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Aerial Photography in a Cessna 150


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#1 Stephen Whitehead

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 10:52 PM

Hey on my next shoot, they want me to do some aerial shots out of a cessna 150 with the doors taken off. Has anyone done this before. I am looking for sugestions to get good shots.

Cheers,

Steve
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#2 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 01:19 AM

Hey on my next shoot, they want me to do some aerial shots out of a cessna 150 with the doors taken off. Has anyone done this before. I am looking for sugestions to get good shots.

Cheers,

Steve

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If you have the cash check these out http://www.gyromatic.net/stabil.htm
http://www.helofligh...Gallery/Aerial

That will help stabilize your camera. Other thatn that shoot wide at an angle to reduce vibration and watch to keep your horizon steady.
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#3 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 01:22 AM

Here is one of those pictures, its link doesn't work

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#4 Jonathan Bryant

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 01:41 AM

Also check this out. You can rent these or buy. All I ask is if you buy one just let me borrow it from time to time.

http://www.ken-lab.c...plications.html
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#5 Manu Anand

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 03:01 AM

Heres some information from The CML archives

http://www.cinematog...s GB/AERIAL.HTM

one of my favourite aerial shots ever is in the film "Happy Together" The DP is Chris Doyle. Hand held.....over iguazu falls in argentina. But that was from an helicopter
Take a look.


Manu Anand
Bombay
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#6 Patrick Neary

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 09:43 AM

Hi there-

I've shot a bit of film and video "ghetto-style" from cessnas and other aircraft, and can say don't expect too much from it. Or more importantly, if this is for a client who's used to seeing wescam footage on TV (and is expecting that kind of quality) make sure THEY know this isn't the way to do it! A 150 is particularly limiting because of the wing strut, but you can get some unobstructed views straight out the side.

Make sure your pilot knows exactly what you're going after before you go up. Use his/her charts to work out the subjects/angles/viewpoints you need.

If you're using a bigger, shoulder mount camera, try to attach a heavy bunji cord to the top of the door frame (or any attachment point available) and hang the camera from it- just to help take the weight and float it, don't ever let go of the camera- I did this out of a Maule and it helped tremendously (as opposed to just shouldering the camera). You'll see that if the camera lens ever enters the slipstream it will be uncontrollable, so you have to keep it pulled in behind the door frame.

If you're hand-holding a small camcorder, use the steadishot feature, float it with your arms (don't touch any part of the airframe) and *good luck*

It helps to slo-mo the footage in post to smooth out the bumps a bit. Also using a UV filter and bumping up the contrast and saturation a bit in post helps counter some of the haze. A polarizer can help too, if you want to mess with that.

Either way, tether the camera to you, and make sure you're tethered (seatbelted) to the airplane! One good burble could send an unattached camera out the door. A 150 is like a kite, and any little bit of turbulence will bounce it around.

Check the weather. Flying in the mornings will usually get you better, smoother air, but sometimes that beautiful morning light can be problematic for aerials, depending on what you're shooting and what your intended effect is.

Hope some of this helps, I'm sure there are a million other things- mostly enjoy the views!
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#7 Stephen Whitehead

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 06:30 PM

If you have the cash check these out http://www.gyromatic.net/stabil.htm
                                                      http://www.helofligh...Gallery/Aerial

That will help stabilize your camera. Other thatn that shoot wide at an angle to reduce vibration and watch to keep your horizon steady.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



This is an interesting prospect but how exactly does it work?
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#8 Stephen Whitehead

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 06:39 PM

Hi there-

I've shot a bit of film and video "ghetto-style" from cessnas and other aircraft, and can say don't expect too much from it. Or more importantly, if this is for a client who's used to seeing wescam footage on TV (and is expecting that kind of quality) make sure THEY know this isn't the way to do it! A 150 is particularly limiting because of the wing strut, but you can get some unobstructed views straight out the side.

Make sure your pilot knows exactly what you're going after before you go up. Use his/her charts to work out the subjects/angles/viewpoints you need.

If you're using a bigger, shoulder mount camera, try to attach a heavy bunji cord to the top of the door frame (or any attachment point available) and hang the camera from it- just to help take the weight and float it, don't ever let go of the camera- I did this out of a Maule and it helped tremendously (as opposed to just shouldering the camera). You'll see that if the camera lens ever enters the slipstream it will be uncontrollable, so you have to keep it pulled in behind the door frame.

If you're hand-holding a small camcorder, use the steadishot feature, float it with your arms (don't touch any part of the airframe) and *good luck* 

It helps to slo-mo the footage in post to smooth out the bumps a bit. Also using a UV filter and bumping up the contrast and saturation a bit in post helps counter some of the haze. A polarizer can help too, if you want to mess with that.

Either way, tether the camera to you, and make sure you're tethered (seatbelted) to the airplane! One good burble could send an unattached camera out the door. A 150 is like a kite, and any little bit of turbulence will bounce it around.

Check the weather. Flying in the mornings will usually get you better, smoother air, but sometimes that beautiful morning light can be problematic for aerials, depending on what you're shooting and what your intended effect is.

