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Old February 15th, 2015, 04:58 PM   #16
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

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Originally Posted by Jeroen Wolf View Post
Interestingly, nobody commented on whether to shoot slow motion (96 fps) or 4K at 25P. I talked to a buddy of mine and he said to shoot at 96 because it really helps to smoothen out the shot and you can always decide to speed up in post.
I'm the editor on a project that had a 2-camera light plane flight - DSLR out one side and FS700 on the other. I threw out everything except the FS700 100fps footage.

The problem is that, even once stabilised, the rolling shutter introduces some horrible high-frequency jello on all the footage. The 100fps clips got conformed to 25fps and look great, no stabilisation needed.

I haven't shot much with the GH4 so I don't know how bad jello is in 4K, or how much quality you lose in 96fps, but my general advice would be to go for more fps over more resolution.
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Old February 16th, 2015, 01:08 AM   #17
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Yes. A Piper is a bit tight inside. There is slightly better workspace compared to a Cessna if you are in the right front seat.

I found I was only able to work the EX1 from the front right seat viewing out via the rear left transparency in a line behind the pilot to dodge the wing. I was in the green and white Piper which you will see in the linked video below.

I soon felt the strain from being all twisted up. It was only workable if the aircraft was in a steady left turn.

However, in that turning motion, the aircraft was sweetly steady, more so than the Cessna. The Cessna was also steady in a turn. Because you are not having to "track" your subject in a turn centred upon it, you make less inputs of your own, therefore less unwanted movement occurs, a double win.

Optical steadyshot was as much a curse as a blessing. I tried a home-made manual gymbal a bit like a cut-down steadycam. It was too squirelly and impossible to control.

If your camera is light, my personal preference would be to fasten it down to a divebelt weight and hand-hold that combination. Be aware that this then becomes a mass that in turbulence might get away from you and injure your pilot. If you want to add mass using a piece of scrap steel, enquire with your pilot first as it is magnetic and may deviate the backup compass if you are in a front seat.

The great thing about memory cameras is there are no magnet motors in tape drives, However lens servos may still deviate a compass. It is unlikely to be an issue but ask anyway.

There is a hand-hold method which will help you in an aircraft with a small camera. It is awkward and unusual but converts most of inadvertent movements of the camera from off the optical axis to parallel with it in the tilt direction.

Imagine bringing your hands together in prayer, then opening them outwards whilst maintaining contact at the wrists. Now rotate your hands clockwise so you left fingers are at front and your right fingers at rear.

Clasp your camera in this grip. Use your left fingers for the lens, your right number four or number five fingers for the run-stop button. Contact with the camera body by the palms of your hands must not be disturbed or the steadiness is lost.

Hold the camera out about 300mm - 400mm and allow your arms to "float" with the bumps a little like a steadicam. Practice in a car to get the feel of it. The mechanism of your arms will look much like the iso-elastic arm of the steadicam.

This method works best if facing the camera dead ahead. You can work across your body to the left side but a roll movement may be introduced into the image. To work to the right, your must change your grip from left hand front to left hand rear.

However you must practice until it feels less uncomfortable for the method to work at all. If your camera has a rear LCD screen like a DSLR, then you are going to have to peer through opened fingers at it.

I used a steadycam "floating" grip whilst experimenting with the gymbal gadget here. I have included this clip with all its faults as it provides an over-water view.



Nowadays we have these sweet motorised gadgets called Ronins.

Last edited by Bob Hart; February 16th, 2015 at 01:12 AM. Reason: errors
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Old February 16th, 2015, 01:25 AM   #18
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

This link might be of interest to you.


