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jason lam

Aerial Photography With RC Helicopter

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Guys,

 

New to the forum. Don't see anyone mention about aerial Photography with RC helicopter. I have in the business for the past 3 years. I have just finished a helicam that can carry HVX 200 and 16mm and modify 35mm Arri cam. Here is a rough sample video shot with Mini HDV cam.

 

 

http://vimeo.com/1039579

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Hi Jason!

 

Nice work. There was a guy here a while ago who did the same thing in Argentina, I believe. I can't find his info, but he made some really beautiful stuff with 16mm. Have a look in the archive and see if you find the link to his telecom company ad about a carrier pigeon.

I am starting to experiment with a big helium balloon myself, but the RC heli thing looks really cool. I have only tried some down link stuff with a very small helicopter, but what you have done is soo much cooler... Please show us more! And please give up all your secrets about the heli, camera mounts, tilt/pan, stabilization and so on ;)

 

Great stuff,

 

Kristian

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Guys,

 

New to the forum. Don't see anyone mention about aerial Photography with RC helicopter. I have in the business for the past 3 years. I have just finished a helicam that can carry HVX 200 and 16mm and modify 35mm Arri cam. Here is a rough sample video shot with Mini HDV cam.

 

 

http://vimeo.com/1039579

 

 

thats pretty sweet. but, I guess you cant really frame while shooting right? Just go wide and then control the chopper? Or do you have some type of video monitor to see what is being captured. If so, what brand. Curious if there is any interference from the RC controler and the vid signal..

 

Do you have any pix of the rig/chopper?

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I have a semi-involved history in flying RC planes. Or should I say in CRASHING them.

 

And flying a copter is a lot TOUGHER!!!

 

The most I ever accomplished was in 1964 when I was 8, I launched an Estes rocket and took a photo from its tiny spy camera.

 

I sent the data to Washington, but they said they already knew where Canarsie, Brooklyn was, including full map details.

 

Hey--I was just 8, and I thought I was doing my part to fight the Russians. Plus, Estes didn't make a rocket that would reach Moscow.

Edited by Ira Ratner

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I've actually been toying with the idea of building one of these things. My father has been an RC enthusiast since the 60s and has recently gotten into copters. I figured it would be considerably cheaper to install a video transmitter on a 35mm crash cam in a large, modified commercial model helicopter than renting a helicopter for even a single day. I also thought about using an RC plane, maybe a pusher with the camera mounted in the nose. I must admit I never considered or even thought of using a helium blimp though it does sound intriguing. How do you deal with vibration and fuel spillage spit out by the motor? B)

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Here's an interesting blimp system. The problem with a simple balloon system is steering and framing shots as an extension of that. There are a few systems around, and I've worked with tethered blimps, but they're all stopgap solutions and not really predictable ways to get images. The biggest cost factor is the helium thrown away each time you fill the balloon (recovery systems are available but are also very expensive). As you can see fro the size of this blimp, a lot of lift is needed to get even a small camera and remote head package off the ground.

 

http://soulcam.fr

 

As to vibration, it's absorbed by the balloon and a shock mount for the camera. Fuel drips are so far away from the lens they're not an issue.

 

If you ever get a chnce to work with or observe the Flying-Cam guys in action, it's worth it. They are GOOD!

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Guys,

 

Sorry, I didn't know so many comments, I guess I have to play with the setting, so I know when someone leave me comments. Yes, the copters are quite difficult to fly, I have been learning for 3 year prior to strapping a camera on it. You really have to master your flying skills before thinking about aerial photography, otherwise you are sure to crash your nice cams. You also need to know the ins and outs of your copter to be able to tune the heli vibe free, steep learning curve for sure, still feel like I know so little. The past year and a half is just learning ways to subdue the vibes. Will have more videos soon.

 

 

 

Jason

Edited by jason lam

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And yes, I can frame the shot, I have a live view and another person can control the pan, tilt axis of camera mount.

 

Knock on Wood, haven't drink yet in the past year and half. We are very careful and treat it like a full scale, pre-check before every flight.

