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Old September 26th, 2006, 03:43 PM   #1
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Camera for Aerial platform

Hi all
I need help choosing a camera to mount to my paraglider for aerial shots, essentially turning my paraglider into a camera platform. I've got the mounting system pretty much licked and will be taking some practice shots with an old handycam (High8) to see what I can do.
What I would like to end up with is a broadcast quality camera that a good DP could adjust for aerial footage for their project. So far I have been torn between the DVX100b and the XL-2. They both fit into my weight range for the mount.
What are your opinions on the two cameras and their pros and cons. I've been researching for several weeks different cameras to use for aerials from my paraglider and my head hurts, I need people that have used them to help me with a decision, and eventually a project or two. Thanks.
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Old September 27th, 2006, 08:31 AM   #2
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If you don't shoot in HD of some flavor your footage will
not have a wide market nor be future proofed. I would
highly suggest one of the Canon's.
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Old September 27th, 2006, 10:41 AM   #3
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I would like to add to Jacques comments in that even the various flavours of HDV are not neccessarily future proofed. Broadcast quality is a moving scale and much debated... Nat Geo have recently rejected a film because it is shot on S16, the 1/3" chip in all the HDV crop is roughly S8 sized... However, I cannot say anything about the cameras you have mentioned more raise a few issues about aerial shooting

Have you shot much from your paraglider before? This technique has been pretty much pushed to the limits on the film Flying with Condors with Judy Leden. It was shot by Richard Matthews and Arthur Clare on the Sony HDW 730S and has many sequences shot from paragliders and hang gliders. watch this film!

There are a few things to think about if you want to seriously market yourself and/or buy a camera;

- You might need to mount larger cameras than those you have mentioned so your mount should take that into consideration.

- You need to be able to go very wide for aerials, does your mount reflect this.

- Does the mount deal with the huge amount of vibration that flying can bring.

- You need to be able to monitor when you are shooting so some kind of tap or flip out screen is a must.

- It is quite common to shoot highspeed for aerials as it smoothes out someof the bumps. There are few cameras that will permit that excluding the Panasonic HD flavour....

Essentially it is your skill and your ability to deliver that will count rather than your camera, you can hire in the camera that you need on the day. I imagine that practicing loads with your Hi8 camera and tweaking the mount to get that perfect is more important than the camera at this stage.

Good luck with whatever you decide, I think it has a great potential as a platform.

James
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Old September 27th, 2006, 01:47 PM   #4
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Norm,

I have over 8,500 skydives using various cameras mounted on helmets, belley cams, pov stuff, ankle cams, etc. I have shot with 35mm 16mm,8mm film cameras, pd150's, single chipers and more.....not to mention still photos.

when shooting with helmet mounted cameras, the camera tends to be placed ontop of a helmet that fits your head like a glove(so there's no shaking or movement). the way you know what your shooting is to place a "ring site" that attaches to the front of the helmet(these can be made for a few dollars with cut pvc pipe and a small metal rod).

while shooting helmet mounted cams....you must use your head, neck and body like a steadicam per say.....with a lot of practice,,,,yoru shots can become steady as a rock.

if you have any questions regarding this stuff...let me know.

I have shot tons of footage while flying my canopy as well which is similar to a paraglider.

if you are shooting for various DP's.....then make sure your helmet can handle the space of a variety of cams such as 35mm, digi, etc....and have a place where you can mount a still camera too.

a great resource for this info is www.dropzone.com

good luck!
joe





Quote:
Originally Posted by Norm Becerra
Hi all
I need help choosing a camera to mount to my paraglider for aerial shots, essentially turning my paraglider into a camera platform. I've got the mounting system pretty much licked and will be taking some practice shots with an old handycam (High8) to see what I can do.
What I would like to end up with is a broadcast quality camera that a good DP could adjust for aerial footage for their project. So far I have been torn between the DVX100b and the XL-2. They both fit into my weight range for the mount.
What are your opinions on the two cameras and their pros and cons. I've been researching for several weeks different cameras to use for aerials from my paraglider and my head hurts, I need people that have used them to help me with a decision, and eventually a project or two. Thanks.
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Old September 29th, 2006, 01:59 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips. I have worked out a lot of your questions so far and will be testing my ideas with the high8 in the next month. I will start looking for the flying with condors movie as it seems to be up my alley. Any ideas as to where I may find it?

