Interesting Angles

2008 Ways to get cool video with a paramotor

This day of polo field flying was different than most. As frequently happens, I had a mission: trying out some techniques that will be used for producing a new series of PPG training videos.

One thing that adds both interest and information is getting different angles, using different techniques and them combining them in creative ways. But before the creativity is the capture.

First, I set a camera up stationary and launched towards it. Then flew a bunch of directions around it, doing different maneuvers. That will allow combining those shots later as if they happened immediately one after another for an interesting effect. Credit Jeff Shriner for pointing that one out.

Flying a helmet cam is the time honored way to get really cool looking video of other pilots in flight and I'm continuing to find out what works, what definitely does not work and refine my skill at the process. So far, to be brutally honest, I suck. In order for any shot to make the grade, it must be smooth. That requires nearly perfect air and a steady head. Some of my smooth air shooting is actually passing but there's a lot that's not. And it requires a capable subject pilot.

Pete Sax was exceptionally helpful, flying headings accurately as instructed by radio. That is so important because it lets you set up the shots, get cool transitions, flybys, turns and sun angles. But you have to have good communications. I'll have some quality seconds worth of Pete, including what turned out to be a smooth approach and landing as I followed him in from just above.

Mike Koval also obliged me by flying some great-looking low courses around the field, through the corn and over some places I was glad Mr. Blackhawk kept running. He didn't have a radio so we missed a lot of great opportunities but some shots looks pretty good.

To harness the power of a visual medium, it must include detail. That means close. One technique I'll be employing is to demonstrate certain precision flying tools while the camera is following along in a car, just a few feet away. Today we practiced. Eugene Hablit did a great job driving as Mike flew alongside with me on the steadicam. The result was amazing. Completely smooth and close. Even that wasn't as close as the final product will be because there were poles in the way. I want the view to clearly see what is being done by the hands and its result in both vertical and lateral changes.

Then Eugene came up with the idea of using his trike and me getting footage as Mike flew around me. That did work but it was a bit too bumpy, even with the steadicam, since I had to hold it with one hand and the bumps were too much. But the footage looks cool!

Other shots included launching pilots as I ran along with the steadicam and those are certainly OK, they'll tell the story when it comes time. But most of the precision launch work will be done with a driver, cameraman and pilot driving along smooth pavement. I've already got the locations and driver lined up and our Illinois pilots are proving to be a valuable help.

Scripts for all of four videos are being written with the first one, on advanced ground handling for paramotor pilots, is done. Getting together a list of shots by condition type (high winds, moderate winds, and calm) will help me get what footage I need more efficiently. Some of it I'm getting on overnights.

Hopefully I'll get something of it up on youtube but, with so much to do, I'm always fighting the clock.

Thanks to Pete Sax, Mike Koval, and Eugene Hablit for their help.

This project should consume about a third of the time as the book and is more fun. I realize the market is smaller than a beginner series but this is what I want to do. The Master Powered Paragliding series will hopefully be completely done by the end of 2010 with the first one out by winter, 2009. It's a long road. 

One of many tools that will help clearly capture various techniques  that aid controlling flight with great precision. These are techniques that would have helped me learn dramatically quicker. This is information I wish I had when I was progressing in the sport.

I'm testing the device above for aerodynamic balance, strength and operation. It will be mounted on the motor's frame and swivel all the way around. Besides letting me capture cool LOOKING footage, it's a great tool for showing exactly what is required to accomplish certain tasks. I tested and adjust it on top of the van so that it was aerodynamically balanced not to swing around in the airflow. The foam has to have roughly the same drag as the camera and its longer arm.

I've tested it on one flight, got some good footage but have made modifications and will be doing more in the coming months.

2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!