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class="style10">Shooting Aerials From A Cessna

>Published : 31st August 2006

>The more I look into it, the more it seems that it might have some seriously vibrating aerial footage. The door of the Cessna will be removed, so no through the window shooting. Camera will be stripped to the bone and should clock in at about 8 pounds.

There's a few archived CML posts that I browsed through, and I heard some good, some bad which is normal of course, but yikes..... I'm wondering if my only hope for a reasonable amount of clean footage might be to rent the little atom bomb looking item called the Kenyon Gyro Stabilizer. Here is the link to this contraption :


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

>Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I will make a point to post the outcome as the aerial shoot is happening regardless.

>Thanks in advance.

>Taylor Wigton
DP, Los Angeles


>Taylor,

>See if you can find a Cessna Cardinal RG. On these airplanes (if I remember correctly) there is no wing strut and of course the landing gear retracts giving you a better field of view. Depending on the situation, you can control the vibration in the airplane by setting up over your subject, then easing off of the power so that you are basically in a glide ....also you can control some of the vibration using different prop pitch settings. Shoot in the early morning if its right for the look since you may find the smoothest air around this time.

>Good luck.

>Cheers

>Mark Eberle
DP-LA


>Taylor Wigton writes:

class="style11">>The more I look into it, the more it seems that it might have some >seriously vibrating aerial footage.

>You're not really going to know until you try, are you.

>You don't say what you're trying to shoot, but generically here are a few factors to consider, especially if you're paying for the ride :

>Weather -- if it's not a very calm day -- forget it.
Aircraft -- if the aircraft vibrates badly, use a different plane. Don't continue to shoot if it's going badly.

>Pilot -- if the pilot is not very experienced in film work, find another pilot.

>Since mass dampens vibration, making the camera lighter will not reduce vibration, but may in fact increase it. The Kenyon is an incredible device, but it is a gyroscope which achieves stability by artificially increasing mass.

>It takes some practice to be able to successfully operate a hand held camera in an aircraft, even more so with a gyro.
Practice in a car or a van.

>If the aircraft owner/pilot will allow it, see if you can hang the camera and gyro on some bungee cord. Kenyon's website shows a low tech mount that may help you understand
mounting techniques.

>http://www.ken-lab.com/html/other_products.html

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Everybody needs a specialty and I don't do Steadicam. As a former military pilot, aerials are the obvious choice. I do Wescam, Spacecam, Tyler, and about every handheld arrangement imaginable.

In the circumstance that you describe in the Cessna (handheld but with some vibrations) I would consider a bungee rig. Unfortunately, there is just not room in a Cessna for bungee. You might consider finding the larger Cessna model that has a cargo door that can be removed. In this case you may have enough room to rig bungee or go more conventional than you might think....you can rig/secure a high-hat on a full apple to the floor and use an O'Connor head. Ratchet straps are typically used for this. A grip is really valuable at these tasks. Just be sure to rig it such that the lens does not protrude into the wind stream or you will have more vibration than you can manage.

All that has been said about smooth aviation is true. An aircraft with long straight wings is inherently subject to vertical movement of air. When the air is cooler it is thicker and smoother. On a sunny day (even a cool one) the ground heats up and causes columns of uneven, convective air which causes a lot of bumpiness. Fly early on cool mornings for smoothest air.

For additional aviation advice and an extraordinarily experienced and talented film pilot of all types, call Kevin LaRosa at Jet Copters at Van Nuys. He is my favourite.

Randal Feemster, S.O.C.
L.A.


class="style11">>The more I look into it, the more it seems that it might have some >seriously vibrating aerial footage. The door of the Cessna will be >removed, so no through the window shooting. Camera will be stripped >to the bone and should clock in at about 8 pounds.

>You may already know this but heres my experience with aerials :

>Make sure you physically check out any type of craft you will shoot aerials from way before the shoot. There are many many variables. The plane owners all seem to tell you its possible to shoot and that others have done it etc...,but only you know what type of compromises you are willing to make for your shot.

>Check for struts, wings, wheels that may be in your shot. I was in a Cessna type recently that only afforded a side / rear view that was unobstructed. The result was everything was moving away from the lens. It was ok for that shot as we could reverse the image to get the feeling of going forward. This usually only works shooting wilderness, landscape. Any cars or boats in the shot will be a give away as they will go backwards.

>Good luck.

