Rocket Aerial Video

Published August 7th, 2011. Filed in: Articles & Information

With the second rocket retrieved a quick look at the video footage on the laptop showed yet again some excessive spinning which, frankly, ruined the video. I’m really pleased of course to get some great stills in post production but the stable rocket flight video was proving elusive.


Rocket 3

Time now for rocket number 3. I didn’t think I was likely to get any stable footage from the last rocket either (remember, although the photos look quite clear these are stills from rockets spinning wildly). So I decided to push the boat out in terms of danger to the camera and mount it at the bottom of the stick looking up at the rocket head. There’s always a possibility here that soot or sparks can ruin the lens as happened to the trial camera. This time however I was lucky…

If you have ever wondered what it looks like from inside a scaffold tube, here's your answer.


We have lift off! The view looking up towards the rocket as the sparks from the motor fill the scaffold tube. Must have got quite hot there for a moment.


In the air now and looking up towards the rocket head. Sadly, yet again the spin on the rocket was so bad the video looks like a blur, but as you can see some nice still images have been salavged from it.


BANG! The effect explodes in the air.


Effects spread out from the payload as the camera is still struggling to recover from the blast!


Right up inside a gold willow effect during the day!


Pointing towards the ground now. The two rocket spotters Spuddy and Philip can be seen just to the right of the smoke, probably looking up and thinking "Is that thing pointing at us now?".


The last image captured as the stick became very unstable due to the weight of the camera.


The rockets video footage

The video is disappointing. Each of the three rockets spun so fast on ascent that the video footage was mostly a blur. In fact I’m amazed (and grateful) to even be able to get the still images above from this:


Taking the project forward and useful tips

Having tried various sizes of consumer firework rockets I am pretty sure that they will all spin to some degree. You could try and repeat this in the hope that one of them doesn’t but I think that would be a case of trial and error. For those of you wanting to get aerial footage from fireworks, I think this project confirms it isn’t really viable. But for those of you wanting to get aerial footage of the ground, during the day, these cameras prove this is quite easy to do. You’ll need to look away from fireworks and instead towards model rocketry however. A basic rocket kit should provide a stable way to get aerial footage and you could even put a second camera in with the parachute too. These cameras are also ideal for use on kites, RC planes and balloons.

If you do get an urge to repeat these experiments, please do read through my top tips to make your life easier:

  • Send up a test rocket first to check the wind.
  • As you need to retrieve the rockets afterwards, you need to fire them in as large a field as possible.
  • Remember the usual laws apply with fireworks – so don’t fire them in a public place. Do it on private land with permission from the land owner.
  • We found sometimes the rocket sticks were VERY hard to find afterwards. If I did this again I would paint the rockets bright orange first to make them clearly visible on the ground.
  • If pointing the camera towards the motor, the use of some see through plastic as a lens protector is advised.
  • Ensure any spectators are a long, long way from the rockets in case of flight problems.
  • The use of “spotters” at least 100m or more in the direction of the rocket flight path will help massively when trying to find the stick and camera afterwards.

With thanks to the UKFR assistant on the day, the two spotters, the farmer and Firework Emporium.

Happy filming – Pyro Pete

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