Tyler Middle Mount Operating Advice
Published : 11th August 2005
I'm looking for any specific advice on operating with a Tyler Middle Mount. I am shooting with the Varicam, but my concern here is tips for operating. Obviously practice makes perfect and I will have some air time before we "go"., but you have to start somewhere. My Pilot is reputable, so I feel that I am in good hands on that end.
My previous Helicopter experience (for a feature film) was a low-budget handheld "rig" with a Kenyon Gyro attached to the camera (s16).
I have searched the archives and other web sources and can't find anything specific enough. Any help would be appreciated.
I have always thought that the most important thing about using a helicopter mount is to get it perfectly balanced before you take-off. You should be able (almost) to pan and tilt the camera by blowing it!
Then when you are flying never guide it by anything more than your finger
tips. The moment you grab hold of the handles you transfer all your vibration through to the camera.
IU always think that the most perfect helicopter shot is the opening sequence of The Sound of Music ... shot by the late Paul Beeson, BSC, using a 65mm camera on a Helivision mount (before the Tyler was invented)
The second most important thing is the attitude of the pilot ... he has to remember that he is flying a camera ... not doing a routine taxi job.
May I humbly recommend section 16 (pages 359-354 of my Hands-on Manual for Cinematographers.
Good Luck and remember ... the shot that was worth dieing for has yet to be taken,
I've only used a Tyler mount a couple of times, but what I've found is that probably 75% of getting the shot is down to the pilot.. Camera position and movement is all reliant on the pilot, so make sure you communicate very clearly what you want. Rehearse it as many times as you can.
Make sure the mount is properly balanced before you take off, as adjustments in the air are virtually impossible. Most important of all, keep your speed down! Trying to operate at 50 or 60 mph and you will find the camera ripped out of your hands by the wind. Lastly, wrap up warm, particularly your legs - it gets bloody cold after 20 minutes or so in the air.
One more thing - try to avoid humming 'The Ride of the Valkyries' loudly into the intercom. Pilots don't always get the joke.
DP, Bristol, UK
Learan Kahanov writes:
>I'm looking for any specific advice on operating with a Tyler Middle >Mount.
Do you have any specific questions?
>I am shooting with the Varicam, but my concern here is tips for >operating.
The Varicam is fairly new, so there probably isn't a great deal of info outthere. First off, the viewfinder is B&W so if your trying to find a bluecar on the Brooklyn Bridge or something like that, think about another typeof VF. Also while many pilots may have monitors, most don't have HDmonitors, so you will need a downconverter or an HD monitor for the pilot.
Get all of that stuff straightened out before you take off. Landing fees in NYC are a little pricey.
The Tyler Middle Mount was designed for an Arri 35III; to the extent that any camera differs from the 35 II that is the the degreee of difficulty you will have in manuvering and viewing through the camera.
> I have searched the archives and other web sources and can't find >anything specific enough. Any help would be appreciated.
There is a great deal of extremely valuable info on the cml website. Look
again I think it's under working practice.
Check out Tyler's website
What David Samuelson said about balancing the camera is absolutely correct. It is especially important to get it perfect if you are going to use the gyros -- and you should use the gyros. If you don't have David's book, buy it.
The Varicam is very light weight compared to a 35III with a 25-250 and 400' of film. You mave have to remove a lead donut from the counterweight or take off the weight cover. The pilot should know what that means. If he doesn't then you might not have the pilot you think you have. If it's Al Cerullo, you can't do any better.
Listen very carefully to what he says.
If you are flying in NYC and in the winter, it is extremely cold. Think about wind chill. I wear a Mustang 1 piece survival suit, and I have frozen my ass off. If you figure out a way to keep your hands warm and still operate all those tiny little buttons, I be grateful if you'd let me know.
Godd luck, have fun.
IA 600 DP
> Im looking for any specific advice on operating with a Tyler Middle >Mount. I am shooting with the Varicam, but my concern here is tips for >operating.
1/. Make sure that the camera/mount combination is balanced properly.
Balance is accomplished by a combination of moving the camera with regard to pivot points and moving the counterweight in and out and left and right.
You want the camera to be much more neutral than compared with an underslung head, for instance.
The reason you want to be pretty neutral is that when flying, you are subject to lateral G forces and if you are balanced very bottom heavy (feels more stable when sitting on the ground) then the camera will try to swing one way or another or roll one way or another in some flying situations.
