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packerboy

Falling through a formation

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A few weekends ago I took my first stab at some serious RW camera flying. Backround info: I've got 550 jumps - about 400 of which are freeflying and about 100 with a camera. I did 15 formation camera jumps (8-10-12 ways etc.). The first few didn't turn out that great, mainly because I was a little timid and more worried about flying than filming. Some a little out of centre, but everything was in frame, maybe just a little far away and everything was safe. After about 5 or 6 I started to find a sweet spot on the edge of the burble with a good angle and got some really good film. jumps 12,13,14 turned out awesome... nice formations perfect angle and everything just felt great. I was getting debriefed by the load organizer and our main video guy after pretty much every jump and both were telling me that things were good, but I could get a little steeper and a little closer.

On the 15th jump of the weekend I got a little too steep and ended up falling through the formation. I got scolded by someone very important (not the load organizer or my video mentor) and was told that this is evidence that I am unsafe and not ready to fly video. This is the first time that I have been called unsafe aside from one or two landings "in the corner", and I was extremely offended.

My question is this... how many video guys out there have never fallen through a formation? (be honest)
And IS this evidence that I should not be flying camera?

I'll be very honest. I'm not fantastic a formation flyer. I can't turn 10 points on a 4 way. And having me on a bigway probably lowers it's chance of success. I'm a freeflyer. However, I felt very comfortable and in control up there and knew where I was and was exactly where I wanted to be at all times. The last jump I chose to go somewhere I shouldn't have gone and learned a lesson. I didn't fall through because I accidently got too close. I fell through because where I decided to be was too close. This person got very offensive and personal (that's just the way they are). I think they were simply out to offend me for the sake of being an asshole.

Should I put off filming RW untill I am a hotshot 4wayist? Am I an unsafe flyer because I fell through a formation? Or am I now simply safer than I was before because I know exactly where not to be?

--------------------------------------------------
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. ~ Thomas Jefferson

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You don't really need to be a hot RW flyer to fly camera. You shold be a pretty confident belly flyer though. You should definitely work on 4 way before moving up to larger formations. It gives you a chance to learn how formations move and how different transitions/formations effect fallrate and position. Always watch the dirt dive as well - you should know the jump as well as the participants so you're prepared for the transitions.

It's just as important to know where -not- to be if you know what I mean.

I've taken out some 4-ways before - can't say I've taken out anything larger. Falling through a 12 way is not a good thing - think of all the shit you have on your head and how bad it would be if you slammed in to someone beneath you. Not a good thing. I'm sure it was an honest mistake but put the shoe on the other foot. Camera guys falling through formations, well, I think you can see how that might piss some people off......

I wouldn't give up camera flying cuz of one dude though. Just work on your belly flying - find a new 4 way team and see if you can film them while they're just starting out. Often they'll pay for your slot even if they know you're just starting out. I did that when I first started and it was a great way to learn......

Peace,
Z






Action©Sports

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i would wager that every aspiring camera person has made your mistake. Its how you learn from the experience that determine what type of camera flyer you are / will be. i have about 1000 camera dives and have hit formations once or twice , especially in the early days. The biggest thing i would suggest is to know what trouble feels like in your fingers ( closest to the burble ) and have an emergency plan ( stick your legs up your ass and hands out in front ) and at that point screw keeping them in frame ( get out of there and live to tell the tale without an ego telling you that your not safe.

The guy who told you were not safe didnt imho appreciate your learning and imho was a little harsh. The fact that you feel offended with his comments is in my view has you on the right road. People like this will pressure you to be close and then bollick you for getting too close. Get as close as you are happy with and if there are comments about where you should be listen , learn but dont feel pressure to have to be there. People having new video guys on their dives have to appreciate they aint getting airspeed style video and thats that.

As for where to go , i have mixed feelings on moving down to smaller formations . They are a smaller " target " to hit but i think move around faster than something big. So they might be good chasing practice especially if new.

One thing id suggest is to have as a reference point in the formation the rig of the jumper closest and ALMOST underneath you. I focus my attention more on that rig than the centre of the formation. The thing is to move relative to that rig.

