Aerial videography - to handhold or monopod at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Under Water, Over Land

Under Water, Over Land
Tools & Techniques for Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife & Underwater Videography.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 5th, 2012, 02:03 PM   #1
Tourist
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: New Haven, CT
Posts: 1
Aerial videography - to handhold or monopod

Hi there,

I'm trying to get a bit of clarity on what is best for shooting smooth aerial video from a plan (w door off). Unfortunately we can't get our hands on a gyro so we're wondering what the next best thing is. I've read quite a few comments from this forum and it seems like the verdict is still out on whether handholding or monopoding would be better.

We're going to be shooting on Canon 5d Mark iii's...
Let me know what other info you may need to help provide sound advice.
Thanks!
Tahria Sheather is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 5th, 2012, 02:42 PM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 848
Re: Aerial videography - to handhold or monopod

Airplanes produce a lot of vibration so if you use a monopod don't place it against the airframe or floor. Also if you are flying at a time other than right after sunrise there is a risk of bumps from thermals ("air pockets"). Some folks use a couple of bungees attached to the airframe to help steady things. Some airplanes have a visible frame structure (steel tubing) and some have handles. Either should be safe to attach a bungee to so long as you have the pilot's permission to do so. Keep your eyes on the horizon to reduce risk of motion sickness.
Jim Michael is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 5th, 2012, 07:28 PM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Sydney.
Posts: 2,569
Re: Aerial videography - to handhold or monopod

I've been hanging out the open door of our Navies Historic flight Huey chopper for 30 min flights around the area south of Sydney,
to get footage for the annual Wings Over Illawarra DVD.

WINGS OVER ILLAWARRA 2012 A HUGE SUCCESS (click for more) Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Inc

I looked at renting (even buying) a small motorised gyro stabiliser for the job, but not so far ..

Gyro Stabilizers : KS-8 Gyro

Shooting with a Canon HV40 now, I shoot in 10sec bursts and the best arrangement so far is to hold my breath and lock my arms tight to my chest.
I use the viewfinder and have gotten better at it over 5yrs. I know the pilots well enough now so during the briefing, I show them last years shoot
so they know what it looks like and what I'm after this year.

I wear the Hueys cans so I can talk to the 2 pilots and the stills photog with us, who shoots out the opposite open door.

I remember the very first flight as we rose up over the crowd, hanging out the door it took 10 secs to settle down and not freak out :)
then the job at hand kicks in and we're off. We put on a show in front of the crowd, 360 circles at ground level, back ups and low level high speed passes.
Chasing a WW2 Spitfire as it takes off down the runway is something else.

You'll have trouble recording the sound because of the terrific airflow through the open door, here's what I did.

Before we took off, I recorded the Hueys engine during the warm up and replaced the audio on the actual shoot with it.
Choppers keep a steady RPM while the pilot changes the angle of the blades to obtain lift. I've also done this with a Cessna and a DC3.

Ask your pilot to vary the revs slightly while you're recording your sounds, and get the mic close enough to the engine to block out any other sounds
around the airfield, watch out for any distortion. 15 secs is enough, you loop it in post and I mix some wind blast from the shoot in,
at various low levels for certain shots, to fool the naysayers :) Sound is 70% of what you see.

Shoot on auto, reaching round to adjust the exposure is a no no. Don't strap your harness so tight you can't turn/twist around.
And don't plan on zooming in .. unless you're confident you're holding your cam very steady, have fun :)

Cheers.
__________________
30+ years with our own audio and visual production company and studios.
Allan Black is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 5th, 2012, 10:29 PM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 1,384
Re: Aerial videography - to handhold or monopod

I'm part of the media crew for the AZCAF which flies a B-17, B-25, SNJ, C45, DC-3 and a pair of dual seat Mustangs.
I've filmed in almost all the aircraft and have had mixed results with different methods of stabilizing the camera.
Ideally a gyro would be perfect but its not in the budget right now.
My best footage has been from the side hatch on the B25 using my xf300 hard mounted on a tripod that was strapped to the frame of the plane. Vibration was not a problem even with the big radials thundering at full power.
Next best was using a monopod with the xf300 while seated in the back of the SNJ with the canopy open and seat reversed. I only used the monopod as a way to securely hold the camera which was also safety wired to the frame of the plane. I took advantage of the image stabilizer in the xf300 which is the best I've ever used. Essentially I was handholding the camera but had an extra point of contact with the monopod which rested on my foot.
I have shot with my 5D mk3 from a heli and gotten decent results. The 24-105 lens has IS which was a big help. I also used the Zacuto z-finder which gave me 3 points of contact to stabilize the camera.

The common threads with all my air to air and air to ground shooting was the use of wide angle lenses and image stabilizing in-camera along with more than two points of contact between me and the camera.

