Aerial filming (Techniques) ... page 8 of 9

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Aerial : Snowdonia, Wales, UK



With the door off, filming can be a cold and windy exercise. Everything you are using, including you, needs to be tied off to a safety harness, normally attached via a screw gate karabiner to a strong point in the aircraft such as the seat belt attachment ring on the floor. For your own security and comfort, use a full body harness but one with a loose enough fit so as not to restrict your comfort and movement. If you haven't experienced it before the power of the air stream may come as a surprise, so it's better not to have to lean too far out. It is difficult enough to try to compensate for all the bumps, rocking motion and vibration. Some camera operators use miniature gyro-stabilisers, which can help to smooth out some of these difficulties but they also introduce problems of their own; firstly they are heavy and require their own power supply, and, secondly, they make it very difficult to move the camera from a fixed position without jerking it. In a fixed wing aircraft such as a Cessna, I tend to use one of the seats to brace myself and the camera from a kneeling position on the floor. In the case of helicopters, a crudely attached criss-cross of bungee cords can help to take the weight of the camera and relieve at least some of the vibration. Helicopters tend to slew, or "fish-tail", especially at slow speeds, so you have to compensate for that too.


There are other ways to take the weight of the camera, with purpose built mounts such as the Tyler Camera Systems series. These are sophisticated gimbal-mounted, counterweighted sprung mounts, of various sizes, which incorporate a seat and full hand grip controls for the camera, incorporating variable speed zoom, focus control with adjustable pre-set speeds, and camera run. The Tyler series of mounts are fully CAA and FAA approved and come in different sizes and slightly different designs depending on the camera package and the aircraft. They are expensive to hire, though, and heavy to ship around the world.

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