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Old June 30th, 2007, 11:37 AM   #1
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Video from helicopter

I've been asked to do a promotional video from a helicopter. Has anyone experience with this? I am wondering how others have done it, I've shot from one before but it was personal use. I know the windows can have a lot scratches, etc. I believe I will have to suspend the camera outside the helicopter somehow as we will be flying down a river so I need to shot forward. If anyone has ideas or where I can look for more information I would appreciate it.

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Old June 30th, 2007, 11:45 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Janice DeMille View Post
I believe I will have to suspend the camera outside the helicopter somehow as we will be flying down a river so I need to shot forward.
With all due respect Janice, you can't just hang something on the outside of an aircraft. That would violate the airworthiness certificate. Shooting from the interior through the glareshield would best be achieved with a polarizer on the front of the lens to eliminate reflections. It won't help with scratches though. My other concern is that if you try to zoom in, it's not going to look very pretty given the amount of vibration present on a chopper. That's why the news choppers have exterior mounted and gyro-stabilized cameras. They can do full zoom and keep a steady image. You might get a good hand held image if you use the Canon XL or XH series cameras with that excellent OIS system on the stock lenses.

-gb-
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Old June 30th, 2007, 11:56 AM   #3
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Poor choice of words

I guess that was a poor choice of words.. I wondered how they were stabilized outside the helicopter. I have a DVRig, I wonder if that will help to stabilize the shot. I am using a Sony PD170.

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Old June 30th, 2007, 05:40 PM   #4
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never done it but id love to try it,
one point which may help is one you probably know already.
the wider the angle the more stable the shot will be.
thats why a lot of this footage we see shot from above
is with a fish eye lense. it also give an impression
of the curvature of the earth.
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Old June 30th, 2007, 05:44 PM   #5
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Helicopters shake, vibrate, and usually fly at such altitudes that make shooting from them difficult. This is why, as has already been mentioned, news choppers have gyro-stablized cameras, but even then, if you watch enough chopper footage, the majority of it is shakey and bouncing all over the place.

Shooting from helicopters sucks! It won't look good, no matter what.

An alternative way to get the shot you want would be a hot hair baloon. They tend to be much more stable, usually have a basket big enough for you to set up your tripod, you don't have a windshield to shoot through, and they fly at lower altitudes which makes it so you don't have to zoom as far. I had a friend who did a shot from a hot air baloon like this, he said it was cheaper that a helicopter, and they had a big fan on the baloon to push them in the direction they wanted to go.

Good luck with your shoot, please show us the footage when your done :-)
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Old June 30th, 2007, 06:07 PM   #6
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An alternative way to get the shot you want would be a hot hair baloon. They tend to be much more stable, usually have a basket big enough for you to set up your tripod,

Good luck with your shoot, please show us the footage when your done :-)
what is a HOT HAIR BALOON. have not seen one of these yet can you submit some photos of it
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Old June 30th, 2007, 06:17 PM   #7
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HOT HAIR Balloons.... Pretty funny.

Unfortunately, a hot air balloon won't be much help navigating down a river. Wind currents are rarely so cooperative.

I'm afraid the best you will be able to do, is take along a polarizer to cut down on glare from the canopy, and use an OIS system camera. I know someone who swore by bungee suspension. Clipped a bungee above the door in a Huey, hung his XL1 from it, and shot with the OIS on on the lens. He said the bungee took out a lot of the 'vibration' but you still had some pitch and yaw. Not sure what you're flying in, or whether the cockpit will allow it. You can't 'attach' any kind of hardware mounting to an aircraft that hasn't been approved (see the note on airworthyness certificate). But a shock cord might be possible.
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Old June 30th, 2007, 06:30 PM   #8
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HOT HAIR Balloons.... Pretty funny.

had to have a little fun...
i have shot still from both fixed and rotary. if there is no wind or very little you will be fine with IS. they shoot private yachts all the time in fort lauderdale with still and video with no problem when the wind is calm

hot hair balloons i am not sure what would happen. might get some hair in the photo
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Old June 30th, 2007, 07:12 PM   #9
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hello there,

i do not know about helicopters, but here is method used on small agricultural plane:

you can do this kind of shots with homemade stabilizer similar to steadicam or glidecam. two most important things are:

a) proper arm from stabilizer with gimbal and precise support for mounting the camera.

