The best camera is the one you have with you, which for many pilots these days is probably either an iPhone or iPad. This is especially true when it comes to video in the airplane as most pilots don’t bring a dedicated video camera on every flight. One of the spoilers of good aviation video though is turbulence, which can lead to rough and at times nauseating footage. That’s unfortunate too, since as pilots we have the opportunity to capture unique sights when flying through dynamic weather and landing at scenic airports.
A new app called Hyperlapse aims to solve this problem by taking advantage of the sophisticated gyroscopes and sensors in the newer iPhones and iPads to help stabilize the video. Without getting too technical, the app basically stores the motion data incurred while shooting your video, and then uses this info to “smooth” it out and make it look as if you were in calm air with a steady hand. To achieve this effect you’ll sacrifice some of the video resolution and sharpness, but this tradeoff is well worth it to have video that looks like it was shot with a professional stabilization system.
Another nice feature from a pilot’s perspective is that it is very easy to use — simply open the app and press the record button. After you stop the recording the app will immediately begin playing back the stabilized video. As the name Hyperlapse implies, you can also speed the video up to 12 times creating a time-lapse effect. The stabilization really helps here and produces professional looking time-lapse videos with no extra work. The videos are saved to your device’s default camera roll allowing you to easily share them via text message, mail and social media apps. Here’s a quick sample video from YouTube shot from the back of a commercial airliner:
One thing to keep in mind when shooting video in a single-engine piston airplane is that the prop will appear significantly distorted in your video when shooting out the front. To eliminate this problem we typically use an iPhone ND filter to reduce the prop distortion and shoot cleaner video.
You’ll find this app useful outside of aviation too as it’ll stabilize any video you record, whether you’re standing still or moving around. The time-lapse feature is fun to experiment with and can produce some dramatic results when shooting in dynamic environments. And the best part of Hyperlapse is it is completely free — download it from the iTunes store here.