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.