Byrd’s Eye Studio Hosts Camera Camp
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Saturday, July 20, 2024
Byrd’s Eye Studio Hosts Camera Camp

Byrd’s Eye Studio Hosts Camera Camp

Gear & Industry Spotlight
Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Above: Camp participants gather for a group photo. 

At Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, North Carolina, March 23-24, Elliot Byrd of Byrd’s Eye Studios held his first camera-flying course for formation skydiving photographers. At the conclusion of the 2022 season, Byrd retired from flying full-time with teams and had the time to develop a course that teaches theory and also allows for practice in a one-on-one environment. The course provides the basic foundation for jumpers to start the journey into FS filming, a step beyond the old trial-and-error methods.

The course started with a seminar discussing proper gear, flying with camera wings, camera settings and video examples of how to properly film all things FS. It also included tunnel time, where attendees progressed through a body-flight curriculum that Byrd developed specifically for flying camera suits. This included several drills, each building on its predecessor, so by the end the participants could confidently execute the skills in the sky and focus solely on filming during the skydive.

Byrd said, “Like most photographers and videographers in the skydiving industry, my foray into camera flying started by strapping a GoPro to my head as soon as I hit 200 jumps. My learning curve was very slow and the only resources available to me were the local camera flyers who mostly flew tandem video. Accompanied with a lot of trial and error, this is how I progressed in the discipline to where I find myself today.

“Throughout my journey as a camera flier, I kept asking myself why there is such a big gap in the availability of education on camera flying compared to all other disciplines in skydiving. I have seen several of the great camera fliers post videos and host online seminars educating people in the art of camera flying, but when it came to marrying theory with practical education, nothing existed. I think the reason is pretty straightforward. If someone wants to learn to film big-way formations, for instance, you can talk them through how to do it but you can’t just hand them 50 people to go film and send them on their way. The same can be said for other camera flying disciplines like tandem, FS, VFS, angle flying, etc. The truth of the matter is that there are barriers to entry (for good reason) for filming anything in skydiving and unfortunately the only way to get there is to continue to practice until you are qualified and presented with an opportunity.”

Byrd went on to say, “Additionally, unlike every other discipline in skydiving, videographers never get video debriefs of their flying. Debriefing camera flyers is typically a guessing game on their body position throughout the skydive due to only being able to see their POV. With the advent of the 360-degree camera, things changed. I was finally able to see what they were doing by putting a 360 cam on one of the flyers in the formation. It was a game changer and made me realize there was an opportunity to develop a course focused on body-flight mechanics for camera flyers.

“The course was a trial to see if the tunnel was a viable solution to implementing practical camera flying coaching. I found through the course that coaching in skydiving is a discipline in and of itself, and I still have a lot to learn, but based on the feedback from the participants, I would say it was a success. I am excited to continue developing the FS course and start working on new courses for other disciplines in the industry.”

Those who are interested in learning more about future classes may contact Byrd at elliot@byrdseyestudio.com.

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