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Old August 23rd, 2009, 03:02 AM   #1
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shooting an airshow

Hi guys;i'm about to shoot an airshow and i'd like to have suggestions about how to set the shutter speed to catch the airplanes and.....What is the best solution to attach a camcorder inside a cockpit to have a view of the pilot....Let me know thanks


MM
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 04:25 AM   #2
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I'd just keep the normal shutter speed, that's unless you want to catch the propeller/rotor blades moving. Personally, I regard that as an effect shot, since you don't see the blades unless the plane is about to crash due to an engine failure. Although, I've seen the effect used effectively to make ground attack helicopter appear more aggressive. It's a matter of taste really.

Hard mounting of a camera onto an aircraft requires clearances from the aviation licensing authorities (FAA, CAA etc). The best approach will depend on what the aircraft is doing (aerobatics or just a fly past) and the size of the cockpit, for this I'd get in touch with a specialist company who have experience in rigging these camera set ups. Having a DIY camcorder rig inside an aircraft pulling high g manoeuvres is something that no pilot is going to agree to.
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Old August 23rd, 2009, 04:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Marcus Martell View Post
Hi guys;i'm about to shoot an airshow and i'd like to have suggestions about how to set the shutter speed to catch the airplanes and.....What is the best solution to attach a camcorder inside a cockpit to have a view of the pilot....Let me know thanks


MM
I've shot a few airshows for fun, but everything so far is from the ground. You'll probably have to shoot handheld from insided the aircraft, provided the pilot lets you bring your camera along. A polarizing filter helps when filming aircraft against the sky, it makes the sky a richer blue and also cuts down glare, especially if you get to take your camera up and have to film through a window. Open cockpit biplanes would be great. That's my plan for next year's Sun'n Fun airshow. See my webpage for some shorts. www.vimeo.com/trueview

As for shutter speed, a fast shutter speed helps cut down motion blur. For most of my shots however, I leave it at 60.

Hope this helps.
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Last edited by Roger Van Duyn; August 23rd, 2009 at 04:18 PM. Reason: add link
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Old August 24th, 2009, 05:05 AM   #4
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Ive done a few for fun, and find that you need to work away from the viewfinder if you want to get the high speed passes down the runway, especially as they go past you, heading to your right. You will have about a 180 degree range of motion, left to right.... and if its like any show Ive been to, you wont really be able to move freely.

Also, you might have to relocate the pan bar to a high position so it wont catch on the tripod legs as you pan when the aircraft are high in the sky.

Prefocus, high depth of field and a shutter of about 1/60 is great.
If your lens (like my Fujinon) has a built in 2x, use that freely.

Speak to the organisers, and you might be able to get airside of the crowd fence. (Take a fluro safety vest with you)

HTH

Ben
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Old August 24th, 2009, 07:27 AM   #5
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Here's a variation on the rig I have shot air events with.


SECOND PHOTO OF RIG FOR IMAGING AIRCRAFT. By Bob Hart On ExposureRoom


The pan handle on the front is normally pointed downward out of the wide camera shot. I position the tripod so that I can do a comfortable see-saw action with both pan-handles or the rear pan-handle and the big lens.

These clips were shot with a different variation on the same theme, in this case a home made AGUS35 to relay the long lens I was using.

You may find it helpful to make a sighting device like a ring sight or rifle sight to enable you to aquire your aircraft. Especially if there are nearby lakes or light sandy soil around to cause a hard sky, it becomes hard to sight the cameras on a flying object. The resolution of the wide-view camera viewfinder and LCD are not good enough to spot an aircraft in the fully-wide zoom position.

You need about 25mm zoom to make the object big enough to see in the LCD and then the field of view is so narrow as to require to use a sighting device or have trained yourself to use the eyepiece with right eye and your left eye for sighting down the side of the wide-camera body.

It is also helpful to have a skilled assistant to maintain the aircraft in the narrow view camera viewfinder while you transition to the narrow view LCD yourself and take over or leave your assistant to continue with the job.

You have got to love the Red Bulls camera guys' work. It is just absolutely amazing. I know they are following aircraft flying a confined course but it is still amazing nevertheless.


Here's a couple of clips :-


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-FrlHKsurs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gnLzWVxdnI

Last edited by Bob Hart; August 24th, 2009 at 07:49 AM. Reason: added text
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Old August 24th, 2009, 08:17 AM   #6
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I've shot a lot of airshows. When the action gets fast and furious, knowing I'm going to chop it up I leave my XH-A1 running for minutes at a time.

Learn how to bring your tripod legs in closer and neatly step around them for smooth 140 degree pans without any jarring on take offs. You want to be able to zoom in to the pilots window. Slow your zoom speed right down for this and follow the plane as it climbs away. This takes a lot of practise but it can be done and looks sensational. I'm still working on it.

I've changed the zoom bar to numbers on the display, so I know a zoom readout of 40 or 50 will exactly frame a particular aircraft at right angles to the cam on take off.

Park yourself close to the PA to get a free commentary, tho you'll need to keep running till the announcer finishes his rap on that particular plane. Neat editing gives it a real pro touch.

Inside the planes you want to hear the communications, so get a rig made up you can use again. Google airshow videoing and search around.

Cheers.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 08:38 AM   #7
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Don't forget the hearing protection. If you need a particularly good set of plus, you might want to look at these. You don't necessarily want to just use the squishy foam plugs.

