Tag Archives: quarry

Thornton Quarry Video

The Thornton Quarry lift job with Midwest Helicopters was a full day job so it provided a bunch of opportunity to try different things.  This was true for the stills but it also allowed me to experiment with the video as well.  Since the aircraft was operating all day, I was able to get to multiple locations and see all aspects of the job as they happened.  Normally, this isn’t possible since a lift will only last about 30 minutes.  In that case, you have to pick the location that will get the shots you must have and accept that the alternative shots will not be made.

This time I was able to move around the whole site and capture as much as possible of what was going on.  Some of the clips looked really interesting and the time but they actually proved to be no use.  Some of the boring stuff as it appeared at the time actually ended up being really of use when it came to editing.

At this point, it is important for me to apologize to people like Gerry Holtz.  Gerry is an editor and he does this sort of thing for a living.  Anyone else who knows about editing professionally, you are all due my apologies and my respect.  I am trying a bit with video editing but what I have learned is that it is bloody difficult to do.

On this shoot, most of the video was captured using my SLR.  The rest of it was shot on a GoPro which is such a great little device to get something a little more unusual.  It was handheld (or mounted in the case of the GoPro).  No tripods or dollies and certainly nothing as impressive as a Kessler Crane!

I suspect that to be good at editing it is important to have had some education in the process.  I am doing it the guy way – try something and then try something else and see what happens.  Not even a manual to consult!  Consequently, I make some progress but probably my approach starts from the wrong place.  If I was going to do a lot more of this I would take the training aspect seriously.  However, for the time-being, this is a little side hobby so I will probably stick with what I am doing.

Part of the fun(?) of the edit process is taking all of the disparate elements of the footage and trying to combine them into a coherent timeline.  Part of the engineer in me thinks it should be delivered in the same order it happened.  This is rubbish of course.  The viewer has no concern of course.  As long as the result doesn’t obviously have terrible jumps or continuity issues, no-one is going to be any the wiser.

Also, how much do they need to see.  About eighty lifts were done during the day.  Does the video need to have eighty lifts?  NO!  In the end, I concluded that two lifts were enough to tell the story.  One wasn’t enough but it didn’t need more than two.  I cut the length down as I went but even then it was still quite a long piece.  A pro would probably have it down to a couple of minutes but then, as I mentioned, I am not a video pro.

One lesson I have learned as I have practiced this video stuff is how many of the tools the software has are no use at all.  There are a million transitions between scenes, all of which make it look like you are experimenting with the software but they are a distraction from viewing.  I have learned to use simple transitions that are short so they are not obvious to the viewer.  They just stop the jump being the item the viewer focuses on.

Anyway, the final part of this story is that I was very happy with the result for this video.  Unfortunately, it turns out the company that was doing part of the work is very sensitive about their equipment and doesn’t like the equipment being shown on the video so I have had to remove it from my YouTube channel.  Consequently, I can’t include it in this post.  Oh well…

Thornton Quarry Part 2

I mentioned before what the lift at the quarry involved.  However, I thought it was worth talking a little bit more about the work of the guys on the ground.  There was a good team spirit needed for this job and the guys worked hard throughout the day to get everything done.  With the many rolls of netting to put in place, there was plenty to do!  These were long rolls.  The later rolls were over 300′ long and they were hanging from 150′ of lifting line!  Also, it could be breezy and keeping the net under control was interesting!

There was one group of guys at the top of the quarry who were responsible for hooking up the nets.  They would put the roll into place and unroll it along the roadway.  When the helicopter came in, it had a special fixture on the end of the line.  This was a spreader bar with hooks for the net.  The bar was attached at the bottom but a ring was placed into a hook to turn it up the other way.  This meant that the hooks would be the right way up to hold the net.  When the release was triggered on the hook, the spreader bar would flip over and the net would fall free.  Then the whole thing could be repeated.

The other guys were on the top of the rock face ready to attach the net.  A wire line was rigged across the top of the rocks.  When the net came in, they guys had to grab the net, bring it into place and start wiring it to the line.  Two guys would be in harnesses and they would head over the edge as the net was lowered to ensure that it was aligned correctly and were it needed to be.  Joining each net down the rock face would follow another day.

The guys worked well together handling the nets into place and making sure they weren’t aligned incorrectly.  If the wind twisted the net, they had some good techniques for getting them back around the right way.  The was vital since the release would not work if it was facing the wrong way!  Jim was flying during all of this with a very long load so he did a great job to stay focused.

Thornton Quarry Part 1

The main job of the day was at a quarry.  This was a more unusual job than the ones I have normally seen with Midwest.  For a start, it was a long job.  This was actually the second day of this job and a third would be required before it was finished.  The task is to place wire netting on rock faces to stop and falling rocks from flying freely at anything below.  The nets hold any debris against the rock face.

You will have seen things like this before.  However, if you are like me, you hadn’t really given any thought to how they are put there.  Today I am going to focus on the flying aspect of the job.  The work of the guys on the ground was a separate issue and I am going to give them their own posting to follow this one.

The rolls of net are laid out on the ground and picked up by the helicopter.  Then Jim had to fly this very long roll across to where it was supposed to be placed.  The guys on the ground would attach it and then Jim would lower the net down so the bottom became the top and the top ended up at the bottom.  There are over a hundred of these rolls and each one takes several minutes to place.  Consequently, it was necessary to land several times during the day.  One need was for fuel but another was for a break.  This is a long time to be hovering a helicopter!

The weather was really nice for the majority of the day and I was able to get around the site and see the work from many different locations.  I also got to have a break during the day which most people didn’t so it was easier for me.  Even so, I was bushed at the end of it all.  At least I got to fly back to base and not deal with the traffic!