>Steve Panariello / DP
Key West, Fl USA


class="style11">>>Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated

>One more thought: I've found it really helpful to make a line drawing on a sheet of paper describing the best flight plan in relation to your shot/subjects. Going over this before leaving the ground with the pilot is really important to minimize the amount of communication you have to with the headsets/mics. Most mics don’t seem to work too well when the wind is coming in at 90-120 mph.

>Steve Panariello/DP
Key West, Fl. USA


>Steve Panariello wrote:

class="style11">>Most mics don't seem to work too well when the wind is coming in at >90-120 mph.

>Excellent point. Most fixed wing closed cockpit aircraft do not have to contend with the noise levels one encounters in helo/aerial work.

>See if the pilot can get a set of David Clark headsets for you and himself, and a voice activated intercom, if he doesn't already have one. They can be rented and plugged into most aircraft radios. It will make everyone's life a lot easier.

>No matter how much you prepare on the ground, it's always a little different in the air.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Brian Heller writes :

class="style11">>Since mass dampens vibration, making the camera lighter will not >reduce vibration, but may in fact increase it. The Kenyon is an >incredible device, but it is a gyroscope which achieves stability by >artificially increasing mass.

>I was going to suggest the same thing, but Brian beat me to it.
The heavier the camera the better for reducing vibration.
Work without matte box or sunshade if possible, as these act as sails.
Use internal (filter wheel) or screw-in filters.

Doug Hart
1AC, NYC


>A few years ago I shot some everglades footage from the window of a 172, with my Aaton. I used a bean bag on my lap, lens pointed to the right(since the pilot was flying in the left seat, you could ask him if he'll fly from the right one, who knows)

>Since the viewfinder on my camera swings to the other side, and is orientable, I had no problems there. I wish it had been a smoother day, but in the end it was acceptable, and I overcranked to 32 fps.

>Which camera are you using?

>I'll try to send an mov sample to you. I also filmed an ultralight from another ultralight flying right next to me, side by side w/ my Eyemo. Some of it was cool, but when I tried the city scape on a take there was a bit too much up and down even on a smooth day(wish I had hard mounted the camera, but it was a test

>On a side note, I just flew on an R-44(helicopter) and was quite impressed at how smooth it was- Wish I had a camera at the time to test

>Best,
John Babl
DP
Miami


>I shot a second time out the side of a R-22 with my Aaton, door off, at 800-1000' above Trenton NJ, I just brought a 25mm prime and overcranked to 32fps. I put the footage on a spirit 2 weeks ago and was very pleased. I also shot with this small cool helicopter (plug Robinson R-22 Beta into Google) this summer we did sweeps around a character walking through a field and it was a bit tough because I was shooting with a longer lens, we got 4-5 min of really good useable footage out of 2 400' rolls (Super-16).

>R-22 rates are around 225/hr I would say that my experience with these small cool helios is far better than my experience shooting from a Cessna.

>Rob Houllahan
Filmmaker
VP Cinelab inc,
www.cinelab.com


class="style11">>I shot a second time out the side of a R-22 with my Aaton,

>Hi Rob,

>Did you shoot handheld? I wonder if strapping down a tripod is feasible-sure, there's no substitute for a Tyler mount, but the R-4 has more space and the bars in the back could perhaps be used to hard mount a small Sachtler tripod or head, flying without doors...

>I have a friend who was assisting a DP on a shoot- handheld from a twinstar- he insists it worked fine...

>Best,
John Babl


class="style11">>I shot a second time out the side of a R-22 with my Aaton, did you shoot >handheld?

>Handheld indeed, not super easy but it worked, the R-22 certainly has no room for mounts but it was between not shooting these aerials for the film on the R-22 and I have some good smooth shots from the adventure...

>Rob Houllahan
Filmmaker
Vp Cinelab inc.


>>Handheld indeed, not super easy but it worked, the R-22 >certainly has no room for mounts but it was between not >shooting these aerials for the film on the R-22 and I have >some good smooth shots from the adventure....

>I have shot multiple times from The R-22B and R-44 and the eurocopter with the door off(of course) and a bungee supported by a superclamp on the doorframe.

>You can get ok results with a fairly wide lens and some post stabilizing if you need to. Its helpful to have a small TFT monitor on the camera to frame from, because your body will quickly get in an awkward position as the plane/chopper turns or banks.

