Jump to content


Photo

Helicopter Tips


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 willminsky

willminsky

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 9 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada

Posted 21 July 2006 - 10:30 AM

Hey there-
I'm trying to get some tips on shooting from a Helicopter. I've never done it before and thought it might be handy to get some advice from people that have done it.

I'm shooting landscape stuff and possibly some forest fires from the chopper.

Any suggestions on filters, techniques, some cool tricks? I'll be shooting DigiBeta if that helps.

Thanks a lot.

Will
  • 0

#2 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19759 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 21 July 2006 - 11:22 AM

A forum contributor here (and friendly associate of mine) -- Neal Fredericks -- died almost exactly two years ago shooting handheld from a small plane on a low-budget feature because he he didn't have the right safety equipment (he should have had a quick-release harness, but instead tied himself to the plane with a rope, and then the plane crashed in 50' of water and he was the only one who couldn't escape in time).

Personally I would rather hire an aerial expert with training, safety equipment, and experience (and a good knowledge of FAA laws), and an experienced movie pilot, rather than low-ball something myself.
  • 0

#3 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5069 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:17 PM

Get an experienced film pilot, they'll be flying the camera, you'll be just be framing it.

It's best to use a proper helicopter mount, you're pretty much limited to the wide end when shooting handheld. Although, there is a fair amount of technique in using a mount.

Be aware that if you' re filming forest fires there's a good chance of updrafts.

Make sure you've got a safety strap on the camera if you're hand holding it. If hand holding be sure that the seat belt can't accidentally unlatch, don't tape it up etc., so that you can't get out in an emergency.

Be very aware of safety, there are a lot of rules regarding minimum height and how close you can fly to people and buildings.
  • 0

#4 Alex Haspel

Alex Haspel
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 282 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • vienna, austria

Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:20 PM

you might want to read this: http://www.steadicam...?showtopic=1416
and this: http://www.steadicam...?showtopic=3336
  • 0

#5 timHealy

timHealy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1252 posts
  • Other
  • New York

Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:38 PM

http://www.kcrg.com/...al/3259556.html
  • 0

#6 Daniel Sheehy

Daniel Sheehy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 407 posts
  • Other
  • Brisbane

Posted 21 July 2006 - 06:15 PM

I have shot some stuff handheld from a helicopter before, and unless you are using a pilot experienced in aerial filming AND a mount of some sort, it will be best not to be too ambitious about the shots you would like to get.

It might help to use a stabilised lens if you can't get a mount.
  • 0

#7 Adam Frisch FSF

Adam Frisch FSF
  • Sustaining Members
  • 2009 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles, USA

Posted 21 July 2006 - 07:58 PM

When I was a AC I learned to mount the Tyler mount on the Squirrel for a job. They're cheap to rent and take some pretty stable pictures, might want to try to get one of those.

Another DP I worked with used to tie a bungy cord to the handrail (on top of the passenger entrance door) on the Bell LongRanger and attach the camera to that. He then strapped himself in and stood on the skid. Looks terrifying, but is actually quite safe with the right harness.
  • 0

#8 willminsky

willminsky

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 9 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada

Posted 21 July 2006 - 10:27 PM

Hey guys,
Thanks for the safety tips. I realize there's a lot to be concerned with. I am really sorry to hear about the friends people have lost. I'm running a lot of that by the Producers and sorting things out.

Not to sound like some kind of fool, but it is my job and I am going to be shooting it. I'll obviously be making sure I take care of myself and my gear as much as possible. But all this info is good to have.

I was more curious about techniques to getting the most out of the shoot since I've never dealt with the operation of shooting from a helicopter.

Thanks for the advice though.

-Will

Edited by wminsky, 21 July 2006 - 10:29 PM.

  • 0

#9 Rik Andino

Rik Andino
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 783 posts
  • Electrician
  • New York City

Posted 21 July 2006 - 11:54 PM

Hey guys,
Thanks for the safety tips. I realize there's a lot to be concerned with. I am really sorry to hear about the friends people have lost. I'm running a lot of that by the Producers and sorting things out.

Not to sound like some kind of fool, but it is my job and I am going to be shooting it. I'll obviously be making sure I take care of myself and my gear as much as possible. But all this info is good to have.

I was more curious about techniques to getting the most out of the shoot since I've never dealt with the operation of shooting from a helicopter.

Thanks for the advice though.

-Will


I only been up in a Chopper once...and I was ACing...
I didn't operate so I don't know how good my advice will be...

If you're shooting handheld...get an handheld LCD monitor...
It's easier to shoot from the hip
Than having the camera mounted on your shoulder and seeing everything...

The Chopper we were on didn't let us open the doors
So we had to shoot through the windows...& the footage was nice but restricted...but it was safer.
If you're shooting out a window get a harness that will secure you safely.
Also it helps to practice your motions before take-off and find the most comfortable position.

Like most people say dicuss everything with the pilot
Make sure there is a standard of communication...it help alot...
And obey your pilot, he's in charge and knows what's best.

Good Luck
  • 0

#10 Michael Nash

Michael Nash
  • Sustaining Members
  • 3330 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Pasadena, CA

Posted 22 July 2006 - 05:50 AM

I go up maybe 2-3 times a year, shooting Betacam. The main thing is that you trust the pilot and maintenance of the aircraft. I usually fly with LA County Sheriff's Dept. and trust that organization to maintain their gear.

The type of aircraft and the the camera mount will probably be your first question. I've shot with various bungee mounts and hand-held with both film and video cameras, and a Tyler mount is the most robust. Short of that, shooting off your lap via an LCD monitor gives you decent control (door open). Needless to say the wider you are, the smoother the movement will look. Watch your horizon constantly; it's easy to lose your bearings when focusing your eye on a small monitor.

If shooting out the door, sometimes it helps to take the aircraft "out of trim" -- meaning flying at an angle so that the door opening faces forward a little more. I ALWAYS defer to the pilot's judgment and never ask for anything that the pilot doesn't feel comfortable doing. I've been near power lines and in the flight path of airports and felt less comfortable than the pilot!

Get a white balance on the ground before you go up. If you're going to be really high altitude or long lens you might want to consider taking the black level down a notch. The atmospheric haze can take a lot out of your contrast.

I guess it should go without saying that you need to safety yourself AND the camera (and any other gear) if the door is going to be open. When doing a "lap mount" I simply run a safety cable through my own harness, around the handle of the camera (with a short leash!). I once lost the windsock off the camera mic right out the door, so don't underestimate the danger of loose gear becoming a deadly missile.

Posted Image
  • 0

#11 willminsky

willminsky

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 9 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada

Posted 22 July 2006 - 11:28 AM

Thanks Michael,
I've heard that windsock story before. I'm glad it's come up a few times. Nothing can make a guy feel more foolish than bits of his camera flying out the window and slowly drifting into the distance. There's not much you can say to people when they see that kind of thing. Always makes me laugh, but doesn't make you look like the smarty pants professional you want to be thought of as.

Sounds like I'm lap shoot'n. You'd say safety line the camera to your own harness or to the helicopter? I get the short chord though, good idea. The "out of trim" is excellent too.

Thanks.

-Will
  • 0


CineTape

Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

Wooden Camera

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

CineLab

Metropolis Post

Opal

rebotnix Technologies

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio

Glidecam

Visual Products

Paralinx LLC

The Slider

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Wooden Camera

CineTape

The Slider

Metropolis Post

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

Ritter Battery

CineLab

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Tai Audio

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Rig Wheels Passport

Abel Cine

Paralinx LLC

Visual Products

Opal