Building the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway in the Arctic

Posted by ryanjackson on Jun 10, 2013 in photos
NWT Inuvik to Tuk FP story -  Grizzly bears playon a frozen lake on the Arctic tundra just outside of Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post

Grizzly bears play on a frozen lake on the Arctic tundra just outside of Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post

NWT Inuvik to Tuk FP story -  Aerial shot of a collapsed pingo on the Arctic tundra. Pingoes are large mounds of earth that cover a core of ice. Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post

Aerial shot of a collapsed pingo on the Arctic tundra. Pingoes are large mounds of earth that cover a core of ice. Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post

NWT Inuvik to Tuk FP story -  Aerial shot of the houses  in the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post

Aerial shot of the houses in the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post

NWT Inuvik to Tuk FP story -  An excavator pushes mounds of earth during the first phase of construction of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway. Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 10, 2013. Financial Post

An excavator pushes mounds of earth during the first phase of construction of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway. Tuktoyaktuk, NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson.  June 10, 2013. Financial Post

NWT Inuvik to Tuk FP story -  The sun sits on the horizon during 24 hours of daylight over the Mackenzie River. Inuvik NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson. June 11, 2013. Financial Post

The sun sits on the horizon during 24 hours of daylight over the Mackenzie River. Inuvik NWT. Photo: Ryan Jackson.  June 11, 2013.  Financial Post

.

2013y06m10d16h57m31sss_IMG_2980

I went to Tuktoyaktuk with Financial Post reporter Jeff Lewis and Postmedia head of video Andeep Singh who was the producer.

In June I got the cool assignment of flying up to Inuvik in the North West Territories to film a story for the Financial Post (owned by the same company that owns the Edmonton Journal) about a new highway being built from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Coast.

You can read the story and see the videos I shot:? Northern Promise: Arctic road to prosperity paved with obstacles.

Basically the only way to get to Tuktoyaktuk is by ice road, airplane or arctic sea. Building a real road to the hamlet would help lower food prices and could also potentially bring new jobs from oil and gas development.

It’s the kind of story that seems boring (it’s just a gravel road) but it can have a tremendous benefit to the people that live there and Canada if it results in more oil and gas production.

I can’t embed the videos in my blog unfortunately so you’ll have to see them here.

Usually I work by myself or with one reporter which means I have to juggle a lot of things at once.? It was great shooting as a three-person team for this story because I could focus more on the visuals, sound and and quality while Andeep could focus on the logistics and shot list and Jeff could focus on the story and interviews. I wish it could always be this way!

One of the coolest things about this trip was that they have 24-hour sunlight in June. At 3-am the sun is still high in the sky!

Here are a few behind the scenes photos:

2013y06m10d13h36m54sss_photo

Here I am mounting suction cups in a helicopter for my DIY spinning gyro stabilizer.

2013y06m10d13h39m17sss_photo[3]

Balancing my Panasonic GH3 on my DIY gyro stabilizer.

2013y06m10d19h05m46sss_IMG_2983

The hotels in Inuvik were sold out so we lodged in this floating work camp barge. When more workers are needed somewhere else, the whole thing can float away.

2013y06m10d19h18m48sss_IMG_2986

Inuvik has the world’s most northern greenhouse.
You can watch a cute video we did about it here.

2013y06m11d12h08m04sss_IMG_2999

I experimented with a new shooting rig for this trip.
I bought a DSLR cage on eBay and used it to keep my Canon 5D3, Beachtech audio mixer, accessories and 7″ Ikan monitor all together.
The rig is really heavy but that’s a good thing because it reduces shake. But now I need a bigger video tripod head!
I’ve since removed the 7″ monitor and replaced it with a bag to hold my wireless mics and I have my Panasonic GH3 on the rig now instead of my Canon 5D3.

2013y06m11d13h02m51sss_IMG_3001

Here’s our first interview. I used the nice green paining as a background. To keep travel weight down I just packed a magic arm to hold my LED lights instead of a flash stand. There’s always a chair somewhere.

2013y06m11d16h23m49sss_IMG_3007

This was the first of three interviews we did in the same room. We moved chairs around to give ourselves more room. This room was great because the walls were all painted different colours. This interview had a green background.

2013y06m11d16h27m17sss_IMG_3008

The 7″ monitor really helped with checking focus and framing.
Though I prefer just using focus peaking with the Magic Lantern firmware hack on my Canon 5D3 now.

2013y06m12d18h09m30sss_IMG_3027

For this interview I used the same green wall but moved further away from it so that it would be a darker green because there was less light falling on it.

2013y06m12d23h38m17sss_ryan jackson filming in inuvik

24-hour sunlight. This picture was taken at 11:38 PM !!!

2013y06m13d02h11m00sss_photo[9]

24-hour sunlight. This picture was taken at 2:11 AM !!!