>Hope this helps

>Best regards

>Jens Jakob Thorsen
Director of Photography
Denmark
+4540508840
www.jensjakob.com


class="style11">>>One impression I have taken away from using this Copter is you >should be very aware of your arms and camera/mag in relation to the >pilot and his controls as the quarters are very tight and you do not want >to interface with the stick or cyclic.

>But the R-44 has a lot more space-

>John Babl
Miami


class="style11">>because your body will quickly get in an awkward position as the >plane/chopper turns or banks.

>One impression I have taken away from using this Copter is you should be very aware of your arms and camera/mag in relation to the pilot and his controls as the quarters are very tight and you do not want to interface with the stick or cyclic.

>Robert Houllahan
Filmmaker
VP Cinelab Inc
www.cinelab.com


>Interesting about adding weight to the camera. Gotta love CML! And thanks for all the input as well.

>One idea I had was similar to what John mentioned which was to use a hi-hat, fluid head, camera, and use strong bungee attached to at least 3 spots on the hi-hat. Going to take a look at some planes tomorrow but I'm not sure where or if there are decent tie off points inside the cockpit that are safe and also adhere to FAA regulations.

>Fortunately there will be some testing and it won't be necessarily an hourly rate setup, so that should allow some trial and error, as well as the flexibility to fly/shoot when the air is right rather then when it is booked, rain or shine so to speak. I think flying low and as close as possible to the subject matter will be key here. One of the pilots is a DP as well so that should also work to my advantage.

>Still curious about the Kenyon, wondering if adding weight to the camera if enough or if renting the device is well worth the money. Just saw an article in AC last night about the Kenyon and apparently there have been some improvements in the design. Wondering where in the LA area would rent the newest versions of the Kenyon.

>Camera weight is up to 15lbs as posts have all suggested to add weight. There will be some decent and varied topography which I assume will add to the 3D feel. So for now have to key things pinned down: good air, fly low and close, wide lens, unobstructed airplane parts, good pilot communication, heavy camera....maybe the kenyon...

>Thanks again, and hope this thread continues with some more useful insight that we can all add to our bag of trick. If I shoot with the Kenyon, or whatever for that matter, I will try to post or add a link to some footage in a couple weeks. Shoot is not for a week or so.

>Taylor Wigton
DP, Los Angeles


>Taylor Wigton wrote:

class="style11">>One idea I had was similar to what John mentioned which was to use a >hi-hat, fluid head, camera, and use strong bungee attached to at least >3 spots on the hi-hat.

>Let me preface this with this info, I am a pilot, I also have been involved with aviation for pretty much all my life and am intimately familiar with Cessna Products (I owned a 182 and my Aunt was the lead Structures Engineer there)

>Now back to the topic at hand.

>Bad Idea Lot's of vibrations in a airframe. Unless you vibration isolate you don't want to attach to the airframe. And I might add unless you have one serious insurance policy I wouldn't go attaching anything to the aircraft unless it has a "STC" (Supplemental Type Certificate) and a form 337 has been filled out and signed off by a A&P (Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic) Along with the 337 a new "Weights and Balances" form must be filled out and in the Aircraft with it's other paperwork to be legal to fly. Removing the Door BTW Requires a 337 to be filed since it is not a normal configuration for the aircraft. If you are Renting the aircraft from a FBO (Fixed Base Operator) and not an individual the chances of doing any modifications to the aircraft are zero. That includes removing the door.

>At most you will be able to remove the window stop which will allow the door window to extend up to the wing, giving you a roughly 16" tall hole to shoot out of.

>Good luck.

>Eric "Yes I am a pilot and KSMO is my Homebase" Fletcher SOC
Steadicam/"A" Camera Operator
Los Angeles, CA USA


>Let me make this suggestion. A while back, I flew this airplane called "Air Cam" . Its a twin engine rotax ultra light, although because of its weight etc....its been certified by the FAA and falls under its juristiction as other light airplanes do, therefore its not really classified as an ultra light.

>The Air Cam was built with one purpose in mind.....as a camera platform. It was originally used in Africa to shoot stills and documentaries for National Geographic. The photographer sits in the front seat which has nearly a 270 degree view laterally and probably 45 or 50 degree's tilt down. There is still some vibration but its not nearly that of any other light airplane.....again restricting your flying to earlier hours in smooth air if the look suits your needs. Its also able to achieve slower speeds if that’s a concern. The down side is that you are pretty much limited to hand held. The Air Cam is built in Sebring Florida. If you contact them they may be able to tell you if there is an owner in your area. If your in LA, check out Camarillo Airport. There is an Ultra light club out there.

