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Danteb

Wing Jakets

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Hi Guys, I'm a photographer who just recently got into skydiving mainly because I am interested in freefall photography/videography. my dilemma now is the mixed opinions I get on flying camera with wings vs. "flying your body" I hear alot of people saying that wings are old school & that you should learn to fly your body, that you don't need them etc. on the other hand I still see a lot of awesome camera fliers using them. so if I could get any insight from all you pro camera fliers it would be much appreciated. is it better to first become a great flier before you put wings on? will they become crutch you depend on to fly with? or are they just the right tool for the trade? what has your experience been? wings or no wings

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I have seen world class skydivers sink out on camera jumps because they refuse to 'dress for success'.

It really depends on what jump, who you are filming etc. etc.

For the likes of tandems, you never know how big or small the next customer will be, so it is good the have wings for the skinny 60kg 200cm guy with a light TM, and you always have you tshit for the big fat people.

If you get a jacket, you will not regret it.

The range they give you is unbeleivable, and they are not just to keep a fall rate with light people, you can really get into it with wings you can pop up faster, you can stop faster.

Those that say they are old school are simply ego driven, and don't have a clue.

They will be flying like a star fish trying not to sink out (getting crap footage) while you will be flying circles around your subject.
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will see peace." - 'Jimi' Hendrix

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Camera wings are simply a tool for adjusting the range of your fall rates. You need to be able to fly a fair bit faster and a fair bit slwoer than whatever you are filming in order to have the freedom to fly around them in any direction. If you cannot sink out on a subject, you'll never be able to shoot them from below, and if you can never float on a subject, you'll never be able to shoot them from above.

So depending on what you're shooting, how fast they will go, and what type of flying you do, you may need wings. For a fat tandem with an average or above average sized TM, you might not need wings at all. In fact, wings might create a problem if they interfere with your attempt to go fast (like the tandem pair). The flip side is the light passenger with the bean-pole TI, where you may need a big wing just be there and manuvering around might be limited. The key is knowing your abilities, and being able to guess the speed of your subject beforehand.

That said, this line can be taken two different ways -
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is it better to first become a great flier before you put wings on?



If what you mean by that is, 'Is it better to first become a great camera flyer, and then put wings on', then the answer is no. Part of being a great camera flyer is knowing how to use everything available to you to enhance your work.

If you what you mean by that is, 'Is it better to put wings on before I'm a good flyer, and just learn that way', then the answer is no. Despite what others may think, you need to be an above average flyer in order to be even the most average of camera flyers. You need to be good at flying your body before you put on a camera or camera wings.

Once you have achieved an acceptable level of proficiency flying your body, then you can add a camera to the mix (video only). Make a handful of jumps with the camera, then shelf it and try some camera wings. A handful of jumps with the wings, then bring the camera back. Now you are ready to start learning.

Develop some sort of skill and consistancy with the video camera before adding a still. The video is nice because you 'set it and forget it'. Push record in the plane, and all of your camera interaction is done until you land. The still camera, on the other hand, requires you to physically trip the shutter in freefall. Not only do you have to manuver and line up the shots, you also have to actaully take the picture when it presents itself. It's another layer of complexity, and you'll learn slower overall if you try to introduce it too soon. Get a handle on the one camera set up and be able to produce some nice footage, then move to the next level with a still cam.

If you're just starting to jump, you're going to need a couple hundred jumps before cameras come into the mix. Forget about them for now. Don't try to 'prepare' or pretend to fly a 'camera slot' on a bunch of jumps. Just go out, have fun, and see where it takes you. Revisit the idea of flying camera when you're qualified to do so, just be a skydiver for now, and explore everything you have access to today.

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Tx guys really appreciate it. a couple observations I made if the make any sense would be that would wings act as a sort of tripod, I find alot of sold videos are quite shaky with alot of "noise" as in unnecessary movement of the camera. also I find it very unprofessional looking when hands & feet of the camera man are popping into the frame. something that always happens when they back-fly without wings. yeah I understand they are great fliers but at the end of the day it's the final shot that matters. I think it's also a comfort thing like I can keep up with just about anybody but it is uncomfortable on the lighter end of the scale & I do loose some control in extreme slow-fall while I just want to concentrate on getting the best shot possible & you gotta kinda be in your comfort zone to do that....think I will invest in wings
still would love to hear from all of you any further opinions or insight on the subject. tx again

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I am fairly small and started off without wings. I did fine on all but the smallest of tandem pairs. Then I got a pair of small wings and I loved them. Now I have a pair of large wings and I REALLY love them. I have range everywhere and I have such control. I feel naked in freefall when I'm without them...

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wings act as a sort of tripod, I find alot of sold videos are quite shaky with alot of "noise" as in unnecessary movement of the camera



Nope. Just a tool for adjusting your fall rate. Holding your head still, and moving it with smooth deliberate motions are not related to what you are wearing.

