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CopterStudios maintains a five-man crew for each production: a pilot for the remote controlled helicopter; a camera operator, who uses an IR remote control to adjust camera functions; two safety assistants, who warn the pilot of obstacles in the flight path; and a set coordinator, who works with the director or producer to plan the shots. “While remote-controlled helicopter camera systems may seem like very sophisticated toys,” Huard added, “it takes considerable technical skill and knowledge to operate them with the precision and predictability big-budget productions require.”
Usually, the remote controlled helicopter is airborne and shooting between three and 10 minutes. The director or producer can watch the video in real time on a monitor on the set. SD video is transmitted from the JVC camera via a live video microwave downlink to a directional patch antenna, which feeds the reference monitor on set.
CopterStudios also takes advantage of the GY-HM100’s use of SDHC solid-state media and native Final Cut Pro recording. “We have a table set up with an Apple MacBook Pro laptop running the latest Final Cut Pro software,” Huard said. “When we bring the cameras back down, we simply transfer the QuickTime files from the solid-state media cards directly into the laptop and Final Cut Pro to review our footage. Having this tapeless workflow right on the set is very fast and truly indispensable to our operations.”