Nothing adds production value to a show then aerial shots. When preparing to shoot it is best to first talk to an aerial cinematographer. Besides having 100’s of hours in a helicopter, an aerial cinematographer can help assess which aerial mount, helicopter, record deck, etc, is best suited to your shoot. It is not uncommon for someone to call and start a conversation with, “I haven’t done this before…,” and that’s just fine. Below are some of the things that an aerial cinematographer may ask...
• What is the subject of your shoot ie, following vehicles, beauty shots, vfx plates, etc?
• What is the end use, commercial, tv, feature?
• What camera/format are you using for your ground based shooting?
• Where is the shoot, do you need to fly low, over water, ferry the helicopter, ship the aerial mount to a remote location?
• How many people do you need or expect to have aboard the helicopter?
• What are your budget limitations?
An aerial cinematographer will often be able to recommend helicopter companies and pilots who have experience flying aerials and who can supply compatible helicopters for the various mounts. There are two main types of helicopters used for aerial photography which have certified brackets; the Eurocopter A/Twin Star (350/355) and Bell 206 A/B or L and 407. Though there are only two main types of helicopters for aerial use, there are many variations (models) of each that will affect performance, gross payload, fuel/flight time, price, etc. There is also a range of aerial mounts, deciding which to use may be based on budget, shot requirements and system capabilities. To do a quick comparison and get additional information on systems currently through WFW in Canada click on the WFW Aerial Rate Card.
CINEFLEX - ZatzWorks Modified
STAB C/GYRON FS
TYLER MIDDLE MOUNT
TYLER NOSE MOUNT
There is a wide selection of “moco” or motion control systems. Most “moco” systems use either Kuper or Flair software which offer extensive control over all axis' and time-line using "key-frames" through a graphical interface. Although these sophisticated systems are very good at their intended use they can often be time consuming to use, complex and be quite large, requiring several crew. As an option there are motion-repeatable systems that have simple key-frame interfaces and are much more effectively “programmed” through recording live-action operation of each axis. The TechnoDolly and Mo-Sys Repeatable track systems fit into this category.
The TechnoDolly represents the next generation in articulating cranes. Moves can be built through live-action recording or simple key-framing, creating stunning, organic moves in a fraction of the time of classic moco systems. Besides the wide range of repeatable functions the TechnoDolly can also be used as a standard 15' SuperTechno. The TechnoDolly is one of the most versatile repeatable systems in that it can reach 15' high, 25' wide and on track complete a move 80' long.
The Bolt is the fastest motion repeatable robotic arm available. The arm can accelerate to its maximum velocity almost instantaneously, making 1000fps+ shots come alive with motion. The Bolt uses Flair based software for precision programming and control of additional moco units, dmx lighting, triggers, etc.
The Mo-Sys Repeatable track requires one technician/operator, is modular and quick to set up. The recordable axis are; pan, tilt, roll, lift, focus, iris, zoom and tracking (dolly). Each of these axis can be recorded individually or all at once. If need be any one axis can be re-recorded individually without 're-doing' the entire move. Due to the complex nature of “moco” shots it is recommended that all the requirements and shot lists be discussed in advance of a shoot day with an experienced technician/operator.
For an extremely portable and customizable time-lapse/motion control there are smaller units like the camBLOCK system. The camBLOCK features an intuitive and comprehensive key-frame based user interface to create simple or complex pan, tilt, and tracking moves with the potential of adding additional axis' such as zoom, focus and iris. A unique feature of the camBLOCK system is the ability to shoot multiple time-lapse sequences simultaneously. The camBLOCK can be used as a stand alone pan/tilt head or integrated with 4'-8' straight track.
In today’s film making, directors and DP’s often like to keep the camera moving at all times. This can be achieved by “hand-held”, steady- cam, dollies, jib arms, and cranes. For specific shots, helicopters or cable cam systems may be used. When it is impractical or impossible for a camera operator to be close enough to pan and tilt the camera they will use a “remote head”. Remote heads are motorized systems that allow an operator to pan, tilt and roll (if required) a camera using a wheels desk, pan bar or joystick. There are a great variety of remote heads and each has its application. They are available as two or three axis, stabilized or non-stabilized, analogue or digital, and capable of moving large or small camera packages. Because there are so many different types of remote heads, discuss your shot requirements with an experienced remote head technician or specialty equipment rental house. The remote heads below represent a cross section of the different types of systems that are available through WFW.
CARBON FIBRE HEAD
Articulating cranes represent one of the most significant advances in film making tools since the introduction of the dolly. These highly sophisticated cranes articulate in perfect balance with a variable speed controller while maintaining the classic crane attributes of panning, adjustable camera height and additional travel on dolly track. Besides articulating, certain models can be programmed to repeat moves, stop on pre-set marks, articulate automatically to maintain a straight line horizontally or vertically to name a few. They also come in a variety of lengths and sizes to suite small sets and locations as well as reaching great heights. Remote heads are always used on articulating cranes and the type is dependent on type of shot required. Typically articulating cranes are used with gyro stabilized remote heads.