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Old June 10th, 2010, 12:54 PM   #1
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helicopter filming

...very low budget...lucky to get budget for the helicopter! small 2 seater door off lots of vibration and turbulence...any ideas on steadying camera Canon XH-A1. lens set at infinity 60i manual exposure. using a Varizoom flowpod I eliminated a lot of vibration from handheld option but need to go further...will try adding foam to pod to reduce body to flowpod shaft vibration. I would appreciate any ideas from those who have had experience with this. We cannot afford a gyroscopic stabilizer. Thanks to all for responding. Ciao
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Old June 10th, 2010, 01:34 PM   #2
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Are you doing any stabilization in post? I've had quite good success working with others in this regard:

YouTube - Helicopter Stabilized Footage
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Old June 10th, 2010, 08:22 PM   #3
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Can you rent a stabiliser for the day? Or even for a half day?

I'm filmed from boats alot but never a helicopter and my experience is that anytime the engine is running a tripod or modopod is completely useless because they transfer too many vibrations to the camera.
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Old June 10th, 2010, 09:58 PM   #4
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Mount the camera on a board. Attach a length of bungee cord to each end of the board, then attach the bungee cords to each side of the door. Hold the camera loosely so you don't transfer too much vibration through your arms. It becomes a game of adjusting the tension in the bungee cords to find the sweet spot where the camera inertia keeps the camera steady.

This works in cars, aircraft, boats, etc. Oddly enough, the heavier the camera, the better it works. Heavy camera = more inertia.

Martin
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Old June 11th, 2010, 01:50 AM   #5
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Cool idea Martin.

When you mount the camera do you put a pan/tilt head or anything on there or do you just screw it straight into the camera's tripod thread?
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Old June 11th, 2010, 06:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perrone Ford View Post
Are you doing any stabilization in post? I've had quite good success working with others in this regard:

YouTube - Helicopter Stabilized Footage
very nice work, Perrone. I would be very satisfied to achieve something close to what you displayed. What camera settings did you use? I tried some SMOOTHCAM in FCP but got poor results, I need to control VIBRATION more than SHAKE. I've got nearly 3 weeks before I board the helicopter again so I've got some research time to play with.Thanks so much for replying.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 07:34 AM   #7
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Hi Brian, I got your PM. Sorry, I misunderstood how you were using the flowpod - I was assuming you had it extended and resting against the floor for support.

I've not used the stabilser in FCP but After Effects has pretty solid motion tracking/stabilisation. However using any stabilising in post will only be effective if you have a sharp iage - a vibrating image, as opposed to a shaky image, will generally have really severe motion blur. You'll wan't to minimise this so consider shooting at a faster shutter speed. That's about all the advice I can offer as I've never shot from the air before.

Good luck!
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Old June 11th, 2010, 07:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Wiley View Post
Cool idea Martin.

When you mount the camera do you put a pan/tilt head or anything on there or do you just screw it straight into the camera's tripod thread?
I think Martin's idea with the board is just to give something to attach the bungees to. That's what I would have suggested too, leave them only fairly tight so that can still move the camera around a bit.
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Old June 11th, 2010, 07:52 AM   #9
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Most television stations tend to have a chopper for the news crews to get aerial shots with. Why not ask them what works well for a stable shot?

Andrew
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Old June 13th, 2010, 12:33 PM   #10
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I don't know about Canadian flight rules, but in the US you can't do the "bungees across the door" thing anymore. Apparently, the FAA does not allow anything "non-certified" to be attached in any way to the aircraft. If you do end up hand holding the camera, use the OIS, try not to zoom in too much, and don't rest your hands or arms on any part of the aircraft. This will at least avoid transferring more vibration to the camera.
Hope this helps.
Ken
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Old June 13th, 2010, 05:19 PM   #11
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The helicopters I've flown in here in the UK are EXTREMELY protective of their safety and compliance with CAA regs. You cannot attach anything to the airframe and you certainly can not block an exit in this way.

How many of us have not had a bungy cord ping off? In a helicopter anything that could leave the cabin and hit the tail rotor or other critical components, must be properly secured. It doesn't take very much to cause an aviation accident. Door off, sit sideways belted in, with a lanyard preventing the camera falling out - wide angle and sit it on your lap. Without a gyro, it's the best you can do.

Wide angle is the only safe way - use the zoom and watch it shake!

The only variable is the 500ft rule - depending on where you are shooting and people and 'things' below, you may find your pilot is happy to get you lower. They seem to be able to find 'within the rules' ways of doing this sometimes. Getting in closer is much more effective than staying higher and having to zoom.
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Old June 13th, 2010, 08:12 PM   #12
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In a situation like this, I would --probably-- suspend the camera from a single overhead bungee line, rather than two across the door. Please note that I wouldn't depend on the metal hooks on the end of commercial bungee cords -- they'd be knotted and triple-secured so they wouldn't pop free. You'd need a pocket knife to un-mount the cords. The case could be made that the bungee line is a safety lanyard.

However, first and foremost, it comes down to the judgment of the pilot and the applicable FAA regulations as to how I would handle the camera in their craft. You don't get anywhere trying to do an end-run around the FAA, and you certainly want to listen to the pilot.

(FYI my "day job" requires conforming to all applicable FAA regulations for airworthiness. I don't cut corners, and certainly don't want to see other people cutting corners, either)

Martin
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Old June 16th, 2010, 05:09 PM   #13
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...not good results with bungee...

...compared to holding the stabilizer firmly. last to do is eliminate vibration...high density cushion foam between hands and shaft of stabilizer. Very positive in car trial...next is old Harley Davidson and bumpy country road...and I happen to have access to both! The down draft from heli was hardly an issue...so hopefully I'll get this worked out. Thanks for your advice. Ciao
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Old June 19th, 2010, 01:27 PM   #14
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I spent much of the past 30 years video and film recording from helicopters in the UK and in Europe. I can only speak for professional pilots but other than over populated areas a helicopter will work down to ground zero. I've flown alongside buses driving at full speed down a runway, alongside railway trains, in quarries when they were blasting, over ruined Graeco-Roman amphitheatre in the mountains in Anatolia, with one skid touching a 10,000ft peak in the French and just above the waves alongside the last UK nuclear submarine to be launched conventionally down a slipway. Admittedly this was all pre-9/11 (and pre-CGI) after which regulations became much tighter.

We worked with every type of harness/support except Wescam. The knack I found is to use the support or your body to cushion the vibration, keep the horizon out of the frame as much as possible and to let the pilot create pans etc. - we always flew with a 9inch monitor fastened so the pilot could see what we ( ie he and I) were getting. All moves have to be planned.

These were some of the best shoots of my career.
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Old June 25th, 2010, 04:41 PM   #15
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So Brian how was the shot?
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