Shoot: Helicopter and Jib Shots
You know, I always allude I have a shot list in my pocket all the time and I'll also always carry a pen with me and so that I can actually make notes all day long about what we've done, you know, there's actually some great satisfaction and checking stuff off the list, you know, we got the first shot pulling the kayak into the water, you know, boom that's done, we did the second detail shot pushing or pulling the kayak into the water, we got the long lens shot, I get to check that off and that's it's really satisfying to do that it's you know, you can do this on your mobile device. I'm kind of an old fashioned guy when it comes to having paper big second write things down, I can just scribble notes and it's kind of a cheat sheet, so the next thing we're going to do is of course go to this a top down shot, which we call the wolfgang angle, so we're going to look straight down with the rc helicopter and jim is going to be part way out on the lake and we're going to do a couple of passes ...
so that we're looking straight down at jim and then once we've actually landed that shot, we're going to go to the er our final shot for this morning session and that's going to be a helicopter flying across the water kind of what we would call more the amadeus angle and we're going to just fly right over the top of jim, but not a top down it's more kind of looking at him ninety degrees. So I'm gonna walk up and look at the monitor with sean, and we'll keep on shooting. Yeah, jim, why don't we? I think let's probably dio. How about just go straight toward those trees, like kind of a mme, right of the dock and all this shout to your yell over the radio, I would say, well, that just that big block of trees in between the house and that far this left doc or farthest right, doc and it's all about the alignment like, if you're from our camera angle at the beginning, it was like houses behind you that eventually we kept cheating you out to the right, all right? And I was all just shout to your over the radio, say good and pause there once you're in a good starting position. Um, let's, go a hundred feet out at this point, okay, so we're getting the so a lot of this with the camera, so we're using a nikon one j three, so it's a very lightweight mirror list camera so the beauty of the j three is it allows us to have more flight time so you can keep the camera in the air longer if we're flying into a hundred or defore it's a much heavier body, and so then the result is it's harder to actually keep that, you know, we're burning more power, which means more battery power, less time in the air. So with the rc helicopter the way that we're flying it, we need to make all of the exposure adjustments. Now we're kind of taking our best gas at what is thie exposure out on the lake? Do we have an nd filter were just great glass on the front of the lens, straight glass, okay, so we're no nd filter right now on the front of the lens, which means we're gonna have a lot of depth of field will probably be at f a f eleven most likely and that's valuable because we don't we're not gonna be able to pull focus. Once we're in the air, we're pretty much setting the camera lens at infinity and at infinity at f eleven. We pretty much have everything in focus from a few feet in front of the camera, too infiniti, we're going to be sharp it's also a very wide lens. And so when we when we actually the wider the lens, the more depth of field you get at f eleven or faa now, the longer the lens you're working with, the last step, the field, even when you had to stop down aperture there's a lot of fiddling around that happens with rc helicopters, so as where as we're hanging out, feel free of questions they're coming to mind, send them to our moderators online and as we're killing time, I'm happy to answer those questions. All right? Yes, it's looking good. So so in this case, what we're trying to dio is actually look at our signal on our monitor so we can actually see what the camera is seeing, and we're trying something that we've never done before we're also trying to send the same signal to the internet live, and so if we can pull this off, this will be one small step for man one small giant step for mankind, something like that, jim that's perfect there and I think what we do is I think you're paddling toward the trees bring him in. Okay, I take that back, jim, from there you're just gonna paddle towards us, you can just start slowly paddling towards us he's really in his rod and really so we've made the decision we're not actually going to be controlling the camera showman is going to control everything, so this is kind of a scaled down version. We don't have an operator at the same time sean is going to be flying was kind of locked off the camera. Can sean make adjustments so sean can make minor adjustments but he's mostly going to be focused on just flying. All right? Okay. Ah, yeah. As they say, shit happens. Yeah. Okay, so we think there might be some interference with all of the microphones or with the walkie talkies. So something happened with