I looked into purchasing a helicopter to attach my GoPro to for arial shots but they cost around 1 million dollars so I decided I needed something cheaper. I looked into remote control helicopters and I couldn’t find one under $400 that could lift the weight of a GoPro. So I put my thinking cap on and decided to become a superhero to get ariel shots. Realizing I don’t have the legs for tights I decided to try helium balloons.
There are a lot of questions we have to answer before we make this work: How many balloons do we need to lift a GoPro? How do we make sure the camera is steady? How do we make sure the camera doesn’t crash into the moon? Firs off lets get all the supplies you need, a lot of this will be around the house but you will have to buy some unless you work as a balloon animal artist.
Here is what we will need to purchase:
- 2 helium balloon tanks $39.99
- 1 styrofoam block $9.99
- 1 spull of 2-lb. fishing string $4.99
- 1 bag of 100 balloons $1.99
- 2 peaces of 12-inch wooded dial 1/8th thick $0.99
- 1 piece of 1-foot plastic wrap less than $0.99
- 2 pieces of 6-inch Scotch Tape less than $0.99
- 1 garbage bag tie less than $0.99
Here is how we put it together:
To make sure the camera consistently pointed in the direction we need to make a mount/case for the GoPro. I used the styrofoam brick for this and cut a hole in the center of it for the size of my Hero2 GoPro with case (2.8″x2.55″x1.8″ Hero2 case dimensions) . Next, take our two 12-inch wooden dials and drill one hole on each end, big enough to put your fishing line through. Then we slowly push the dials through the styrofoam in the center 1-inch from the sides. We have to make sure we don’t go through the hole we made to put the GoPro.
Next we blow up all of the balloons with the helium then tie 3 to 5-foot lines of fishing string to the ends, tie quarter size loops on the other end and place in on a pencil until they are all done.
Once we have filled up as many balloons as two helium tanks can fill up we move forward to attaching the balloons to the dials, try to evenly place them on. Once put on, push the string as close to the styrofoam case and use the tape to hold it in place. This is not a long term solution but long enough to outlive the helium and most importantly light.
Grab all of the balloon strings and hold them together, use the garbage bag tie and strap them together. This will keep the GoPro level and not unbalanced.
We have to decide how high up we want to go with this shot. I went up about 25-feet so I made 4 strands of fishing string 30-feet long and tied them off on the ends of the wooden dials. Then you have to either have 4 people hold the other ends or use stakes and put them into the ground. Remember to center your shot at this time.
Next we place the GoPro in the case and wrap it with the plastic wrap, cut a hole for the lens and we have a lightweight camera strap. remember to point the camera down and turn it on.
Let your camera fly up into the sky and roll your scene. Remember this is all about saving time because your camera is running the moment you let it into the air. Prepare your actors, give them blocking and if need be rehearse a few times. This scene was used for the opening montage of my new feature film “Chip & Bernie’s Zomance,” it involved zombies eating a victim as he laid on the floor. The shot came out great and enhanced the production value of my opening montage.
How long before the balloons died and they came down?
We worked outside for about 3 hours with them and the balloons never came down. It would depend on the temperature also, more heat the fast they will come down.
For anybody trying to film like this for over 1 day, I recommend you purchase a pump of ultra hi float for around $15.99! That will increase the float time of the balloons by 25 times. If you cannot rent a helium tank from a party store drive over to your nearest store(target/Walmart) and pick up the balloontime helium kit for just around $20. With the hi float and balloon kit combined you can spend less money and have a better float time.
Great tip Brandon, next time I film something like this I will take your advice. Thanks again man!
This is a fun idea but helium tanks are so expensive.
Now that’s just frickin’ awesome!
That’s fricking awesome! How many balloons did it take to go up in the air?
Always wanted to try this.
Has to do more with the amount of tanks then the balloons. Took 2 tanks and about 60 balloons. :p
2 helium tanks, oh my!
And if you inhale the helium all your actors will sound like mice too.
I recommend putting your name, address, and CASH REWARD FOR RETURN on the camera in case something happens and your unit floats away!
Great idea, enjoyed all the instructions. We’re giong to try it. Im going to use a heavier fishing line, though…
Great idea Terri, on the address. Let us know how your flight goes! 🙂
Good tip on adding the name and address, you never know when the string can break.
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Did you use all 100 balloons?
About 45 of them 🙂 That’s how much helium I had. Worked great and would have flown away if we didn’t have string attached.