All that being said , its only my experience which is not huge as its spread out over 5 years.

David

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Jake DaGimp gave me some excellent words of wisdom when I approached him with similar concerns: "You aren't really a camera flyer if you haven't taken out a formation at least once." B|

He also has good advice on how to better attempt stopping the crash, which I'm sure he'll explain better than I will. He says that most people will try to get big to pop up, but you're essentially screwed there, as you've already entered the burble. He suggested shooting straight across to the other side as you feel yourself getting too deep in the burble. That way, you use your momentum to slide over, rather than slam into, the formation. As you reach the other side and the safety of clean air you pop up and rotate and you're golden. It worked for me in 4-way, but I've never tried it with anything much larger. I tend to be a bit more timid in that regard, flying a bit higher than most good videographers. But I am still learning as well. :)
Kevin - Sonic Beef #5 - OrFun #28
"I never take myself too seriously, 'cuz everybody know fat birds don't fly." - FLC
Online communities: proof that people never mature much past high school.

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" I think they were simply out to offend me, for the sake of being an asshole"

.... Whoa partner....
When a video person is 'working' they are likely the ONLY person in the air who 'sees EVERYone..'...and if it is ME who is working,,, even if the formation is incomplete, or more properly, especially if the formation is incomplete... I make sure I KNOW where every ONE of the jumpers are...especially those who never may dock on the damn thing....I have learned how to do that ,, with my EYES,,, while still keeping the camera(s) centered on the building formation...:|
Most every one on the dive, usually does NOT see the video guy.... especially if they are concentrating on THEIR job....[:/]
SOoooooo If the camera guy hits, crashes into or even touches, a formation, It is almost ALWAYS unexpected...... and as such can be plenty scarey for the people on the dive who are then the target!!!.
I have not EVER hit a formation, in almost 1,500 camera jumps,,, except for a time or two, immediately at exit, when timing is off or the count was not fluid, or just getting away from the step and handle, was wrong... on my part... But that is subterminal and not as 'interesting' as hitting a formation at some point during the dive.....
( i learned that if the group gets off the plane sooner than i expected, i e , they 'beat me to the punch', I don't just "leave anyway". I wait a half a count, and then GO and quickly rotate and chase, and get myself into my position promptly..) ( being careful NOT to interfere with any late divers as they come out the door,,,,, sometimes that makes for a cool exit shot )
Now you say you fell "through" the formation and so i will give you the benefit of the doubt that it was a big O, or something else with a large open center.. But the fact is. your vertical speed at that moment likely was NOT compatible with the flat fly speed of the dive...
You say you are a freeflyer so I don't have to tell you about corking... In this case ,, your move, was more like a "reverse-cork".. see???
I don't think the person who scolded you was "just trying to be an asshole".. I think maybe that person was scared, and maybe a bit pumped UP about it. and rightfully so...
YOU as the videographer DO have the responsibility, not only to get good video but to do it safely and with NO surprises....
Flirting with the burble can be quite tricky and if the formation contains a variety of experience levels, it can slide around, move up or down, potatochip or even instantly disintegrate if one of the divers hits it wrong.... people who are already In the formation may be able to keep an eye out for that, but once all the jumpers are IN....... the last thing any of them expect is to have the video guy, tear through it, hit it, or even touch it,,,,, Unless it is previously discussed that the camera person will dock on the formation, say just as seperation altitude is coming up....and only then, slot perfect....:)What was YOUR reaction and response like, on the ground after the dive,???
were you repentent?
Did you accept responsibility for your blunder?? or were you defensive and of the impression that it "wasn't that big of a deal"????....:S
Because My friend,,, it IS a big deal.....>:(
If you need to better fill your frame, either lose the wide angle lens, or else try zooming your lens 1/4 of the way, up the telephoto... You NEVER need to be so close to an RW formation that you take it out...,
especially at any low altitude!!!...:o
... You may have a cypress or other AAD but the person who you 'cream',,,, may not ..
let's be careful out there....:|
jimmytavino
A 3914 .... D 12122

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Pretty much every 4 way cam I know has hit the formation at some time....
Rather than the scolding Jimmy is giving you I would suggest that if you know why you hit the formation ...and its something you can learn from and not repeat , then it happened and you learned from it.
Jimmy, I'll respectfully suggest that you are in a minority of people with that many cam jumps that didnt hit the formation at least once whilst you were learning.

