Camera techniques and controls.
a. In aerial motion picture photography, three things
that differ from
ground photography are; choice of focal length, frames per
second (fps), and
shutter opening (with adjustable shutter).
To some extent,
the lens size is
governed by aircraft altitude and the size of the image you
want. The normal
lens is usually suitable.
b. When shooting from a moving platform, you should use a faster shutter
speed. Usually 32 to 64 fps is best. The lower the altitude or the longer the
focal length lens used, the faster the shutter speed selected.
faster the platform is moving, the faster the shutter speed should be. If you
are filming another aircraft (air-to-air filming), or are on the ground filming
an aircraft (ground-to-air filming), the normal 24 fps can be used. This does
not mean that faster fps cannot be used; only that normally it is not
c. A problem you will encounter while flying in any aircraft is
If you have ever filmed scenes from a moving vehicle, such as an
automobile or train, you realize that vibrational motion exists. All aircraft,
especially helicopters, have comparable vibrations. One of the basic rules for
aerial photography is: "Make sure that the camera is well insulated from
d. When using small handheld cameras, hold them in such a way that your
body insulates the camera from the aircraft. Do not allow the camera to touch
the aircraft. This will transmit any vibrations to the camera.
e. It is important to remember that when shooting from a moving platform,
i.e., airplane or helicopter, that the camera is moving as fast as the
platform. As a result, you must not use a small-angle shutter opening if your
camera has an adjustable shutter. The degree of shutter opening (DSO) must be
at least 100 or more. A small DSO will give you choppy footage. This is due
to the fact that the shutter is closed most of the time.
As a result, the
camera has moved (in relation to the ground) a great distance.
If you keep
your DSO greater than 100, there will be no problem.
The use of an exposure meter is suggested. A word of caution: DO NOT take a
reading that includes the sky. This is a problem encountered by all cameramen
when first shooting from the air.
Make sure your meter is aimed toward the
You may also use a gray card.
Make sure the sunlight (if any) is
falling on the card.
b. When setting your exposure, make sure you compensate for any change in
DSO, shutter speed, and filter. The cost of sending a cameraman on an aerial
mission is high. You must plan and adjust your camera with great care.