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I find it very unprofessional looking when hands & feet of the camera man are popping into the frame. something that always happens when they back-fly without wings.



Yes, unprofessional, no not related to the wearing (or not) of wings. If anything, not wearing wings would have you flying flatter to stay with things, and in a flat position, your extemities cannot get into the frame. When you bend at the waist, or move an arm forward of your body, then those parts can get into the frame.

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I can keep up with just about anybody but it is uncomfortable on the lighter end of the scale & I do loose some control in extreme slow-fall. I just want to concentrate on getting the best shot possible & you gotta kinda be in your comfort zone to do that



Bingo- when you lose control, you lose the ability to actively 'shoot' video, and you switch to just 'recording' whatever you can get while staying with them.

While there may be a psycological aspect of your confidence taking a hit if you're a little bit 'off' on the fall rate, and while wings may restore that confidence, they really are just a tool for making an adjustment to the basic physical property of your weight vs. your surface area as compared to whatever you are filming. Don't try to make it more than that, it's not a magic bullet or the only way to skin a cat, it's one tool out of many you will need to always get the shot. Sometimes you will need the wings, and sometimes you don't, but in no way are they a prerequisite to getting the job done on each and every jump.

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For me, they are for a lot more than just fallrate. One of the other keys for shooting things like tandems is getting low and close enough to see the students face. The way many tandems fall, the student is positioned such that if you are not below them, you will get a great shot of the TI, and mostly the top of the head of the student.

You can "hang" on your wings and get below the tandem, and fly head high/feet low and not backslide out or sink out. I will see if I can find a pic to demonstrate. A lot of guys get this effect flying in a sit as well, but for me it is a great and easy way to get that shot (which is what the customer is paying for).

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(And booties if most of your video will be of belly flying.)



Of course, everyone is different, but personally I don't like booties for videoing tandems. It makes it harder to sit back on your wings and look up as mentioned and pictured above. Also, I no longer go on my back at deployment. I find that without booties, I can look up at the tandem throughout the deployment. I find it makes for smoother video, and quicker recovery afterward. Plus, while looking up, I can back slide creating horizontal separation. Your methods may vary...

I do like booties for videoing belly fliers from above however, and that is one reason I use a modular system of jacket, shorts, and bootie pants for flying video.

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I too, use a modular system. Booties rarely go on, I prefer shorts. I do roll into a sit at deployment, however.
Jackets are exceptionally useful, IMO. The "cool kids" may not wear them, but they get a lot of shots like the one attached (shot this past weekend by someone without a jacket).

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For me, they are for a lot more than just fallrate. One of the other keys for shooting things like tandems is getting low and close enough to see the students face
You can "hang" on your wings and get below the tandem, and fly head high/feet low and not backslide out or sink out



I hear what you're saying, but that still comes back to fall rate. In your own quote from above, you mention not 'sinking out', which means you're flying a fast body position (sitting up, chin up) at a moderate airspeed and that's all thanks to the wings.

If your tandem is fast enough, you could fly that same position without the wings. In fact, if the tandem is too fast, getting low and sitting up that way is a great way to go fast if you don't know how to sit or backfly. You get your chest, shoulders and head out of the relative wind, and you can keep up a pretty good airspeed (if you're flexible enough).

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You can "hang" on your wings and get below the tandem, and fly head high/feet low and not backslide out or sink out.... ...A lot of guys get this effect flying in a sit as well



IMHO when sitflying with tandems, passenger is always to far away and too small in the frame. If you are belly flying you can be close - at arm`s reach, and when sitflying you are leg distance away, right? Or if you are sit/back flying closer, you have some part of your body under a tandem?

Plus lots of the shots have camera guy`s legs in the shot which i personally don`t like.
Still I like to freefly the exit and opening. I get better shots of that part of the skydive.

A friend of mine, who does not fly wings, but has tons of tunnel time, still managed to fck up couple of tandems last season. Also, some shots were like in DSE`s post.
So I`m +1 about "flying with wings" and "dressing for success".
dudeist skydiver #42

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IMHO when sitflying with tandems, passenger is always to far away and too small in the frame. If you are belly flying you can be close - at arm`s reach, and when sitflying you are leg distance away, right? Or if you are sit/back flying closer, you have some part of your body under a tandem?



I have seen some amazing flyers, get amazing footage backflying with tandems (as well as the other shots), they can even control the fall rate of the tandem by burbling the tandem pair with their foot.

This stuf is amazing, it is very very skilled, and (some of) these people may (do) not need wings to get the shot.

This is a far cry from telling a newbie (camra guy) that they don't need wings.

Experience takes time, and wings are a great tool to help you get experience to the point where you may not need them, body shape and weight pay a vital role in all this also.
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will see peace." - 'Jimi' Hendrix

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