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#1 tanner wolfe

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 02:42 AM

i am shooting on the hvx200 from a helicopter. yeah, i know that sentence makes me laugh, but it is true. i have not shot from a helicopter and i do not know where to begin in regards to rigging and camera/crew safety. pls. advise.

tanner
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#2 Robert Skates

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 10:15 AM

i am shooting on the hvx200 from a helicopter. yeah, i know that sentence makes me laugh, but it is true. i have not shot from a helicopter and i do not know where to begin in regards to rigging and camera/crew safety. pls. advise.

tanner

Tanner,
Check out the Stratton Camera website. Stratton is a Tyler mount agent.
http://www.strattonc...pjib.html#tyler
They have a custom made cage/braket that allows Panasonic DVX/HVX cameras to be used on Tyler Middle mounts. The HVX is a very light weight camera. That is great for handholding, not so good for helicopter mounts. Weight must be added to the camera. Stratton has a "c" shaped bracket that fits around the HVX camera. Weight can then be added to the top of the bracket until the middle mount arm balances perfectly. Hope this helps.

Regards,
Robert Skates
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#3 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 11:24 AM

hi
there are 2 kinds of helli shots :
- noze mount
- side mount

as far as i know there aren't any noze mount designed for those light weight cams
it means you'll film from the side, with the door open :

in case your production can't afford a specialist or a mount
- for safety use ar harness, like the ones for the scarfolders (with shoulders) and adjust it tight so you have allmost no freedom of movement toward the gap.
- use a rope or rubber band to maintain the helicopter door open, take the place on the floor of the back seat at left and ask for the seat to be removed. (pilots usualy prefer the right side)(front :)
- take warm clothe and glove, not to have an additional shake because of you'r cold (even in california)
- you may want to use a cube of foam to cut the vibrations or hand held the cam.
- beware of the propeller in the frame at wide angle, and the air pertubations due to the propeller
- never ever get to the tail of the helli when the engine is on
- take a lens cleaner
- ask for an experienced pilot (in cinematogrphy) i like the old pilots personnaly
- chek if they have good helmets with good mikes, it's verry important to talk with the pilot all the time.
he will place the helli like a grip will place a dolly
- scout the location with the sun path and eye chek the power lines from the ground.

my 2 cents
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#4 Bob Hayes

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 11:52 AM

Make sure the camera is safetied to you so you don?t drop it. Make sure accessories like the matte box are securely taped to the camera. Stay away from the tail rotor when walking around the helicopter.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 12:08 PM

Not to be all gloom-and-doom here, but I'll remind people of an occasional forum poster here named Neal Fredericks (who was the credited DP for "Blair Witch Project") who died two years ago shooting from a small airplane on a low-budget film because of safety violations (he was strapped into the plane with a rope, and the plane crashed into a lake -- everyone got out except him.) I knew Neal and he was a nice guy.

My attitude is that unless I want to train seriously to become a qualified aerial cinematographer, I'd rather hire a professional who does this for a living and knows all the safety rules and shooting tips.
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#6 Daniel Sheehy

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 05:53 AM

Make sure you talk to the pilot about the shots you hope to get. Ask for, and listen to his advice. It takes his full attention to fly the chopper normally, so respect his advice on what he cannot or will not do for you.

Having said that, all the best & let us know how it turns out. I personally am curious as to how well the HVX sized camera handles from a helicopter.
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#7 Tony Brown

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Posted 05 January 2007 - 01:16 PM

Neal Fredericks (who was the credited DP for "Blair Witch Project") who died two years ago shooting from a small airplane on a low-budget film because of safety violations (he was strapped into the plane with a rope, and the plane crashed into a lake -- everyone got out except him.) I knew Neal and he was a nice guy.


Didn't know that, thats very sad.

I do a lot of aerial stuff unfortunately. I always use a secondary safety harness as well as the one on the Tyler / Continental mount..... it takes a lot of convincing to get me to fly with an alternative rig.

I hate Jet Rangers. two men only. Shooting is dangerous with three up IMO. Confined and no power. Go for an A Star B2 if you can. Your pilot is everything. I get really scared if the guys not experienced. Recently shot with Rick Shuster doing air to air in Mexico (he's out of LA) and recommend him Make sure you have good communications both before you lift and after. Communication is vital.

Good luck
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#8 Mike Brennan

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 07:35 AM

i am shooting on the hvx200 from a helicopter. yeah, i know that sentence makes me laugh, but it is true. i have not shot from a helicopter and i do not know where to begin in regards to rigging and camera/crew safety. pls. advise.

tanner


There is a summary here that I wrote.
http://www.hd24.com/...m_a_chopper.htm

Too many accidents lately caused by loss of tail rotor effectiveness with cameramen and photographers shooting out side door.

Inevitably one ends up crabbing sideways, if this is done so that the tail rotor thrust is agianst the wind then the margin of wind gust needed for tail rotor to loos its effectiveness is reduced. The result of a loss of tail rotor effectiveness is often the heli spins 180 degrees or more until tail rotor is working with the wind.
During the spin the heli looses height.
So when shooting out side door at low levels it is important to consider which side gives you best performance for your low level shots. Factoring development of shot, wind direction and direction of sun is trickey and usually the cameraman and director and go for best sun and direction of flight.

