Capturing aerial footage of vintage World War II airplanes and world-class aerobatic aircraft required a unique set of production tools.
Director and cameraman Jody Eldred used a combination of Sony XDCAM HD optical camcorders and the new XDCAM EX solid-state memory camcorder to stand up to high speeds, extreme gravity pulls, wind, turbulence and tight spaces.
The event was the “Gathering of Mustangs & Legends” air show in Columbus, OH, which brought together a collection of more than 50 legendary World War II fighter pilots and one of the largest gatherings of P-51 Mustangs since the end of the war.
The crowd was treated to a stunning aerial demonstration of historic P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft, current U.S. Air Force aircraft and aerobatic demonstrations by world-famous pilots, including the world champion woman aerobatics pilot Patty Wagstaff.
Eldred had four crews shooting throughout the four-day event using the PDW-F350, the new PDW-F355 and the new PMW-EX1 XDCAM EX camcorders. Each camera was chosen for a specific application, according to Eldred, because there was a range of different shots and environments he was trying to capture.
Footage shot with the optical disc cameras and the solid-state SxS ExpressCard media used in the PMW-EX1 seamlessly matched and cut together well during post production, Eldred said.
The crews used the PDW-F350 and F355 camcorders primarily as the A cameras to capture the beauty shots and fly-bys, Eldred said. The PDW-F355 also was used to document more than 20 hours of interviews with some of the most famous P-51 fighter pilots in the world.
Some of most dramatic footage was captured using a fisheye lens adaptor with the XDCAM-EX1 and mounting it inside the cramped cockpit of Wagstaff’s plane, inches behind her head. The camera provided HD POV documentation of her 12-minute demonstration, sometimes at 10Gs.
A military C-130 cargo aircraft was used as an aerial camera platform for most of the air-to-air footage. Using both XDCAM camcorders, Eldred and his team shot footage straight out the back of the plane.