View Full Version : Shooting from ultralight aircrafts

01-08-2006, 04:26 AM
Hi there,

Please allow an explanation of the reasons of this thread:

I'm gona do a lot of air/aerial filming this year because:

For the next spring, I am planing to make a Dracula documentary here in Romania (Vlad Tepes - Vlad the Impaler --- actually Bram Stoker's story is nothing more than a story, with few real historical but distorted insertions --- Draculea, not Dracula, was actually the grand-father of Vlad and he was nicknamed so because he had a dragon imprinted on his flag and local people did dot know what a dragon is and they thought it should be a sort of a devil -- Devil=Drac in Romanian language). The real story is much-much longer, and definitely much more interesting than Bram Stoker's novel, even if the vampyre stuff are not to be found in reality. As for vampiyres in Romania and Transilvania, I've never seen one in my entire life or even not heard of something of the sort, even though I live in a city were Vlad and his predecesors had the political capital and headquarters and even if I travel a lot in Transilvania, in the mountains, meet all kind of people and sleep often in tents in the forest and sometimes even in old and abandoned ruins of castles or so. Anyway, it is also true that there are several Dracula-related objectives, but those are only for touristic purporse (for example: The Bran Castle is surnamed nowadays as Dracula's Castle, but the reality is that Vald never entered the door/gate of that castle in his entire life!!!).
More, there are other few castles who really belonged to Vlad and sheltered him in hard times. Those castles are much wilder than you can imagine, the access is very difficult, through tunnels, at high mountain peaks. But such locations are not accessible to tourits, obviously. And, one of our objectives is to fly around and above such places for filming (maybe even parachuting an alpinist cameraman inside, which will take shots and then find his way to the lower grounds where we can retrieve him -- but the main problem in such an operation would be that some of these places are the natural and undisturbed habitat of vipers which can be very violent sometimes if they sense any kind of disturbance --- the anti-venom vaccin should be kept in refrigerated conditions and, also, in case anything happens, it would be mostly difficult and time costing to reach someone in such locations -- so, I'm not sure if the parachuting thing bears only an acceptable amount of risck).

Please do not imagine something with high budget or so (but I have a feeling that the result will be similar). We will pay this from our own pockets, we will use our trikes or friends trikes and help (the UL pilots comunity in Romania is very small, because very few people can aford such activities and gear here, but we are all firends and united and allways help each others).

Also, this year I will be flying in an ultralight aircrafts tour/expedition around Romania (I did this last year, too, but I did not film it because I did not have the proper equipment). We will overfly mountains, remote areas, Danube Delta, cities, hidden monasteries etc.

Is there anybody here with some experience in filmling from an ultralight aircraft ?

I used this kind of filming a lot. And the main problem is shakeing. I am asking myself what should I do in order to stabilize the cam better. (we made several materials shot from the air and in most parts of them, the footage was unpleasantly shaked)

When shooting from a tandem paraglider, things are much easier and you have no options to improuve it, anyway (at list this is what I think). Anyway, a paraglider has more gentle movements and, due to cameraman's position (front harness), he can absorb any shocks with his hands (I hope I'm succeeding in explaining correctly the phenomena).

BUT: the main challenge comes when you film from a motorised UL aircraft (such as an airplane or a trike type powered hang-gilder).

Generally, I avoid shooting from airplanes because of the lack of visibility and usable angles. At this point, the trike (for those who do not know what it is, the pic in my avatar shows one) is by far the best flying filming accessory, if I might say so. Also, the flight hour costs are much lower. Also extremely important: you can carry your trike attached to the car in a simple trailer cart and set it up easily at the take-off place and it is able to take-off only within very short runways and you can use almost anything as a runway (a road, a quite plane field, etc.).

So, I will try to concentrate the discussion towards the trike filming issue.

With the camera in the hands, your material will be very much shaken.

So, I thought that if I attach a chord/cable to the core of the trike (the point where the trike is attached to the wing/canopy) and attach in then on the cam's handle, it might be better. Also, it is very important to maintain the mobility of the camera. I will try this as soon as the weather will be a little better for flying here.