More to the point would be ...analyse the situation ...why it happened...and guage your reaction to it happening...what did you do...? ...did you put hands out in front when you realised imapct was imminant or did you fight for drag till the bitter end......these are the things to take away from the situation, as well as a strong realisation of the potential dangers of hitting the formation.

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Trevor...

You've gotten great advise here from some very experienced camera fliers. One thing that hasn't been offered so far is getting a camera suit. Try one and you'll be amazed at how much control it gives you ... even very close over a 4 way. As with any new piece of equipment, practice jumps are critical to learning how it flies. Practice...practice...practice. Learning how the suit flies, and what the top of the burble feels like will help keep you clear of the formation and able to get the shots you want.

Hope this helps.

Quincy

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OK... I don't have a whole lot of experience overall but I have spent most of my season this year developing my Formation video flying.

it sounds to me like you found the edge. I did this about a month ago fortunately for me the group I was shooting was cool about it and in fact my mentor was quite pleased because it means that I was really trying to be in that sweet spot (where you can get awesome video but are on the edge of the burble)

There may be camera flyers out there that haven't fallen on the formation but it doesn't sound to me like you're being dangerous. (in fact it sounds to me like you're doing the right thing by getting feedback from more experienced jumpers and listening to that advice)

and you should be able to turn at least 20 points before you ever consider trying out video... :D:D

I kid, I kid...
Livin' on the Edge... sleeping with my rigger's wife...

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did you have wings on your suit ?? They can help a lot preventing that kind of stuf..

I already touched the formations, never took anyone out, and never missed a point (due to this :D), even if I was flying under the formation and on my back.

Already missed points due to :
-full zoom
-camera off
-nightshot
scissors beat paper, paper beat rock, rock beat wingsuit - KarlM

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Point well taken,, however...........an important fact is that I have never had the occasion
to be a "full time 4 way " cameraperson....
Not too many hardcore 4 way teams where I jump, and I am not always able to be available for the type of commitment required of a team video person. [:/]
So that is not a big part of my repertoire...
I shoot tandems and AFF and many many 'fun jump' RW skydives... Maybe since I tend to overdo it on the side of caution, I have been fortunate to stay off the backs of my friends....
A more daring and 'on the edge' sorta person, could easily find themselves, suddenly in a poor spot....
A safe way to avoid the wrath of anyone
is to tread carefully. If jumpers are not happy with your camerawork while you stay in a safe zone,,,, you can pleasantly suggest that they go out and arm themselves with ALL the equipment which is needed to fly camera(s).. and try it themselves... :P;)B|
Zoter,,,my intention was certainly not to scold anyone,,, but rather to point out that once the event occured, the more important aspect is, how did the cameraperson react, upon landing. Was that person aware of the seriousness, of did they brush it off, as 'not that big a deal"..
like many things in this sport, Attitude is very very important....:|
jmy

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I have only recently started to camera fly. I am doing one on ones and following small groups out (for free - they think it's great!) so I'm no expert.

However, this thread did make me smile a little. A few months ago I was in a Scrambles (as a four-way jumper) and on the last round the cameraman took out one of my team big time.

We were all in the packing shed when the cameraman came in - his nose was the size of a grapefruit!!!

He was apparently an experienced cameraman and was very apologetic.

The Chief Cameraman at the Club smiled and said......"Don't worry about it. There are only two kinds of cameraman......those who have and those who will".

Wise words mate!!!

Regards

Red Kite

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The formation that I fell through was round at the time. What I felt in the air was that there was no chance at all that I was going to save it. It didn't happen as I was coming down to the burble from far it happened as I was going from not so over the top to over the top. My reaction was not to get huge and pop up, my reaction was to get in the middle of the round and go down through the middle without hitting anyone. I was almost succesfull but I came down through an arm dock and glanced the sides and shoulders of two jumpers.

