Shooting from a small plane -first time at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Panasonic P2HD / AVCCAM / AVCHD / DV Camera Systems > Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series

Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series
4K and AVCHD on a Micro Four Thirds system camera with interchangeable lenses.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old February 14th, 2015, 07:11 AM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 355
Shooting from a small plane -first time

I've been asked on a very short notice (tomorrow) to shoot some aerial footage of a dike from a small plane. I've never done aerial filming before and have a few questions. I am considering using my GH4 coupled with the Panasonic 12-35 (OIS) and will shoot handheld.

1) It would seem that shooting 4K is the way to go, obviously because of the detail I hope to get. But I am worried about camera shake. Maybe it's better to shoot 1080p/50 or do the in camera slowmotion at 96 fps. That would perhaps handle the micro-jitters a lot better... Any ideas on this?

2)I am a little worried the camera is too light. Should I use something to weigh down the camera? I plan to improvise with a larger eyecup.

3) I have a Tiffen variable ND but no sunhood. Bad flare problems? The forecast is partly cloudy with a chance of sunshine.

4)I have a semi-shoulder camera, a Sony EX3. I would shoot 1080P but may be suited better because it has a proper viewfinder, built-in ND's, heavier body, a built-in sunhood and a longer zoom range.

5)I'd appreciate any and all tips! (I thought of bringing some wind-ex to clean the plane's windows...)
__________________
www.imaginevideo.nl Just published the second of my viral mini-doc series '100'
https://youtu.be/ZqHFBrV-oOc
Jeroen Wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 09:14 AM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: LIncolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,051
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Shooting through the aircraft windows is not a great idea, there will be a lot of distortion through the curved Perspex and you will need to shoot downwards at an angle to the window. Even if the aircraft is banking steeply you will still need to shoot at an angle through the glass which will likely lead to distortion and reflections. Lens flare shouldn't really be a problem, as you will be shooting downwards away from the sun.

The few aerial shoots I have done have mainly been with the door removed on my side, or if that wasn't possible, some light aircraft have the top half of the door removable or can be folded upwards. It would be down to the pilot what he feels comfortable with but definitely try to avoid shooting through the window.

As regards holding the camera, a light aircraft is not smooth in the way that an airliner is and it will be subject to continuous small bumps and minor turbulence. If the forecast is partly cloudy with sunny intervals, then there will be quite a lot of thermal activity which will be moving the aircraft around. Hand or shoulder mounting alone may not be sufficient to absorb the bumps, which is why serious aerial filming uses sophisticated gimbal mounts. You need to be able to dampen the movement in some way, and some people have used an elasticated bungee cord suspended from some point above the camera position, and attached to the camera to absorb some of the movement. You can then concentrate on pointing it in the right direction rather than having to support the full weight. A heavier camera may help but it may also be bigger and more difficult to handle if the aircraft is very small.

Finally, try to do a couple of circuits around the subject you are shooting, to plan the best flight height and angle, where the sun is etc. Don't forget that the pilot will probably be the opposite side to you and may not be able to see the target while you are flying around it, depending on the bank angle and height.

Hope some of that helps,

Roger

Last edited by Roger Gunkel; February 14th, 2015 at 09:16 AM. Reason: typos
Roger Gunkel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 09:40 AM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 1,241
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Use a really high shutter speed to eliminate motion blur. Like 1/500. You may then be able to stabilize in post. You want to embrace the unintended camera movements and capture them cleanly - they will definitely be there.

Bungee cords are popular, and I've also used pillows to rest my arms on.

Also, if shooting through a window, figure out some way to mask off the lens from reflection. This product comes to mind but you could make one with a piece of black fabric, some tape and a rubber band I'm sure. LENSKIRT - Block reflections when taking pictures through glass
__________________
Nate Haustein PXW-FS5 / iMac i7 / FCPX
www.flightcreativemedia.com

Last edited by Nate Haustein; February 14th, 2015 at 12:44 PM.
Nate Haustein is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 11:00 AM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 848
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

If they can provide a Cessna 172 it has a window that can be propped open during flight. Fly early in the morning for best light, least turbulence. High wing aircraft have a strut to support the wing so the best view is to toward the rear. A focal length with an angle of view of about 85mm on a full frame stills camera works well for the type of shot you describe. Here's an example, shot at about 2000 feet agl.
Attached Thumbnails
Shooting from a small plane -first time-farm.jpg  
Jim Michael is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 11:07 AM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 355
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Thanks for all of your input, greatly appreciated.