b) solid and really heavy base for mounting stabilizer arm. (in this case base was made from metal pipe with the inner diameter preciselly corresponding to that metal rod which is used to connect arm with the vest. pipe was vertically fixed in concrete block, which has 4 holes for better fixing inside plane.)

you can use arm and support of your stabilizer, but not VEST of course. instead of vest you are using that heavy base. put your arm with camera on that base/pipe, open side door/window of plane and record.

anyone interested in results with this option - please PM, and will send you few seconds of that shot.
the shot was done on HDV and then transfered to 35mm. that was part of feature film - normal cinema release was in poland in february 2007. no shaking, no artifacts.
all the best,

filip
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Old June 30th, 2007, 07:14 PM   #10
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Oops..... "hot hair balloons" I can't type today, sorry. Glad I could provide you all with a good laugh though :-)
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Old July 1st, 2007, 01:27 AM   #11
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what is a HOT HAIR BALOON. have not seen one of these yet can you submit some photos of it
Oh, that's an easy one. Hot Hair Balloons were those large fixed station hair dryers they used to have installed in older hair styling salons - perhaps from the 50s and 60s. The women used to sit underneath them to dry their do's.


Next question.

(sorry, just had to do it.)

-Jon
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Old July 1st, 2007, 09:01 AM   #12
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thanks

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I think I will pass on the hot hair balloon :-D

Kenneth what do you mean by IS? I am not familiar with this abreviation.

Filip, I am not clear on your stabilizing system. I do have a glidecam and also a DV multi rig, can I modify either of these?
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Old July 1st, 2007, 10:16 AM   #13
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Janice,

there was a recent article in DV Magazine that involved shooting from a helicopter. An on-line version can be found here:

http://www.dv.com/columns/columns_it...leId=196602807

Maybe it'll give you some helpful suggestions.

- Martin
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Old July 1st, 2007, 01:48 PM   #14
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You might try this!

It mounts to the bottom of your camera.
You may find one available at one of the rental houses.

http://www.ken-lab.com/

Gary
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Old July 2nd, 2007, 04:24 PM   #15
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Helecopters work great- also for wedding work.

Janice,

Hopefully I can add a few thoughts to the sage advice offered by other videographers in this post.

I've been shooting video from helicopters for about 10 years now with excellent results. We shoot mostly ceremony/reception site exteriors for our brides, but have also done several corporate aerial video shoots in both Florida and California. After 10-15 flights, I now have over 40 spectacular ceremony/reception exteriors for our brides to choose from- which makes for a fabulous intro to any wedding video and a great selling tool. Here are a few suggestions for your flight.

1. HELI/PILOT: Find an experienced photo pilot. An pilot experienced in photo/video shoots makes a huge difference. He can save you in expensive airtime by quickly putting the ship right where you want it.

I have found the midrange heli's are the best bargains. At $350-$450 per hour, we can usually get 10-12 wedding/reception locations here in Sacramento in about 1.5 hours. Normally, the larger the heli, the more stable it will be and the faster it will get you through your shoot. I used to use the VW bug sized 'R-22' trainer helis, but find the larger 'R-44' class a bit more stable and within our budget. Shoot handheld from the front passenger side with the door off. Wear warm clothing that will allow a full range of motion.

2. THE SHOT: Remember, for most shoots, only a few seconds of good video is necessary. We often slow much of our footage down to 50% or slower. Shoot in HD- you can easilly convert to SD if needed. Go with a wide lens (.65 or so), not a fisheye- Making Low (500-800ft or lower if allowable), slow circles of the location has always worked best for me. Don't be afraid to circle your location several times until you feel comfortable with the results. Stay wide with your shots for maximum stability. Time of day (and season) is also important. Fly when you know that heavy shadows will not adversely cover the face of your location.

3. STABILITY: Plan your shoot during a day with as little wind as possible. The handheld twin gyro system featured in the DV mag article above works great, especially in windy conditions over 10MPH or with shots you need to zoom in on. I've rented the gyro on my last few flights- but its not absolutely necessary on a calm day. We've also had great results without it.

Here is a link to what we have been doing with heli's in our wedding work (the blog link includes a shot of a wedding we shot IN PROGRESS a few years ago.):

http://sacramentowedding.blogspot.co...ing-intro.html

Gosh, this has turned into a full article! Feel free to contact me with any further questions. I hope this helps:)

Regards,

Mike Jensen
Jensen Wedding Films
Sacramento, CA
916.334.9999

Last edited by Mike Jensen; July 2nd, 2007 at 04:27 PM. Reason: Added a few words
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