There is no doubt that tracking the rocket during its ascent adds dynamics to the footage that make it more interesting. Groups like NASA, Hollywood, or cable channel production companies employ an entire crew to film the lift off of a rocket. Most rocketeers have very limited available people to capture the moment. Many would rather watch their rocket in person rather than from behind a camera.
Rocketry Photography's Set Up has been refined after many years of development. The timers used are easy to program and more importantly, very accurate. Combined with detecting actual lift off and proven tracking methods, the result is a reliable method to record your rockets lift off.
The techniques presented here are completely automated. All cameras are triggered to start and stop recording automatically, all movements of the camera are automatic, even launching of the rocket is timed to occur when the cameras are running. The input is still triggered by the LCO but from then on, no human intervention is needed (nor desired). There is an abort capability that can be triggered that prevents the rocket from launching if necessary. Even if the launch of the rocket is completely automated, the Set Up does allow the capability to manually take photographs and even turn on and off the normal speed video cameras. This is very useful to record the loading of the rocket onto the launch pad, raising of the launch tower, arming of the rocket, or any other desired event.
Why so many cameras? Rocketry Photography uses nearly two dozen cameras located all around the launch tower so you don’t have to launch multiple times to get just the right shot. NASA uses about 100 high speed cameras to film a space shuttle launch and Hollywood may have multiple takes of the same scene. Rocketry Photography knows there is usually only one chance to capture your lift off and this system was designed with that in mind.
The concept of the system is simple. All cameras are controlled from a central controller. The controller consists of multiple timers that turn on and off the video cameras, focuses the still cameras and takes still images, and fires the igniter. While the rocket is launching the still cameras start taking pictures and at the moment of lift off, the pitching cameras start tracking the rocket as is ascends. After a few seconds, all the cameras stop recording. The Set Up also interfaces with the audio sound recorder to record high quality sound. The audio recording can be synced with the recordings on the video cameras during post production if desired.