2/. Make sure that you are positioned so that you are in the ship enough to avoid getting buffeted by airstream - you might be inclinedto slide yourself as far out as possible because it looks like you canget more pan and tilt before you see the ship, but if you are in dirtyair, this added mobility won't help you as much as the dirty air willhurt. It is really going to be up to the pilot to position the doorso that it is pointed the way you need to be pointed - your pilot/dolly grip is really the one that gets you the shots - you are there to adjust framing and focal length.
3/. Use the least amount of pan and tilt friction as you can be comfortable with. In my own limited experience, I have noted that people who crank the drags down hard generally don't get very good shots and complain about the rig a lot - unlike a fluid head, a side mount gets its smoothness from the mass of the camera/mount combination - it is the inertia of the system which damps out vibrations and small ship "bobbles" and adding too much drag only prevents that inertia from doing its job properly.
(not your brain, but your muscles) light inputs will be smoother than a death-grip on the handles
> My Pilot is reputable, so I feel that I am in good hands on that end.
I hope it's Al Cerillo, cause they don't come much better in that area.
Communicate what you want--on the ground first. Don't be afraid to let the pilot know what you need while in the air speed, angle, rudder, etc.
If you haven't set one of these up, don't let production try to save money on a qualified tech as it will cost you more in time and hassle. The best way to have the mount properly set up is by someone who really knows what they're doing. A lot of helo companies can properly/safely install the mounts, but haven't a clue about the right set up for you.
I stopped by to visit/help install a middle mount with a tech/friend last week. We had the mount in quickly, waited for the crew and camera to arrive. I could tell immediately that the operator had never used one before. The ship took off, and within 15 minutes was back with questions
and needed help in operation. Oh well, it's only $750/hr.
Brian Heller writes:
>while many pilots may have monitors, most don't have HD monitors, so >you will need a downconverter or an HD monitor for the pilot.
Would downconverter latency ever be significant enough to confuse the pilot while trying to execute precision maneuvers? (I imagine this could be a potential problem with HDV cameras, whose SD outputs seem to have long latency times when the camera's shooting in HD mode.)
Marin County, CA
Dan Drasin writes:
> Would downconverter latency ever be significant enough to confuse the
>pilot while trying to execute precision maneuvers?
That's a good question. How long is a long time? It might be significant
in some circumstances.
However, most pilots I know only glance at their monitor from time to time
to see what the camera is up to, and don't really fly by the monitor. Not because of any temporal displacement, but because "objects in the viewfinder may be closer than they appear".
Happy landings to all,
IA 600 DP
A good pilot isn't the only thing, it's everything.
I don't know the Vericam but the coaxial mag is a must so you maintain
balance throughout the load.
The plexi wind screen helps you get the lens out of the door just a little farther but on a windy day it can work against you by buffeting the bird and not being of much help in the wind department. Actually if it's windy, stay home.
Stay wide, go low & slow, get close to your subject, over-crank and watch out for the rotor blades in the top of your shot!
Owner/Operator: Aaton XTR, Arri III
Filmovil Lighting and Grip
San Jose, Costa Rica
> I don't know the Vericam but the coaxial mag is a must so you maintain
> balance throughout the load.
The Varicam is a video camera...
Co-axial load? What 35mm camera do you use?
The windscreen is designed to deflect the wash created by the foward motion of the helo away from the camera, not for wind on a windy day.
Unless you're hovering it is an essential accessory. I've done a couple of
jobs when it was inadvertantly left behind.
I now make sure we've got it.
> A good pilot isn't the only thing, it's everything.
If the aircraft's rotors are not tracking properly or if they are out of balance, even Chuck Yeager -- or his helo equivalent -- won't be able to do you much good.
IA 600 DP
>I've done a couple of jobs when it was inadvertantly left behind.
I've never left the windscreen behind, but I had to operate a while back in a jet ranger--out the left side with a still photog in the front w/o the door or a windscreen.
Talk about two strikes against me! (and I was shooting a ballpark!)
There's been much very good advice in this string. A few more tips -
1/. Try and arrange a cover day (nights?) or two for shooting. Weather makes a very big difference in image quality. Shooting in choppy or crummy conditions is not worth it.
2/. Pilot's monitor is good idea.
3/. I like to have a toy helicopter and something to represent the subject I'm shooting to demonstrate or rehearse (with pilot) on the ground. You can demonstrate the direction, angle of approach, climbing or dropping, angle of crab, etc.
4/. The helicopter is a 3D dolly. - let it do as much of the work as possible.
5/. Don't try and shoot on too long a lens(shaky) or too wide (shooting the rotors is usually a bummer).
6/. Don't take off until you have double checked that EVERYTHING is well secured - Nothing must be loose or be able to come loose and exit the helicopter.