the ripped from a radio perspective and the good news is, even though the helicopter just malfunction, it didn't malfunction over the water, which is huge, right? So we probably just caused him damage to the helicopter, but the good news is it didn't just fall into the lake with the camera on it. So and this is the reality like this it's tough to see that happen, but the reality is it's so much better that that happened on the ground then happened over the water, we still have options. We wanted a shot that's looking straight down as he as he comes through frame, we're going to do it with a gym now he's just going to come over to the dock, we'll switch that up we cannot we can also find a higher angle if we were still looking for that shot doesn't have to be a hely so there's still always options so why don't we just based on time um and I guess before we go away from the helicopter thing that was reality you guys just saw the reality of and I said it like helicopters crash alive it doesn't matter how much experience you have it doesn't matter how many times you've flown the helicopter you know it's pretty optimal conditions right now that's the reality and shawn's on ly jobs he's focused one hundred percent on that so the reality is that was you just saw how it works you can have the best plans you can have the best laid plans but the reality is often times you have to adapt on the fly so I think to dane's point now what you're going to see us do switch gears have a little dialogue around okay? How do we salvage this situation? We still need to get a shot that's looking straight down in the kayak and I think you're right I think what we do is actually move the jib to the far end of the pier there yeah, I mean I think we probably can't be on that small floating here I think we've always got a exciting that's so wobbly so maybe what we do is actually move the jib I mean, maybe we operate it. Can we slide it under the moves that we can move the flooding period? I do think it's, so we'll just move it. We'll just get it out of the way. Let's do that. Let's move the floating pier. So why don't? Just so that everyone at home doesn't have to just watch us moving here? Maybe you and bly canoe that and then all I can field some questions from up here. Okay, we're going to be down for about five minutes. So let's, do some will use this time wisely. All right? There was a question that came in from pro photographer wanted to know if you typically use a slate when shooting and wide when I didn't see you clapping, we dio we were well, yes, the answer is we would use a slate on dh the times that will use us later for two reasons. One if the shots that we're doing, our very specific if we're trying to, like keep track of this is shot one and if I'm not going to be involved with the edit and it's going to an editor off site and he's going to have no idea what the shots are that's one reason for the slate you khun describe what they're about to see so this is shot one scene one we're seeing one shot one or seen ones you know, shot twenty five the other reason for using a slate and this is why we use it most is if we're sinking audio that's very important so if we're actually going to have microphones that air recording to external devices at the same time that we're rolling video if we're pushing that signal into the camera that slate actually actions the visual and the audio marker for sinking all of that sound and again keeps it organized for the editor said the editor understands what we're doing so well I mean, if you have the time it's worth using this late, we don't use it when we're just capturing the roller visuals because it's just wasting time, but once there's audio involved, we're using this little that's good to know great okay, also on johnny in seattle, who was a regular here incredible I've wanted to know and we did talk about pulling focus yesterday, but is there ever a time when use auto focus shooting video in video? No, we don't use auto focus sometimes help refocus using auto focus because the auto focus systems air so incredible, so I'll be checking my focus on auto focus the camera on gym out in the lake and then once we've auto focused on the lake then we'll or on gym out in the leg then I'll actually switch back into manual with still photography on the other hand, I would say that ninety five percent of the time I'm actually using the auto focus on my camera and I like to on the nikon cameras I configure the camera so that my thumb is actually doing the auto focusing and my finger is just depressing the shutter so that I could make a decision as to when in my auto focusing and when um I actually taking a picture so that's a that's a unique setting but what? You can control that on your camera? Great. Well, why don't we take some questions from the studio audience korea? Are you basing a lot of your lenses based upon hypo focal distance? You're doing a lot of action and moving so that we got the rack focuses much no, I mean, I think if you're on any any long ones, I'm constantly always focusing I'm trying to make that critical