When I got to the ground I immediately went to the most experienced for advice. (I already got the one finger salute from the organizer while I was on my back under the formation, coincedentally one of the two I hit.), and was told by both that it IS a big deal, but it happens. Learn from the mistake and I'll be a better jumper. And that's how I took the advice. The people that I hit are my friends. I felt terrible. Not for destroying the formation, but for endangering them. I know how serious a freefall collision can be and I do not take it lightly.

That being said... this "other" advice about me not being ready to fly camera and that this is evidence, came weeks later as a side note to another completely seperate conversation. Kind of a "By the way... that time you fell through the formation proves that you are not ready." This is why I was offended and was here looking for advice and a sort of redemption. If I was told on the ground after the jump that maybe I shouldn't have been videoing that jump and that I should stick to something smaller, I could have accepted that as learning advice. But that's not how it went down. This person watched me get on 15 loads and do video before telling me a few weeks later that I am not ready for it.

I like the idea of a camera suit as a tool. But I have been told that it is like wearing booties. Although they are a good tool that can help you track like a madman some people use them to compensate for poor flying and tracking. Learn without and then integrate. I think for now, I will zoom a bit, stay a bit farther away and flirt with the edge a little more before being on the edge.

We don't do 4-ways with video out of our 182 and when we have the otter for long weekends, 4 ways don't really happen.. people go bigger. The one time there was a 4 way, I went with them instead of the larger way.

The person that scolded me was not the person I hit, was on the opposite side of the dive and didn't seem at all concerned about the situation untill weeks later and had a point to try and prove about something all together different.

And paying for other peoples slots doesn't happen at our dropzone either... except for students and tandems. If you want to be a video guy, you pay for your own jumps and carry a camera. Most people at our dropzone although they like to see video of themselves could care less about having video unless it is a special occasion jump.

There is alot of good advice in this forum, much more than any of the other forums... thanks for being supportive and not for being pricks who do no wrong and who's crap don't stink like most of the other forums on this site. This is what I like about the few camera flyers that I know.. they are humble.

--------------------------------------------------
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. ~ Thomas Jefferson

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I like the idea of a camera suit as a tool. But I have been told that it is like wearing booties. Although they are a good tool that can help you track like a madman some people use them to compensate for poor flying and tracking. Learn without and then integrate. I think for now, I will zoom a bit, stay a bit farther away and flirt with the edge a little more before being on the edge.



Camera suits don't compensate for poor flying ability - it actually takes a lot of practice to fly a camera suit correctly. For someone my size (6'4 230) they help a lot while doing tandem vids. If you decide to get some wings, make several jumps without your camera gear and figure out what you can do with your new tools. Most people who put on wings for the first time have a constant slow turn in one direction or another. It takes some time to figure out how to control all that extra material.

Peace,

Z






Action©Sports

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Before going to the world meet the French 8way team did a special jump for pictures .I was taking the pictures and tried to go as vertical as possible because that was where the formation looked the nicest. Due to the shape of the formation ,the burble was bigger than I expected ...basicly 2 seconds after this picture was taken , the formation was no more...[:/]




Packerboy, relax , it was maybe the first time, but probably not the last time you hit a formation...and for the people that never did : touch wood....and again.....
wuk??

http://www.brunobrokken.com

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That's a fantastic picture.

I will probably get wings this winter and I'll have good time to practice with them since

A: never done tandem vids

B: Starting a new dz, so I've got some proving to do before I start doing tandem vids.. that is if they will let me, I don't see a problem though, there is not an overabundance of video guys around.

--------------------------------------------------
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. ~ Thomas Jefferson

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Before going to the world meet the French 8way team did a special jump for pictures ....basicly 2 seconds after this picture was taken , the formation was no more...[:/]

I love that picture, Bruno...

In one side I would have loved to be part of it, and become world champion in 8 way...

On the other, being bowled out by YOU :SB| :P :D:D, no way... Oh well still gives the excuse of not having a formation done due to these videomen....:P
scissors beat paper, paper beat rock, rock beat wingsuit - KarlM

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