The Sky Surfer's
"Multi-Camera POV Movies"
A Silhouette from the left wing position in "August Air"
The short movie above was produced as a teaser that was aired before the first Sky Surfer POV - "The Harper Run" - was posted on YouTube. It will give you THE BIG PICTURE and/or you can read all the stuff below...
If you have seen my Flite Blog you can tell I am doing my journalistic best to bring you along on my Sky Safaris. Using still photos, captions and commentary, I endeavor to bring you along on The Great Plains Air Journeys I call “Sky Surfing”.
PhotoJournalism is one aspect of my quest to interest folks in my type of sport aviation. But I have been making movies about the sport for many years now. I decided it was time for me to put my stamp on the POV scene. What better topic than a Sky Safari?
Move It Up A Notch
From where I stand, there has been a complete overdose of single camera POV "Movies" on YouTube (in case you are not familiar with the term POV, it means Point Of View). It pains me to see so many guys think they are making movies by attaching a camera on their head, foot, car dash, seat of their airplane, pet dog, etc. etc. and then play back the results. Granted, about every 10,000th one of these is interesting but the vast majority are poorly conceived and executed.
Without "cuts", a POV is little more than a bank lobby surveillance video. The Art of Editing is where any movie comes together and becomes interesting. After all, it's not like we don't already have over a hundred years of movie craft to emulate. I believe one should strive for the best level of craftmanship possible when producing any movie. That's what I try to do with these POVs.
An "over the shoulder" view in the direction of flight with The Sky Surfer mugging at the camera before crossing a country road.
This camera angle is through the tail (empennage) of the Ultralight just after crossing over a hedgerow. Note the shadow of the Quicksilver on the ground.
Software & Hardware Improvements
Since 1985, I have used Apple Computers exclusively and I jumped on the non-linear, digital editing bus at the first stop. Apple's Final Cut Pro is the most used video editing software on the planet. I have been editing with it since version 1. Now updated to version 10, there has been included a "multi-camera" editing facility. My older Mac Pro and eSATA hard drives just couldn't keep up with it, though, so for a couple of years I had to ignore it.
Then one day I was given a great inspiration for a new series of movies. I would do some "Sky Surfing POV's" - my way! I had intended for over a year to buy Apple's new "tubular" Mac Pro which features Thunderbolt I/O. This machine and some fast external hard drives would allow me to do "multi-cam" editing in HD. With this capability I would be able to make "real time" movies of my Quicksilver Ultralight Flights!
You can see the aircraft nosewheel at the far right of the frame. This is the view forward from 600' above ground.
From the right wing position we see The Sky Surfer pass a lone oak in a newly planted field.
Camera & Mount Testing
Of course an editing system is of no use without field footage. I have a Panasonic POV type camera about the size of a Coke can. I had used it in my epic, 23 minute music video "Lil Prop - Big Prop". My new plan called for multiple cameras, though, so I started research. Over about 6months, I tested 4 different "sports" cameras until I settled on the model with the price I could justify and performance I required. I bought five of them. Then, with the Panasonic HDC-SD5 I already had, I now had 6 "Points Of View". I just needed ways to mount them on the plane.
Mounting video cameras on an Ultralight is a daunting task. They must be isolated from the intense vibrations coursing through the frame. These vibes can literally shake a camera apart. The vibration comes from three sources: The engine, the propeller and the relative wind. In addition, at certain RPMs, the vibes from the motor and prop "stack up" and create harmonics. I could write pages on my efforts to restrain this problem but, suffice to say, to date I have brought the vibration issue within "tolerable limits".
After completing my first 3 POV movies on the Quicksilver I have learned a lot. Using various techniques I have smoothed out most of the vibration issues but one. I finally realized my current wing mounts are incapable of conquering what I call the "flutter vibration". It occurs to the wing cameras at certain angles-of-attack and is definitely not engine/prop related. I believe what I am seeing is the actual flexing of the Ultralight's wing out near the tip. I am pondering how to defeat this and have some ideas for the next series of POVs.
No POV movie would be complete without a shot of the protagonist. Here we see Brian skimming a field of recently harvested corn.
The Sky Surfer gives us a bird's eye view of someone's secluded fishing cottage hideaway.