Air To Air Filming & Photography – How Is It Achieved?

This week, Air Belgium shared behind-the-scenes footage of an air-to-air video shoot of its new Airbus A330neo. Amazed by the material, we thought we’d take a further look into how such projects are conducted.

Air Belgium A330neo
Air Belgium took delivery of its first A330neo this month as part of the carrier’s mission to replace some of its quadjet A340 aircraft. Photo: Air Belgium

Midflight adventures

The video that Air Belgium shared shows one of its A330neo widebodies calmly flying over the sea. Intermittently, the clip shows footage from inside a plane adjacent to the twinjet, with workers inside communicating about getting the perfect shot.

The aircraft conducted for these shoot flights is a TBM-700, a single-engine turboprop business and utility light aircraft. Over 1,000 units of the TBM series have been built, and it is a great fit for the mobility requirements of such a job.

State-of-the-art equipment

Airborne is the company that carriers such as Air Belgium contact for this footage. The experts in aerial cinematography have implemented a high-speed air-to-air system for its tasks.

“Airborne Films, in partnership with the aircraft manufacturer, Daher, has developed a superior aerial cinematography system to shoot in 8K at high speed. The TBM aircraft is equipped with a Shotover F1 mounted under the wing. Operated with a RED 8K camera and an Angenieux 25-250 mm zoom, the Shotover F1 can also accommodate multiple cameras and lens options,” Airborne states.

“The Shotover F1 is rigged under the wing of our TBM. The modification was done and certified by the aircraft manufacturer of the TBM, Daher.”

Airborne has experience in the videography and photography of aircraft in close formation, including helicopters, gliders, balloons, and airships – the firm also handles the post-production process. Photo: Airborne Films

The camera can pan continuously pan 360 degrees due to its electrical and optical rotary joints. Moreover, it can tilt between 46 and 140 degrees and roll 85 degrees. The maximum slew rate is 100 degrees per second.

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Across the industry

The likes of Air France, Boeing, Airbus, and Dassault put their faith in Airborne’s skills. With all angles covered, the European outfit has trust from across the industry.

Air Belgium first A330neo
The flag carrier of Belgium ordered two Airbus A330-900s and made sure that the type of the plane was shown in the best light possible. Photo: Airbus

Nonetheless, this approach isn’t the only solution to getting a great air-to-air shot in the modern era. For instance, our very own photographer, Vincenzo Pace, captures some of his most popular images from inside a helicopter. He emphasizes that a higher shutter speed to counter the shake in the helicopter does wonders. His Sony a7R IV and the Sony 200-600 mm lens are the weapons of choice for this sort of shot.

Altogether, whether shooting from a plane or helicopter, the right camera equipment is needed to get an excellent shot of an aircraft. This factor is even more significant when recording or snapping from the middle of the air.

What are your thoughts about how air-to-air filming and photography are conducted? What do you make of these processes? Let us know what you think of the overall procedure in the comment section.