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If you're new to the forum or camera flying, please read all of these questions prior to posting.

Q: How much experience should a person have before starting to fly camera?
A: 200 jumps and a USPA C-Licence or FAI equivalent is recommended. See USPA SIM Section 6-8. Other countries have rules and/or recommendations that differ from the USPA. It's recommended to have a solid background in the discipline for which you are planning to video.
Even when people say they're only using it as a 'flight recorder', a camera ads a distraction, and your flying will change. Focusing more on trying to capture the subjects on video and less on your surroundings and your own flying can pose a risk to all participants.
Having 50 freefly or wingsuit jumps does not make you an experienced flyer in the discipline. Each time you begin a new discipline, take the camera out of the experience until you've got more jump history in that discipline.


Q: What is a Copyright and who "owns" my work?
A: Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. See US Copyright Office Circular 1.


Q: What does the phrase "Work Made for Hire" mean and how does that affect my rights under Copyright law?
A: Although the general rule is that the person who creates a work is the author of that work, there is an exception to that principle: the copyright law defines a category of works called “works made for hire.” If a work is “made for hire,” the employer, and not the employee, is considered the author. See US Copyright Office Circular 9.


Q: Is it legal to use (insert name of popular tune) in my tandem videos?
A: Legally, you'd first need to get permission of the Copyright holder. Imagine how you'd feel if someone used one of your photos in an advertising brochure without paying you or getting your permission. See SIGNATURE SOUND, INC. -- 11 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Music Licensing.
Q:Where can I look to know more about the nuances of camera flying?
This thread is an excellent start.

Q: What size box fits the (insert camera model here)?
A: It's almost impossible to know the answer for this question for every camera but there is at least one manufacturer that posts information about their camera enclosures for you on-line. See Bonehead Composites, Cookie Composites, Skysystems, or other camera manufacturer listed on Dropzone.com

Q:What wide angle lens do I need?
A: Use the search function; this is often asked.

Q:Why is a camera jump any different from any other jump? Why do I need 200 jumps before jumping a camera? Why do tandem manufacturers recommend 500 jumps before shooting tandems?
A: Billvon wrote an excellent response from the point of view of one of those people that isn't really shooting camera as a "camera flyer", but simply "wearing" it as a way of documenting the event.


Because it absolutely will affect how you fly. You will pay more attention to the camera than to the jump. Two examples of this in action:

1) At about the 2000 jump mark, I built a chestmount camera to use during AFF. A bit later I took it on a bigway at Perris. At this point I was a decent bigway flyer - had a few state records, had a reputation of being a reliable late diver etc. Well, on the first jump I collided with someone, and the second jump I ended up in the wrong sector. Kate told me to get rid of the camera (which I did.) Why was I having a problem? Was it getting in my way? Nope, it just stayed on my chest; I didn't even have to aim it. Was it making the dive more complex? Nope - I just turned it on before exit and turned it off after I landed. It was just that I knew I had a camera on, and was thinking not only about my job on the skydive but about what the camera was seeing (which all camera flyers do.)

I made a bunch more jumps on the system (probably another 100 or so) and then took it to another bigway event. This time I was OK; I could handle the multitasking better. Since then I've taken a similar system on three world records and gotten some good pictures.

2) At Brown we did a demo one day into a golf course. It could not have been an easier demo. Wide open landing areas, low winds, clear day. We took people with at least a C license.

It was a scary thing to watch. A helicopter on the ground - perhaps 1/4 mile from the LZ - waited until everyone was under canopy before starting up, and didn't take off until well after the last person landed. But one jumper saw the rotor start to spin up and freaked out. He landed hard enough to break both his femurs; amazingly he was OK. (The wet grass had something to do with it.) Someone else landed into the only tree in a 500 foot radius of the target.

Why did they have so many problems? Was the area tight? No. Were there immediate hazards they were dodging? No. It was just that they had more things to pay attention to. There was a helicopter that had its rotor spinning! Oh no! And there's a tree! What do I do? I should avoid that . . . WHAP.

It wasn't that these people didn't have the basic skill to land in a big area - it's that there were distractions that they didn't have the experience to manage yet. Camera is like that as well.

I'd wait until you have 200-300 jumps, until you can do RW without worrying about whether you will get there or not, without worrying whether you can break off safely, without ever losing sight of the people on the dive. Once you can do that, then add the camera and do very simple skydives until that is second nature as well.

Q:How current do I need to be?
A:Currency is a good thing. If you've got 175 jumps over the past 5 years or have had a long layover, it's probably a good idea to get current before considering putting a camera on your head for many reasons in addition to those laid out above.

Q: I want to become a camera flyer/videographer/photographer, but I'm a newbie. What should I be working on until I have 500 jumps?
A: The answer to this is debatable. One school of thought says "Get good on your belly and be capable of doing at least elementary 4-way before putting on a camera." Another school of thought says "Just fly, have fun, learn to fly your body so you're comfortable in the air, then worry about learning the various techniques of the camera flyer."
Both have merit, but both opinions also bear repeating the tired but true concept of "Talk to the instructors and experienced skydivers at your dropzone."
And another post of similar thought from VideoFly:
"During my entanglement, I knew I had a problem. I had no idea I was just about to clear my cutaway cable from one riser’s three-ring assembly. A sudden disconnection might have broken my neck and/or created more problems. My helmet was pinned down so hard that my helmet’s chin area bruised my chest and my hand was trapped in the mess A helmet cutaway was not an option as the back plate was held closed by tightly twisted risers. I know this was a bad situation and I was lucky. This is one reason that camera flyers get so concerned when inexperienced jumpers throw cameras into their routines without considering or preparing for potential consequences. While being a truly wonderful experience, flying with cameras adds distractions and potential hazards to skydiving. Experienced flyers know that. In the future, in addition to my standard EPs, I will be more conscious of my cutaway cables when clearing twists. I have no argument for others using RSLs or Skyhooks. As I said, without cameras, I would use them. I was hoping to inform others of the possibilities involved when clearing riser twists, with or without cameras involved.

