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Old February 5th, 2007, 04:52 AM   #1
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Location: Vienna, Austria
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Hi Guys, I am new to these forums.

A short introduction of my person: I am working for a small film and video production company specialized on documentary films in Vienna, Austria. I mainly do graphics, effects and animation as well as everying IT and video equipment related a comapny needs to deal with.

We recently purchased an RC Helicopter capable of carrying up to 6kg of video equipment from a german manufacturer. (Thats what the dealer proposed, in my opinion it was already a challenge for the engine to lift the 2kg camcorder)
Right after this purchase the RC Helicopter was used in a documentary about the oman.

a short teaser of the material shot there can be found here:

Because of the short preparation time before it was shipped to oman we had several problems to deal with there.

A Sony PD170 hard mounted on the bottom side of the helicopter. The helicopter has something called helicommand installed that automatically levels it and measures distance to ground, etc. This makes the helicopter so easy to fly that anyone could do it. But that was not the reason we purchased it, we have an experienced helicopter pilot and were more looking for a steady smooth flight without shaking and too much drifting.

In the end the autopilot was the cause for all the shaking and rolling cause it constantly steered left and right to hold the helicopters level and position.

The above youtube video was postprocess stabilized and the bad youtube quality hides the shaking a little as well :)

We hope being able to tweak the helicommand settings to ease the level correction a little so that should reduce shaking a little.

In addition we ordered a Helicam Solution Mark IV gyro stabilized remotehead.
Any good or bad experience with the mark IV?

Another thing we are considering is buying an hdv camcorder to get at least higher resolution base files for postpro stabilizing. (I doubt the mark iv will be able to provide totally smooth results so postprocessing would still be required).

But which camera to buy?
It has to be lightweight and small to fit under the helicopter. But it should provide good video quality and at least manual control over shutter, exposure, white balance and focus. Price should be below 2000$.

I am afraid a hdv->minidv tape solution is the only reasonable choice (hvx200 is too heavy and expensive).
But how bad can the compression to minidv be? I mean a helicopter flight DOES involve a lot of motion and detail in the image but most of the motion is in a (for the codec easy to predict) single direction.

We thought about an industrial 3cmos chip camera with cameralink interface, but that solution with some kind of microprocessor and an onboard hdd would have to be built from scratch, which would be a huge project on it's own without it hanging on the base of a helicopter.
Or are there any complete camera -> hdd solution available?

Hoping for interesting feedback
Sebastian Pichelhofer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 5th, 2007, 04:01 PM   #2
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Location: Palm Beach, Florida USA
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You might want to go look around and chat with the folks on the Helicopter and the Aerial Photography boards on RCGroups:


Lots of experienced and even professional folks there that may have some hints for you....
Tim OBrien is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 22nd, 2007, 05:15 PM   #3
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The underslung camera mounts can help isolate vibration in that most of them are 'slung' by bungee, which isolates vibration from the heli.

I am flying both an underslung and front mount heli. If you want vibration free video, start with the heli, not the mount. Are you flying a gasser with a 26cc motor? Tuning is critical, as is head speed, oil mixture, and throttle curves. If you're heli isn't tuned optimally, you won't ever get smooth video.
Derek Weiss is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 7th, 2007, 07:17 PM   #4
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Here's a pic from the other day.
Derek Weiss is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 18th, 2007, 04:01 AM   #5
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Location: Vienna, Austria
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Very cool, what mount and camera are you using?

The MarkIV arrived already and I will hopefully soon be able to post new video content with the new setup.
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