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Old March 27th, 2014, 10:01 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2014
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to crawl on land or make flight...

I have a pleasant scenario in need of some opinion.

I work in a media art studio and in late summer we will be filming a 15-20 video following one person walking that needs to be taken in one unedited cut. The camera must appear to float effortlessly and blurriness / focus / shake cannot exist; it must be flawless. More than one take is nearly impossible because of the scale, amount of people involved, and time. Also this will be shot in Japan during the hottest part of summer, and the walking individual has to do some tricky, involved things during his walk on road and dirt/grass terrain.

- a MOVI-like walking gimbal which we have some experience using
- a much awesomer flying stabilized multirotor cam

Our requirements:
* 4k (we've used the eos 1D C before, but are flexible to change)
* normal focal plane (not fisheye / wideangle)
* without saying no outright to GoPro-like cams, quality (especially dynamic range) cannot suffer.

I'm of course partial to the solution of getting a remote-control flying machine =D It also gives the option of getting higher angles.

For work like this we sometimes hire someone, and sometimes do it in-house. We have the option of hiring a professional hexacopter operator in Japan which will cost as much as a few phantoms if we include rehearsal shots a few days before. Or, we can rent a MOVI for a few days and operate it ourselves with three people. We could also purchase something ourselves.

Here's what we have working in our favor:
* a week to practice on location in Japan
* 5 months to acquire equipment and practice it beforehand

So, what do you guys think? Anything we could purchase in the thousands (but not tens of thousands) of dollars that would be worth having for other projects, or is renting / hiring the best solution? It seems this field is advancing so quickly that purchasing anything and not using it several times a week isn't cost-effective. Am I wrong?

Thanks in advance for your ideas.

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Old March 28th, 2014, 07:39 AM   #2
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Re: to crawl on land or make flight...

Getting 20 minutes of continuous take from an RC helicopter might be problematic; you'll want to scope out how much flight time you can get from a charge, and how much weight it can carry. Clearly, if you only get 20 minutes of flight time, you'll get less time for your take since you have to fly into position, and safely land afterwards. It'll take at least two people, a pilot to fly the heli, and a DP to drive the gimbal to frame/follow the shot.

Similarly, "flying" a handheld gimbal will take two people. One to "fly" and one to DP.

Another option is a conventional steadi-cam. Another option is a really large crane like they use for golf coverage -- not up in the air, but swing it along the path. If you can.
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Old March 28th, 2014, 04:23 PM   #3
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Re: to crawl on land or make flight...

If you really only get one take, don't buy anything with that money.

Instead, spend 100% of that budget line item on an experienced, professional Steadicam Op. If the shot is as complex as you say, you won't regret it.
Check this out:
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Old March 30th, 2014, 10:31 PM   #4
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Re: to crawl on land or make flight...

Depending on the walking speed the subject could cover nearly a mile in that amount of time. The Mulitrotor operator and camera operator would have to be in a moving vehicle traveling along near the subject to pull this off. No small feat as I am guessing that there will be a lot of obstacles in the way and if a bumpy ride for the two operators is unavoidable they may bump a stick on one of the transmitters causing an unwanted camera movement. There is NO WAY the two operators can walk alone with the subject and fly without screwing up somewhere over that amount of time.

A large Octocopter with a Panasonic Gh4 shooting 4K to a large 100 plus gig internal card would give you the video quality and record run time that you're looking for and shooting with a small light camera would allow you to run four 6S 10,000mah batteries in parallel which should easily give you that amount of run time.

Walking that far with a Steadycam rig or three axis hand held gimbal would be almost impossible for one operator depending on the size of the rig and weight of the camera. I have been to Japan three times and it is a hot humid place in the summer, just like central Florida. Both the Steadycam and the hand held three axis gimbals require a very unique "walking" technique to keep vertical bouncing from the mere act of walking from showing up in the footage.

If on shoot day the wind was blowing from 8 mph or more and some of this shoot sequence happens to go through a downtown type environment with buildings there will be turbulence and as good as modern day Multirotors are with the new three axis brushless gimbals they still get moved around some in turbulence.

A dolly track would be ideal, but you would be limited to a side shot basically and setting up that much track would be nearly impossible.

You are basically wanting perfection from a shot lasting this long and I am afraid that you are in for a huge let down if the shot can not be broken down into segments.

I am very good at what I do. In just over a twenty year period of flying precision aerobatics and hovering with R/C Helicopters, competing in World Championships with five World Championship first place team titles to my name, I would not want to attempt a shot like this. We have done a lot of long takes, but nothing approaching this difficulty level. It is insanity to think that nothing will go wrong and ruin the shot. Like car or pedestrian walking right out in front of your subject half way through the shot. It doesn't sound like this is a completely closed set and to top it off you are saying that you only get one shot at this.

I hope this helps in some way.

Wayne Mann
HeliCam Aerial Media Services, Aerial Video, Aerial Photography
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Old August 17th, 2014, 10:12 PM   #5
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Re: to crawl on land or make flight...

Wayne and FInn,

I apologize for the late reply. I thought I had sent a reply back in April but see it never ended up here.

Your advices were right on; we decided to go with a professional steadicam operator and to break it down into several shots. Shooting is at the end of September so it'll be cooler. I just came back from another part of the artwork production and the heat was almost unmanageable.

Also tried steadicam myself (with no experience) on a small project. It consisted of 18 minute unbroken takes––as you can imagine I have become experienced with stabilization software, lol. It was a nice experience, and now I know why we pay steadicam operators well :P

Again guys thanks for your help :)
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Old August 22nd, 2014, 07:41 AM   #6
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Re: to crawl on land or make flight...

I believe in Russian Ark there was a bit of stabilization in post on a few of the locked off sections in the shot in order to move in tighter. Regarding long Steadicam shots, you can have a variables like wind that can do unexpected things and the cast have to know precisely what they need to do.
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