Another post with other commentary from DaveLepka
Of course this is the classic question many new skydivers ask with regards to shooting video. They go on to suggest that this camera or that helmet have almost no risk for snags, so what could it hurt?

The reply is always the same about the camera being a distraction to the jumper and those around him, and if you don't know how to handle it, bad things can happen. I had forgotten about this until it popped up in another thread, but now I present to you, a bad thing happening -

This was 12+ years ago when mini-DV was brand new, and sidemount cameras had not been released. As such, there were literally 1/10 the number of cameras on the DZ because not many folks were keen to jump the big stuff.

Guy 'A' and guy 'B' are expereinced freeflyers with at least 500 jumps each, and many, many jumps together. Guy 'A' mans up and buys a camera helmet, and I present you guy 'A's first camera jump, where he did a two-way with guy 'B', alot like the many two ways they had done before.


Long story short, guy 'B' was stoked to be on video, and guy 'A' was stoked to be shooting video. Both forgot about break off, tracking, or pulling. Both well over 200 jumps, both got sucked right into the camera, and almost didn't get out.


Q:What editing software should I use?
A:There isn't a single answer. The common editing software packages available are;
Adobe Premiere (PC and Apple)
Avid Liquid (PC only)
Avid Xpress Pro (PC and Apple)
Canopus Edius (PC Only)
Final Cut Pro (Apple only)
iMovie (Apple only)
Sony Vegas (PC only)
Sony Vegas Movie Studio (PC only)
Ulead VideoStudio (PC only)
Windows Movie Maker (PC Only)

[Q} Is XXXX a good reseller to buy from?
Check out resellerratings website to learn if a seller is reputable or not. Learn the meaning of "caveat emptor!!"

Q: Why does everyone demand I fill out my profile?
A: Filling out your profile not only tells people a little about you, but it helps them tailor their responses to you as a person rather than a generic response that may be either beyond your experience level or beneath your ability. Anticipate some grief if you attempt to hide your jump numbers if you're a low-number jumper.

Q:Can I use a hard drive-type or DVD-based camcorders?
A: No, unless you're only doing hop n' pops from low altitudes. Hard drives require air pressure in order to function properly. DVD drives cannot manage the stress and bounce of freefall.
Stick with memory card or tape-based camcorders.

Q:Which is better, top mount or side mount?
A: There is no fixed/proper answer to this question, it depends entirely upon what you're wanting to do.
Top mount systems as a general rule, are better for your neck at deployment time, sidemount systems are easier to manage in small aircraft. Sidemount systems run a risk of riser slap, top mount systems are not as easy to manage for some freefliers.

Q:What is "EIS" and "OIS?"
A: EIS=Electronic Image Stabilization
OIS=Optical Image Stabilization
For stills, you won't be worrying about this feature in the air.
Most camcorders today are OIS, or "Optical Image Stabilized." EIS can be preferable for free-flying.
Sony offers a couple of EIS models. All Canon and Panasonic camcorders currently are OIS.

Q:Why does everyone recommend Sony camcorders for aerial use?
Aside from the fact that Sony is a tried/tested brand in the air, only Sony and Canon offer LANC control, which allows the camcorder to provide feedback to an optical device, indicating the current state of the camera (recording, stopped, off) Panasonic and JVC do not offer LANC. Newer Sony and Canon camcorders do not offer LANC, Sony has an AV/D control that products like the HypEyePro D will access. Canon does not offer this.
Additionally, helmet/box manufacturers seem to strongly lean towards Sony for box models.


[Q]Can I sidemount an HD camcorder?
HD camcorders in their current form, do not lend themselves well to side mounting. There are helmets made for sidemounting these wide-bodied camcorders, check them out from people who OWN the helmets vs what resellers of the helmets may say.

[Q]What are the differences between lenses and the numbers that describe them?
Numbers like .3 describe a lens that is very wide.
.5 describes a double-width, etc.
.5 is common for outside video, .3 is common for inside video.
A test of sorts may be found here that demonstrates the different widths of lenses.
[Q]What do all these acronyms mean?
There are a lot of them, no doubt. Here are a few that might pop up often:
AVCHD-Advanced Video Codec/High Definition
AVCHD is based around MPEG technology. Not all NLE systems directly support AVCHD; be sure you know what you're getting into if you choose an AVCHD camcorder. AVCHD is the "new DV." It replases Standard Definition DV. All AVCHD is widescreen.

SD-Standard Definition. Usually a 4:3 display image, it's what most cameras have delivered fo the past 12 years.

HD-High Definition. There are two flavors of HD, the predominant flavor is 1920x1080 at display. Your camera may record 1440x1080; this is still an HD display.

HDD-Hard Disk Drive. As mentioned above, HDD camcorders CANNOT be used for freefall above 9000 feet, and it is not recommended to use them at all due to potential shock damage to the hard drive platter/heads.

HDV-High Definition Video. This format is based around a combination of DV transports and MPEG2 technology.

NLE-Nonlinear Editor. A computer-based editing system.
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