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. Actually, I should probably shoot 75fps if you need the option to play back at (normal speed) 25fps.

And Nate: how will a shutter speed of 1/500 play back? Wouldn't it look choppy?
__________________
www.imaginevideo.nl Just published the second of my viral mini-doc series '100'
https://youtu.be/ZqHFBrV-oOc
Jeroen Wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 11:34 AM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 848
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

If you've got the data capacity shooting high speed would help smooth out the bumps - there always seems to be a little instability, even disturbed air from the aircraft you're in if you fly a circle.
Jim Michael is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 11:45 AM   #7
Trustee
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chislehurst, London
Posts: 1,724
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Shoot 4K and crop in to an image stabilised 1920 x 1080 frame, the results will be great. the 12-35 mm lens should do the job well but take another longer lens with you and try to do two or three passes.

I had the door removed when filming in Kenya, it was hair raising especially when the pilots banks so you can get a downward shot. Check your safety belt is tight and use your legs to wedge against the aircraft frame - just in case :-)


Good luck
__________________
Eyes are a deaf manís ears. Ears are a blind manís eyes
Vincent Oliver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 12:22 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,121
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

It's also worth checking your pilot is actually experienced enough to fly the manoeuvres you want. Asking for high yaw angles, or perhaps being offered them to get the right angles is fine if the pilot is comfortable with them. Many private pilots have little experience at high angles of bank, it's the opposite of what they normally do - which is nice easy turns, and straight and level!

Be aware that any contact with the airframe introduces HUGE amounts of vibration, so whatever you do, contact is bad. A friend who runs an aerial video business told me that a foam lens hood works well - you cut a piece of foam so that it acts as a windshield and soft barrier. Then you squish it up to the window to cut out the reflections, but the foam stops the vibration. Some aircraft have a grab handle above the door and a bungee cord can take the weight off. If you work with the window open, make sure everything loose is tethered. A bean bag on the open frame can work, but not when it falls out! If you can arrange a monitor that the pilot can glance at, you might find it gives them a better understanding of what the camera can see, so they can assist the framing. The direction of the camera also impacts the jitters - sideways, looking out is worst as the image tracks past quickly while looking back seems to slow the passage down.

The wing strut on Cessnas ALWAYS gets in the shot, but is better than an aircraft with a low wing. If you have one, a gopro on the window is also a very useful backup. The pilot may well allow you to use it outside, but the tether is critical, as they do fall off! The CAA in the UK do not allow physical attachment to the aircraft unless it uses approved hardware and is fitted properly, but loads of amateur pilots seem to abuse this rule.
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 12:35 PM   #9
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 1,241
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

I shot this out the door of a JetRanger helicopter with a handheld C100 resting on some foam on my lap. It was my very first time shooting from the air.

password: fly

It was at 30p, later conformed to 24p. My shutter speed was about 1/320, my F-stop was about F8 and the focal length was 24mm to about 70mm using a Canon EF lens with IS turned on. The footage was stabilized using CoreMelt Lock and Load X. It definitely needed stabilization as there's so much going on with wind hitting you, the aircraft moving about, general handheld shakiness, etc.

I guess you could argue using a slow shutter speed to take out high-frequency vibrations (as a ND filter does for GoPros on Drones), but when you go and try to stabilize the footage in post, which is pretty much a necessity in my opinion unless you're shooting on a gyro, you're pretty much toast as the software stabilizer will fight with the motion blur (caused by YOUR low-frequency movements). At the height you'll be at, there really shouldn't be any perceivable motion blur anyways, which negates the need to use 180˚ shutter for that "look." Of course there are exceptions, like the wind turbine in the video above, but in my (limited) experience, the higher shutter speed really give the software stabilizer concrete images to latch onto and stabilize. YMMV...