>http://www.leza-aircam.com/

>Its a blast to fly....and I have had great success with shooting from it.

>good luck.

>cheers
Mark Eberle
DP-LA


>I didn't attach the Aaton to anything, as mentioned I had a bean bag on my lap, camera on top of it, no bungees or high hat-with the window open, once I leaned over to see through the viewfinder, + the weight of the camera itself kept it steady and no vibration- but the plane does move up and down a bit if you don't have a very calm day-

>On the subject of helicopters, I did speculate about hard mounting on an R-44, around the back seat area/bars behind the front seat - the pilot himself was wondering if this is feasible- perhaps w/ foam or maybe the head/small tripod idea w/ straps-I'm not sure this is a good idea, but I know one guy that put a high hat on a tire, strapped it down, shooting from a twinstar-I have no idea if the end result was good or bad. I'd like to try handholding on the R-44 because it seems like a very smooth ride.

>As far as vibration, the Tyler nose mount is a hard mount after all (of course it tilts) As far as I recall(worked w/ it once) it bolts on w/ out rubber insulation(?)

>Best

>John Babl
Miami


>What camera do yo plan to shoot with?

>Steve Peterson, IA6001stAC


>Taylor Wigton writes :

class="style11">>>Still curious about the Kenyon>>

>Can't hurt to try it. Even the old ones were better than nothing.

>I used to use them with Arri 35-IIs with 400-ft loads and long zooms, shooting handheld out of mosquito-like Hughes 300s, often in choppy air. They made a surprising difference. Haven't tried the newer ones but from what I understand they're much improved. Don't know about battery life.

>Remember that linear movements will almost never hurt your shot. What you want to avoid are *angular* movements. So holding the camera around its center of gravity to the extent possible, plus viewing through a monitor instead of the viewfinder, plus using a Kenyon, can work very well. The hitch is that if you're cradling the camera in that sort of balanced way you usually can't work any of the controls without upsetting the balance. So if you can pre-set everything (aperture, zoom, etc.) or run things on auto as much as possible, or have someone else handle the remote zoom control, you'll be ahead of the game.

>With all that said, you'll still have deal with the buffeting and slipstream. Using physically short lenses with no mattebox will help a lot. With a Cessna, the high wing may give you all the sun shading you need.

>Weight can be good for shoulder balancing, but for handholding it can work against you in choppy situations because more mass induces more overshoot. In fact, with a Kenyon I'd use the *lightest* camera rig possible, so the gyro can exert proportionately greater influence on the camera.

>The ideal package for aerial handholding with a Kenyon would be something like a 16mm Arri-S with 100-ft loads and physically small primes. For HD video I'd go with the smallest HDV camera (an A-1 or HC-1) and for DV I'd probably go with a PDX-10.

>Some of the above won't apply to your shoot, but thought I'd mention it anyway.

>Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


>Eric, I am a pilot as well and own Cessna 180 and have been discussing this at great lengths with my IA for a production we are about to start.

>IMHO: You do not need a 337 to remove a door. What you need is approval from the local FAA FSDO and the airplane type must be on an FAA approved list. AC-105-2C (related to skydiving but also covers door removal) shows the requirements and the airplane types (just about every high wing Cessna is on the list).

See:
http://www.airweb.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgAdvisory

Circular.nsf/0/c96c33525870370c862569de005bd7aa/$FILE/AC105-2c.pdf

>A weight abd balance sheet is needed, showing both configs.

>You can attach a bungee to tie down rings or any other hard point. This is a temporary installation - just like mounting portable GPS in the cockpit and does not need any paper work. You could mount the camera to the strut if you want (just like many skydiving schools do to get a POV of the students) and not need any paper work if it is not permanently attached and no modifications were done to the airplane. Remember a 337 is for Major alterations and repairs.

>However this is just our opinion and as always an IA or DER should be consulted first. As for insurance – yep all bets are off and you would probably become self-insured at that point.

Nigel Ellis
SF Bay
Out of the Sun Productions - Owner


>I've filmed from a Piper with the door off. However, being a low wing aircraft it wasn't the best for the job. The camera was a handheld Betacam.

>No great shots because of height restrictions, the limited view and you only use the wide end of lens because of the vibration. You also needed to wrap up well because of the cold air coming in through the door opening.

I wasn't involved in the paperwork because it was organised by the BBC. However, the company involved were licensed by the CAA for various commercial operations and quite a few professional stills photographers used them at the time.

