Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996
F900 In A F18 Hornet Cockpit
>Published : 27th August 2006
>I'm looking for someone who has put a HD camera in a jet fighter. How does the recording heads reacts to G-Force and vibration? Anything I can do to help the machine?
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
class="style11">> I'm looking for someone who has put a HD camera in a jet fighter.
>A tape deck/spinning drum won't do well with vibration and G-forces. They don't do so well on roller coasters, so a fighter jet likely won't work at all.
>I think the HVX200 recording on P2 cards is your best bet. It's HD (more or less) and all solid state.
>Keep the camera on axis with the fuselage pointing any direction.
>Talk to the "Gunner" (CWO3 in charge of systems electronics) that covers Gun Cameras, Fleer, Radar, Comm, Flight Data, GPS etc. and on board recorders usually High 8 or DVCAM.
>If they give you the room Be very mindful that the Pilots will need to eject and your camera WILL NOT be allowed to get in the way.
>I recommend going with a Small HDV camera and mounting it in the canopy even possibly upside down somewhere that if the canopy goes the camera goes with it.
>The Pilot will black out before the tape falls off the Head.
>Don't worry about it.
>Bottom Line Don't attempt to put an F900 into a Cockpit.
>I Shot "Red Flag" for Discovery
and many hours of F-18 aircraft.
>B. Sean Fairburn
Role Model Productions LLC
>I did this several years ago. you'll need a lipstick or other smaller camera to mount on the dash (presume you want to see the pilot) the only place we had to mount anything was on the "heads up display"
the deck was installed behind the pilot and we used ratchet straps to secure it. all footage was beautiful, no ripples and this was a live ordinance run and steep climbs so G forces were substantial.
take a lot of wrap ties and count on the mechanics to assist. the thing that will most impress you about the cockpit of an F 18 is how small it is and how little room there is for anything ancillary.
>Unfortunately, the only approved format for capture is HDCAM 1080i/60.
class="style11">>Unfortunately, the only approved format for capture is HDCAM >1080i/60.
>How about using one of Sony's new HD Multi-purpose cameras:
>I'm working on a show that is using 8 of these cameras right now, first in the country, so might be a little hard to get without contacting Sony directly.
>You could see if it can be hooked up to a HDW-S280 Compact HD deck
>You still might get into the G-force issue with a recording deck vs, just a camera. But if Sean says not to worry, then you might be fine. I'd take Sean's usual line of test, test, and re-test your set up first. Maybe give Sony a call and see if they might be interested in sponsoring your shoot.
>Maybe they will help set up the equipment you could use and Sony could use the experience as good PR.
Shooter / Editor
AE Digital TV
>G Forces are G Forces. They don't pay attention to marketing literature or the demands of networks or production companies.
>I was going to recommend contacting AMPEX. They make 16 gig memory modules for recorders in jet fighters, and they were showing these at NAB as a potential HD Data capture solution. Very rugged looking little blocks.
>But if the capture has to be HDCAM, maybe you can ask the people demanding that to point you towards a special box that bends Newtonian physics and put the recorder inside that.
>This sounds like a job for a data recorder (The military stopped using tape in jets and rockets a long time ago for these reasons) or a Bell and Howell 35mm. The concept of the right tool for the right job seems to have flown completely out the window lately. Everyone seems to think there is one camera that can do every single task.
>I've used a HDV at up to 8Gs with no problems. Using a F900, however, seems to me to be just crazy from so many perspectives (including personal safety)...
>An F-900 is not going to fit in the cockpit of an F-18 unless you take the pilot out.
IA 600 DP
>I put an F900 on a number of roller coasters. On one of them, we had the luxury of an engineering team and a test dummy to get an idea of what the camera was going through. At 4G's an F900 is unreliable. At 5G's, it was unusable. An F-18 and pilot will regularly see more than 5G's. The good news is that the tape keeps running fine when forces are lower.
>With that said, I am with Sean....Putting an F900 in an F-18 is not going to happen. Even a T-cam could not work without a very significant safety violation.
HDnerd - mobile device
Texas Los Angeles
>Brian Heller writes :
class="style11">>An F-900 is not going to fit in the cockpit of an F-18 unless you take the >pilot out.
