Aerial cameraman David B. Nowell, ASC has been using Pictorvision’s Eclipse for major features since the system first came out. The gyro-stabilized system has allowed him to capture exciting one-of-a-kind shots. Recently however, he was tasked to put the system to the test while shooting off the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
“The area was picked for its heavy surf and bad weather, which we needed for the scene,” Nowell explained. “We chose the Eclipse for the whole picture, because we knew it could deliver spectacular shots, including a boat at sea sequence. So, we ordered up the rain spinner.”
“We were using the 10-1 zoom and shooting anamorphic,” he added. “With a little creativity on our tech’s part, the rain spinner was added to the platform and ready to go. The spinner can be turned on remotely from inside the cockpit, so while we flew to the meeting point of the crab boat we were shooting, I could keep the lens facing backwards and the spinner off.
“Once we met the boat it was time to shoot. The weather was terrible, pouring rain and heavy winds causing 30-foot seas. It was exactly what we wanted. With the spinner on, the spinning glass approaches a speed of close to 5,000 rpm and the rain does not stay on the glass. The shots were magnificent with the waves crashing over the boat’s bow and covering the cab.”
Once Nowell and pilot Fred North landed they looked inside the Eclipse ball and found that the lens and camera “were surprisingly dry with only a few ounces of water pooled in the bottom of the ball,” said Nowell. “It was the first time I’ve used the spinner and it worked perfectly.”
For this shoot, Nowell was capturing the images on film with an Arri 435 and one of the new HD video taps, all of which fit easily into the Eclipse. “The improved viewing on an HD monitor allowed me to see what I was shooting clearly and even push the Eclipse in ways I haven’t before. In another sequence, we had three Army MD 500 helos in formation. The Eclipse with the new video tap allowed me to grab some really long lens (500mm) shots changing focus from one helo to the other and then the other, all because I could see critical focus and make the changes instantly.”