Brian Drysdale
DP & Steadicam
Belfast


>Check out the April issue of American Cinematographer.

>I wrote a review of a new aerial mount that is small enough to fit in even the tiniest helicopters or airplanes, and it's way better than hand-holding the camera.

>Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


>Robert Goodman wrote:

class="style11">> Check out the April issue of American Cinematographer.

>Any mount is indeed better than hand holding in a helo, however as to fitting in the tiniest of helicopters (Robinson R-22, Enstrom F-28)...the mount may fit, but there will be little room for an operator.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Robert Goodman writes:

class="style11">>>Check out the April issue of American Cinematographer.
>I wrote a review of a new aerial mount that is small enough to fit in >even the tiniest helicopters or airplanes.

>Looks like a nifty rig. Does the narrow space between the vertical supports become limiting when you need to Dutch the camera a bit?

>That issue also includes a long piece about Little Red Riding Hood (lens-helmed our very own David Stump) and also a welcome article on BEFORE DAWN, a quite remarkable short film that can be seen on the Sundance website.

>Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


class="style11">>however as to fitting in the tiniest of helicopters (Robinson R-22, >Enstrom F-28)...the mount may fit, but there will be little room for an >operator

>I'm 6'2" - the mount and camera and me squeezed into a tiny

Schweitzer 2 seater for an earlier test flight. think it's about the same size as the Robinson but I haven't flown in the R-22.

Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


>Robert Goodman writes:

class="style11">> I'm 6'2" - the mount and camera and me squeezed into a tiny

>Schweitzer 2 seater for an earlier test flight. think it's about the same >size as the Robinson but I haven't flown in the R-22.

>Is this mount approved for installation in a Schweitzer? And were you able to operate the camera, as in track a subject?

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


class="style11">>I'm 6'2" - the mount and camera and me squeezed into a tiny >Schweitzer 2 seater for an earlier test flight. think it's about the same >size as the Robinson but I haven't flown in the R-22.

>I hope people that are doing this in a Robbie know that the left seat load limit on the R22 is 235lbs anything more and the aircraft is out of balance and therefore illegal to fly.

>While a foolish pilot "Might" be able to make it fly, if there were to be an accident the insurance company would not cover it.

>Eric Fletcher SOC
Steadicam/"A" Camera Operator
Los Angeles, CA USA


class="style11">>Is this mount approved for installation in a Schweitzer?

>It's not an installation - see the article in American Cinematographer - because it does not mount to the airframe. It's considered cargo by the FAA. The standard safety precautions for you and cargo apply.

class="style11">>And were you able to operate the camera, as in track a subject?

>Yes. It's really tight in that tiny helicopter - just sitting in the seat is pretty tight - so I'd recommend flying in a bigger copter but it's doable. The advantage of being able to use any helicopter comes down to budget. Smaller vehicles are cheaper on a per hour basis. You still need a brilliant pilot who understands how his/her actions and the camera operator's actions can work together or work against each other.

class="style11">>Looks like a nifty rig. Does the narrow space between the vertical >supports become limiting when you need to Dutch the camera a bit?

No though there are limits of course. It works better if you want to Dutch the camera to talk to the pilot. smile.

Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


>Robert Goodman writes:

class="style11">>>I'm 6'2" - the mount and camera and me squeezed into a tiny >Schweitzer 2 seater for an earlier test flight. think it's about the same >size as the Robinson but I haven't flown in the R-22.

>As I recall, the R22 has considerably less headroom than the Schweitzer bubble. I'm 6'2" and the last time I got into the Robinson I could just fit comfortably, but a colleague who's a big guy and 6'4" literally couldn't fit onto it without having to hunch over and wrap his arms around his knees. This was a while ago and they might have raised the roof a bit with their Beta II model.

>Please let us know how it goes...

>Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA


>The last time I shot aerials from an R22 I was handheld with a BL4 (didn't need the quiet camera, but sitting on my shoulder seemed better than other options). We wanted passenger viewpoint. It worked, but the R22 is really too small for anything but stills.

>The R44 has much better options with 4 seats and the ability to use the Aerial Exposures mount in the back seat. It's still tight, but very workable.

>I am unaware of a strictly 2 seat Schweitzer. The most common Schweitzer is derivative of the Hughes 300 which is a 3 seat bird. I have comfortably shot handheld from a Hughes 300. There's room to operate and room on the floor for lenses or magazines. I don't know that I'd try putting the Aerial Exposures mount into a Hughes 300 though, or your butt would be into the pilot's space.

