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Old September 12th, 2009, 11:55 AM   #1
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Shooting from 150' above ground, anyone done this?

I've got a shoot coming up where I'm going to be on a snorkel lift 150' above ground looking overhead onto a crime scene investigation below. I need to start almost directly overhead 150 feet vertically and end the shot just 5' above ground looking horizontally like a normal shot and end in a blocked shot of a talent to capture dialog, then it turns into a normal over-the-shoulder and a reverse after that.

Anybody done something like this before? Here are some pics of the boom lifts.
LTECH: Publications: "CTT-2009: LTECH pirates cleared the height", Internet portal VertikalNet.ru

150HAX Articulating Boom Lift - JLG Industries (Australia)

I don't really know what to expect. I'm not overly afraid of heights, so I think I'm ok there. I don't know what the best way to capture the shot is. Steadicam? Tripod? Is it too jerky for a tripod? But I don't know if I'm going to want to be on a steadicam rig 150 feet in the air...

More than anything, I'd like to hear your thoughts, concerns, etc. since this is out of my league.
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Old September 12th, 2009, 12:04 PM   #2
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I did something slightly similar, but not so extreme - I was shooting in a factory that had a moveable hydraulic lift (a concertina type that raises and lowers vertically Scissor lifts - LTECH) that was about 40 feet high. I shot on a tripod with the steadishot turned on on my Sony FX1.

There was a definite bump at the beginning and end but the centre section was very smooth. I've since been told that if the operator turns off the motor and lets the platform sink by gravity that works better - but I'm not sure how that fits in with health and safety laws!
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Old September 12th, 2009, 12:25 PM   #3
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It shouldn't do that by switching off the motors - you are using the emergency recovery mode, designed to get you down when power fails. Using this on purpose seems foolish as you don't have a second emergency backup if that one fails.

All the hydraulic platforms I've used are not smooth in any sense. There's always a lag as you open a valve and the system moves the arm. Sometimes, hitting the up lever causes a slight drop before you ascend - quite normal. The momentum and inertia on the big arms also mean they wobble like mad as they 'bounce' on the fluid pressure. Not good for video.
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Old September 12th, 2009, 01:27 PM   #4
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I did a FD training thing about 6 years ago and had to climb to the top of a 100 foot ladder.
The one on top of the ladder truck. You can't ride them up or down, safety concerns and all that but to get the shots I needed I mounted my PD150 on a monopod and once at the top they lowered the top section very slowly while I clung with white knuckles. When they lowered the 2nd section I was a bit more comfy but then we had to not only lower it but lay it down a bit, like to a 45 degree angle. I was basically laying down on the ladder. They brought in the 3rd section at that angle and the shot worked great. I held onto my monopod like it was life itself and yes I had a safety belt on and was attached to the ladder but my camera was only held by me.
The shot did work great and I felt pretty good getting off the ladder.
Anyway, in your case, a tripod might be the best solution.
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Old September 12th, 2009, 01:32 PM   #5
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i think the main problem for the described shot is the speed of the crane.
to go down from 150' to 5' it will take a long time, and if there are moving people at the bottom, you can hardly make a slowmo.
another is the risk to not be able to keep heading properly, but you can correct this by somebody having a 2nd rope.
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Old September 12th, 2009, 02:40 PM   #6
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I once used a much smaller (36') hydraulic lift for some wide shots and I found it was quite shoogly on the way up and down. There was a distinct bump followed by oscillations as each section reached its full extension and the next one took over. Rotating movement was just a a tad juddery and also produced a series of further oscillations at the beginning and end. Smooth it was not, but this lift was designed for servicing CCTV cameras not for use as a camera platform.

You may find you need to use an image steadying programme on the footage.
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Old September 14th, 2009, 10:56 AM   #7
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I've done a shot like this in a 60' cherry picker. The beginning and end of the shot were useless, but some of the ride down was a smooth enough to be usable. There is really not much you can do to steady out the kind of wobbling and shaking you will encounter, I don't think a Steadicam would be practical for this. I agree with the others, a motion stabilization program might help. Shoot 1080 and edit a 720 timeline, that will give you some extra res/size to play with for the stabilization.

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Old September 14th, 2009, 02:24 PM   #8
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Can you use ropes and a pulley system to lower the camera then make it tilt up at the last little bit? I don't think you'll have smooth shots if you depend on the lift mechanics to move the camera platform.

Watch for shadows and wind.

