Departure from DVT Video

A behind-the-scenes look at a helicopter departure from a relatively busy class D airport in Arizona.

I went for a little pleasure flight on Tuesday, mostly to check out the capabilities of my new GoPro HD Hero2 camera. This GoPro has two features I’ve been wanting:

  • A narrower field of view. The HD Hero2 supports a 90° FOV in addition to 127° and 170°; the HD Hero supports only 127° and 170°. I like to show off low-level, high speed flight, but with a super wide angle lens, I had to almost be kicking up dust in flight for the picture to actually look low-level.
  • Audio in via a Mic port. Let’s face it; there’s nothing too interesting about the droning sound of a helicopter’s engine and rotor blades. I wanted to include cockpit sound.

So I rigged up the Hero2 with a skeleton housing as my helicopter nosecam and ran a 3.5mm stereo cable from the audio in port to an audio out port I’d had installed in my helicopter for use with my old POV.1 setup. And then I went flying.

And today I put together this little educational video that puts you on the helicopter’s nose with headsets on for a departure from Deer Valley Airport (DVT) in north Phoenix.

A few things about the video and setup.

  • The audio is clear but there’s an annoying buzz when no one is talking. I don’t know what that is but it annoys the hell out me. For serious production use, I’d have to duck the audio for each “silent” period. That means using Final Cut Pro instead of iMovie (which I used to throw this together).
  • As with the HD Hero, 1080p video capture (which is what this video was recorded at) introduces a waving motion in the bottom half of the frame. This motion goes away at 720p resolution on my HD Hero and HD Hero 960. I should note here that I purchased a 30MB/s Class 10 SD card to make sure the wiggle wasn’t caused by the camera’s inability to write quickly enough to the card.
  • The color looks terrible. I don’t know if it’s because I used my polarizing filter and didn’t really need it or if there’s something weird about the camera’s optics. Will try it next time without the polarizing filter.

By the way, there’s a nice comparison of the three currently available GoPro Hero models here. I’m embarrassed to admit that I now own one of each.

I’ll play with this some more at different settings to see if I can get the results I expect. So far, I’m not exactly happy with the video quality, although I’m very glad to be able to record a decent cockpit audio track.


2 thoughts on “Departure from DVT Video

  1. Maria, regarding the buzz… If you took audio from one of your headset jacks, the squelch may cut out that buzz and only allow audio through which breaks the squelch, like what is provided to your ears. Before I tried that though, I would check the GoPro owner’s manual to see if there is a way to switch off the audio leveler circuit. I think that it’s buzzing because the GoPro is searching for low audio and trying to bring the level up to an acceptable level. I just checked the manual here and I couldn’t find a trouble shooting section. Maybe an audio person has some ideas. There may be an in-line filter that would filter that buzz frequency. It’s a nice video though. I’ve been trying to come up with a justification for buying the latest goPro but haven’t yet. I have a Canon SX1-IS that takes 1080X1920 HD videos (Check out HoverTime on youtube) so until I can justify it, I’m stuck for now. I wonder what you can get for your earlier versions on ebay? I’m enjoying your blog:-)

    • Thanks for all this.

      The connection is directly to the Intercom system, inside the helicopter’s panel. I’m wondering if its got to do with stereo vs. non-stereo; I have a mono cable I planned to try next.

      The buzz was also present with my POV.1 setup, so it isn’t GoPro specific. I don’t think it was present on my digital voice recorder, but the sound on that had far more problems.

      I do think I need an audio person to listen to it and advise me. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone!

      I CAN filter the audio if I strip it from the video and run it through something like Fission on my Mac. OR, if I compile it on Final Cut Pro, there might be audio filters I can apply to remove it.

      I do appreciate your input here. I need to work on it a bit more.

      As for selling the other two cameras on eBay — well, I’m such a dork that I plan on using all three of them in the helicopter at once. The other day, I had one of them set up between the two back seats while I was using the nosecam; haven’t pulled the video out yet because I left the camera on board; will fetch it tomorrow when I fly again. I want to place one on the skid, but I need to come up with a solid plan for that before I start sticking 3M adhesive where it really shouldn’t be.

What do you think?