>Just my 2 cents.

>Marty Oppenheimer
Aerial DP
Oppenheimer Cine Rental
Oppenheimer Camera Products
Seattle


>For a guy my size it may just have felt like a 2-seater?
I'll check with the pilot to see what model heli it was.

>Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


>Hi Taylor,

>I saw this before I left Zürich but have been travelling (here to L.A.) +..Las Vegas eventually /hopefully, if I can cut out the time, but since the subject still looms ahead...and I apologize if seems to have gotten a bit long.

>I have seen several posts re: your shooting from a Cessna and seen several very good comments from folks who obviously have experience with a variety of other Planes & helis (yay CML !)

>I've been a Stills photographer (since the mid 80's) and have had several shoots from a Cessna - with the right door removed, a few different (levels of savvy in) pilots, and thought I'd add and or reinforce a few points.

>I've also shot with various sizes of the Kenyon Gyros - primarily for car-to-car shooting (Ads), as well as aerials, each time with various forms of Medium format cameras in order of less bulky to more Bulky: Hasselblad, Mamiya RZ, and the Fuji GX 680. (Some of those start to compare with the weight you first mentioned...)

>You're doing this in a week? (2 seater Cessna or 4 seater ? space is at a premium)

>As a preface, my first Question is: What kind of shots are you ideally going after ? (ie., sweeping passes, or spins around a subject ? or ? and What kind of Altitude do you need to place your shots from ?

>What's the widest lens you'll shoot with?

>Planes have advantages over Choppers (vibration) , and vice versa. (and the Struts on a Cessna or other similar 'wing-above' planes DO easily get in the way.) I'm not gonna comment on Helis 'cause you didn't ask about Heli's, and it's likely you already know why you want to shoot from a plane...

>A) It will become very cold for you & your hands, your assistant and the pilot. and you have to WORK to manuver a Gyro, and it and the working temperatures will quickly fatigue your wrists and forearms.

>I had to do a shoot over the Eastern Mojave Desert in LATE Spring - (May), and we had to land just so that my assistant could unfreeze his hands because he could no longer load the 220 film backs. (So think about a couple of the Hand Warming systems available in SportingGoods shops - especially places that would supply Snowmobilers - some even have battery opp' gloves) Subsequent experiences led to renting several additional filmbacks pre-loaded so my assistant could keep up, and I began using finger-free-able winter Climbing Gloves.

>B) With the door removed there is all kinds of uncontrolled sporadic buffeting in the wind, and for the Pilot, it puts a surprising amount of Drag on whichever side the door's been removed.
Compactness was already mentioned, so IF a lensshade, + Filters, then probably best to build with some sort of screw-on shade arrangement off Series 9's (?)or something similar.

>C) This should actually be 'a ': Get yourself strapped into a rock climbing harness ('Swami belt at least) , and a good section of full-strength climbing line and if you don't know 'em already, learn some climbing knots or get hold of somebody who Does.
(Bowline & several half-hitches, with plenty of leader, anchored to the Seatbelt anchors.) Don't give yourself too much leash. (NO shortcuts here.) You'd be re-positioning yourself constantly, and that's not a relaxing experience, especially with a 3-foot by 4'ft door missing.

>D) as I recall, the slowest you'll fly with decent manuverability – is at about 65-70 mph, but talk with your Pilot and talk him thru the shots you want to get. A Compass may be useful to describe what you want & communicate that with him while still on the ground. Headphones with mics is also a good idea, or you'll get a sore throat from shouting.

>E) You want either (1) as heavy (and compact) a camera as (reasonably) possible with no Gyro, or (2) the relatively light (8 lb version of your setup, and as compact as possible) with the larger of the Gyros (maybe the Admiral - #8 and I just saw that they have a couple of larger ones available) because as (sorta) pointed out, the Gyro's effectiveness in stabilizing is relative to the weight of the camera it is used with.

>It has to be light enough to be affected by the Gyro.

>Did you talk with the guys at Kenyon yet ? There are some pretty hands-on experience guys there as I remember. By all means, hook on a Gyro a few days beforehand & practice manuvering your setup while it's fired up...'Camera will be stripped ..'.. about 8 pounds. ..' (May) rent .. the Kenyon Gyro Stabilizer.