Myself, I would tell the client you'll need a day or two to figure out the physics of this shot, and it's pretty ambitious given the type of gear involved.
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Old September 14th, 2009, 07:07 PM   #9
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If you want a live shot from 150' down to 5', a cherry picker or similar device won't work because it's not smooth. Have you seen the Stradacrane? Not quite 150' high but it does terrific crane shots. It's arc is so wide that booming looks like the camera is flying straight.
.:: Strada Cranes : Strada Camera Crane, Steadicam, Hook &amp: Release Systems - The Screening Room ::.
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Old September 15th, 2009, 12:54 AM   #10
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Same story as everyone else here.

I did a shoot a few years back covering the release of a series of rehabilitated Hawks and Eagles in the Superstition Mountains east of town - and the wildlife folks got a 100' crane donated for the shoot.

At max extension the bucket never really stopped swaying in the wind. As I descended, there were two "stages" where there was a significant THUMP that was VERY visible in the footage.

Ended up using a few brief clips from the high shots - but most of the coverage was from ground level.

I'd consider almost anything else if the stability of the shot was critical. Cranes are for construction. (Still it's a LOT of personal fun to hover 100' up over the desert at twilight! I'd recommend it to anyone who's not spooked by heights!)

YMMV
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Old September 17th, 2009, 10:47 AM   #11
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Watch this video.

LiveLeak.com - Crane lift - not good to afraid of heights !

It's just a guy with a camcorder in a basket, not set up for proper shooting, but if gives you an idea or what you are in for.
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Old September 19th, 2009, 11:51 PM   #12
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I have done some still photo work from the top of a scissor lift and I can say it was not fun. I was up there for a good 10 minutes trying to get the piece of junk camera to work right with the expensive fish-eye lens. Anyways...is there any way you can rent a giant jib arm from a rental house instead. You may also be able to hook up a wire rig but that is not cheap.
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Old September 20th, 2009, 07:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Bigwood View Post
I've since been told that if the operator turns off the motor and lets the platform sink by gravity that works better - but I'm not sure how that fits in with health and safety laws!
It's most likely that the platform will be hydraulic, the "motor" most likely to provide hydraulic pressure. If the platform is to be left in a single position for any time, there shouldn't be a problem with turning the power off, and descent in these circumstances isn't a problem either - the only issue would be if you wanted to go back up again. (You wouldn't be able to until the power source was running again, and powering the hydraulics.) It's in no way unsafe to descend with the hydraulic pump off.

Yes, to most of the things that have been said, but possibly the most important to thing to keep in mind is the safety aspect of whether there are any power lines in the vicinity. There have been a number of fatal accidents involving cranes and extending masts, and various Health and Safety rules now governing them. The operator should be only too well aware of them, but.......

In the UK I think the rule is that any crane has to be at least 1.5x as far away horizontally from power lines as it extends vertically. With very high voltage lines you don't even need to touch them, just come within a certain critical distance.
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Old September 27th, 2009, 09:40 AM   #14
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I've been up in one of those things before, shooting pics and video for a client who has a abor company (I'm not allowed to say "tree lopping" 'cos those blokes are "cowboys").

Anyway, the biggest bumps are from each section of the crane thing kicking in.

In Australia, before taking down a tree you have to check for wildlife, which they did the day before. Then there was this possum that staggered back from a very late night. Yes, his hole/home was in the void at the very top where the tree extends outwards to form its 'crown'. The missing branches didn't seem to deter him.

Due to some wildlife laws, you've got to get in a "wildlife expert" (read: expensive greenie consultant, that will be $1000 for me to pop in and visit thank you very much) to ensure that the thing isn't startled as you bring the tree down in sections. They survive thunder and lightning in the middle of the night as a matter of course, but you're not allowed to startle them.

[Photo 1 is the main body of the tree with all the branches removed, ready for bringing down. Photo 2 is of the possum asleep in his hole right at the top of pic #1.]

The regular arborist guys don't mind being nice to the wildlife. Not at all. In fact they were once downright disheartened and somewhat shattered after one time when they chainsawed through a section of tree and discovered bits of a possum they had missed earlier. Sometimes you can only do so much checking beforehand, and those voids can go quite deep.

Andrew
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Shooting from 150' above ground, anyone done this?-bucket-lift-1.jpg   Shooting from 150' above ground, anyone done this?-bucket-lift-2.jpg  

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Old September 27th, 2009, 10:29 AM   #15
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Speaking of powerlines ...

Oh, and don't do what these guys did. They poked their (very much made out of metal) arm extender thinggy THROUGH two layers of live electrical wires in order to cut down a palm tree.

A workplace health and safety consulting client of mine could not believe it when I emailed him the pics. He thought I must have photoshopped them or something.

These photos are 100% real and untouched.

Andrew
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Shooting from 150' above ground, anyone done this?-powerlines-1.jpg   Shooting from 150' above ground, anyone done this?-powerlines-2.jpg  

Shooting from 150' above ground, anyone done this?-powerlines-3.jpg  
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