Eye in the Sky Productions

http://www.eyeinthesky.com.au/behind-the-scenes/
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Old February 16th, 2015, 08:55 AM   #19
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

I'd shoot the 96fps if you can do it, audio isn't being used so not a issue, but shoot wide will reduce the amount of motion. This may be a problem as it means you need to be closer, the pilot must observe their PANSOPS height restrictions anyway.
One rig I saw in times past on the cheap which seemed quite good, is a simple aluminium plate, with 2 pistol grips suspended on a bungie cord with the camera mounted on the plate. This may help reduce the engine vibration etc.
Ive done foam on the legs, it does reduce vibration, but you need to be in a plane that lets you shoot clearly from that position. There are dedicated planes out there with proper mounts and clear view ports for this purpose, you'll need to check your yellowpages etc.
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Old February 16th, 2015, 10:27 AM   #20
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

It seems like opinions are split right down the middle as far as shooting highest possible frame rate (in this case 96 fps) or high resolution (UHD @ 25P) and stabilize in post for use in HD timeline. I talked to the editor who says AVID has a great stabilizer (compared to FCP X)

I like the idea of holding onto the resolution. Plus a high shutter speed should really nail the landscape sharpness.

Lots of experience here but no scientific winner, I guess...

We're set to fly on wednesday and we have rented a Cessna 172. Plan to remove a window, or at least open it. The pilot will check it out tomorrow. Unfortunately former astronaut Andre Kuipers is too busy this week to fly the plane...

But at least I have these pics as a souvenir! 'Andre and I just before we didn't take off'...
Attached Thumbnails
Shooting from a small plane -first time-andre-en-ik-piper.jpg   Shooting from a small plane -first time-andre-en-ik-op-piper.jpg  

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Old February 17th, 2015, 08:25 AM   #21
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

I rented a Sony X70 with OIS in the lens and an extra Active Electronic Stabilzation for good measure. A rental company suggested this. The form factor is nicer than the GH4 for handheld, with a better and bigger LCD screen and a proper top handle and greater zoom range. Also built in ND's, although I doubt I will need them when shooting high shutterspeed.
It's not 4K but the image is tack sharp. XAVC 1080 50P. I also rented a GoPro 4 Black to shoot 4K. I will attach it to the plane with a super clamp. Then I have a buddy of mine holding a NX30 that I happened to have borrowed from a colleague. Unfortunately he will only be able to shoot through the window. I also have a GoPro HD2 I can attach somewhere on the outside with another super clamp, just for fun.

I will sit in the pilot seat on the left with the window removed. The pilot will fly the plane from the right front seat.

Question about the GH4: when you focus manually on infinity, you will see a red zone if you focus too far away. What does this mean?
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Old February 17th, 2015, 09:33 AM   #22
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

It'll be soft.
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Old February 17th, 2015, 10:07 AM   #23
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Something to look out for with the GoPro is the shutter speed if it's pointing to the front of the aircraft. On a bright day the shutter speed will be high enough to stop the prop and the rolling shutter will make it curve. You can put some ND over the lens to fix that. Prop turns about 2500 rpm.
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Old February 17th, 2015, 10:39 AM   #24
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

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Originally Posted by Bryce Comer View Post
It'll be soft.
Have you shot with the X70? With the GH4 without extra stabilizers there's a good chance of image degradation as well.
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Old February 18th, 2015, 12:31 AM   #25
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Jeroen.


My footage shot of the dam and the abandoned airstrip was with a Sony EX3 using the BBC picture profile. It was entirely handheld. You can count on only about 30% or less of your footage being usable.

My personal preference would be not to indecisively jump from camera type to camera type. Work with whatever camera you are most intuitively linked with as an operator. That way when airbourne, you can better concentrate upon everything else which will overwork you.

The Panasonic GH4 camera I understand is shorter front-to-rear than my EX1. If you are able to have the window removed or locked fully up, then you are in with a better chance of getting your 4K images. 4K is going to leave you with a lot more wriggle room for stabilising in post-production without losing apparent resolution.

As a hedge, if you can shoot stills with the GH4, I would ask for another pass over the subject and pop off a bunch of wide-angle still images which you can crop and maybe animate in post-production for brief fillers across gaps in your motion footage without losing apparent resolution.

At best, my guess is that you will not be able to hold your camera steady enough to use a unstabilised lens which is more in focal length millimetres than about half to two thirds of the sensor width in millimetres.

If you can, test all the camera/lens combinations by shooting from a moving car to get the feel and get the practice.