After a few of these camera & Gyro combinations, I went back to the Hasselblad because regardless of dropping a centimetre (or two in the case of the GX 680), it was far more robust, didn't freeze up (the 680 GX and the Mamiya RZ both have an electronically-controlled shutter ) and in combo with Gyros the Hasselblad was far more manuverable. (ie., simpler was better)

With one of the extreme Wide lenses I used, (that one was a rental) my exposures over time started to spread all over the place because the leaf shutter got sticky with the cold. A warm morning in the desert on the ground is not warm when you're a thousand feet up. (I brought the Film in regarding that lens & the next week at PRS it went into the 'used deals' case.)

>Also to consider bringing along: firm cushions for positioning that don't slide around easily (ie. 'sticky'), if using 'Bungy' for vibration- damping, then SERIOUS quality and strength, some additional (Tubular construction Climbing Webbing (try a Sport Chalet, they've got all that stuff...) etc.

>If you'd like any other additional input, I'd be happy to offer other practical advice and I'll be in the L.A. area until NAB starts (except for the 7th to 9th of April.)

>Best Regards,

>Kirk Hammond
Photographer (with some bit of Cine familiarity)
Pasadena, Calif.
Mobile: (+1-626) 298 90 57

>Zollikon, Switzerland
Mobile: (+41-44) 79- 208 55 00


Schweitzer 300 - so I guess my rear is bigger than I thought because it seemed to me two seats not three.

Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


>Gee Robert,

>I think you're supposed to be able to fit you, the pilot, and a girlfriend or two into the Schweitzer. But I don't want to comment on your rear!

>Marty Oppenheimer
Aerial DP
Oppenheimer Cine Rental
Oppenheimer Camera Products
Seattle


>Kirk Hammond wrote:

class="style11">>Get yourself strapped into a rock climbing harness ('Swami belt at >least) , and a good section of full-strength climbing line and if you don't >know 'em already, learn some climbing knots or get hold of somebody >who does.

>Kirk,

>You have given some very good photo advice, but tying yourself in is really not a good idea. (The inadvisability of tying yourself into an aircraft as opposed to using a approved quick release belt -- like a gunner's belt -- was extensively explored on CML and should be in the archives.)

>In the event of an accident, you may have to exit the aircraft rapidly; that is no time to be fiddling with knots. Even if you are a knot expert, the rescuer coming to drag your unconscious body out of a flaming wreck may not be.

>Two years ago, Neal Fredericks drowned while everyone else on board escaped, simply because he was tied in and was unable to free himself.

>You can read the preliminary NTSB report at:

>http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20040820X01262&key=1

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Brian Heller wrote:

class="style11">>Kirk, you have given some very good photo advice, but tying yourself in >is really not a good idea. (The inadvisability of tying yourself into an >aircraft as opposed to using a approved quick release belt --

>Hello Brian,

>Yikes, I just saw this...

Thank you for you post, it's a VERY valid point, and I'm glad you brought it to the attention of the list before Taylor gets 'irreversibly' strapped in !

>However I DID mention this the context of 'Climbing line' Climbing Knots and help from someone who knows these setups (Bowlines, no 'Granny Knots !!) and probably should have been clearer in suggesting consulting with someone familiar with climbing Knots, Harnesses and Rock Climbing setups in general.

>My mistake for being that vague - I already thought I'd been too wordy but I've just learned something - that I left it too open to a laypersons interpretation. Again, Thanks.

>(Hope Taylor sees this before it gets late !)

>The knots wouldn't even be safe if Taylor didn't consult a climbing-savvy person.

>I have never literally "tied my self" TO anything in any of the aerials I did. 'Tying oneself in' is an oft-used expression in any Climbing context, as related to setups for a Belay (The 'belayer' for those who haven't heard that term, is the person who either from above or below a climber is very securely anchored (as in Clipped in with Carabiners) to a very large rock, a VL Tree, or failing those items, to hardware securely placed in firm Cracks in a cliff, often using multiple pieces with short slings, each with Carabiners. Hammering in Pitons is a major environmental No-No in any popular climbing areas, except when absolutely necessary.)

>What that means specifically is : (aa) That I should've mentioned the use of carabineers!!! (6 carabineers 'live' connected to my Swami belt. Climbers pretty much don't use Swami belts without 'em.)

>(A) This would (& and in a climbing context, and the reference to the use of a swami belt should mean that) be a Double-Double Carabineer clip-in is what is used, and would be standard (in a Climbing / belay harness Setup).