Not sure about the 25P 4K or the 96P 1080. If it were me, I would opt for the higher frame rate, as I found that often your windows of opportunity when doing low-budget aerial shots is limited. With a higher frame rate, just 1 or 2 seconds of a "good shot" could be stretched in a 25P timeline to a very usable piece of footage. Getting 8-10 seconds of continuously usable handheld aerial footage from a plane will be challenging to say the least.
__________________
Nate Haustein PXW-FS5 / iMac i7 / FCPX
www.flightcreativemedia.com
Nate Haustein is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 01:26 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Seattle WA
Posts: 951
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

+1 for Jim Michael's comment about [hoping it is a] Cessna.

Like he mentioned, the strut will surly be a problem but not nearly as much as a low wing plane. Trying to keep the strut out of the frame is possible but with difficulty. If you shoot wide it may not be possible but with telephoto it would be possible but with much more shake.

The Cessna typically has front seat windows that will open. They are hinged at the top and open out to probably 45ļ or so. That will give an opening to shoot through but not much of one. If the cam has a removable top handle it would be good to take it off in this case so there is more room to maneuver the cam.

The plexiglass on a Cessna, at least the later models, will have a green tint that will cause a coloration problem.

Not mentioned so far: Noise. Not video noise but aircraft noise. Maybe the pilot has a second headset you can wear. If not, some ear plugs will help.

A dike will probably be near water. Water causes a downdraft while land, if it is warm, could provide a bit of an updraft but this time of year probably not much of one. If the plane is flying over a mixture of water and land then obviously the plane will experience a mixture of draft events.

Try not to fly too slow. If the plane starts emitting a loud whistle noise tell the pilot to fly faster!
[Edit: be sure to ask him/her what I mean by this. You can tell him you read this on the Internet.]

May want to take a few passes at varying distances from the dike.

Seems like a challenging assignment.
John Nantz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 01:37 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 355
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

I'm getting dizzy from all this advice and I haven't even entered the plane yet...

I think I will shoot 75 fps at a high shutter speed.

One really nice factor though: the man behind the wheel is an astronaut so I would think probably one of the best pilots on (or rather, 'off') the earth ;-)
__________________
www.imaginevideo.nl Just published the second of my viral mini-doc series '100'
https://youtu.be/ZqHFBrV-oOc
Jeroen Wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 14th, 2015, 04:31 PM   #12
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 1,704
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeroen Wolf View Post
I think I will shoot 75 fps at a high shutter speed.
I would not shoot at that high of a frame rate. I would shoot either 4Kp30 if you're okay with confirming that to the end frame rate of the project it's going to be used in, or 1080p60. No higher. Here's why: you start doing a quicker method of taking your 16MP sensor down to 1080p when you go higher than 60. That kills your resolution, which is a problem when you are shooting wide vistas. Frankly, I would shoot as wide as I possibly could. If I could get a hold of a small, light gimbal system, I would use that.
Gary Huff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 15th, 2015, 03:52 AM   #13
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: PERTH. W.A. AUSTRALIA.
Posts: 4,356
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

If this is your first time, hopefully it is not also your pilot's first time. The pilot's first priority should always be with the aircraft but sometimes an element of trying too hard to please enters the equation and dangers may arise.

The workload of piloting any aircraft has its moments of high intensity and remains high. Be aware that the last thing a pilot needs is insistent distraction.

Low and slow is a lethal combination in turns. It is early yet in the investigation but this may have factored in the recent Tasmania tragedy. A pilot and stills photographer were lost in a Cessna off the coast whilst shooting the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. If your pilot is not experienced in camera airmanship, please do not tempt him or her to go the extra mile.

A sweet fixed wing aircraft for air to ground imaging is the Maule.


The wing struts are positioned well forward when the rear seat or cargo area is used.


Doors on the right side can legally be removed and it has a generous centre of gravity envelope. This permits operating from the floor within the rear of the aircraft with the seats removed.

In this example, the right rear passenger entry door was removed. The rear seat remained and was used. I cross-held the camera and used a separate monitor which has its challenges. Out of an abundance of caution, the owner-pilot installed a sort of thick rope cargo net arrangement against the possibility of me slipping through the seatbelt and falling out.