Currently, I am building the mount and should be ready in the next two weeks. I have worked out a lot of the vibrational issues, and need some air time to refine it. The flying conditions I would be in would be similar to those for hot air balloons or with wind speeds up to 20 k/h. Smoother air, fewer or light thermals. The trick as a pilot is to fly in conditions that are safe and appropriate for my aircraft. The times would usually be golden hour times, with no mid-day thermal flying. Also I would ideally be able to produce certain types of shots for the DP. Other aircraft might be more appropriate depending on the vision of the film.

I am fascinated with the challenge of aerial photography from my wing, as well as where this specialized skill set may be able to take me. So your help is greatly appreciated. As for additional cameras to mount I am curious to find out which camera models to build for in the future. How small can a 35mm get? I have tons of questions, so the research continues. However, I was hoping to have a good primary camera to start with and work my way up from there. Joe, I will look at the site you suggested and formulate some questions when I get some hours with my rig. Thanks again, Norm
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 05:21 AM   #6
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Hi Norm,

Do a web search and you will find out where to get Flying with Condors. Seems like you are addressing lots of the main issues.

The 35mm movie cameras are so varied and come in many flavours, there are the new smaller cameras like the Arri 235 but there are so many others. have a look at the spec on the Arri here.

http://www.arri.com/prod/cam/235/235.htm

J
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Old October 10th, 2006, 12:49 AM   #7
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Now I have to look at HD?

Hi James, that Arri looks awesome. I especially like the wireless remote control possibilities and video assist. I wonder what the range is on it? I would say carrying anything like that would be much further in the future as my skills improve. Though it is comfortably within my weight limits.

I recently flew with the Hi8 and took some interesting hand held footage that was very encouraging. Pretty smooth, though the optics and exposure were a lot worse than I expected. The mount will be ready tomorrow night so I should be able to fly it on Wednesday and this weekend at the Owens River Valley with 6 or more paragliders. So I will have a fun subject to practice with.

So my new pressing concerns comes back to the type of camera to use.
My old boss owns a small production company in North Hollywood. He rents sound, grip and camera equipment as well as tele-prompters and PA systems. He said that I should pay more and get an HD camera, because people keep requesting them to rent. He suggested the HVX200 or a JVC (I forgot what model he mentioned). Now I have to start researching all over again, I was hoping that I could get some tips on which ones to look at. I am also on a pretty tight budget and I am not sure what the price range is for an acceptable level HD camera, so any info would be helpful. It seems that HD is the way to go since everyone out here has those gigantic televisions.
Thanks, Norm
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Old October 10th, 2006, 01:47 AM   #8
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Hi Norm,

The Arri 235 is a really lightweight camera and a thing of great beauty. Have a google also for the 216 (a new S16 camera) and the Aaton XTR2. When you say range I assume you mean the wireless control and video assist? Dependent on the transmitter/receiver it can be quite far although it will always be line of sight.

Regarding HD cameras. Look at the Sony Z1 or FX1, the Panasonic HVX200, the JVC HD100 Series (already several incarnations). The Z1 is virtually industry standard, shoots 1080i, records to tape, also records DVCAM SD and is compact and robust. The HVX200 shoots a whole range of progressive framerates, is robust but shoots to prohibitively expensive P2 cards. The HD100 shoots 720p to tape, is bulky and would be hard to configure for flying. If cost was not an option I would look at the HVX200 because of its variable framerate option, something that would be useful for flying (shooting at 60P and playback at 30P will smooth out some of the bumps that you might experience). With these cameras excepting the JVC you have a fixed lens which may or may not be an issue for you. Most aerials I shoot are wide so it is not a big issue. The prices are quite competitive right now, have a look at B&H, Adorama etc.

Outside of these three you are looking at the Sony or Panasonic HD cameras. Fully loaded a package will start at $80K +/-.

Cheers,

James
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Old October 10th, 2006, 08:05 AM   #9
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If you don't go with film,
I would think about the Canon XL H1 as you could put an HD
deck in the back seat and shoot in most any flavor of HD
via the HDSDI output.
The 20X lens is much better than the stock JVC lens or
the HVX200 whose sensors feature less pixels than the H1.
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