All that said, I am also a cineflex operator. There just simply is no better way! Unfortunately i can't afford to buy the system I use which is mounted to an A-Star! All in its about a six and a half million dollar rig, not including pilot or fuel! To actually fly the rig costs more (4 hour minimum) than most projects entire budgets!
__________________
A7RII, C100, 1Dx, 5Dmk3, 70D, Kessler goodies, Adobe, Pro Tools and more!
Robert Turchick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 6th, 2012, 12:24 AM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: PERTH. W.A. AUSTRALIA.
Posts: 4,356
Re: Aerial videography - to handhold or monopod

My personal preference is not to brace directly to the airframe of small aircraft. The vibrations from the engine and propellor buffet are much coarser than the big multicylinder radial engines on the larger retired military aircraft. The jello effect with a CMOS sensor is cruel.

With a camera in the Mk3 weight class, my personal preference is to add a bit of mass to it via the baseplate mount. This has the effect of loading your arms and slowing the rate of sudden movements. It requires a certain floating style of handholding which can be practiced in a moving car.

I have a weird method of handholding which replicates the shape of the isoelasticarms of a steadycam. It does not work for everyone. Being lefthanded and a musician helps as all fingers know what I want them to do.

My left hand goes palm down to grip the top front of the camera with some fingers extended forward to work the lens rings by the fingertips. Autofocus lenses set to manual with their light friction can be your friend here as draggy old manual lenses can cause your fingers to slip or require more effort which translates into unwanted movement.

The heel of the palm of my right hand goes under the rear camera base with fingers pointed back towards my face. Fingers four or five hit the run and stop control.

This places the pivot points of your wrists on near to vertical centres above and below the camera mass.

The more common disturbances you will encounter from lumps in the air will be in a vertical direction. This handhold tends to cause them to become a parallel movement of the camera, not an angular one. Whilst any visible parts of the airframe will move up and down in the shot, the subject should remain fairly steady.

It takes a bit of practice to achieve a good float. Sliding a camera sized box up and down a wall or a doorframe with elbows half-bent at about 90 degrees is a good exercise for learning this to intuitiveness, then practice in a moving car going over speed humps in a carpark or bumpy ground.

Just make sure no one catches you doing it or you may receive those patronising looks as they reach for the phone to get you some help.

I also tether the camera with a lanyard from being able to fall out or dong the pilot into disability if anything violent happens during the flight. Take care that the lanyard and the camera cannot foul the flight controls if you are in a front seat, which in door-off ops you may have to be.

The lanyard is also not so long that the camera could fly out of reach, pull up hard outside and then batter the airframe before you can haul it back in.

Finally from a safety standpoint, depending on your pilot's experience and personalilty, you have a responsibility to be aware his or her workload is of a fairly high constance. Pilots assume a greater workload by accommodating your needs. If they are not experienced working with camera people, they are also putting themselves to an even greater workload by having to learn on the job.

Any who feel obliged to please may over-reach their limitation and those of the aircraft, especially if decisions are being made in the air, not in the preflight briefing beforehand on the ground.

This clip was part of the learning process with a single KS8 gyro for the first time.


It was a bit difficult as I was working the camera acrossways whilst seated and looking at a fixed monitor. Next time I will do it from the floor with the camera directly ahead of me. You will observe I was fighting the gyro trying to track the aircraft and not keeping up. All a new learning curve for me.

Last edited by Bob Hart; October 6th, 2012 at 12:42 AM. Reason: error
Bob Hart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 6th, 2012, 03:08 AM   #6
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Hampstead, Maryland
Posts: 28
Re: Aerial videography - to handhold or monopod

In the Marines, when we need to film from a rotory aircraft, we take the xf100 and 3 or 4 long bungee cords. Hook the bungee cords to the tie hooks by the door (two upper, two lower if available). It'll help a little with possible eractic movements and vibrations.

This goes without saying, but make sure you dummy cord your camera to your body!
__________________
U.S. Marine Corps Combat Videographer
Josh Rudy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 7th, 2012, 02:02 PM   #7
Trustee
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Worldwide
Posts: 1,589
Re: Aerial videography - to handhold or monopod

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tahria Sheather View Post
Hi there,

I'm trying to get a bit of clarity on what is best for shooting smooth aerial video from a plan (w door off). Unfortunately we can't get our hands on a gyro so we're wondering what the next best thing is. I've read quite a few comments from this forum and it seems like the verdict is still out on whether handholding or monopoding would be better.

We're going to be shooting on Canon 5d Mark iii's...
Let me know what other info you may need to help provide sound advice.
Thanks!
Without a doubt, handheld (or shoulder brace) is the best. I wouldn't use a monopod at all. Stills images don't need IS lenses (just fast enough shutter-speed), but IS can help with video footage.

The most important thing is to avoid air turbulence as much as possible (especially when in small aircraft, bush-planes or microlights) - so if flying in warm weather try to be up in the air early morning before the sun is too high in the sky. Often by midday the warmer air can cause too much turbulence.

Also remain out of the slip-stream, by keeping the body of the camera & lens slightly inside of the open doorway so that it is shielded from the wind.

On a safety note, make sure that you remain strapped in to a decent harness, and also fit a secure wrist strap or climbing rope-clip to the camera body.
__________________
www.WILDCARP.com
www.NIKON.me.uk
Tony Davies-Patrick 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 > Special Interest Areas > Under Water, Over Land

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:17 AM.


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