focus right on top of this right on the subject of an that focus plane is shallow and I like to shoot, you know, pretty wide open at four, five six if I'm on a wide angle lens, I'm still trying to find that sweet spot, so I'm very rarely am I using that hyper focal distance or just focussing out at infinity I mean if you're if I'm running gun and I'm I'm just guessing and I don't have time to focus you're all going to that infinity mode but then also stopped downside more dead on the field I have ever been situations where you manually focused through fences that have ever been situations where you've chosen the manually focus in video I'm almost always manually focusing like ninety nine percent of the time when we're actually actually one hundred percent of the time when we're shooting on manually absolutely one hundred percent and the reason is just the auto focus systems when you're when you're shooting video and you see auto focus start searching for the right location or picks the wrong background it ruins your shot I mean if a great example is jim is out there in the middle of the lake and you know he's this little dot in the middle of the lake and then the focus system actually racks all the way to the back and grabs the trees you know that's a problem like that we can't use that shot so massaging the lens actually follow focusing manually focusing it's okay if you're searching for focus sometimes emmanuel I mean in fact aesthetically it's a kind of a cool look it's called racking focus so you always want to be in manual focus at least with today's iteration of dslr cameras you're going to be manually focusing if you're shooting video the auto focus on the nikon system I leave them in a mode which allows you to override auto focus it on time and so that it's really convenient so my lenses they're always in that configuration I can manually focus when I want teo and if I want to press that back thumb but instantly goes auto focus so a court in this situation it's really nice but there are lots of gear here right with just a look at your kid can you maybe talk about the kit you take out there and how it's planned for backup situations version one doesn't work whose one camera body what do you have in there? That's a good question around the idea of redundancy yeah, you know the reality is there's a handful of things that we items that we have on this production that we just don't have redundancy for rc helicopters a great example of that if it were a big job we'd probably bring two but we didn't have to on this job and so the reality is now where we just won't get the rc helicopter shot and that's okay but ideally you have duplicates of everything and of course it's all scaleable so right now our back up to the rc helicopter is the jib arm you know we have a fifteen foot jib arm we can get the camera flying high in the sky that's pretty valuable to us for cameras for the baseline equipment it's pretty important that we have redundancy, so you know, very rarely what I show up for a real job with only one camera and never would I show up with only one one. So and ideally, the baseline redundancy is two cameras too wide angle lenses and to tele photos that allows me to get a lot done in a worst case scenario, and I did have another question that came from matt jones, who would like to know if you ever take advantage of the rc helicopter for stills or is on ly for video all the time? No, we definitely used the rc helicopter for stills as well. There's two ways of accomplishing that one is an often times will mount to cameras on the rc helicopters, so one is rolling video the whole time and the other is shooting stills and well, either turn on an interval. Ometer said that the camera's actually just shooting a photograph every second or two seconds or the other option is, well, actually rig a pocket wizard system so that we can actually trigger the camera remote place that I'm choosing. When I fire the camera, I find that the interval ometer works best because the reality is we're you know we're getting spread, then we're trying to do a lot of things at once so once we actually start flying the helicopter I'm focused on video and to just have the other camera firing it's a mirror image almost same camera mounted below then we'll turn on the interval ometer so it's just making pictures of the same scene kind of on a one to two second cycle all right, I have another question here from stuf traveller and a few people had asked about gopro's yesterday which I did not ask you but stuart traveler says what's your thoughts on smaller, more pro sumer cameras such as the gopro versus larger professional cameras and can you mix footage from the two and then they go on to say I'm assuming you can't wriggle larger professional camera to the rc helicopter which we did talk about yesterday so I guess there's a couple of answers there the answer is right now different formats edit together better than ever before in history you know we can shoot with a nikon d for a nikon d eight hundred nine hundred six hundred nikon j three marylise camera