Remember that you cant shoot both clockwise and counterclockwise orbits from one side without heli flying backwards.

Divers knife strapped to your leg or arm is a good idea if you are using additional harnesses.
EASA (Euro FAA) rules state that you can't block exits with kit, this includes kit on the floor. Kit strapped to the seat is ok.


Mike Brennan
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#9 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 10:18 AM

if you film in mountains choose a star B3 a lot more expensive but a lot more powerfull : the best
if you'r filminb over the sea a B2 is a good idea because it's a 2 engines helicopter. but it's less powerfull than a BA or a B3.

my ?0,02
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#10 Ron German

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 05:40 PM

Clarifying the preferred type of helicopters, I agree, when in the mountains go for as powerful a machine as possible.

Single Engine Astar (Eurocopter make):

350B3 - most power, definitely go for it if available
350B2 - next in line, should be able to handle most situations, still lots of power (since will only have camerman & equip, pilot & usually front seat passenger on board, will be relatively light)

(350B1, BA & B models - under-powered for filming)

Twin Engine Astars, known as Twinstars (also Eurocopter make):

355F - twin engine, not a real abundance of/increase in power - about equal to the BA/B1 in power, less endurance as it sucks more fuel - common model in North America
355N - twin engine - lots of power - good choice - better single engine performance, but rare in North America, common in Europe

Agree with passing on Bell Jetrangers/Longrangers 206's - has more tail rotor issues at low speed than the Astars.

You'll get a smoother ride with a more powerful helicopter - will cost more but is the best way to go. If the pilot is struggling with power and control, it will be tough to be real smooth.

Also, like tires on a car, a helicopter's rotor blades require balancing. If an helicopter flies with a hump, it needs some balancing (strobing), so if in normal flight, it feels rough, get another helicopter or have the company smooth the ride out. Generally if you see the dash shaking in flight it needs work. That said, once you get to a high speed, most helicopters will shake a bit more. There are other tweaks available to smooth out the ride, but suffice it to say, an properly balanced Astar (with it's three three bladed rotor system) should provide a good ride.

Cheers & good filming
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#11 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 04:49 AM

I came pretty close to getting my private pilots helicopter license some 10 years ago - I have 23hrs on the small Schweizer 300. As said, treat helicopters with respect. We had an engine failure and an emergency landing in a field (that's why I stopped), which was scary. And the film business is littered with helicopter accidents (Vic Morrow comes to mind) or near-accidents.

Anyway, I also have mounted the Tyler mount to AStar helicopters and they are very powerful. Most preferred
by filmmakers and pilots, I'd suspect.

The Bell Jet- and LongRanger helicopters are the most common turbines in the world. But they are less powerful and don't fly as stable as many of the others due to their teetering 2-blade rotor. LTE, or Loss of Tail rotor Effectiveness is a serious problem for any helicopter, and the Jetrangers are quite susceptible to it.

A cameraman I used to work with as a focus puller had a little bungy rig made up specifically for the LongRanger: above the door is a little hand rail to which you can attach this device. He often had his feet on the skids and shot leaning out of the chopper with this bungy device. Obviously, he was well strapped in.

The smaller piston powered heli's, like the Schweizer 300 I flew, or the tiny R22 can also be used as camera ships for easier, handheld shooting. The have less power than the turbines, so they shouldn't try to do the stuff the big ones do.
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#12 James Brown

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 07:38 AM

Hi,

I stumbled across this the other day: Aerial Cinematography
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#13 Ken Cangi

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:50 AM

Not to be all gloom-and-doom here, but I'll remind people of an occasional forum poster here named Neal Fredericks (who was the credited DP for "Blair Witch Project") who died two years ago shooting from a small airplane on a low-budget film because of safety violations (he was strapped into the plane with a rope, and the plane crashed into a lake -- everyone got out except him.) I knew Neal and he was a nice guy.

My attitude is that unless I want to train seriously to become a qualified aerial cinematographer, I'd rather hire a professional who does this for a living and knows all the safety rules and shooting tips.

David makes some very good points here.

I frequently shoot from helicopters - mostly A-Stars and, on occasion, Bell 430s - which are very stable in the mountains where I do most of my film work. Understanding your place and physical dynamics in relation to the ship is critical, as well as only flying with pilots who are very experienced at this type of work. Shooting out of something like an R44, with an inexperienced pilot, for instance, is a very bad idea. Things can go critically wrong in a nanosecond. These little birds have the advantage of a greater rotor clearance from the fuselage, because of the taller mast, although they are squirrelly to maneuver - especially with a cameraman hanging out of the door. This type of shooting is not to be taken lightly.

That being said, A-Stars, with the right pilot, are as smooth as sitting on your living room couch. The best way that I have found to shoot cameras like the DVX is hand-held with a Steadicam JR or something like it. You also should have a working knowledge and understanding of rigging.

I think David's suggestion about budgeting in enough to hire a pro heli shooter is a good idea and could save you a lot in the long run.


Good luck with your project.

KC

Edited by Ken Cangi, 09 April 2007 - 11:51 AM.

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#14 Daniel Smith

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 04:32 PM

I remember when Neal Fredericks used to visit this forum. Didn't know he died whilst shooting though.
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