Behind The Scenes

by FliteTest | January 28, 2013 | (34 Ratings) Posted in Tips

We get a lot of questions asking about the setup of the Flite Test studio, as well as the equipment we use to capture the show and RC airplanes.

Here is a quick overview of what we use.

We use a few camera's on the show. For our main camera we use a Canon 5D Mark II mounted to a Redrock Micro shoulder rig. The camera is setup with an LCDVF viewfinder which magnifies the LCD screen and is needed for shooting outdoors.

The lens is a Canon EF - Canon - f/2.8, and we typically shoot at 1920x1080 24fps; ISO 320; Shutter Speed 1/60 (indoor) and ISO 100-160; Shutter 1/120 (outdoor).  The shutter and ISO settings may change depending on outdoor lighting conditions.

We also use a Tiffan Variable ND Filter for outdoor shooting, the ND filter is something you really need for shooting outdoors with a DSLR.

Our outdoor flying footage is captured on a Canon 60D setup with a 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 (kit) lens.  Eric has a customized shoulder rig that he uses and does an amazing job tracking the RC airplanes!

Our audio is recorded externally on a ZOOM H4n and synced later in editing.  This mic has been a great investment and captures the audio great! When setup with the wind muff this mic captures great sound in windy days.

The recorder is mounted on the end of a boom and used like a standard boom mic. For our builds and other video shoots recorded in the basement we use a camera mounted Rode VideoMic.

Along with some of our custom light setups, we created a portable LED light panel with adjustable PVC mount.  

We use this light for just about everything!  It's a great fill light, main light, and back light. Because it's powered by a 3S LiPo, it's easy to use outside at night. Let us know if you'd like to see a DIY tutorial on building this light!

For our main studio setup with have two side light panels setup along with a back light and illuminated work bench and tv set. 

The side lights are DIY bathroom light panels mounted on light stands.  All of the lights are Floruesent and burn at a color temperature of around 2500k.  All of the lighting is setup to match to daylight temperature.

Our main studio set has some design to it for proper lighting and interesting visuals. But for the most part both the main set and the basement studio are real. We use them all the time to build and work on projects.

That's a quick overview of the Flite Test "studio".  Hopefully this information has been helpful and will give you some ideas for any video projects that you may be planning.

Here is a list of equipment that we use...

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RedRock Micro - eyeSpy Deluxe Bundle
The eyeSpy line of DSLR rigs are ideal for any filmmaker who wants a shoulder-mounted ergonomic support system for their DSLR. The eyeSpy Deluxe Bundle builds on the Standard Bundle by adding the combined convenience of counterbalance weights for a perfectly balanced system, and a follow focus for pulling accurate focus. 

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Canon - 5D MKII
High Performance for High Expectation 
Canon's update to the wildly popular full frame EOS 5D is here, and it's better than ever. The EOS 5D Mark II has a stunning 21.1-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with DIGIC 4 Image Processor, a vast ISO Range of 100-6400 (expandable to ISO L: 50, H1: 12800 and H2: 25600), plus EOS technologies like Auto Lighting Optimizer and Peripheral Illumination Correction. It supports Live View shooting, Live View HD videos, and more. It can shoot up to 3.9 fps, has 9 AF points plus 6 AF assist points, a new 98% coverage viewfinder, a 3.0-inch Clear View LCD (920,000 dots/VGA) and a rugged build. Full-frame shooters rejoice!

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Canon - About EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
Meeting the ever-increasing demands on image quality that digital photography brings, the redesigned EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is the latest update to the acclaimed L-Series of EF optics, re-establishing a new standard for superb optics, high-end durable construction and performance in professional zoom lenses. A standard focal length zoom lens, it features a large aperture throughout its focal length. Featuring the latest advances in optical lens design, it utilizes 1 Super UD lens element and 2 UD lens elements that help minimize chromatic aberration in the periphery at wide-angle as well as reduced color blurring around the edges of the subject. In addition, 2 types of aspherical lenses are combined to help reduce spherical aberration over the entire image area as well as through the full zoom range. Optimized lens coatings also help ensure exceptional color balance while minimizing ghosting. The lens is also equipped with a circular 9-blade diaphragm for beautiful, soft backgrounds. A ring-type USM and high-speed CPU with optimized AF algorithms enable silent and fast autofocusing. Built for the rigors of professional use as well as to meet the increased number of shots available with digital photography, it's constructed with improved dust sealing and water resistance while fluorine coatings on the front and rear lens surfaces help reduce soiling, smears and fingerprints. A zoom lock lever locks the zoom position at the wide end for safe transporting while attached to an EOS DSLR camera over the shoulder.

