Flying POV Of Birds In Flight
Published : 6th October 2008
I've seen a number of remarkable animal documentaries that film birds in flight from a flying POV which seems very close to the birds and is
travelling fast enough to move in real time right alongside the bird.
I'm really curious as to how these shots are being done - i.e. from small aircraft, helicopter, etc..
Does anyone have knowledge of this?
Peter Jensen - camera - Los Angeles
>>I've seen a number of remarkable animal documentaries that film birds in flight from a flying POV >>which seems very close to the birds and is travelling fast enough to move in real time right >>alongside the bird.
On the web site relating to the film "Winged Migration" ... there is a little more info about what aircraft was used during the filming...
Granted, the AC magazine article probably went into more detail but this might be a start...
Never the less ... it was great to see the trailer again...
CML Admin/ Moderator / Cameraman / Photo-journalist
Cinematography Mailing List
Northam / Western Australia / Australia 6401
>>I am assuming from Ultra Lites with small HD video cameras like the Panasonic HVX 200.
It might be worth a test.
Those motors are very close to where one sits and the magnetic radiation can cause problems. I had some Betacam footage that was unusable due to interference from the motor and we had to re-shoot with a film camera – a Canon Scoopic in this case.
David Perrault, CSC
From what I remember, on Winged Migration, the birds flying right next to the ultralight were filmed w/ an Aaton 35III(?)
There is a behind the scenes video on the DVD, you may find it insightful. The AC article was pretty detailed as well. I shot from ultralight to ultralight (I was filming the plane and people flying an identical one) w/ my Eyemo, and for safety/stabilizing I had it bungee strapped to my chest(you have to hold that camera like a praying mantis)I should get a 400'mag for the damn thing,lol...
By the way, I had to sign a contract/release (over 10 pages) to get on that plane. New Rotax engines are lightweight 4 stroke instead of the usual 2 stroke ones(you don't want a fouled spark plug up there, these things drop like bricks once the motor dies)
John "likes his 2 stroke engines on the ground only "Babl
>>my Eyemo, and for safety/stabilizing I had it bungee strapped to my chest(you have to hold that >>camera like a praying mantis)I should get a 400'mag for the damn thing,lol...
Need one? I have two.
VP Cinelab Inc.
There is a making of segment on the "Winged Migration" DVD which was reasonably informative. In short, ultra-light aircraft and the birds were raised to think the ultra-light was part of the flock.
I am assuming from Ultra Lites with small HD video cameras like the Panasonic HVX 200. This should give you a POV of a bird for many shots, not landing in a tree or something like that.
If you want film use the Arri 416 for 16 MM or the Arri 235. The advantage of the HD video cameras are that you can go longer before you have to reload. Maybe Arri will wake up and realize that we need 800 or even 1200 foot mags for the 416. Arri's problem is that they will not sell enough of the them to make a profit, I say that a profit is not always make on everything you do but still it has to be done to support the product or the company and the industry. Makes the companies that do this stronger companies. We all know this can sometimes be painful to do but it must be done.
The Iconix HD video camera is a tiny camera ... www.iconixvideo.com
These shots are a remarkable achievement (for ingenuity and artistry) and they certainly demonstrate how far the technology for animal/nature documentaries is progressing - not only airborne shots, but remarkable underwater and extreme microscopic slow motion shots (i.e. insect photography) which are other big subjects.
Of course the quality of "nature documentaries" has improved by a quantum leap in the last 10 to 20 years.
And these documentaries seem to be breaking a lot of new ground for film in general.
Peter Jensen - Camera - Los Angeles
Peter Jensen wrote:
>>These shots are a remarkable achievement (for ingenuity and artistry) and they certainly >>demonstrate how far the technology for animal/nature documentaries is progressing - not only >>airborne shots
Ahem. The archetype of the shots in question were neither airborne nor high tech. They can be found in "The Flight of the Snow Geese", 1972, by Jen and Des Bartlett.
How the Bartlett’s came to get their amazing footage is as surprising as the footage itself. The Bartlett’s were Australian naturalists who were making a film about the annual migration of Snow Geese from Hudson's Bay to the deep south of the US. In the process they adopted several orphan birds and were bringing them south in cages while following the migrating flocks in the hope of introducing their birds to the wild. When they got to the Canada/US border, the authorities said that they could not bring wild birds into the US.
The Bartlett’s had no choice but to let the birds go on the Canadian side, not knowing what might happen with them. As they drove across the border the birds took flight after their "parents" and happily flew and honked right next to the Bartlett’s' station wagon. Des sat on the tail gate and using an Arri 16 SR filmed 'their' birds flying in formation about 6 feet off the ground right next to him, while. When the got past the US border the Ballets stopped and the birds got back in the car.
They repeated this process several times on their journey.
It is a characteristic of birds that they "imprint" as their parents the first living thing they see when they emerge from the egg. The Bartlett’s showed this dramatically and simply.
BTW, I'd be grateful for an example of any nature film that that is a quantum leap beyond the Bartlett’s' "Flight of the Snow Geese", or many of the films produced by the BBC, or Oxford Scientific. Jane Goodall's and David Attenborough's lifetimes of work also come to mind.
P.S. If you'd like to see some marvellous nature films that are low on tech, but high on photography and imagination, check out CML List Member Phil Savoie's "Hotel Heleconia" or " A Moose Named Madeline". These films will show what a dedicated filmmaker can do working nearly entirely alone.
IA 600 DP.
I'm posting some photos of two HVX-200's that we mounted to an ultralight plane several months ago, if anyone's interested.
Los Angeles based DP
I saw a doc, which showed several "Animal cams", I think it was Discovery, they put mini cameras on birds, snakes, sharks, it was amazing pov, and was good quality. I think the one your referring to was with geese, they shot from a ultralight plane, and the geese actually flew by his side.
Santa Monica, L.A.