and we can add a gopro or a nikon coolpix to that mix and when they're all at twenty four frames per second we can go into the final edit and there gonna look pretty comparable on a timeline I mean the footage looks fantastic, so the answer is I think you choose the right tool for what you're trying to accomplish if we were going to do a quick and dirty p o v shot for example on jim's kayak you know one option might be to put a gopro on the bow of the boat because mounting a heavy duty camera there would be pretty tough so it's really about you know, some of these pro sumer tools are actually fantastic for actually working and creating shots that otherwise would be impossible you know, mounting a little camera in someone's head you're either going to put a pool coolpix camera or a gopro there so it's taking advantage of the tools that are available to you all right, well, do you want to do some get back on the dock for the next fifteen minutes? Let's check this data system guys, how are we doing in terms of ah getting that crane set up. Okay, so what kind of describe what we're doing down here? So this is, you know, part of improvising you're changing your plan it takes a little time to build the crane. We went ahead and put a fluid head on top of the crane arm so we got rid of the gimbal we took off we had a cheese plate that was allowing us to mount the gimbal to the to the bottom of the head of our crane so now we have a fluid head which just allows us to really lock off the camera wherever we want it to be so we have a d eight hundred that we're putting on top of it seventeen to thirty five millimeter lens which the great sharp fast lens it's too ate were fifteen feet out and so we're going now we had the weight the ballast configured actually for the gimbal head which is pretty heavy once you add the gimbal and you have the d a hundred it's a fair amount of weight so what we're going to try to do now is figure out our ballast the correct amount of weight we're in about ninety pounds is my guess when we had the gimbal so now we're going let's will probably I'm guessing it'll be about forty or fifty pounds for just the d a hundred without the gimbal and then what we're going to do and we're really fortunate that we actually have the doc you know kind of floating out here in the water weak enough jim sort of paddle directly below the boat and with a pretty wide angle lens it's going to give us that effect of a helicopter not as cool you know hopefully the helicopter will be back up and running later in the day although I started to say that look like a pretty rough hit that it took and that's how it works with the good crew of guys the helicopter you saw that sean is now up in the garage sweating bullets I'm trying to replace rotors and fix the frame and you know, dane and I always joke that while our job shooting is stressful, I think being the rc helicopter pilot or the gimbal operator it's by far the most stressful job I mean there's so many little cables and wires and I mean it's it's really technical and then I think I can now say of the thirteen or so shoots we've done with rc helicopter was now crashed in almost half of them and that's what the variety of pilots, some of the best pilots in the world so that's just how it goes all right, I'm gonna jump in here and help a little bit um I guess or we're just gonna we're gonna do this real quick and dirty um you think we throw the para links on our we're gone now I don't think we have time, okay? So we're gonna just from a time consideration perspective we're not going to connect the monitor there's no hd mic cable so we're actually just going to do this without looking at the camera and then we'll review the footage after after we do the shot so let's see here so we're in infinity all that you said exposure because my hands a little out of the game him fly this little bit how does that feel pretty balanced by okay jim thanks for hanging out. I can tell you're fighting the urge to be fishing right now. Okay? Let's, go out and just get that out there, okay? So, jim, I think what I'm gonna have you do is actually almost back in so that you're the back of your boat is just under me. Let's put on then we're gonna have you go, like, forty five degrees out right at that white and blue paddle boat so that you're just sort of going right below the camera. We'll probably do. A few test goes at this. We don't have an external monitor hooked up right now. So it's going to take us a minute to actually figure out you know how this looks and will probably let the water really settle so that there's no ripples and it's just really glassy. Yeah, and I would say almost back it all the way into the sand here. Yeah. That's perfect. Great. Okay, so you're sure that rainbow flag there no, I would say more like that. Blue and white paddleboat. See what? That there's a red kayak behind it on the, uh, on the shore there. Right. Okay, we're just gonna check this, so, jim, are you gonna be able to get about maybe ten more feet out there, okay, let's so maybe we haven't should he aim right at that little