing stuff.

This is NOT easy video to record.

As mentioned, ANYTHING attached to the airframe of any licensed aircraft is under the jurisdiction of the FAA and MUST be approved well prior to takeoff.

The pilot is responsible. His pilots license will be at risk if he OKs you to use any camera in a fashion that attaches to the airframe - and the FAA objects.

Don't get your hopes up for great footage. Powered Aircraft by their nature rattle, vibrate, and get constantly buffeted by wind and G-forces. The reason you don't see a whole lot of first class plane to plane ariel footage outside of Hollywood movies is that they it's very difficult to shoot.

This side of an FAA approved Tyler mount or one of the gyro mounted hollywood beasts - you just strap in, go handheld, keep the zoom as wide as possible and hope both the weather and the plexi between you and the shot is clear.

Good luck. And let us know how things go.
__________________
Classroom editing instructor? Check out www.starteditingnow.com
Turnkey editor training content including licensed training footage for classroom use.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2010, 04:38 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Belfast, UK
Posts: 4,121
I suspect the main hand holding problem will be the slipstream catching the camera. I know that a hand held 16mm Bolex was used to film in cockpit display material with the Red Arrows in the 1970s.

Any on board biplane video shots I've seen in recent years has been specialised lipstick type shots with I would assume licensed camera mounts fitted by a suitably licensed person.

Safety is everything in aerial filming, so camera safety straps are a good idea.
Brian Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2010, 07:46 AM   #5
New Boot
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Crosby, TX
Posts: 9
// This will be a first for me....

If this will also be your first aerobatic flight, fly without the camera first.

Jeff
An old aviator.
Jeff Greer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2010, 07:53 AM   #6
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Hoofddorp, The Netherlands
Posts: 75
I filmed handheld from a small plane a few times now: very difficult. You get bumped in every direction. The build-in image stabilizers form camera's won't even be usable. And even the best stabilizer software will have a tough job with the footage afterwards.

Few things I did:
- detach everything you don't need on the camera cause it WILL come off
- tape over buttons with gaffer tape: during flight it is very easy to accidentally hit a small button on a camera and ruin your shots
- get some soft FOAM to cushion the camera when it bumps hard to windows, sides etc.
- use a sturdy sunhood to protect your lens and the airplane
- sitting on the right side of the plane looking to the right? That can be a challenge as you can't really look at your cam's LCD screen. I held the camera upside down and flipped the image back in post
- a solid briefing and getting to know the pilot is a pre
- shoot 1920x1080 as this leaves you some space to crop after you have stabilized your footage in post
- safety!

Edit: always take a sickness bag with you. Even if you are experienced: after looking at your viewfinder for a couple of minutes you really get disoriented....

You could try to rent a small Kenyon giro? Together with a 7D it could be a ice combo.

regards,
Erwin
Erwin van Dijck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2010, 08:33 AM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,123
Choose the smallest camera with the widest field of view. Stearman are pretty large aircraft but the passenger flys from the front. As a consequence your view up, down, and front is pretty limited, behind and to the rear, not too bad. The front passengers are also quite low with the coaming getting in the way, so you will have to use arm power, and lots of it to hold the camera up - and the pilot may object if you block his view too much. My bi-plane experience was enough to convince me getting any steady shots was going to be really difficult. A proper camera mount is pretty essential, but not something you can do on the day. The mounts must be approved, and certified for the aircraft type. So hand held, with a safety bond essential. A wide angle could be quite useful, to help the other aircraft stay in frame?

This image is from the small lipstick camera fitted to the front of a tiger moth - much smaller than a Stearman.
Attached Thumbnails
Filming from a Bi-Plane-biplane.jpg  
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2010, 01:53 PM   #8
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 55
Thank you all very much for your comments and advice. Sounds like this will be a little more complicated then originally thought. The HF100 will probably be my best choice, will be easier to handle up there. As far as the gopro hero cameras, maybe they'll let me mount one under the windscreen.
Will be interesting.
Thanks,
Brandon Katcher


Untitled Document
Brandon Katcher 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...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

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

Z.G.C.
(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

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:08 AM.


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