Aerobatic Pilot Captures His Thrills in 360 Video | Spencer Suderman

Aerobatic Pilot Captures His Thrills in 360 Video | Spencer Suderman

As an air show pilot and producer of aviation videos, Spencer Suderman is always looking for new ways to capture flight. On his way to capturing his 3rd Guinness World Record for spin stunts, he has learned to document his flights and tell the story in 360 video. Mettle 360/VR Plugins for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro help Spencer to bring his videos to the next level of POV experience.

Q&A with Aerobatics Pilot and Videographer Spencer Suderman

Which came first? Flying or an interest in video?

The flying came first but since I like aerobatics and the visuals are unique and amazing it lends itself to video.  When I became an air show pilot in 2006 I quickly realized the value of video as a marketing tool.

Back then there were no miniature sport cameras so I attached liptstick cameras to the plane and wired them to a camcorder and it was all standard definition!  As cameras got smaller and better I learned to tell stories with video and how to edit.  Having broken 2 Guinness world records and currently chasing a third, video is required by Guinness as part of the documentation package so it really is mission critical.  http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/most-inverted-flat-spins-in-an-aircraft

“Aerobatic flying is a 360 activity and the key is knowing where to look and when, much the same with the emergence of VR video”, explains Spencer. 

How did you get started in 360 production?

I bought a Kodak SP360 in late 2015 then a Ricoh Theta S in mid 2016 and fell in love with the idea of 360 video but the Kodak and Ricoh are 1080p which doesn’t lend itself to quality 360 video.  When Nikon announced the Keymission 360 I knew it would be a great camera to capture my flying and in the first few flights it has proven to be a winner with its 4k capture!

Can you describe your workflow? How do you figure out what to film?

I attach the camera to the plane on a fixed mount and turn it on when I get in.  I leave it running the entire flight then decide in post what is worth keeping.  Before I discovered the Mettle Skybox plugins I struggled with POV in my 360 videos.  Aerobatic flying is about where you look and when to get the right POV on the airplanes performance and the best view of the maneuver.  The players on YouTube and Facebook let you look around but don’t give the person watching a clue on what they should be looking at.  Facebook recently launched Guide which lets you keyframe POV’s when you upload the video and that is an improvement but aerobatic flying is sometimes upside-down and you can’t flip the video over for added effect.  After trying Skybox 360/VR Tools I fell in love with it’s ability to rotate the video and show it inverted when the plane is inverted which adds to the viewing experience.  I’ve also found that a simple dip-to-black transition gives the best results when moving between scenes.

What’s with the sign in the cockpit?

You will notice in the cockpit that there is a sign that says “Vomiting is Prohibited”.  Very few people have actually vomited in the plane but many get queasy.  I have already heard some feedback from people watching my 360 aerobatic videos that it makes them nauseous especially if they use VR googles.   Perhaps that is a sign of my success with 360 video in my plane!

Thanks Spencer. Good luck with breaking your 3rd Guinness World Record!

Watch Spencer Suderman set his 2nd spin stunt record.

Flying above Yuma International Airport/MCAS Yuma in Arizona, USA, Suderman pulled off an incredible 98 inverted flat spins in his Sunbird S1X biplane. The impressive aerobatic manoeuvre is an aggravated stall which results in a rotation of 65-90 degrees in range.
With this achievement, Spencer significantly bettered the previous record of 81 inverted flat spins which he had achieved two years earlier.

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