Magazine article American Cinematographer

Unique New Astrovision Inc. Jet Aerial Filming System

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Unique New Astrovision Inc. Jet Aerial Filming System

Article excerpt

An ingenious system designed to fit into fast-flying executive jets bids fair to add a spectacular new dimension to aerial cinematography

To date, aerial cinematography has been generally achieved from piston engine aircraft such as B25's and similar aircraft that had front and rear gun turrets that were modified to accept various cameras. Apart from the obvious discomfort to the cameraman of cold, etc., the aircraft was not pressurized. So at high altitude, oxygen was needed. Its slow speed made it necessary for modern-day jets to slow down so that they could be photographed. With the advent of the modern-day business jet, such as the Lear 24 and the De Havilland 125, these aircraft were used as camera platforms because of their high-performance cruising speeds. But once again they were limited because of the restricted field of view through the windows on the side and on the flight deck.

Because of these disadvantages and because of the requests of various cameramen, Continental Camera Systems of Van Nuys, CA, decided to investigate the problem. Bob Nettmann, President of Continental, designed a system that would eliminate the problems previously mentioned. Beginning in November 1973, drawings were started. A lens designer was hired on a contract basis to solve the lens design problem. This specialist had previously worked on the Apollo Space Program. A separate company was formed called Astrovision, Inc., with offices in Los Angeles and London, the London office being headed up by famed aerial-cameramen Peter Allwork and Robin Browne.

In August 1974 the first prototype was flown. It consisted of a 50mm/100mm relay lens system having an effective aperture of F/6.3. The whole system was encased in a pressurized heated tube that was operated manually from within the Lear Jet. The bottom 4'' of the tube protruded from specially designed ports, F. …

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