How To Shoot Kickass Video From a Helicopter

Adam Boozer is an amazingly talented videographer right here in Charleston, SC. His company Jewell and Ginnie has been making a big splash with very cinematic video here in the low country and throughout the southeast. Last night Adam emailed us a BTS video he created on how he sets up his camera for these incredible aerial shots. Besides having the access to a Robinson R44 Helicopter, the actual setup isn't that complicated: A Canon 5D MKII, a Zucato Follow Focus, a Marshall Monitor, and the piece that stabilizes it all together, the Tyler Mini Gyro. I've posted the highlight reel here so click the full post to see the BTS video on how Adam is getting these shots!

J&G 2010 Aerial Selects Reel from Jewell&Ginnie on Vimeo.

How to shoot kick ass aerials with your HDSLR from Jewell&Ginnie on Vimeo.

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Very cool. Thanks for sharing the details about your rig.

Lee Morris's picture

Adam, How much is that Gyro to rent? I may try something like this soon.

That's pretty cool. Thanks for sharing.

Sadly, a helicopter isn't really in my budget right now....

Very insightful! Thanks for sharing.

Thanks everyone!
Lee the Tyler mount mini gyro typically rents for 375/day

killer aerials.. what's the hourly rate for the chopper, and where do you fly out of?

Amazing stuff, I bet the big production companies are shaking in their boots given the level of professionalism coming through from the guy on the street. One question though: do the skew horizons on the above video not bother anyone?

I'm a private pilot and can tell you the flight rental might actually not cost as much as you think. Of course this varies by locale, and the aircraft. But the aircraft alone should be about $100-$130 an hour + the pilot fees of about $20-$50 an hour. Like I said this varies based on where you are and what you're getting, but if you find a private pilot, he's not allowed to charge you for his time and he has to split the cost of the aircraft rental pro rata based on FAA regulations. Its when you have a "Commercial" pilot who is allowed to charge for his time. Your gear rental will cost you more than the flight.

Shooting from helicopters is sick!!!

Check with your local police department. Many that operate choppers offer "ride alongs" as part of community outreach. Usually all you have to do is sign up. Once you get to go up use the free ride as a way to learn.

Lee I rent a kenyon gyro from Wilmington Camera Services for 100.00 a day.
910 343 1089

It is absolutely essential to shoot using a gyro? Could you get smooth enough shots using only a steadicam, then buff it out in post, and get close to the same results?

When I shot for local TV stations from their choppers we had a variety of cameras some stabilized some just mounted. Later in Iraq shooting from military choppers I just had myself and a beanbag or towel to keep it stable. I've see folks set up a steadycam but gyros really are the way to go. You are limited on room in ways you cant begin to think about until you get inside the chopper. If they take the doors off it helps but you have to be strapped in and running a steadycam strapped in is near impossible.

My job is to operate camera systems for a Helicopter company here in Texas. I got the job because I'm also a student rotor pilot and when I inquired about rotor hours the meeting ended with my taking on the job of operating multiple camera systems for the company. We operate nose mounted systems such as the Corona 350, Cineflex and Dodeca cameras, but I also do a lot of DSLR shooting for them, the Tyler Mini Gyro is a MUST for video! We operate from R44's, AStars and a variety of other smaller and larger rotorcraft. You absolutely can not get usable video footage from a helicopter without some form of gyro stabilization, the vibration from the main rotors will kill your chances of getting a steady shot every time. Unless of course your goal is to make your audience motion sick in a hurry you need to invest in stabilization. Still imaging can be done without a gyro, but I always use a hand strap to make sure I don't drop the camera. The last thing I want to see is my D800 falling to the ground from the air. Not to mention you better pray if it does fall you don't hit anyone! Things like that may sound silly but they can mean the difference between getting a job in the aerial industry and not getting it.