>I'm not a military expert, but the F-18 Super Hornet is a two seater model. Maybe this is the model Jean will have access to vs. the single seat F-18.
>I think Jean needs to look at capturing with a smaller camera for safety reasons. I know this is the pro HD list, but wouldn't the new Panasonic HVX200 work in this case. Take a couple 8 gig cartridges up / or the firestore and record away. No tape, just solid state memory cards.
Shooter / Editor
AE Digital TV
class="style11">>I'm not a military expert, but the F-18 Super Hornet is a two seater >model. Maybe this is the model Jean will have access to vs. the single >seat F-18.
>The 2 seater is a trainer...the F18 in service is a single pilot operation aircraft,
>Unfortunately, the only approved format for capture is HDCAM >1080i/60.
>I was in the back seat of an F18 trainer to shoot air to air of a live ordinance drop and used an Arri 16SR2, barely fit but was fine getting what we needed...right up to the point of the 6g pullout...that part was very ugly
Rick Thompson, HDDP
class="style12">> I'm not a military expert, but the F-18 Super Hornet is a two seater >model.
class="style12">>Maybe this is the model Jean will have access to vs. the single seat F->18. The 2 seater is a trainer...the F18 in service is a single pilot >operation aircraft.
>There's no room in either cockpit for an F-900.
IA 600 DP
class="style12">> There's no room in either cockpit for an F-900.
>A-Minima to the rescue!
VP Cinelab inc.
>I know one cameraman used a hand held Bolex when shooting a doc on the Red Arrows aerobatic team in the 1970's. This was when they were using the Gnat, rather than the larger Hawk aircraft.
>I'd assume a similar sized HDV type camera should work in a F18. Although until you've tested the camera by sitting in the cockpit you can't really tell. Also, even with relatively light G forces the camera can get heavy pretty quickly.
DP & Steadicam
>Thanks for your reply about my questions on how to put a camera in a F-18. Now I'm wondering witch format and mag you used to record the video from your lipstick camera?
class="style12">>Thanks for your reply about my questions on how to put a camera in a >F-18. Now I'm wondering witch format and mag you used to record the >video from your lipstick camera?
>We did this pre-HiDef. It was SD. Want to believe the deck will withstand the trip and suspect it will...we didn't know what to expect when we did it...worked great, not a ripple.
>Speak with any rental house that specializes in HD, I rent from Fletcher's as they are in my backyard and do a good job with gear and guidance...1-800-6-FLETCH is their contact number.
>Am I imagining things, or didn't we have this discussion a year ago, when the JAG TV series shot HDV with a Sony camera in a fighter jet???
>I seem to remember that they were happy with the result.
Film HD Program Chair
>A few years ago I shot a very low budget educational video about a L-39 Pilot. We mounted a TRV-18 with a fish eye attachment to the "dash" of the jet on several different flights. I put the camera in LP mode and let it run. I had no problems with drop outs. The video looked like video from a single chip camera, but it was the best solution I could come up with for the budget we had.
>On the same project, I went up in a L-39 trainer and road in the back seat to shoot jet to jet. I was using a DCR-VX1000. When we started to do aerobatics that little camera got very heavy and it was difficult to follow the other jet. I also felt like I was going to throw up the entire time we were flying. I would recommend not taking an ENG camera (especially an F900) in a fighter jet for fear of it hurting someone.
>You could probably figure out a more creative way to get the shots using a lipstick camera or a block camera.
class="style12">>>With that said, I am with Sean....Putting an F900 in an F-18 is not going >to happen. Even a T-cam could not work without a very significant safety >violation.
>I agree! Thanks for your comments, everyone. I should have said ... How does HDCAM react to G-Force ... instead of asking about the F-900. I will not try to put the camera on board. But, after many hours of research I found all my answers. I will use the Iconix Video camera, a HDCam portable recorder and a custom case with anti-vibration foam tied down to the plane. Now it needs to be approved and then I will test it!
>Once it's done, I'll keep you all posted with the results.
>I just discovered the discussion site and all together, we are a real treasure!!
>Thank you for your help.