You will find that you may have to shoot with your camera angle rearwards to dodge the wing strut and the trailing edge of the wing which will drop into your shot during corrections in turns.

Be aware that your camera may chill during the flight and later become covered in moisture when back on the ground. Let it warm up for a while indoors before taking the lens off.

To avoid damaging the window transparencies in the aircraft, it is good manners to run a narrow strip of gaffer tape over sharp edges like front rims of lenses which will make contact and scratch. The aircraft owner may appreciate this gesture and may be more co-operative with you next time

Please trust more, the comments of other experienced people better than myself who comment here.

Last edited by Bob Hart; February 18th, 2015 at 12:43 AM. Reason: error
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Old February 18th, 2015, 08:52 AM   #26
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

As no one has added these suggestions, I will toss them into the mix...
Another aerial photography method used for air-to-air shots is to use a Cessna with the rear seats and baggage door removed. The photographer/videographer can lie on their stomach and shot through the baggage door opening, completely inside the airplane with little risk of falling out. I have friends who have done it using Cessna 210s and 182s. The 210 baggage door is higher, so it would enable the shooter to sit instead of lie. Other, more expensive options for air-to-air shooters are using Beech Bonanza 36 models, Baron 56 models and Piper Cherokee 6 and Saratoga models with the rear doors removed. These allow the shooter to sit in a seat and shoot through a large opening.
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Old February 18th, 2015, 09:38 AM   #27
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Sorry i wasn't clear with my last post Jeroen,
I was referring to going past the red focus point on the GH4. It tends to make everything soft.
I haven't shot with the X70.
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Old February 18th, 2015, 12:04 PM   #28
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Ed.

Yes. The Cherokee Six. I know one. It was a skydivers plane and I shot film of a jump in it about 30 years back. They stuck a harness on me and tied me off to the pilot's seat so I wouldn't slide out. So if anything went astray I was there for the ride all the way down. It was a sweet plane.

It was a bit of a heartbreaker to see the aircraft worked so hard and operating off an unpaved bush strip, which was dusty and covered in loose flints. The leading edge of the horizontal stabiliser was ruined by the stones flying up off the wheels and prop wash. I guess the plane was been parted a long time ago and at best, some of it may be a letterbox on the side of the road or fencing straps by now.

I know about the rear cargo door on the Cessna 210 and 182. It solves the issue of the wingtip and strut getting in the shot. I decided I would not mention it for reasons of adding risk to new players in the aerial videography game. There apparently be will be three up in the aircraft.

The Maule has a forgiving CofG envelope. I don't know how safe the Cessna 210 and 182 are with both the weight of two persons offset to the left, one person's mass to the rear plus low and slow flight as a combination.
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Old February 18th, 2015, 10:39 PM   #29
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

What he really needs is a J-3 Cub.
Take off, open the doors, loosen seat belt, turn and sit sideways with feet hanging outside.
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Old February 19th, 2015, 03:20 PM   #30
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Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

So the shoot was a real b*tch, as expected and was predicted. I had my buddy shoot the X70 from behind and I shot UHD at 25P with my GH4 from the front left seat with the window open. I thought I was really steady but when looking back on a 5K screen there is so much movement it's unbelievable. It also becomes a lot more apparent at this resolution..? I fiddled around with the stabilizer filter for a short while in FCP X, but it looked horrible. But I guess trying to stabilize a 7 minute clip with different focal lengths and turbulence, angles etc didn't help... Anyway, the thing is going to edited in AVID, which has a better stabilizing filter, so I heard.

The X70 shooting 1080 at 50P with the OIS and EIS steadyshot functions on looked a lot smoother. If I had known what a difference it was, I would have operated that camera. But in the end I went for resolution. (and several claims that with al, that extra real estate I would be able to stabilize in post for use in a HD project)

The GH4 shots are more suitable for still use at f9 or so and around 1/400. Pretty sharp.

Just saw a review of the Nebula 4000 Lite- that would have been a great match with my GH4. Perfect for this assignment.
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