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Canon - 60D
An EOS with Perspective. 
With the new EOS 60D DSLR, Canon gives the photo enthusiast a powerful tool fostering creativity, with better image quality, more advanced features and automatic and in-camera technologies for ease-of-use. It features an improved APS-C sized 18.0 Megapixel CMOS sensor for tremendous images, a new DIGIC 4 Image Processor for finer detail and excellent color reproduction, and improved ISO capabilities from 100 - 6400 (expandable to 12800) for uncompromised shooting even in the dimmest situations. The new Multi-control Dial enables users to conveniently operate menus and enter settings with a simple touch. The EOS 60D also features an EOS first: A Vari-angle 3.0-inch Clear View LCD (1,040,000 dots) monitor for easy low- or high-angle viewing. An improved viewfinder, a number of new in-camera creative options and filters, plus HDMI output for viewing images on an HDTV all make the EOS 60D invaluable for the evolving photographer. With continuously curved surfaces, user-friendliness and exuding solidity and refinement, the EOS 60D is true digital inspiration!

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H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder
The Zoom H4n Handy Recorder picks up where the H4 left off and adds additional features to an already popular audio recorder. Ideal for recording interviews, lectures, rehearsals, meetings, and more, this palm-sized unit packs the ability to record up to 4 channels of audio at greater than CD quality.

The H4n features onboard true X/Y stereo microphones to pick up clear, natural sound without phase shifting. The mics can be rotated to select a 90° or 120° recording pattern for terrific versatility. The digitally-controlled preamp, combined with the high-quality microphones, allows you to capture Linear PCM audio at rates up to 24-bit/96kHz. The recorder captures audio to SD or SDHC cards with capacities up to 32GB. A USB 2.0 port allows you to quickly transfer files to a Mac or PC, or use the H4n as a live audio interface.

For connecting your own microphones or instruments, the H4n features XLR/TRS combo input jacks with phantom capability. A 3.5mm line output is provided, and a reference speaker is built-in for quickly reviewing your recordings. The unit operates on a pair of standard AA batteries, and features a Stamina mode to provide up to 11 hours of continuous recording at 16-bit/44.1kHz. Other useful features of the H4n include variable playback speed, automatic and pre-record functions, a low-cut filter and limiter for improving the sound quality of recordings, time stamping, a metronome and tuner, and more. The backlit LCD screen and intuitive controls are easy to use, even for the recording novice. A collection of accessories are included so you can start recording right out of the box.

Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Production Premium 
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AVID - Pro Tools
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 Be sure to check out the new Flite Test Store!  


cyasa on January 28, 2013
Cool thanks background information.
I have always wanted to know is flight test a full time occupation for all of you guys?
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Russ40 on January 29, 2013
Nice insight on where you guys make these cool videos. Thanks
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casehatter on January 29, 2013
Yea I;m pleased and some what impressed due to the fact that you use your own innovation and don't feel like you have to go with the norm. I have been a innovator all my live and it's allowed me to do things others wouldn't attemp due to cost or fear of the untried. My hats off to you guys and you have earned the respect of many I'm sure.
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Carmatious on January 29, 2013
That is very clever, I've always wondered from the start what you guys use. BTW when do you guys upload your videos? I can't really seem to find the time.
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stonekap on January 29, 2013
We upload them each Monday and Wednesday
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ddrueding on January 29, 2013
When you talk about lighting, you meant 5200k to match daylight, right? Not 2500k?
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stonekap on January 29, 2013
It's usually 5600-6000k to match exterior.
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RCEM-Joey on January 29, 2013
ohhh 24-70.... I love that lens...

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earthsciteach on January 29, 2013
Have to admit, I wasn't that interested when I first saw the topic, but really enjoyed the episode. I like the inexpensive DIY approach to so many things!
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eric on February 4, 2013
Forgive me, but why is the ND filter necessary for shooting outdoors? Does the longer shutter speed help in some way?
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House Of Noob on February 17, 2013
Thanks for letting us in the shop. That was very informative.
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DownToFly101 on February 20, 2013
I am currently using a GoPro to film my flights. Do have any recommendations for video editing software? I am looking for a free software that helps me put clips into slow motion.
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dadi3 on February 25, 2013
Isn't there already tutorial 'bout building LED pannel or RCexplorer
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sailorJohn on May 24, 2013
Old technology like a flying spot scanner or a rca TK31 ,now that's old.
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