>(B) What I did was establish a double line between two points inside the plane(s) which I could clip the carabineers attached to the Swami Belt (2 on the Swami, a Locking Bar carabineer crossing them, and double carabineers (reversed to each other), which in the event of any need to free ones self from the plane as just about (one second longer perhaps, than a seatbelt Quick-Release ?) as quickly released from the double line stretched between the two points.

>Climbers have certain situations in which they may also need to get out of a harness immediately - Hence the invention/development of Carabineers, which made things alot easier.

>Even if the multiple Carabineers were not in place, the Bowline that I did mention (at least !) is a 'Static Breaking Knot'. That means that : No matter HOW TIGHT it is pulled, it won't 'budge, slip crack fade or peel', but can be released immediately as the tension on it is released.

>I'll make a point when I have a bit of time to sort thru the references on CML that you left on the bbelts and quick release that subject. (I'd have even offered to help out but have to fly out to Colorado very early tomorrow for several days)

>The advantage that I had in that setup was to be able to determine a path along which I could slide back (to exchange camera backs with my assistant who was loading at the rear - sliding forward to a variety of positions at the right hand door opening, which allowed me to not always have to be in one fixed point, allowing me more shots on each pass, as I could very reliably continue to re-position without any danger of being too close to the door opening.

>A single strand of climbing withholds (withheld then, & it's probably improved significantly at this point) well beyond 1500 pounds of dropped weight, is designed to stretch in a very limited way over its length, and when doubled is well beyond double that in 'yanked weight'.

>So it's a way of setting yourself up so that you can keep working and not worry.

>BTW, a secure leash on the camera / Gyro is also a must.

>I've sent some other points to Taylor of list, but you are absolutely correct - that I needed to be more specific and complete the description for the less Climbing-setup savvy and made some glaring assumptions !

>I'm sure that there are other quite aerial-specialized DP's out there with more streamlined and equally effective methods. My methods did become very effective, and were always quite safe.

>Taylor asked about shooting out of a Cessna with the door removed and I was surprised to see so many comments about shooting from various Helicopters - as well as a variety of other Planes - which is not what he asked about, and likely does not have on hand to use this Saturday.

>Kirk "set it up so you can keep your mind on what you're there to do"' Hammond Photographer


>Kirk , you wrote :

class="style11">>Taylor asked about shooting out of a Cessna with the door removed >and I was surprised to see so many comments about shooting from >various Helicopters - as well as a variety of other Planes - which is not >what he asked about, and likely does not have on hand to use this >Saturday.

>I live in the "Ocean State" and have spent a lot of time at sea in sailing vessels of all types from high tech 12 meter yachts to replicas of Revolutionary War frigates, and I'm quite familiar with knots and ropes and splices of all kinds. I also am an Aerial DP with over 30 years experience in shooting from all kinds of aircraft; I was also an AC in the USAF Class of '71.

>My advice to anyone climbing mountains is to use ropes, carabineers, pitons, etc.

>However, my advice to you and to anyone else who needs to move around while shooting from an aircraft of any type is to use a gunner's belt.

>If you need to move around a lot, get one with an inertia reel as in an automotive type shoulder belt.

>Obviously you know your way around ropes and rigging,. And yes, when a bowline is unloaded it is very easy to untie, but if you're hanging upside down from a Cessna stuck in a tree, or under water, untying that bowline may not be so straightforward.

>Have fun, be safe.

>Brian Heller


The girlfriends had better be short....

Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


Double that advice. Use FAA approved safety devices and be sure you know how to release yourself upside down underwater. No shot is worth dying for.

Robert Goodman
Author/Photographer
Philadelphia, PA


>Aerials and their safety rigs take a lot of forms. It's interesting to hear the ideas. Doing the Tuskeegee Airmen I was shooting handheld with a 2C in the B-17 (Doug Holgate assisting) in costume in case the camera plane saw us, and wearing a parachute in case the worst happened and we had to bail out the waist gunner door.

Long ago I turned to buddies who are stuntmen to ask their advice on full-body safety harnesses. I chose one that has picks at the chest, hips, and center of the back. To attach to the aircraft I use a compliment of "daisy chains" and carabineers (the heavy duty serious kind, not promotional junk). There is infinite flexibility to secure to meet your requirements, and also provide support. I always use this in handheld open door or skid standing handheld shooting. Very safe and secure...let's you concentrate on your work. The carabineers also provide rather quick and easy escape.

Randal Feemster, S.O.C.