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Shooting from an airplane
  • I will have to do some shots from a small airplane (like a Cessna) which flies over some islands in the Caribbean. I have never done any flight shots. Are their any special things to take in consideration? Are the vibrations a disturbing element? What about shooting through the windows? Is it good to use slowmotion to compense the vibrations? Thx for any hints

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  • is it a planned shooting or is it "shoot what you get by chance". In general a Cessna is not very suitable for shots as it is to fast, less maneuverable than a helicopter and probably you cannot remove the door for a better shooting position. An inexperienced DOP plus a Cessna is an unfavorable combination.

    You may pick some advice from

  • Well, it will be kind of a Cessna not a helicopter. But I have to live with that, and I am not an experienced DOP for flying shots. So lets see if some other advices come in before I am going for it.

  • What I've done in the past.

    1. Clean the window on the outside where you will be shooting from before you take off (ask the pilot first)
    2. Shoot 60p and shutter 1/120, you will have less jello and the extra sharpness will help in post if you need to stabilise. Much better than blur from camera movement.
    3. A large sock filled with rice can be a handy support for the camera to isolate vibrations and movement.
    4. Place a dark piece of fabric ( blanket/sheet) over your head and camera and shoot close up to the window to avoid reflections from behind.
    5. Ask the pilot to bank left or right to get the shot so you can place your lens parallel to the window surface (shooting on an angle can introduce distortion) and don't shoot thru the engine heat and exhaust.

    Good luck.

  • Wouldn't a polarizer be a good idea to help with window reflections?

    That is good advice from Rambo.

  • Update: I did the shooting with the airplane over the fantastic coral atolls in Belize. Thanks guys for the advices, very helpful. And a really funny and amazing shot was: I installed a GoPro attached with Bostik underneath the airplane. The pilot freaked out, but was ok then. The effect is like flying around planet earth :)))

  • I'm guessing the gopo shots were too far away to be all that useful or did the pilot do some low flying. Did you have vibration issues/jello?

  • The airplane was flying around 150-200 meters high and the footage is all totally useful (aprox 2 hrs). No vibration or jello issues at all. As soon as I am back in Europe I will upload some stuff.