You need an appropriate restraint harness to keep you from falling outside. It is best to keep the rear seats fitted. If you fly in a Maule and sit on the rear floor, be aware that a cabin heat outlet will be under your butt and if heat is selected on, you will become most discomforted. If not properly seated as the manufacturer intended, you are at a greater risk of injury if things go wrong.

Your camera should also be tethered short enough that it cannot go outside of the cabin on the tether and batter the airframe

Your videocamera viewfinders may be awkward or impossible to use when shooting through the opened right-side window of a Cessna. You have no choice but to use a front seat. Your head position is fairly high, almost within the overhead wing structure.

The left-mounted LCD will be on the "blind-side" of the camera. This may require you to use another monitor screen with all its inconvenience of power and cabling all of which can hang up upon and foul flight controls. Otherwise you may be compelled to shoot "wide and blind", which makes for only passable images at best.

The rear seat of the Cessna is a friendlier workspace but then you have to contend with the window transparency unless it has been modified or removed.

More ideal for your Cessna adventure might be a skydiver's plane. They have a modified door which can be removed or opens upwards against the wing. These aircraft are usually the larger more powerful models like the 206/Stationair and are more costly to hire.

To get yourself around a camera to view a side LCD, when in the right front seat, you risk interfering with the flight controls unless the right-side yoke has been removed. If you are fortunate, your pilot may be a qualified flight instructor endorsed to fly from the right seat which would then put you in a more user-friendly situation with a side LCD-style camera like the EX3. I think the EX3 may be less comfortable to use within the confined space of a light aircraft cabin.

If you can attend at the airfield to rehearse and practice moving about and working within the tight space of your aircraft whilst it is on the ground, you should do so.

There will be better people to advise you in this craft than I so heed their advice over my comments.

Last edited by Bob Hart; February 15th, 2015 at 04:23 AM. Reason: errors
Bob Hart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 15th, 2015, 07:17 AM   #14
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 355
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

So this was the assignment that never got off the ground- at least not today. The day started out perfect for aerial shooting: clear and sunny here in Amsterdam but as we we drove out to airport Lelystad, some 45 kilometers east, things started to get hazier. By the time we met up with pilot Andrť Kuipers -former astronaut- he had just returned from a testflight and said visibility was bad and getting worse... It was straightout dangerous to fly.
Sooo... I was disappointed but also relieved. I was worried about the haze muddying up my shots and there was a strong wind which would cause extra shake. I also would get a chance to prepare myself better. And... I discovered we were flying a Piper and I got a look inside. That thing seats 4 and it is TINY inside. No way I could have used my EX3 in there. No possibility of opening or removing doors/windows.

We will give it another shot as soon as possible. I told my client about all the obstacles when shooting from a plane. He is going to try and raise some money to get a different aircraft. I think both the Maule and Cessna are better options than this Piper (in addition to the option to remove glass, higher wings for better stability, so I learned) but I don't know about availability here in the Netherlands. This is not a commercial production, by the way, so there will be a tradeoff between quality and expense. Perhaps the Cessna is the best option. (I saw one standing in the hangar)

After the last responses to my questions about format/framerate/shutterspeed, I decided to shoot UHD 25P around f9 at the highest possible shutterspeed- and let them stabilize in post for use in a full HD project. (Shooting from the car today I could not go higher than 1/80 and I believe that was after I upped ISO to 400 so unless it's a real sunny day I assume shutterspeed won't be too high)

I learned a lot in a mere 1 day! Great response here guys...
__________________
www.imaginevideo.nl Just published the second of my viral mini-doc series '100'
https://youtu.be/ZqHFBrV-oOc
Jeroen Wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 15th, 2015, 03:10 PM   #15
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 2,965
Re: Shooting from a small plane -first time

When I shot in a small two pilot plane, I used a DSLR on a mono pod. But that's just me. I wasn't going to get my XF300 in to that plane and be able to move it around. My 2cts.
__________________
What happens if I push the 'Red' button?
Steven Davis is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Panasonic P2HD / AVCCAM / AVCHD / DV Camera Systems > Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:48 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network