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Old January 20th, 2011, 07:27 PM   #1
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First Chopper Aerial Video Shoot Advice?

Hey guys, next week will be my first time doing aerials in a chopper.
Right now here is what I am doing:
I am renting a gyro, and using the Canon 5D with the 24-107mm EF f.4 lens (stabalizer on).

I am shooting cityscape aerials, and the doors of the chopper will be off. I will have about 30 minutes in the air (plus chopper getting to the area and back) or so to get about 30-60 seconds of use able footage.

Anything I should know or be aware of, or tips?

Thanks so much! Looking forward to a good helicopter ride!
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Old January 21st, 2011, 03:38 PM   #2
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Hey Silas,

I did my first 5d/heli shoot a couple of months ago. I used a kenyon k6 gyro with a 17-40 lens. The 24-105 would be a good one to have, though I'd lean to the wide side, and depending on what the footage is for, you can crop it somewhat in post. Or you can go more tele and use something like Mercalli ProDad or deshaker to stabilize it a little further.

Individually the gyros work on one axis only, that is front to back, or side to side. It's usually recommended that you use two. Though this would require a mounting plater of some sort to accomodate two gyros and add significantly to the weight.

I used only one gyro and mounted it so that it worked front to back, not side to side. I think in retrospect i should have gone the other way, though for my purposes the footage was very usuable. You'll find that you cant do any fast camera moves with the gyro. If you have a chance, use it a bit before you fly just to get used to the feeling.

It would be cool to have directly vertical footage from a city scape, but i don't think that you could get this handheld. It does get a little freaky up there with the doors off. I didn't have any restraining system, other the the quick release standard seatbelt. I believe it's the law in the US that a strip of electrial tape needs to be wrapped around the release clip.
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Old January 21st, 2011, 03:48 PM   #3
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Generally, the light is nicer and air smoother early in the AM or near sunset.

Flight time is expensive, so discuss the entire flight with your pilot before the engine is started. There should be a sectional map you can go over to plan the flight path and passes. Preplanning might allow you a couple of shots you would otherwise not have time for. I think there's a Google map app that lets you do a 3-d flight simulation so you could previsualize your flight.
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Old January 21st, 2011, 03:51 PM   #4
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Thanks for the tips!

The guy I am renting the Gyro from, said he had a 5D rig, and from the picture it looks like it has 2 gyros on it. So that should help

Direct vertical shots would be awesome! I will talk to my pilot about maybe using something more to keep me in the chopper and maybe I can just hold the camera out the bottom or something?

My research so far has told me that I should have the pilot make the moves (panning or circling) and I just keep the gyro and the camera together.

I am hoping to quickly tell the pilot what I am thinking for shots and let him do the flying!
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Old January 21st, 2011, 03:57 PM   #5
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We are going right at Sunrise, so it should look amazing, and the city we are flying over is Sacramento, has some nice skyscrapers.

Hoping to also get some rad shots going as close as possible to the buildings, with the chopper maybe descending slowly or something like that.
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Old January 21st, 2011, 04:28 PM   #6
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Hey Silas,

You won't be able to move the camera too much, so you're right to get the pilot to make the moves. With the two gyros you should be real solid.

What is the project?

Here is some of the rough footage I shot. Still waiting for the go ahead to complete the edit. In my case - the chopper was flying anyways, so the opportunity to shoot from it was a bonus. You can see some side-to-side vibration in the clips.

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Old January 21st, 2011, 04:34 PM   #7
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Awesome! I think I'll get a map and tell the pilot what moves I think will work, I just emailed him too to see if there is any way to communicate during the flight (i doubt it).

The project is some opener shots for a short film I am in the process of finishing (headed to Sundance 2012!)

Thanks for the tips!

Also, should I strap all my gear together and tie it somewhere or what?
I was thinking the 5D strap could be around my neck, I'll tie something to the gyro, and then tie the camera to the gyro too, and then have a piece of rope on the whole thing tied to the chopper somewhere maybe.
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Old January 22nd, 2011, 09:41 AM   #8
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It's going to be really noisy. Protect your hearing. Talk to your pilot and make sure you get high quality noise-cancelling head set with good seal around your ears. This will both protect your hearing and insure good communication with the pilot.

I spent years working with a group of old engineers who designed and built wind tunnels for NASA. None of them had protected their hearing over the years, and they were all very hard of hearing. I can tell you from experience that it's really frustrating on both sides of a conversation between someone who can hear, and someone who can not.

But these guys, being engineers, had learned their lesson. They treated me like their own kids -- wouldn't let me anywhere near a noise source without proper hearing protection.

I'm just sayin' protect your hearing.
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Old January 22nd, 2011, 10:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas Barker View Post
Awesome! I think I'll get a map and tell the pilot what moves I think will work, I just emailed him too to see if there is any way to communicate during the flight (i doubt it).

The project is some opener shots for a short film I am in the process of finishing (headed to Sundance 2012!)

Thanks for the tips!

Also, should I strap all my gear together and tie it somewhere or what?
I was thinking the 5D strap could be around my neck, I'll tie something to the gyro, and then tie the camera to the gyro too, and then have a piece of rope on the whole thing tied to the chopper somewhere maybe.
Silas,

I've been on a couple of different heli flights (shooting on two of them), and they all had noise canceling headphones with communication built in.

I'd put the 5d strap around your neck, but the gyro should be attached to the base of the 5d already. That's how it works to stabilize the camera. They also require a power cord attached to a battery pack that you'd wear around your waist. Also the Kenyon k6 Gyro that I was using takes about 5 minutes to get to full speed (meaning fulling rpm). You really should try to get a look at the unit before you jump in the heli with it. I spent a couple of hours with mine before getting aboard the heli. Confidence is preparation. And it's already enough to concentrate on while your leaning out the door of a chopper at 500 feet or so.

Good Luck and have fun.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 09:18 PM   #10
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Folks don't fly without hearing protection these days and the technology's pretty good now. You can converse in a normal tone of voice with ca. 30-50 dB attenuation. I have a Telex headset they claim has over 50 dB attenuation with the NC circuit turned on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
It's going to be really noisy. Protect your hearing. Talk to your pilot and make sure you get high quality noise-cancelling head set with good seal around your ears. This will both protect your hearing and insure good communication with the pilot.

I spent years working with a group of old engineers who designed and built wind tunnels for NASA. None of them had protected their hearing over the years, and they were all very hard of hearing. I can tell you from experience that it's really frustrating on both sides of a conversation between someone who can hear, and someone who can not.

But these guys, being engineers, had learned their lesson. They treated me like their own kids -- wouldn't let me anywhere near a noise source without proper hearing protection.

I'm just sayin' protect your hearing.
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