yellow boo here now I think we need to be okay straight. So jim, maybe those two aluminum rowboats that are upside down or that one aluminum robot upside down there? Wait, we confirm record okay. Carding so once it's up dane let's give jim the signal. Yeah, slow and easy and we're ready and action. Okay, so dane's doing just a real slow jib up? So we're going to try to get jim small in the frame so that you know that's almost fifteen feet above the water by the time we're on the dock and we also have the camera no maxed out on the farm again. That is definitely not us let's repo yeah, thats not him who is the rc helicopter but it's still pretty cool just to be able to get that camera pie, you'd be hard pressed to do that without a jib arm, but you could you could get a big a frame ladder in a two by four and hang your camera you know, with a few clamps right over the water and it's okay to do that it's a locked off shot you probably wouldn't have the two by four moving, but you'd still create a cool visual and so again everything is scaleable, you know, a frame ladder ten foot to buy for a few clamps you could still create that overhead shot with your one camera and two lenses or you know, this is kind of a little more efficient version in the sexier version would be the rc helicopter and then the version above that would be we bring in a a real helicopter with a santa flecks on it. Okay, right where you were okay? We're confirming record and you're going to move a little faster way took a little just f y I so we're still a twenty four frames per second. We're fiftieth, fiftieth of a second in terms of our shutter speed where f seven point one and one hundred die a stone were in a seventeen to thirty five millimeter lens all the way at seventeen. So it's a pretty wide perspective from above and we're still let that remember the fiftieth of a second comes from multiplying your frame rate by two so we're shooting at twenty four frames per second fiftieth of a second shutter speed okay, jim let's do it all right, fantastic. Okay. So now at this point gain and I will probably just review that clip just to make sure that we have something in the camera and again, you know, we're talking a lot about kind of the poor man's version versus the more sophisticated version of doing this you know, without a monitor the on ly option is to actually review it this way and it works just fine I mean, you know, we quickly gage did we get something or did we not and because we're actually starting the record cycle before we even let the jib go into the air you know, there's ten seconds or sometimes even sixty seconds of tail on the front that's unusable footage and then jim comes into the shot so we're fast forwarding through the clip to try to just figure out what did we get or what did we not yet jim you're doing great you can really see those muscles just flexing as you it's beautiful super beautiful shot it's great, I think we got it okay, so I guess the only shot that we didn't get was that sweeping shot I mean, which was we wanted to hell a top down and then we wanted to kind of pushing through one option would be maybe we rigged the camera, you know, maybe it's we turn the camera says this one actually just kind of glide across the water so jim will probably do something fairly similar this time we're going we're trying to make up for the shot that we wanted to do with the helicopter so what we're gonna do is actually get the jib pretty low to the water and just follow you out so it'll probably again you're kind of starting almost retains feed or we're going to put the camera low and then just lift up behind you yep, I think same angle actually you know, I think it's going to be I think it's going to be more at thea that one white rowboat that's sitting near that white house on the dock I think you're aiming right at that white doc okay? Yep. That's perfect that's kind of the perfect angle. Yeah, all right there's a lot of little nuance adjustments that we're making and this is really will probably do this a few times because we really want him perfectly aligned with our camera so you know, if he's too far away from our lens, it loses kind of that drama and it's also going to be coordinating we want to make sure that the camera's low on the jib we also don't want the camera dipping into the water and we'd be two pieces of gear down today we're trying to keep it to a minimum of loss on our on our first segment of the day so that's him you don't mean it we're recording roland okay, we're rolling so let's uh jim let's go in and slow you want tojust should we start the camera super low or you want to come down and swing in perfect okay let's ah all right let's bring camera up then and then I'll let you swing in aa and firm record we are rolling I'm gonna lock this off actually maybe that's okay when the camera moves this way where you're going to actually angle jack out I think studs maxed out that's right let's just do it it's okay yeah yeah yeah okay okay. And here we go cameras down and jim let's start paddling cool that looked good and again