Voice:  888-44-WAYNE
Triangle & JIMMY JIB III

RoboCam Operator
Hand-Held, Pedestal, & Dolly


Wayne Norman - Jib Owner/Operator - 818-558-3705

Helicopter Aerial Photography

Helicopter Photography is the most sophisticated and demanding of camera operations. A great helicopter photographer must be extremely well versed in camera operations, plus possess the necessary knowledge of the aerodynamics of helicopters and each model's performance characteristics. On top of that you have to add the camera mounting system and it's performance limitations and capabilities. In short, the helicopter photographer must know how to deliver the director's vision in a safe, creative manner, using the three dimensions only a helicopter can offer as a camera platform. The Photographer must also be able to convey the shot's design to the pilot for SAFE, creative execution. It is important to note that the helicopter pilot is the one who makes any and all final decisions. This is an FAA regulation and cannot be overridden, not by me, or by any producer or director.

What gives me great advantage is that I am a licensed helicopter pilot with type rating for Bell 206B (Jet Ranger),

206 L (Long Ranger),
and Eurocopter AS350-B2-4.
Robinson R22,
(I am not type rated for the Eurocopter AS355 twin-engine helicopter, however, I have done about 50 helicopter shoots from this fantastic camera platform)
I know what each aircraft's limitations are and how to maximize the equipment to deliver beautiful pictures. Furthermore I have an excellent understanding of lenses and their capabilities in a helicopter environment. I can design shots that take full advantage of depth of field, the use of long or wide lenses, and the art of the 3-dimensional design of a shot.
The 3-Dimensions

I keep mentioning 3-dimensional photography and this may seem confusing. When you shoot on a Dolly, Steadicam, Hand-held, and Camera Crane you are essentially limited to two major axis of movement, left/right, and in/out. There is a small degree of movement in the third axis of up/down. These camera platforms allow you to move the camera in increments of feet (or meters). When you shoot with a helicopter you are talking about hundreds or thousand of feet (meters) of left/right, in/out, and the most amazing, up/down movement.

Who Should your Photographer Be?
Helicopter News Photographers are generally excellent operators of the Wescam and other Gyro Stabilized camera systems, however, they typically lack the creative skills to develop full axis 3-dimensional shots close to the ground. This is a special skill that few have. I am further experienced because I own and operate a Jimmy Jib and work with Technocranes on a regular basis. This means I have very strong working experience developing 3-dimensional shots and easily translate this everyday skill to helicopter photography.
Helicopter Photography Logistics
The logistics of helicopter operations are often a nightmare. Since 9/11 there have been radical changes to the air regulations and restrictions placed on helicopter photography. The good news is, with time and special permissions many of these restrictions can be temporarily set aside for the shoot. Anything below 2000 feet above ground level may require special permissions that have to be arranged in advance, and require specific information as to where the shot is to be done and on what day(s). SPECIAL NOTE: Your shoot may be cancelled by the FAA due to TFRs - Temporary Flight Restrictions. These are invoked by the FAA as they deem necessary and include airspace within 30 miles of the President of the United States and other Diplomats, Special TFRs may also be invoked for incidents that occur such as a forest fires, and the restricted air space is determined by the agency requesting such a temporary restriction. These TFRs can come up with little or no advance warning, especially when it involves the President of the United States.
Helicopter Photography Logistics

Another element for consideration is the Camera mount. There are a wide variety of helicopter mounts, some better than others. Some can be used for all applications, while others require special consideration. The most common mounts are broken into two groups, Gyro-stabilized (ball) mounts, and Door mounts.

The gyros are dominated by Wescam, and several other brands, each with their followings. They basically all work the same, however, some models can only work film, some video, and other HDTV. It is very important that the shoot be well defined before selecting and budgeting the mount. These mounts offer incredibly stable shots, however, they do take time to install, and the helicopter must have specific "hard points" in which to attach the system to the exterior of the aircraft.
The Door mount is dominated by Tyler Camera Systems. These mounts come in three models, major
and middle, plus a third, unmanned, nose mount. Again, the specific use must be defined to determine the correct selection. The major mount offers special gyro-stabilization units for further enhancement of the system.

A helicopter shot is very expensive and is NOT something you want to leave to someone with few or no hours of helicopter photography experience. You need someone who understands everything involved and knows how to communicate effectively with the pilot.

When you are ready to talk about a helicopter shot, please give me a call. I have close ties with several very exceptional pilots and aircraft. I will also be pleased to work with any company you choose as long as they are experienced with helicopter photography. If you are shooting out of town or in an area using the only helicopter in the area, then I will be happy work with them as well, however, I do require a pre-interview with the pilot to make sure they understand what we are trying to accomplish and to determine if they have the safety skills to properly pull off difficult shots.


Printable Resume

Jimmy Jib Owner/Operator  Camera Credits  |   Film, Video, and HDTV
Helicopter Photographer Video Engineer / DIT Resume RoboCam  |
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