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Vintage aircraft / Warbird Videos- Advice, please?

Jason's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 11/30/2011 - 6:40pm

First of all, I'm sorry if this is waaaaaay too long-winded. I ask my viewers, and even other photography friends for constructive criticism and feedback, but all I ever get is "great job!" or "too long" while another person says "too short." So, I wanted to come here and talk to folks who really know what they're doing with video, and can (hopefully) add some advice. Please remember, I'm on a budget of $20. If I can't find it in my apartment, or build it for less than that, it's simply not an option at this time. :-( Thank you for even taking the time to look at this. Any advice is appreciated.

Greetings! I was practically forced into going to video over a year ago due to my primary DSLR lens breaking down (aperture broke apart) at an event, forcing me to shoot with my backup, a Canon VIXIA HG20. Since then, I have not turned back! However, on a substitute teachers pay, it has been impossible to purchase any upgrades in the last year, so I have made lemonade out of lemons...

I'm shooting with a homemade PVC shoulder-mounted camera rig (yeah, it's ghetto, but it cost me $15 for parts and improved the steadiness 10-fold!). I can't use a tripod for two reasons, 1, I have a cheap non-fluid head that can't smoothly tilt up and down. Second, the location I shoot from makes it nearly impossible to use a tripod, as I never know if the aircraft will be flying in front of me, behind me, or directly over my head. Due to their maneuvering, I don't know which way they're going until its too late. :-p (When shooting P--51 Mustangs, A6M3 Zeros, and B-25 Mitchells, I guess there are certainly worse problems to have!)

My rig has certainly improved the quality of my videos. As anyone who has used an HG20 for any sort of panning knows, the IS really isn't *that* much of a help. I have recently added approximately 4.5 lbs of weight int he back to counterbalance the unit, which also greatly improved panning quality. (adjustable ankle weights!)

With the season coming (mostly) to an end by October, I'll be back at the desk really focusing on creating better videos. I have posted a couple here for some constructive criticism. I've asked my fans what they like about my videos, and all agree on having NO music or narration to disrupt the audio. Most actually enjoy the lengthiness of them (showing the planes taxiing, and maneuvering out in the distance), but yet my analytics data shows I'm losing half my audience within the first minute.

Here's an example of one of my very first (and most popular) videos:

http://youtu.be/XBJBMlhAcLI?hd=1

And here's an example of my latest work (though, before the addition of balance weights) This video is a perfect example of not knowing where the planes are going, causing me to readjust my foot placement quite frequently.

http://youtu.be/Akh12HKzikE?hd=1

This video I'm sharing was made as a "thank you" to the folks who allowed me to enjoy some remarkable experiences last summer, showing that I can do a little more than just glue clips together. :-)

http://youtu.be/t0cNC5cxHWw?hd=1

In an attempt to help retain viewer interest, I've started putting an "info bar" along the bottom of the screen, with some facts about each of the aircraft shown in those particular videos. Half my audience doesn't like them, the other LOVES them. Data so far has not shown any significant effect. However, the addition of a stinger clip at the end, has at least improve viewing to the end, which is something I will definitely keep as seen in this example:

http://youtu.be/AIXBSvnVl-k?hd=1

Thanks again!!


Jack Wolcott's picture
Last seen: 7 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 01/02/2008 - 11:51pm
Plus Member

I'm not surprised people say "nice job." You have some really good shots and flight sequences here. This is a matter of taste, but I think you have a tendency to hold shots too long. Specifically, in your first example, the taxi down the run way could be greatly compressed; let the plane go out of frame to the right, cut, then pick it up much further along the runway. Same on the takeoff.

If you're going to do matched edits, which work well here, be sure they actually match. Use pan/crop to make sure you don't have a double image, like you do just before the plane begins its takeoff run.

You do an awful lot of zooming on the opening shots. I think the pacing would benefit from a slow zoom in on the plane to a CU of the cockpit and pilot; a pull back to reveal the entire plane again, then a series of cuts to CUs of the name and logo, the prop, tail numbers, etc. I think you need this to offset the slow down that the taxi down the runway creates.

I found that starting every shot wide, so I could find the planes in the sky, was absolutely necessary; then I could zoom in and track them. It helps to have an assistant, too, someone who can locate aircraft for you. Like you, we often abandoned our tripods for either a monopod, shoulder mount or just hand held. It is extremely difficult to acquire and track a high-performance aircraft when on a tripod. We were fortunate to be able to shoot from inside planes in flight and this presented huge problems with vibration and engine noise.

I think one of the biggest problems you face with a production such as this is that some of your audience will love it, some will hate it, and there's no pleasing both groups. Some of the group that produced the airshow thought we spent too much time on acrobatics, some wanted every flight from take-off to landing. Others wanted more crowd shots while some thought these had no place in an air-show DVD. In the end there was total disagreement among the Museum board and the project was scrapped.

We shot an air show several years ago in Tumwater at the Museum of Flight and I wrote an article about the problems and solutions. You'll find it here if you're interested: http://www.videoccasions-nw.com/airshow_text.html.

Keep up the good work.

Jack

VideOccasions


MediaFish's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 05/25/2011 - 2:06pm

They are good but honestly don't do much for me EXCEPT the one titled Forgotten Warriors. That one was really good and honestly is something that could easily been seen on the Military Channel or something similar. I enjoyed watching that one.

Jeff Media Fish Productions


Jason's picture
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 11/30/2011 - 6:40pm

Thank you, both for the input!

Jack - Ah yes, you know exactly what I'm talking about! I really enjoyed that write-up you linked to, great info there! And I very much relate to your tower experience. I was able to join a friend of mine up on the ROOF of the control tower at Boeing Field for SeaFair departures and arrivals... I never realized how many antennas were up there until I had to try shooting around all of them. And it nearly never happened because, despite being an aerobatic pilot myself, I have a terrible fear of heights! To get from the outside viewing platform to the roof was a stupid ladder I had to climb... NOT FUN!

One lesson I learned from airshows years ago is to take a 1 or 2 - liter bottle and fill it up with water the evening before and FREEZE it. That day on the tower I went through 3-liters in absolute comfort, as it was ice-cold the full 6-hours we were up there.

The feedback is precisely what I'm looking for. Like you said, I'm not going to please everyone, but I want it to at least look as professional as I can make it right now, and by following your advice I can do just that.

I haven't had too bad of a time with locating the aircraft in the camera, even when having only an LCD screen to view as I've been using the technique you mentioned... finding easily identifiable fixed landmarks and finding them that way. Though, I have toyed with the idea of making a WWII type "ring and bead" sight for the camera. Mostly just to get a laugh from my fellow WWII enthusiasts. :-)

Jeff - I'm glad you enjoyed that video! Making the ones like that are certainly the most fun for me, however, they are never very popular.

Fight to Fly.  Fly to Live. Live to Inspire.