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Shooting from helicopter with an DSLR

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Lykkelige Larsen
Shooting from helicopter with an DSLR
on Oct 26, 2013 at 7:50:35 pm

I see there is need to update the discussion about how arial shots from helicopters can be done using DSLR's.

In my case I will either be using a 7d or a 5d and as I'm mostly working on low budgets renting gyro equipment is not an option.

So what I would like to know is what experience there is out there on shooting using shoulde-rigs or i.e an Glidecam for jobs like this. I will be filming a rather wide area, flying up a valley and over a lake, what lenses and settings are recommendable?

Would be happy to get see some videos shot on 5d's/7d's and how stable (or unstable) that became.


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Bill Willins
Re: Shooting from helicopter with an DSLR
on Oct 27, 2013 at 5:05:33 am

Few things I've learned shooting video from helicopter without gyro. It's damn hard. Shoot as wide as possible, rig something like a bean bag to rest camera on. And hope your on a smooth flying chopper .... Some helis are smooth, others bounce round like tanks. Not much you can do about this. Good luck. BW


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Chris Tompkins
Re: Shooting from helicopter with an DSLR
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:40:25 pm

There is a small gyro, stands on the floor on a stick, real cheap to rent, will make your footage much better. Do it right.

Chris


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Lykkelige Larsen
Re: Shooting from helicopter with an DSLR
on Oct 28, 2013 at 10:48:39 am

Ok, does this small gyro have specific name/come from a specific manufacturer? Would like to get one but not sure if Oslo will have to much to offer of equipment before Wednesday.

I found this one though, appears to be a good solution for a fair price:







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Michael Hendrix
Re: Shooting from helicopter with an DSLR
on Oct 30, 2013 at 6:07:08 pm

My suggestions, some you can control and some you can't:

-Find out what kind of helicopter you will be flying in, this will give you a clue as to the job you have ahead of you. Two blade versus four blade makes a world of difference. It will also give you an idea of the power the helicopter has. Could help in how far the pilot will push.

-Are you shooting with door off? (assuming this is something like a JetRanger or LongRanger. Destabilizes the helicopter more but gives clear shot. Also burns more fuel.

-Get to know your pilot. Does he have experience flying for aerial shots? Let him know that you may ask but for specific shots but safety is the #1 and it is his call.

-Pre-plan your shoot with the pilot, before you take off. It gets harder to communicate in the air.

-Secure everything, especially if you fly with the door off. It's not just for loosing a piece of gear, you don't want a small piece of equipment flying out and into the tail rotor. This would be bad.

-Shoot with a IS lens. Anything else will be unusable.

-shoot with a monitor and be prepared to get nauseous. Happens to the best of us. Just get your bearings once in a while and you will be fine.

-The horizon is your friend. It's equal to the level on your tripod.

-The unit that you researched is great. Anything like that would help.

Sorry if I stepped on your toes a bit, not sure of your experience with aerials.



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Al Bergstein
Re: Shooting from helicopter with an DSLR
on Nov 16, 2013 at 5:46:20 pm
Last Edited By Al Bergstein on Nov 16, 2013 at 5:47:15 pm

Great ideas all. I know you say you don't have the budget for this, but here's an idea worth having on the thread for future use.

I did some shooting in the last two years with a pilot who is a super still photographer and has a great setup for shooting out his plane (not the best for video). But he uses a Kenyon stabilizer. I found it works pretty well. Not perfect, but good for the price. It shows the kit for it at $2k, but maybe there is a pro shop in some nearby major city that rents them and can overnight the kit to you.

I used the KS-4 with both a 5DMkiii and a Canon XF305. I think that I also learned to shoot at as high a frame rate as possible. Many of my early attempts were not sharp at 24 or even 30FPS. Better of course with the 5D at 30FPS than the 305.

http://www.ken-lab.com/

Al


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Lykkelige Larsen
Re: Shooting from helicopter with an DSLR
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:42:10 am

The solution I landed on in the end was using the Kenyon Gyro Stabilizers on a simple shoulder rig, two of them, one for each axis. And I find it brought a lot, I had almost no visible vibrations from the helicopter. But still I had very unstable material, the Gyro's are not enough for taking away that, then I think a Movi, Ghost or similar rig could be recommendable, without having tried it. What saved me was the Adobe Premiere Stabilizer, even if I had to crop a lot on some clips it gave me a totally different movie.

Lens was a Sigma 35mm on the 7d, but I often I wished I could go a bit closer without having to ask the pilot. In general I noticed that the closer I was to the ground the better the shots got since the movement is more visible, of course depending on what you are looking for.

And wear gloves, I forgot and at some point couldn't feel my fingers anymore...


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