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View Full Version : anyone with experience in filming at airshows with HD-video camera ?



SergeVE
07-22-2008, 03:51 PM
So far , I only took pictures , which is nice , but it has no sound , no action .
I have already bought loads of aviation and airshow DVD's .
Some of them are simply perfect ( the recent Duxford and Fairford DVD's for example ) , but some are far from perfect .

So now I am playing with the idea to start filming myself , and get me a semi-professional HD video-camera .
It will be mainly used for filming airshows , and WW2-related events .
A friend of mine has got a HD Sony camera ( in the range of 3000 euro , with a 12 x zoomlens ) .
But unfortunately he doesn't go to airshows , so I can't see for myself if his type of camera would suit me .


I am particularly interested in how big a lens you need , to zoom in close enough .
I have the impression that a 12 x zoom is not enough .
( I think a 12 x zoom on a video-camera is roughly equivalent with a 300 mm lens on a digital photo-camera )

So I would like to know if anyone among you has any experience in filming at airshows , and what kind of hardware you need , and budget ...

Regards ,

Serge V. E.

SergeVE
07-22-2008, 03:51 PM
So far , I only took pictures , which is nice , but it has no sound , no action .
I have already bought loads of aviation and airshow DVD's .
Some of them are simply perfect ( the recent Duxford and Fairford DVD's for example ) , but some are far from perfect .

So now I am playing with the idea to start filming myself , and get me a semi-professional HD video-camera .
It will be mainly used for filming airshows , and WW2-related events .
A friend of mine has got a HD Sony camera ( in the range of 3000 euro , with a 12 x zoomlens ) .
But unfortunately he doesn't go to airshows , so I can't see for myself if his type of camera would suit me .


I am particularly interested in how big a lens you need , to zoom in close enough .
I have the impression that a 12 x zoom is not enough .
( I think a 12 x zoom on a video-camera is roughly equivalent with a 300 mm lens on a digital photo-camera )

So I would like to know if anyone among you has any experience in filming at airshows , and what kind of hardware you need , and budget ...

Regards ,

Serge V. E.

VonKlugermon
07-22-2008, 09:15 PM
I just picked up an HD video camera, but haven't been to an airshow yet. Canon HF10, flash memory (16gig built in, but accepts two additional SDHC cards), really compact, (a little larger than a beer can), and full 1080 HD. Certainly not a professional, but so far the picture quality has been spectacular! Around $800.00 US. I figure if I get good with this, I can still afford to move up to the professional grade stuff later.

Willy

knightflyte
07-22-2008, 10:58 PM
Just as important as a good camera is a very good tripod with a fluid head on it. Once the air portion of the airshow starts you'll definitely need one.

Check out: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/532558-REG/Sony_H...U_HDV_Camcorder.html (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/532558-REG/Sony_HVR_Z7U_HVR_Z7U_HDV_Camcorder.html)

It has a removable lens. Shoots DV tape AND compact flash. It might be out of the price range you're looking for but it is one bang up camera for the price point and features. The IN CART price is $1000 less.

If you're looking a a professional quality production verses the home video look this camera is at least worth consideration.

mauld
07-25-2008, 09:47 AM
Videoing Air shows

Focus
Don't try and use auto-focus. There's too little information in the frame for it to work. Set the focus to infinity - nothing is going to be that close is it?! (Use auto focus on something in the distance on the ground and lock it by switching to manual focus.)

Framing
Things will tend to be at a good distance, so wide-angle will result in dots on the screen; you will tend to shoot at a fairly high zoom setting.

You need to use the camcorder eyepiece finder with the camcorder view on fully wide to acquire, zoom in to chosen framing,

Minimize fast panning and zoom tromboning, Find your subject as early as possible. RESIST the temptation to zoom in as close as possible. Rather, frame the plane(s) with some airspace ahead of their direction then pull back just a bit and try to maintain your framing. The big mistake most amateur shooters make is to try to shoot the planes as closely as possible, which produces two problems. First, it makes it nearly impossible to keep the plane(s) steady in the frame. Second it makes for sickening and uninteresting footage to watch, since there's no frame of reference. Viewers need to see the planes approaching and passing in some environmental reference (ex: surrounding buildings, mountains) just as they would if they were watching it in person. In fact, a few wider, static shots where the planes move through the frame are very effective if you have some ground reference in the frame. It effectively shows the planes' speed and the overall scene.

If you're in the sun, your LCD monitor will be basically useless without some sort of sun shade ideally to shield your LCD. So use the viewfinder.


Image Stabilization
Keep image stabilizing on.

Exposure
If at all possible keep the sun to your back! Otherwise you'll end up with only silhouettes of planes.
You may need to "over expose" a bit because the sky can act a bit like backlighting, if you want detail of the jumpers, and low flying aircraft.

Turn frame mode off!

Use a Lens sun shade (Matt Box) to avoid solar flares.

Use the UV filter of course because you will be shooting a lot of sky, and sky is better when its blue.

Indeed, a polarizing filter is a must-have for shooting a show on a sunny day. The sky becomes a dazzling backdrop. The Neutral Density filter will also become a must-use feature of the GL-2 for daytime shooting (although your camera will probably tell you that by itself).

Twilight shows are just plain hard. If you have a nice, golden sunset you should have little trouble. But again make particularly certain that the sun is at your back...and don't forget to shoot separate twilight b-roll.

After dusk all you can do is increase the gain, and use a slower shutter speed, but I'll tell you now when the light is gone, your pretty much screwed.

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed, I try to keep a relatively low speed (1/60-1/100) to maintain the deepest depth of focus possible.