Did anyone try this?

Or, can anyone give me better advice?

Tks a lot,

01-08-2006, 05:53 AM
No help. Just saying Hi. My wife is from Fieni, and I've been through TÓrgoviste on the way to and from. :)

01-08-2006, 06:43 AM
Hi GenJerDan,

nice to hear this!

I've passed through Fieni yesterday on the way to Sinaia and then back :)

Viele Grussen fur dich und fur deine Frau!
Alles gutte,

01-09-2006, 08:19 AM
For hand held or bungi cord vehicle mount, the best "secret weapon" is the kenlab gyroscope. It takes 5 minutes to get up to speed, but once up, it is very stable. I'm not sure where you could rent one from in europe, but it might be an idea.


BTW, you doccumentary sound interesting.

01-10-2006, 01:15 PM

tks for your idea. Indeed, it seems that this would be the best way. But there's only one such toy in Romania, as far as I know. It belongs to Castel Film (the company that was involved in Cold Mountain movie -- starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law), so you can imagine that it is definitely preferably to buy one than to rent it from them.

Anybody can give other idea? Anything might help :)

All the best,

For hand held or bungi cord vehicle mount, the best "secret weapon" is the kenlab gyroscope. It takes 5 minutes to get up to speed, but once up, it is very stable. I'm not sure where you could rent one from in europe, but it might be an idea.


BTW, you doccumentary sound interesting.

01-11-2006, 04:26 PM
I have not had any experience with this, but a production friend of mine was telling me this weekend about using a camera available locally (Vancouver Canada) mounted in a radio controlled helicopter. Depending upon the kind of shots you want, that might be easier/cheaper than using an ultralight.

The obvious drawback that occurs to me is that the size of the helicopter will obviously determine the size of the camera (and the quality of your image). My friend also mentioned using a lipstick camera but that may not provide the best quality shot.

Try this link for some more information: http://www.hovercam.com/ (not so much for trying to use their services - more for the concept itself). At £ 2,000 per day (plus expenses), it seems little rich (expensive) but perhaps there are other less fancy (expensive) alternatives in your regions?

If available, the flexibility of using a helicopter (as opposed to an ultralight) could provide some incredible shots.

J Michael
01-25-2006, 03:17 PM
Another option to consider for static shots is a balloon. One type is a cluster balloon consisting of any number of weather balloons tied together and filled with helium or hydrogen (large number of safety warnings sure to follow). You may remember the story of the fellow who flew a cluster balloon tied to a lawn chair a few years ago. So, hauling a large camera up is possible.

02-03-2006, 08:25 PM
Along that note, what about a hot air balloon ride? Could be cheap if there is a balloon operator in your area, and the ride, while slower than an ultralight, would probably be a whole lot smoother.

02-03-2006, 09:19 PM
Be carefull of winds gusts around bluff edges(I"m sure you know this) My ultralight was destroyed by wind shear and I had a good friend killed in a very reliable skinned ultralight(he took too many chances).

03-04-2006, 03:52 PM
Hi guys,

it's been a quite long time sice my last post ... Personal problems (life's the way it is).

Tks for all sugestions and info.

About crashed ultralights: one day, in 2002, I left my microlight on the airfield with the bar not secured (it was a powered hang-glider, trike). I came back winthing 5 minutes. Because of a windgust, my toy was upside down. One blade of my wooden propeller was quite destroyed .... But, somehow, I found a way to fly it that day (won't tell how ... you won't believe me, I think). What followed? The friends who were there said that I was given the chance to reborn somehow :))

All the best,

03-16-2006, 07:56 PM
Here is a nice looking stabalizer.
I think it will work but I don't know if you can afford it:

03-17-2006, 12:50 PM

tks. I am seriously thinking to buy one. I might afford it soon.
This sugestion was made to me before and now, a second one makes me think very seriously about it.
All the best,