Hope some of this helps, I'm sure there are a million other things- mostly enjoy the views!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Do you think using a larger plane would help out at all? like a 172, or a twin of some sort? also how posible is it to get straight forward shots, side shots, straight down, etc...?
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#9 andrewbuchanan

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Posted 29 July 2005 - 08:45 AM

I second everyone above, unless you get some gyro equipment don't expect much. Most of the vibration isn't from the air so the size of the plane etc doesn't matter. It's the way the motors shake. I rented a big DXC 35w and tried taking it up in a Robins R22 helicopter, and it was a complete failure. First the camera hardly fit inside the TINY canopy without hitting the pilot in the shoulder (and that was the arm that was holding the control stick). The front was sticking out into the stream of air rushing by and was badly buffeted, the longer Fujinon zoom was shakey as all hell, and I couldn't get an eye to the finder when the camera was in position to frame out the landing skids. I ended up landing getting a PDX-10 with an image stabilizer and wide angle adapter and going back up. I shot 60i and slowed everything in post (through speed adjustment and deinterlace). This saoked up a lot of the vibration. The client was pretty happy with the footage, but I felt like a jack-ass for renting the big camera. Bottom line, if I had climbed into the Helicopter before we started I would have had a much better idea what I needed.

If I could do it over... I would have climbed in with my camera to see how evrything fit. I would have looked at the angle I needed to frame around the landing skids. Also wider lensing at a lower altitude works better and slow motion helps minimize the shake.

Straight forward shots and side shots were no problem in a helicopter with no doors, bit I don't know about a plane - that sounds really difficult to me.
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#10 Patrick Neary

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Posted 29 July 2005 - 10:34 AM

A 172 isn't significantly bigger, and most twins (that i can think of) would be even harder, if not impossible, to shoot out of because they are generally low-wing (with big engines in the way) and much less flexible for that sort of thing. And way more expensive to rent!

There's a Piper Cub at the airport i fly out of that looks like the perfect budget aerial platform- you can sit in the front seat with the door off and have a much less obstructed view toward the front and out the side; much better than any cessna, and with the added advantage of being a "low and slow" flyer.

Nature shooters occassionally use ultra-lights and powered parachutes, which in calm air give great views and smooth flying (see "Winged Migration" as a primer for budget, handheld aerial shooting!), but they always seem a little dicey to me, safety-wise.

Andrew has a great suggestion about going out beforehand and sitting in the cockpit with your gear as if you were shooting. You'll quickly see the limitations, and be better able to design the shots you need within those constraints.

Really all you can do at this level is just hope for smooth air and go for it. Shoot a lot and you hopefully will find a few small pieces that work.
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#11 Stephen Whitehead

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Posted 29 July 2005 - 11:03 PM

I like the idea of the Gyro. are gyro systems such as the one mentioned earlier on in the string commonly available at rental shops? I am here in Toronto and we have a good selection of rental houses, would somewhere like clairmont rent out gyros? My hope is that, with a combination of wide angle lenses, gyros, and motion stabilization via tracking in post, I will be able to get a shot similar to a helishot. The producer of the project doesn't want to pay helicopter fees, and the rental of a cessna or piper with a pilot is dirt cheap in comparison, like 150$ an hour here in toronto. So I hope with those three things I'll be able to get some decent footage.
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#12 peter bartle

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Posted 30 July 2005 - 01:24 AM

I've 'jumped' (skydived) out of a few Cessna 182's & let me tell you its very cramped inside... I've never filmed from one but I could see potential problems with the wing, strut & wheel getting in the way.

I'm 6'5" & whenever I jump from one I find it very difficult to move in the plane & get access out the door.... Ok your not going out of the plane whilst it's in the air but even if you're only trying to shoot out the door, the above mentioned obstacles will likely to be problems...
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#13 Mike Brennan

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 11:37 AM

Neal Fredericks DP of Blair Witch was killed December last year whilst shooting aerials for a low budget movie from a fixed wing.
Low budget, low flying, home made rig...

The aircraft went into the water and he could not release his straps and or was trapped by the rig.

If you want to do an orbit of a subject then the aircraft will need to be in a fast tight turn ( or you will be quite a distance from the subject and have to use a long lens )
So the speed of the rotation of the subject may be too fast.

Fixed wing are good for shooting landscapes like mountains, city scapes and air to air with other fixed wings.

There are restrictions on removing cargo doors.

If you are thinking of doing this with a commercial pilot remeber that not many fixed wing commercial pilots have little filming experience.
It takes great skill to keep a constant orbit around a subject if there is any significant wind.

Doing it with a PPL and you are courting trouble.
Remember that personal insurances will be invalid whilstworking in a non scheduled flight.
Understand the limitations, don't fly with a PPL use a pilot with significant experience other than flight training.

Mike Brennan
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#14 Mike Brennan

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Posted 15 August 2005 - 05:56 AM

Neal Fredericks DP of Blair Witch was killed December last year whilst shooting aerials for a low budget movie from a fixed wing.
Low budget, low flying, home made rig...


The crash was in August. Here is the NTSB preliminary report. He wasn't wearing a stap it reports he had a rope tied around him. It seems despite an initial engine failure minutes earlier he was still roped in when a subsequent engine failure occured at 150 feet.

http://www.ntsb.gov/...820X01262&key=1


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#15 Bob Hayes

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Posted 18 August 2005 - 01:04 AM

It was a great tragedy and Neal will be missed. I have had a couple of near misses and try to carry a knife when tied in.
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