Whilst care needs to be taken not to overdo it, some footage with high shutter speeds, say 1/150th sec to 1/300th sec, strobes the propeller and pulses the smoke trails, adding visual interest.

Audio
Beware of an over-reactive auto level control for audio. When a jet ripped closely by or some simulated bombs go's off, the auto level will shut the audio almost completely off for more than a second. I'd find a good, mild setting for manual audio and use that.

Use a small, scanner-type radio and tuned it to the inter-plane communication frequency. The calls from the tower were also coming on the same channel. Record the audio channel in camera or to a minidisc. It made the video much more interesting, hearing what the pilots and controllers were saying.

Use an external shotgun mic to avoid picking up to much chatter from the crowd.

Hand Shoulder Support
Although some people may shoot air shows from tripods, I'm not one of them. Use hand held if you steady enough or use a shoulder-mount rig that provides steadiness and comfort and also allows a full and quick range of motion. Using a tripod for the overhead shots is like wearing a straightjacket.

Shooting shows with a tripod, at least the aerial acts, just doesn't work. It ends up being an exercise in deep-knee bends and smooth pans...with nothing but sky in the frame.

Some people I know film from on top of hangars or on the control tower catwalk. But before trying any of this, make sure you have a shoulder stabilizer or a monopod with a pan/tilt head. Tripods are good for only one thing: Tripping you while trying to pan and tilt at the angular equivalent of 800 feet per second.


Tripods
a fluid head is pretty much necessary for smooth pans/tilts. Extending the pan/tilt handle on less smooth tripods, using both arms to move the tripod head, overhand grip on the lens, overhand grip well behind on end of the extended arm, body as close to centre as comfortable and using whole of upper body movements like shoulder rocking over the pivot centre for low positions, the bending of knees for high overheads described above helps.

If setting up on a semi-permanent spot it is sometimes handy to look for things in the ground like permanent aircraft tie down points or do it yourself with a hammered in spike in an open field to pull the tripod down firm from its centre with a tension knot on a light rope, bungee cord or a cargo strap this will secure the tripod.

With the older fluid heads it is helpful to set them up in the sun some time beforehand to soften the friction material. I also make a habit of storing the tripod with all friction controls backed off to avoid extruding the friction material by pressure.

After set up and when the tripod head has warmed up as much as it will, I also exercise the friction material by moving the tripod head in full circles/long tilts for a few minutes with all the friction controls backed off. Sounds silly but it does make a difference.

I set the tripod legs narrow and tall to avoid kicking them. Fast passing movements by aircraft tend to have you pulling the tripod over as you attempt to pan with them.

Maybe use your tripod pedestaled up if it allows any clearance from the tripod legs, that way you might get more extreme pans and tilts without hitting the stick(s) on the tripod. Keep your drag really light so the head moves easily,

Organization
Know the general schedule of events and map the events you most want to shoot. Few shows run on time but it will make for a calmer and more controlled shoot overall. Also, if the event is being broadcast on radio (as Chicago's is) tune-in with a Walkman to help cue you to the show's progress and status.

Try to bring a spotter (with good distance vision) with you, particularly for the high-speed multi-plane events. The Angels, for example, bring a 5-plane group and are together for only a few passes. A spotter gives you two more eyes to spot something coming.

You would of course get better coverage with two camera operators but my situation permitted only one set of eyes, hands and feet, my own.

Shoot plenty of "b-roll" footage such as the crowd having a good time and reacting to the show. This is essential for making your footage more intense and interesting when it's edited together. Use events you're not planning to shoot to shoot crowd reactions. You'll be amazed at how much energy the addition of 30-60 frames of the crowd following an overhead event gives to your final product.

Go to an airport before the show and practice all these things and review your aircraft footage, to get a handle on what works and what doesn't.

For lack of better practice subjects, practice on shooting seagulls. They're larger airborne subjects that generally move slowly, although often erratically.

When editing the show together be careful to be consistent with your "stage". That is, make sure that a clip showing planes moving from left to right also features b-roll showing the crowd's heads panning from left to right. Etc.

SergeVE
07-28-2008, 01:59 PM
Thanks for the response , especially Mauld , your reply was very elaborate and informative indeed .
May I enquire what type of camera/lens you are using ?
Would you by any chance have any professional background as a camera-man , or similar profession ?

Kind Regards ,

Serge V. E.

mauld
07-28-2008, 04:45 PM
I work as an audio visual technician in an educational establishment. At present I use an old Digital 8 camcorder but I will be upgrading to HD for next season. I have picked up these tips from Internet forums and by experiance (making the mistakes). You can see my efforts on my Youtube channel.

http://uk.youtube.com/user/auldm

fabianfred
07-28-2008, 05:48 PM
I have a Panasonic SD-9 HD which takes a 32 GB HCSD card (or smaller)

but even though it has anti-shake built in I always use a monopod

knightflyte
07-28-2008, 06:38 PM
Thanks for the tips on the Tri Pod.

I've only shot 3 air shows as a personal video. Once I used a mono pod, but the field was far enough away that overhead shots never happened. At MAAM this year I was all hand held and really wished I used a tripod. Age and heat took it's toll on me. I hadn't given a thought to the awkwardness of using a tripod for the direct overheads I would have needed to get.

Most of the planes approached from the overhead left. Using a tripod to get those literally directly overhead shots(now that you mention it mauld) would have been hard to get.

rosehoff
05-03-2018, 11:29 AM
I went to an airshow yesterday to see the Blue Angels. Took some decent still shots but took some horrible video. Stills were with a D7100 + 70-300 VR. The video was with an RX100 and Panasonic TM70. I was a nice experience. I have also a Video Transmitter and Receiver (http://www.empire-broadcast.com/professional-video/tripods-supports.html) with me. It was also helpful.