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Thread: How to film the skies?

  1. Default How to film the skies?

    Hi Digital Directors,

    Ive got a bit of an unusual question but none the less I hope some of you can help giving me a bit of insight on this,
    since im still a total rookie on how to go about doing this.

    Ive recently bought a panasonic SD700 and I'm not sure what extras I need to get the most out of my shots.

    The conditions I'm filming in are outdoor open areas with usually a bit of wind and sun.
    I also have to shoot at awkward angles, since the main objects are RC aircraft and helicopters flying nearly overhead.

    One thing has made itself abundantly clear after the first filming session though,
    built in microphones are a nightmare when you are filming in windy conditions.
    So can anyone suggest a cheap(ish) external microphone that are coldshoe compatible?
    Ive read some things about Rode mics, but they do seem a bit expensive (+200 dollars).

    Also, is it recommended to use some sort of circular polarizer filter?
    Ive seen the effects of them and I wonder if this would help make the sky pop a bit nicer while tracking aircraft.

    Tracking aircraft is what brings me to the next question.
    Is there a way to stabilize the shot without getting bound to a tripod?
    The action usually is too wild and unpredictable to handle with a tripod,
    so I was wondering if there are some tricks to make a camcorder a shoulder cam?
    Or at least some kind of "rifle" mount to press it against your chest?

    I'm looking forward to hearing from a few pro's!

    - Sven

  2. #2


    Let me start out by saying I'm not a "pro".

    There are some shoulder mount rigs you can buy but they are a bit costly for what they are. I'm sure you could rig something up after looking at some. HERE IS AN EXAMPLE or THIS I've even heard of people bolting the camera to a plank of wood and sitting it on their shoulder.

    Wind noise can be a problem with on board and external mics. You will need some sort of wind shield no matter what you end up with.

  3. Default

    Hmm, didnt really think about doing some home brew mount, but it should be simple.
    What I could do is muster up a BMX handlebar grip and slap some PVC inside with an bolted endcap,
    and mount it onto an aluminum bracket with some piece of large diameter PVC pipe on the other end to rest against my shoulder.
    Looks like ill be taking a trip down to the home depot tomorrow.

    Ive been messing around using one of those small table tripods folded up and using it as a pistol grip but that didn't do it much good.
    There are also these weird ring brackets you can put around your camera,
    but those seem rather clumsy and only good for horizontal filming.

    So with that, it still leaves me with microphones and filters.

    Are CPL worth it, or will cameras just compensate when you stick it in front?

    And I've seen some frighteningly cheap shotgun microphones on ebay and I'm wondering if they are worth a.. well.. shot. :p
    I'm not really after studio grade sound, I just want the damn wind gone.
    My camera is supposed to have wind noise reduction, but so far it has failed to impress even my half deaf mother.
    I cant cancel it out in post, and I have to turn it up just to be able to hear the normal sounds.

    If you want an example of how I have to film now, here it is:

    As you can see and hear, wind is a nightmare and its a pain to keep the camera still while holding it over your head.
    I'm still new so don't be too harsh on my filming techniques (I probably shouldn't use zoom so much).

  4. #4


    Have a look at this video to give you some ideas about wind noise reduction

    Have you thought of zelcroing a piece of fluffy material over your camera mic.

  5. Default

    Yeah that fluffy stuff, thats supposed to do a good job keeping out the rumble.
    Ive thought about covering the mic on my cam up with some of that,
    but all I can find are those sleeves that cost +50 dollars and im not too keen on taking scissors to that kind of stuff.
    Also it would be a bit of a problem to actually hold it on, theres no room for a little belt on my camera,
    and I don't really want to start putting sticky stuff all over my new camera.

    Are there any other options other then the rather large shotgun mics?
    A 13" stick is just asking for dark spots in my frame, especially when sticking a raccoon tail on to block wind.

    This is the camera im working with:

    It has a hotshoe on the other side (although cold), and id like a short wind resistant mic on that.

    Any suggestions?

  6. #6


    You could go one of two ways. Get an external mic. OR an external recording device like the Zoom H2.

    For what you need you could probably pick up a mic off Ebay pretty cheap, remember with this sort of thing you get what you pay for. AND you still need to handle the wind noise. Look for a condenser mic. There will be shorter ones. I don't think the Rode Videomic is upto much, it looks the part but is n't that good.

    As for fluffy material, get the wife to go into a material shop and buy a length of fluffy material, like the stuff you make fluffy toys from, it's really cheap.

  7. Default

    Id rather not go into the nightmare details of syncing up sound from a separate source,
    let alone lugging around and operating all that extra equipment.
    Remember, I'm walking around on a busy field all day and I don't want my kit to get too fiddly.

    And I'm not sure the cheap plush stuff works the same as those sleeves.
    Wont it just dampen sound all together, like throwing a blanket over your mic?

    That video you showed above did clear some of my illusions though,
    the open core foam sleeves aren't going to achieve anything in breezy conditions.
    I need the fluffy stuff or its grumble time.

    Looking for condenser microphones I keep finding stage mics, lapelle mics,
    component mics and those weird sony stereo mics.

    I found this thing while looking for shotgun mics on ebay:
    10.83" Camera Camcorder Shotgun Mic Microphone Reporter - eBay (item 130435347244 end time Oct-01-10 09:11:12 PDT)

    Its somewhat short and battery operated, however theres no hotshoe clamp,
    and the thing that puts me off most is all these shotgun mics come with a wire long enough to tackle an elephant.
    Of course thats for use on a boom, but none seem to consider the hotshoe route, where a 1ft coil suffices.
    Ontop of that I cant even seem to find any short XLR to 3.5 jack cables at all.
    Who'd have thought finding a decent mic for less then 100 bucks would be so much trouble..

  8. Default

    Back with an update, I tried to stick a quarter inch piece of open core foam ontop of the built in mic of my camera,
    and all that achieved is increasing my dislike for doublesided scotch.
    Back to the drawing board.

    Apparently I need a dead cat, according to some youtube videos.

  9. #9


    Might tracking the aircraft be easier by attaching the cam to your head (via a helmet.)

  10. #10


    A dead cat is the fluffy stuff.

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