Andrew
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Old August 24th, 2009, 08:52 AM   #8
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" so get a rig made up you can use again" what do u mean Allan?
How can i record the communications?I've always tried 2 figure it out.Focus set?i'd use infinity for the jets in the sky right?

Any videos example?
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Old August 24th, 2009, 01:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Hart View Post
Here's a variation on the rig I have shot air events with.


SECOND PHOTO OF RIG FOR IMAGING AIRCRAFT. By Bob Hart On ExposureRoom


The pan handle on the front is normally pointed downward out of the wide camera shot. I position the tripod so that I can do a comfortable see-saw action with both pan-handles or the rear pan-handle and the big lens.

These clips were shot with a different variation on the same theme, in this case a home made AGUS35 to relay the long lens I was using.

You may find it helpful to make a sighting device like a ring sight or rifle sight to enable you to aquire your aircraft. Especially if there are nearby lakes or light sandy soil around to cause a hard sky, it becomes hard to sight the cameras on a flying object. The resolution of the wide-view camera viewfinder and LCD are not good enough to spot an aircraft in the fully-wide zoom position.

You need about 25mm zoom to make the object big enough to see in the LCD and then the field of view is so narrow as to require to use a sighting device or have trained yourself to use the eyepiece with right eye and your left eye for sighting down the side of the wide-camera body.

It is also helpful to have a skilled assistant to maintain the aircraft in the narrow view camera viewfinder while you transition to the narrow view LCD yourself and take over or leave your assistant to continue with the job.

You have got to love the Red Bulls camera guys' work. It is just absolutely amazing. I know they are following aircraft flying a confined course but it is still amazing nevertheless.


Here's a couple of clips :-


YouTube - SABC SERPENTINE FLY-IN 2008.

YouTube - 35 versus 300
That's a great idea! Maybe I can set up a spotting scope on my rig. It might be tricky getting it to line up exactly with the viewfinder image. I'll take a trip to the local gun store and see what's there that might be useful.

Maybe the little spotting scope from a telescope would work.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 05:14 PM   #10
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One thing, if you happen to close to the flight line (had this happen at a small local airport)... watch out for jet/propwash!

I was shooting a beltpod rig (better than handheld, and fortunately very mobile), and the 4 jet acrobatic team mounted up and started to taxi out... as they came about, we were directly in the line of thrust... needless to say I whipped around and covered the camera as large quantities of dust and debris came flying my way! Got some pretty decent footage of the aircraft flybys, but the skydivers were really tough to track during that part of the show!
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Old August 24th, 2009, 07:06 PM   #11
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Dave, let me see videos!
What about the focus:infinity right?I mean during the flight in the sky
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Old August 24th, 2009, 07:15 PM   #12
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Since I shoot a smaller camera, infinity when in the air, but I'd switch to auto when on the ground since I was fairly close! I'll have to dig up the shots and edit them down, it was just a fun family afternoon at the local airport - slightly more than a paved patch of dirt in the middle of the desert and a couple hangars, but who cares, it's an AIRSHOW!
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Old August 24th, 2009, 09:41 PM   #13
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I'll add this. Don't use a tape-based camera. The vibration will jiggle the tape transport about and you'll get digital garbage or analog tracking errors. OIS might not be able to compensate either.

I clamped a hi8 handycam to a bi-plane strut , and the only few usable seconds I got was when the plane did a climb & stall, he cut the throttle, and you could hear the reporter screaming her head off. As soon as hit hit the gas, image went bad again.

And if the camera has mic-in, then see if you can interface that with the pilot's radio system. Any camera mic will be useless from the noise.
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Old August 25th, 2009, 05:49 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Marcus Martell View Post
" so get a rig made up you can use again" what do u mean Allan?
How can i record the communications?I've always tried 2 figure it out.Focus set?i'd use infinity for the jets in the sky right?

Any videos example?
This is easy....

For working on the ground, get hold of a portable scanner and dial in the frequency in use.
Plug a cable into the 'earphone out' and the other end to the 'line in' socket on the camera.
Gaffer the scanner to the camera, or if you have a Portabace 'glove' fitted to the camera it will easily slip in at the back.

Finding the freq is pretty easy. Its usually the Common Traffic Area Frequency (CTAF) which can be found quickly in publications such as our ERSA (En Route Supplement Australia) or on any of the aviation charts. Then again, Asking a local pilot is just as easy.

For the in-cockpit camera, I gaffer tape a lavalier mic inside an aviation headset that is plugged into the aircraft intercom. The lav is plugged into the cameras external mic socket. This will record all conversations on the airwaves and spoken inside the aircraft. OR you can use a 6.5mm (1/4 inch) phono plug to the camera mic in socket. I used the headset, as I have a spare, and didn't have a 6.5 plug!

The big thing is keeping the camera secure in place. When I do it, its with a modified car headrest LCD screen mount. (the sort of thing you mount a screen on the back of the driver seat to keep the kids quiet). The camera I use for in-cockpit is a ten year old MiniDV Handycam, and its worked flawlessly.

Ben
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Old August 25th, 2009, 09:04 AM   #15
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Hey guys thanks, how many jet fantics out there!Mate i wish i could see your stuff bro!Where can i see it?
What about your suggestions about shutter speed?

I don't have a scanner but i do have 2 walkie talkie motorola that have the scan function, do u think they will be useful?

thx
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