1
 

Building a DIY Spinning Gyro Stabilizer for Aerial Video

Posted by ryanjackson on Jun 9, 2013 in DIY

This summer I had a bunch of projects that required several hours of filming aerial video and photos. I wanted to get the smoothest possible video at an affordable price.

I knew I would use my Panasonic GH3 camera for a lot of the aerial video because it shoots 1080p60 at 50Mbits which would let me do a lot of slow motion.

A lot of great technology has become affordable lately for stabilizing your video camera.

There are two ways to stabilize your camera in a moving car or airplane. One is to use what I would call a robotic stabilizer with motors that counter move your camera to reduce shake.

Basically, if you turn your camera left, the motors will turn right to compensate.

The the gimbal system FreeFly MoVi made a lot of jaws drop when it was announced last year. Many similar and cheaper gyros and gimbals have also come on the market for smaller video cameras.

I plan to either buy or build one of these some day but for the time being I decided to build a more old fashioned stabilizer using spinning gyros.

The spinning gyro stabilizer has been around for years and is commercially made by Kenyon Labs. These are also known as gyros since there is a large spinning gyroscope inside which resists moving because it is spinning so fast.  They are expensive but work very well.

I wanted to try building my own version of the spinning gyro for fun.
I found this blog post about using toy gyroscopes to make a DIY camera stabilizer.  The gyros are small but they spin at 12,000 rpm so they resist movement pretty good.
I ordered four of the gyros for about $400 and bought a small Pelican case to hold them and dampen the sound of the motors.
I used aluminum L tubing, tape and a lot of zip ties to hold everything in place.

DIY_Camera_Gyro_Stabilizer_by_Ryan_Jackson_2013y06m09d16h10m38sss_IMG_2917
A cheap 4-way macro slider from eBay would allow me to move the camera forwards, backwards or side to side for balance.

DIY_Camera_Gyro_Stabilizer_by_Ryan_Jackson_2013y06m09d16h49m19sss_IMG_2916
Heavy duty suction cups from Princess Auto allowed me to mount the whole apparatus to the sunroof in my SUV.

DIY_Camera_Gyro_Stabilizer_by_Ryan_Jackson_2013y06m09d18h15m46sss_IMG_2946

Here I am mounting it in a helicopter to do aerial video for this story

DIY_Camera_Gyro_Stabilizer_by_Ryan_Jackson_2013y06m10d13h39m17sss_2013y06m10d13h39m17sss_photo[3]

Here I am using it in a truck. It worked really well for stabilizing the camera while driving.

DIY_Camera_Gyro_Stabilizer_by_Ryan_Jackson_2013y06m13d02h11m00sss_2013y06m13d02h11m00sss_photo[9]

The result?… Since I’ve never used a real commercial motorized or spinning disk gyro I can’t really compare but I would say that the gyros did stabilize my light weight Panasonic GH3 more than if I was just hand holding it.

However for the price ($450+) of building the device, and the hassle of mounting the rig in an airplane I think I would rather rent a Kenyon Labs or Freefly Movi next time. My DIY solution was certainly better than nothing but didn’t make a huge night and day difference like I had hoped. Maybe night and sunrise.

Here you can see the ridiculous way I had to mount the rig in a Cessna airplane. Not super practical.

DIY_Camera_Gyro_Stabilizer_by_Ryan_Jackson_2013y06m18d20h13m34sss_IMG_3151

I also found there were other things that made a bigger difference in the smoothness of aerial footage.  One big issue I had with my footage was rolling shutter also known as the “jello effect” when I zoomed in a lot with my GH3 and 14-140 IS kit lens.  The footage looked great at wide angles but when I zoomed in a lot, the micro vibrations of the airplane (and probably the gyros too) made the video unwatchable.

Any digital camera with a CMOS sensor will have this problem unfortunately. Way more expensive cameras have global shutters that don’t jello.

Also weather and time of day (heat) will dramatically effect the smoothness of your footage because of turbulence. I flew in small Cessna airplanes for $250/hour but was only able to get a few minutes of rock solid footage. The rest was bumpy garbage.   A helicopter costs more than $2000/hour but you can be way more productive and smooth in a helicopter compared to a Cessna.

One last thing. I edit in Final Cut Pro X and although it has a digital video stabilizer filter built-in, there is a way better filter called Lock and Load. For $99 it is worth every penny. Not only does it stabilizer better but it is also way faster at rendering.

Can you tell the difference?  About 2/3 of the footage in this video was shot with a Panasonic GH3 on my gyro stabilizer and 1/3 was shot handheld with a Canon 5D Mark-III shooting RAW video and a Zacuto loupe pressed against my face.  It was all shot in small Cessna airplanes which are super bumpy and rough to fly in hence wanting the stabilizer.

 

DIY_Camera_Gyro_Stabilizer_by_Ryan_Jackson_2013y06m18d20h36m19sss_IMG_3152

Tags: , , , , ,

3

Copyright © 2017 Ryan Jackson Photography All rights reserved. Theme by Laptop Geek.