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The commercial applications for this kind of work is pretty awesome--especially for real estate.

 

Why the hell hire a real plane/chopper when you can do it via RC?

 

But STILLS is really where the market is for this--not necessarily video/cine. But when you think about, what the heck's the difference?

 

You can shoot video and have no problem at all pulling a still at the required resolution for offset printing. And since so much marketing is just done on the internet anyway, hell--we're just talking about 72dpi for these inages.

 

A piece of CAKE!!!

 

WOw--this is is VERY cool stuff! And I'm jealous!!!

 

I would love to get into it, but like I said, I'm a lot better at crashing the aircraft than flying them. It is NOT easy to fly these things!!!

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"An Aerial video from San Francisco."

 

Was that imaged stabilized in post? What type of camera?

 

Depends on the weather. Windy day will need post stabilization.

 

This is shot with a Sony HC5 1080i camera.

 

I have helicopter that carry EX1 and HPX170.

 

 

Here is a new mix video.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2u2RnGUHSI

 

 

Jason

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Depends on the weather. Windy day will need post stabilization.

 

This is shot with a Sony HC5 1080i camera.

 

I have helicopter that carry EX1 and HPX170.

 

 

Here is a new mix video.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2u2RnGUHSI

 

Or you can view it here

 

 

Aerial Photography New York, San Francisco

 

http://skyshutter.com/video.mp4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason

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Promising, but to be brutally honest, it lacks precision. This is probably somewhat inevitable with a small remotely controlled platform like a helicopter, but the biggest issue I see is the constant loss of a level horizon. This could to an extent be corrected in post, at some cost in resolution, but I think you will need to do something about this before it can become a really mainstream tool.

 

My impression was that when the camera is looking directly ahead, all is well, but if you're looking sideways and the aircraft pitches its nose down to gain speed (since it's a helicopter, albeit a small one) you end up with a pretty severe loss of horizon. I don't know what you're using for a pan and tilt mount, but I would suggest that you might need to look into some sort of solution for holding the camera level. This could be manually-controlled, or as simple as a gyroscope mounted on a free-swivelling roll axis cage, or as complicated (but lighter) as a tiny reference gyro slaved to a servoactuated roll axis. I presume these things exist, but perhaps not at the scale and weight you can deal with.

 

Otherwise not bad - the most common plaint I've had about radio-control camera platforms is repeatability, and I'd be interested to see you fly the same shot several times. It needs to be able to hit its marks.

 

P

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Hi,

 

All these video were shot by just me, When there's a second camera operator, who can operate the roll will to keep horizon more level. There's also a new item IMU on the horizon, it's available, but I will just wait a bit long for them to fix a few bugs. The IMU will keep perfect Horizon even flying solo without a camera operator.

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have you ever checked out the draganfly? i wish they offered more camera options but it looks pretty sweet. also, i've done some FAA research, and last I checked, it is technically illegal for non-gov entities/people to use RC for commercial purposes. there has been a lot of talk about a new special regulatory scheme for RC/UAV, but I haven't seen anything on its progress. I think the reality is that the law isn't being enforced at all.

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have you ever checked out the draganfly? i wish they offered more camera options but it looks pretty sweet. also, i've done some FAA research, and last I checked, it is technically illegal for non-gov entities/people to use RC for commercial purposes. there has been a lot of talk about a new special regulatory scheme for RC/UAV, but I haven't seen anything on its progress. I think the reality is that the law isn't being enforced at all.

 

 

 

 

 

Dranganfly carry some where around 1 to 2 lb payload. My helicopter carries up to 10 plus lb payload.

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I am actually in San Francisco for another week visiting. And I bought my still photo Helicopter, I might just go down to the piers and try that shot. Will post it if I got the shot.

 

 

 

Jason

 

 

 

Here is a recreation of the famous earthquake shot. I didn't shoot the shot at the same angle as it's a very busy ferry port. I shot it about 2 blocks off center from the original location. Here is a link to the

 

San Francisco Aerial photo.

 

http://www.jasonlamphotography.com/sfpano.jpg

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