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Aerial Shooting from Airplane


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#1 David Shawl

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 03:04 PM

Hi,

I have a shoot coming up that will involve a lot of air travel. We will have a small corporate jet to travel between several countries. We are trying to figure out a way to safely rig a gyro stabilized mount to handle an Sony EX3 or similar camera. We are trying to avoid renting a helicopter just for aerials. We have a pilot who can safely go to lower altitudes for shooting aerials. Right now our main option seems to be a mini tyler gyro mount inside the airplane in the area where a seat would go by a window. Pending much regulation with FAA and other red tape, we would like for a small hole to be made in the plastic/glass window that allows us to shoot through to the outside. The camera would be about an inch of so from the opening in the window. Of course this hole would be custom designed by a airplane technician and will be sealed when not being used for shooting / higher altitudes and speeds.

Does anyone have any thoughts of any alternative methods? We have a sizable budget, so we're open to new ideas. I would love to have an externally mounted, remote operated gyro system mounted on the exterior of the plane, but that sounds a bit more complicated. Thanks for your time.

-Dave
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 04:45 PM

My thoughts are that the camera tends to go through quite a bit of movement to stay on a subject when the aircraft banks and a small hole could be restrictive. A corporate jet would need to pass FAA tests, which could be a mine field because I suspect you'll need to test this window modification under pressurisation. It's a lot easier to remove a window from a non pressurised aircraft.

There are specialist aircraft that have the gyro mounts fitted, for example; http://www.camerasys...ectorvision.htm

It could be better to contact one of the companies with a modified learjet and use that, rather than go through certifying a one off modification to a standard aircraft.

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 16 September 2010 - 04:47 PM.

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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 22 September 2010 - 04:09 PM

I'd say pick the right tool for the job, both for cinematography and aviation. I've done a fair amount of aerial cinematography and I'm studying for a PPL, and none of this strikes me like the right way to go -- especially if you've got a sizable budget.

Don't underestimate the amount of panning, tilting, and even rolling you'll need to get good compositions from a moving aircraft. I don't think a small hole in a window would allow nearly enough camera movement, not to mention the aircraft modification and all that that would entail.

You don't state the requirements for your aerial shots, so it's hard to make suggestions for alternative rigs. What kinds of subjects? What altitude do you need for the desired shots? What kind of camera angle, focal length, and camera/aircraft movement do you need for your shots? All of these things will point you toward the best suited tools.

You don't necessarily need a helicopter for your second camera ship. There are lots of small, lighter aircraft that can accommodate aerial photography (especially with a small camera like the EX3), at a lower hourly rate.

Just as an example, here's some air-to-air shot from a small helicopter (R44) with a stabilized Sony FX1. I had nothing to do with this video, but it shows some things that are possible with a good pilot and small gear.


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