I can't see the perfect image but I can while squinting it's backlit I could actually see that framing it looked good I think we're going jim let's try that same thing I'm gonna turn the camera just a little this direction see, I think that is what happened we were just maxed out with that little guy hey, a blind do you have any gaff tape? There might even be worse case like there's a little piece on one of the tripod legs cool let's just I just need a tiny piece just our studies maxed out here so this is called improvising being resourceful gaff tape solves a lot of problems actually think I need a bigger piece we're just trying to get it to not spin here yeah grab you've got that day like that also we need to be pointing yes for that little boy okay father this way because as the jib comes around it starts pointing straight there yes, that spin disappears okay, I think we're good so I'm gonna do record cycle and we're rolling okay? Jim let's try the same thing. Yes, that looks great. It looks fantastic. I think maybe we tried the same thing dane and we actually owe on right behind the back in about, you know, let me do a record cycle. Okay? And again, this is like a poor man's version, right? I'm not holding a monitor, but I can see the back of the camera and I can see the basic framing and I can tell that we're actually getting cool content. So now we're taking advantage of the time and trying to create more visual diversity from the same scene. Okay, uh, you know, dana, I think I need to give it a record. Okay, confirm record. We are rolling and let's do it, jim, we're going to follow you out right on the back, your boat and go for it. Let's, try that again day and I think I need to turn the camera farther, right. Okay, cool. Okay, what happened is jim kind of exited our frame again. We're making groups were making gaff tape. Do the trick here and I am rolling and let's do it that's cool right there, and dana, I think on this last past letts keep the camera low and let the boat just like while the cameras really low but the tales but set jim up a little better than okay he's been too tight to the camera okay so maybe we even let him pass before we fault like let him get a little farther away let me do a record cycle so jim I might have you move a little farther out right here just yep that's better okay perfect then go back to that same yep back to that same angle then does that give you enough distance if you point your bow toward that white house yep. Okay and cameras rolling and go for it jim perfect okay, I think that looks good one question was what are all the lines on the jib that you know it's a lot like a mast on a sailboat it's very ultra lightweight aluminum jib arm from germany and so all of those cables are actually what are providing enough support much like a mast on a sale but where you have this very thin master and cables running down the side to add support so you'll notice all the cables are on the side and over the top so that it's you know that load bearing angle which is the top and then also for stability right and left so it's it's a way to keep it very light versus having a big steel girder for example as you'll hear bar correa like most of us one man band are people getting into it it's all about maintaining client expectations so we just saw a helicopter crash how any tips would like maintaining client confidence and also keeping your team in the game when stuff goes wrong right right well I mean I get I think there's a few things that that would have already happened we would have already set the expectation for the client that you know, the reality is helicopters do crash we've been on a lot of jobs with clients for the helicopter crashes and there's layers of redundancy but it's what they're willing to pay for we could have two or three helicopters here ready to go home and just you know I hate the expressions to correct when shit happens we're not even sure what just happened there was some interference with the radio there's a lot of little moving parts um so the reality is the client should have already known that like hey, these aren't perfect devices were really rushed right now we're trying to pack a lot into ninety minutes that could have had something to do with it and we might not have done gone through all of the checks and so the reality is when it goes down the key is everyone stays calm you know that's a real bummer sean goes off to the garage to try to work on it you know and I accept that that was shawn's. One role. So shawn's, now working on that, we can operate without shawn's help at this point, there's there's four of us on the dock. By the way, I should have introduced jordan seaman's at the end of the dock there. Jordan, maybe you can jordan's here, old friend of mine, very talented photographer in his own right, jordan's going to be helping with the lighting in our third segment for shooting one of the stills. But I know that between myself, dane, blind jordan, we can cover ourselves. Given that, you know, sean is now out of the mix. He's trying to get the helicopter back up.