Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Aerial Bug Deflectors

Hello there list,

A job in Africa requires some 'El cheap-o' aerials, no Wescam mounts or helicopters for this budget. The camera mount is quite secure and sits eye-level attached to the strut - the plane is a Cessna 182 Hi-wing. The camera sits just out of prop wash. The problem is bugs on the lens. We don't have a video tap on the SR and some runs are trashed by bugs committing suicide on the front element. Yeah I know I'm usually film'in the critters and "what do you expect in the rainforst over Gabon"- however, its a problem I would like to solve, with your input, hopefully. When rods are on the camera they just vibrate the heck out of the rig and make shots unusable.

Hence just a stripped down body with a prime, usually a 12mm, is what we use. Most of the flights are very early morning before the air currents add bounce. Gosh I wish the bugs would just sleep late for a change.

Any ideas would be most welcome. Any jokes should be accompanied by useful suggestions.

Phil 'waiting for the abuse' Savoie
BBC Natural History Unit

#1 - Can you mount a piece of glass in front of the lens but at a sever angle so that it acts not only as a sort of filter but as a bug and wind deflector. If the glass is mounted at a steep enough angle then the air current should carry the bugs up and over the lens and camera.

#2 - may be hard for you to obtain, but the TV networks have a neat rolling piece of acetate in front of the lenses on cameras mounted on race cars. When you watch a big race, you will inevitably see at least one shot from a race car where the image is first obscured from road grime then as the acetate is rolled along a clear shot. Considering how fast these cars are going - I'd bet it would work for you as well.

Maybe another CMLer could enlighten us on where this device can be found.

-JR Allen

>The problem is bugs on the lens.

Rig a small air scoop above, below, or along side the camera that deflects air from the front across the face of the lens. I made one once for a vehicle shot with a plastic scoop used for feeding grain to horses, but anything that will create a sufficient air flow across the face of the lens should be sufficient to deflect the bugs. i've also seen it done with a right angle section of 6" dryer vent pipe and a lot of gaffer tape.

Bill Crow
American Interactive Pictures

Well Phil, you won't get abuse from me at least! A couple of suggestions though. Would a rain deflector work? The bugs might - just might - get thrown to the side before sticking to the glass.

Another idea. On first thoughts, you need to slow down the wind hitting the lens, or better, deflect the wind stream. This is one for your friendly airframe engineer. I'm thinking of some kind of 'wing' for want of a better word that could produce a partial vacuum aronf the lens, les pressure, lower airspeed, less bugs.

Brian Rose
Absolutely knackered by three day at the Production Show!

Maybe you want the camera IN the prop wash instead of OUT of it.

Or it may be possible to rig an "air spoiler" just out of frame to deflect the bugs around the lens instead of into it. We see such things on American trucks on the highways - a clear plastic vertical fin on the front edge of the hood ("bonnet" for you Limeys) that deflects the bugs upward away from the windshield.

Your post does not mention what direction the camera is pointing - straight ahead? forward and 45 degrees down?

Doug Hart
First Camera Assistant, NYC

How about reversing the Camera and shooting through a spinning Mirror. Any bugs would hit the Mirror instead of the front Element. A spinning Mirror would be adequately out of Focus that any bug that did stick to it would not significantly affect your shot. Of course African Bugs may be the size of turnips for all I know.

"Scott MacDonald"

Mount the camera facing to the rear...if seeing where you have been is less desirable than seeing where you are going.....reverse it.

Glenn Suprenard Dir/DP
Matinee Pictures

My experience with a variety of motorcycle windscreens would lead me to believe that rain deflectors won't work on this sort of thing. Unlike water droplets, bugs which have splatted will leave glue, goo, and worse on the glass...the deflector will cause it to act as a distorter/ND rather than a soft matte, but I think you will end up with a severely degraded image. I would favor either the acetate roller device or the airscoop device, depending on airspeed and expected bug density. You can also protect yourself with a lenscap on a string which you yank off for the first shot...but it won't help successive ones unless you are athletic enough to climb out and replace the cap between shots)

As far as the acetate roller device goes, you might well be able to find a small Wybron Scroller or Great American Market sc\roller (made for changing gels on theatrical lights by remote control)

While hrun on mains voltage, they may well have 12v. motors - you could probably gimmick one to do the job for you.

Look for one designed to work on Source 4 Leko's - should be about the right size to poke your lens into

Let us know what you find!

Mark H. Weingartner

I don't know about the direction in which this advice is going. When I did my shooting out of a biplane last year I was given very good advice from David Samualson regarding his experiences. He indicated that the wind will be excessive and to completely secure everything necessary to the camera and the camera with a safety to myself or the plane. He further suggested that I take off any needless accessories which I did, including the rubber sunshade. He also stressed the safety needs for myself being securely strapped into the plane.

He was totally right in his advice. It is really, really windy in a plane even at the slowest of speeds. I'm not sure that a scrolling device would survive even the takeoff! I don't have a solution to the problem but that's my $.02 regarding the plane environment.

How about the deflector idea but with the deflector treated with something to make it very slippery like rainex or something of that nature?

Jim Sofranko

I sould have been clearer - One of theses scrollers would be a starting point - I did not mean to suggest that youcould just bolt it on and go.

It would have to be faired somewhat so that the acetate didn't flutter and it would have to be mounted to the smae plate as the camera - not to the camera itself. It would be a bit of a fabrication job, but less of a deal than some we have undertaken.

Mark H. Weingartner

I am anticipating the same problem with ground based flies in central Australia any suggestions? The camera will be based on sticks and I would like to stop the buzzing in shot as the place is riddled with flies.

Nick Paton
Director of Photography
Brisbane Qld Australia

Well, you could try the rolling mylar matte idea, except using flypaper. It might add a bit of a tobacco-colored diffusion, though.

Or how about a bug-zapper ringlight? Noisy, occasionally smoky, but effective unless the purplish eyelight is a problem.

Or perhaps try a DEET based repellant on a filter?

Jeff "bzzz!" Kreines

Last year I did a shoot in the Northern Territory during a fly plague.
There were literally billions of the suckers. We wore nets over our heads and they still got in. People wearing a white shirt would have a solid black crust of flies crawling over their back. Don't even mention trying to eat food. It was very stressful after only a few days. But flies are attracted to moisture so the camera and lens was not of great interest.

They were much more interested in the crew. Yes flies did fly through shot but if you keep people away from the camera the flies wont be too bad. We did try fly repellent but they would just lick it off and ask for more.

Unless there has been some recent rain and green grass growth you should be able to avoid a plague. Lets hope !!!

Tom Gleeson

I see you are working for the Australian Tourist Board, Tom... trying to lure us foreigners there so we can experience the wearing of the flies.

Pretty clever!

Jeff "there's a Qantas commercial on the TV right now" Kreines

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