Using camcorder on scheduled flights at
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Old November 8th, 2008, 04:27 AM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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Using camcorder on scheduled flights

I've done it, but always furtively. Great views out the window, interesting deployment of various protuberances from the wings, unidentifiable substances served as inflight meal, children pretending they're not scared witless, views down the cabin which coincidentally feature particularly attractive (female) cabin crew, you know the sort of thing. Even takeoffs and landings (very furtively).

What's the score here - is there the least chance of being permitted to film with a small handheld camera or are we always at risk of being told to turn it off (at best) or having it confiscated (at worst)?

And is there the least risk of interference to avionics from a consumer or even prosumer camcorder without peripherals? Obviously there could be an issue with an unrestrained loose object like a camera in severe turbulence or other potential "unadvertised features" of aircraft travel.

There is no specific information about cameras on he BA website apart from what to do if you leave on one the plane.
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Old November 8th, 2008, 08:57 AM   #2
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Location: North Conway, NH
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There might be other rules in the UK, but there is no US governmental ban upon use of camcorders in-flight. Most camcorders contain no transmitter so they are OK.

It is federal law that passengers must obey instructions given by flight attendants, so if/when they tell you to turn off electronic devices, non-compliance runs the risk of an encounter with federal law enforcement types.

That said, I've never had a problem firing up a camcorder in-flight. If you're a bit circumspect, you can even get away with it during take off and landing, which is where most of the interesting stuff happens anyway.
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Old November 8th, 2008, 10:01 AM   #3
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This may be the most minor question for serious videographers. I've been battling with TSA lately about the new BATTERY rules, as they will surely be a much bigger headache. Having said this, who will worry about a consumer camcorder in the hands of a pro ? Look like an amateur and shoot like a pro ;)
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Old November 16th, 2008, 11:00 AM   #4
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Well, it may be a minor question to some: but I have broadcast "aerials" shot out of the window of an aircraft as it descends many times. Tibet, afghanistan, Iraq - all places where it is impossible (or at least pretty difficult) to get up in an aircraft and shoot big wides of landscapes and cities, where a commercial flight from ten miles out can give you a great sequence that sets the scene.

Shots I took of ships moored of Eyl and Hobeyia in Somalia - taken from the window of a commercial flight from Aden to Mogadishu - made a news story I did recently about the current wave of piracy off the Somali coast. They were the first shots of the captured ships, and were shown by broadcasters round the world.

On that flight I even shot a "stand up" with the reporter overflying the coast - pics of her looking out of the window, shots out of the window, cut to stand up. Worked really well.

That said, African Express Airlines (the only airline flying into Mog at the time, piloted by an elderly ex- Yugoslav air force fighter jock) may be a little less fussy about these things than BA.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 11:10 AM   #5
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I shot a big reality show not so long ago and at certain points there were up to 10 camera crews and teams on one commercial flight - although we didn't all get our cameras out, there were probably 3 cameras filming at one time, and the air crew and passengers were all good about it. We didn't have any agreements with the airplane company, so it was really down to the flight attendants being good sports - which I think is most likely going to be the case most of the time...

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Old December 15th, 2008, 11:43 AM   #6
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I was on a BA flight from Niarobi to London and was merrily fiddling with my camcorder (watching some of the tapes I had recorded) as well as recording out the window occasionally.

When we got near the Alps, one of the cabin attendants came up to my seat and suggested I go to the galley and shoot through the door's window. It was a lot better and - frankly - I was pleasantly surprised to be asked!
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Old December 24th, 2008, 04:34 PM   #7
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I've also shot in-flight, even been seen by the flight attendants and was no problem. When I see the attendant passing by I do make a sign towards the camera as in "it's ok?" and that helps as they are more likely to be ok when you come upfront. I also use the camera's strap to be tied on my hand just in case of some unexpected events such as turbulences.
Was a flight from Bucharest to Amsterdam and shot both in-flight and landing.

On another flight from Philippines to Amsterdam I've shot the Himalayans and since I had an isle seat, I had no trouble shooting from one of the door's window. I did ask permission though.

Tip: On both the take-off and landing sequences, the attendants are seated as well (they HAVE to be together with their seat belts just like everyone else) so basically they cannot see you anyway :)
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