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Austin Schmidt

Condor Height Safety

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The director would like a relatively "simple" shot from a fairly high overhead angle of a location. The shot only requires the camera to pan and tilt. The director wants to get at least 120+ ft above ground level with the camera. . To get reach that height my thought was to employ a 135' condor lift with a max basket weight of 500lbs. After sleeping on it I will admit to some hesitancy of putting myself and a 1st AC up that high. I'm not sure what an unsafe wind level will be at that height, but I presume even just a little will put us in great danger of tipping over (the base diameter of the condor is 12'6"). Are there any other safer ways to float the camera at that height? A suggestion has been to use a helicopter, but I figured a helicopter wouldn't hold the shot as stable in place as is needed. Any thoughts?

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If you're shooting in New York (as your signature might imply) you probably could get some great answers specific to the aerial lift needs for your project from Pride Equipment in Islip.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, you should seek out the services of an experienced rigging key grip to ensure the equipment and yourself are safely secured into the basket and that the equipment is suitable for the conditions of your shoot.

For the time being, I'm certified in aerial work platform safety, and I was taught the rule of thumb for wind is 20mph. Consideration for observance of the lift's "Rated Horizontal Force" is also key, as for example tarping all sides of the basket would increase wind resistance and increase the potential of failure. The site choice is also important. You should seek the most level and firm patch of ground for the base of the condor and ensure room to extend its axles for stability before going up. While my experience lies in 80' and under straight and articulating boom lifts, they generally feel very loose when moving but are relatively unfazed by wind and other conditions, locking up well when the hydraulics are set; even with hundreds of pounds of lights mounted to the basket. You and your assistant should be harnessed in with full body harnesses to the enforced attachment points on either side of the basket controls. A rigging key will keep you alive.

 

Be safe.

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Akela crane?

 

Look up brian Murie at cameratrux, he has a remote copter that carries a red and a remote head.

 

a Condor designed for a specific height should be ok, Hire a established and experienced Key and they can put you in the right piece of gear. As key's we often have a easy way of getting the shot.

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On a feature in North Carolina a couple weeks ago I did two different shots from a 135 ft. condor. One shot was at full stick and the other was at about 110 feet. That condor was rated two ways-500lbs and 1000lbs. At 500lbs it will do pretty much anything you want. We were under 500lbs, so we were pretty much unrestricted. If you go over 500lbs you won't be able to arm out or move the bucket much and you probably won't be able to get anywhere near 135ft up. I went up with a grip who drove the condor. I suggest you do the same since it's likely that you have a lot less experience driving a condor than a grip or electic. I highly doubt you'll need your 1st in the bucket with you to pull focus from that height. With two people and a camera you'll be under 500lbs unless one of you is particularly heavy.

 

Safety: Make sure you have a fall harness, not just a safety harness. There is a big difference. The majority of the time the condor will come with two fall harnesses. The grips will be able to safety the sticks and camera very easily-most likely with ratchet straps.

 

The shots I did were very easy. We had good grips and I felt very safe. We even did a couple shots while going up and down on the arm. Condors are very smooth for the most part, just not when they're starting or stopping. They are also very stable even at over 100ft, even with a little wind.

 

I may think of some other things for you to consider, but that's a good start.

 

Good luck! It's fun up there.

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Get a good grip. He should sort you out. If you want to look straight down, the arm will have to be swung out, which will prevent you going full stick. I would recommend a bazooka with a ubangi , which can be saddle strapped to the rail. This will allow you sufficient offset to look down as well as be very rigidly locked off. Bazookas strap down more rigidly than sticks, so that would be my choice.

Another question - do you need to ride ? Why not get a remote head and undersling it ?

Edited by Sanjay Sami

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We did a straight down shot from about 110ft. We just tilted the bucket a bit to clear the rail, which was a pretty easy solution.

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