The sky is the limit
Capturing helicopters in motion requires a camera operator with special skills and equipment that is fast, precise and reliable.
Freelance photographer and videographer, Uroš Podlogar has a passion for adventure and storytelling which sees him travel around the globe, often to extreme and remote locations. From snow-capped mountain peaks of Everest and Fuji to the plains of South Africa and along Vietnam’s rocky coast, Uroš takes it all in his stride to capture breath-taking scenes for clients including Sony, DJI, Toyota and Bell.
Called on by the Montenegro Army to document the delivery of a new fleet of helicopters, Uroš relied on his Sachtler flowtech75 tripod combined with the revolutionary new aktiv8 fluid head and a Syrp Magic Carpet slider to deliver the widest range of shots against the clock. Moving from tripod to slider in seconds, Uroš moved from extreme low-angle shots to high shots with smooth panning to capture the helicopter in flight.
This project was for the new Bell 505 helicopter, it is used by the army to train pilots for the bigger helicopters, they ordered four and this was the delivery of the first one. I needed to make a commercial video of the new helicopter operating in Montenegro with high-ranking army and government officials
No second chances
With little time and a wide expanse of airfield to cover, Uroš appreciated the light weight of the aktiv8 flowtech75 system and the speed at which he could work. “When you are working with helicopters you don’t have second chances,” he says “everything is moving quickly, and you don’t have time to repeat things because flying helicopters is really expensive. I need to get as many different shots as I can in a short time.” adding “I really love to shoot from low-angles, and aktiv makes that easy, with no bowl clamp I can lower the tripod right down to the ground or I can take it off the tripod and click it on to the slider in seconds; It really allows me to be more flexible on the shoot and not waste any time when I swap from the tripod to the slider.”
With only one chance to get critical key scenes, Uroš could rely on the speed and precision of the aktiv system to capture the perfect shot. “For the helicopter take off, I could get a low angle shot from the slider, then quickly mount my Sony FX9 onto the tripod for a smooth panning shot of the helicopter passing by. When I’m shooting a helicopter from the ground I use a big 100-400mm lens, but even with a heavy lens I could easily move from slider to tripod with the SpeedSwap and quickly level the camera with the SpeedLevel without taking my eye off of the helicopter so I didn’t miss any action.”
The large airfield in Montenegro meant that action could be far apart. “The airfield was really long,” says Uroš, “the hangar was on one side and the take-off area on the other which meant there was a lot of walking with gear, so the weight is really important, you need to be as light as possible to move quickly in and around an airfield.” He adds, “In the small 505 helicopter there is not much space so I need small lightweight equipment, but the images need to be high quality; the Sachtler gear allows me to use my professional Sony cameras which is perfect.”
On the level
Another feature that saved Uroš precious time is the illuminated PrismBubble.
It’s great for levelling when the tripod is at full height and you are looking from below, with other fluid heads you can only check the level from above, but aktiv also shows the level from the side. Or, if you are interviewing someone, you can set the tripod high to their eye-level and you can check the shot is level from behind the camera – that’s a real timesaver
With the world’s fastest tripod and a fluid head built for speed in his kit list, Uroš’ next globe-trotting project takes him to France and Switzerland joining the jet set to working with aircraft manufacturer, Cessna.