how do those chase helicopters keep focus on fast moving cars during a police chase?

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Feels like it would be very disorienting for the camera man and would be quite shaky from that distance out. Is there some special equipment they use?

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cars mostly travel on roads, so you have a predictable direction.

Cameras can be stabilized, both mechanically (with gyroscopes) and digitally. Look up SteadyCam operator videos, these things are unreal.

Operators are trained well. They might also have a wider field of view than the video feed.

Modern setups can actually track a car. You have technology similar to face recognition, except you use it to identify the same car it saw 0.1 second ago, and move the camera to remain centered on it.

It also helps that they’re pretty high up in the sky. So from the helicopter’s perspective, the car will seem to be moving a little bit slower than it would if you were on the ground.

Similar to when you’re on the ground and you look up at airplane in the sky (disregarding fighter jets). The airplane could be traveling several hundred miles per hour, but due to the distance, it doesn’t look like it’s traveling across the sky very fast.

Simply put, they’re incredibly expensive cameras with excellent focus and image stabilization.

A very common model used by law enforcement is the Wescam MX-10 (about $400k). Just like modern cameras, you can select a focus point and it will track it automatically with the camera operator not having to do much.

They have mechanical image stabilization. Basically, it’s a speciality camera mounted to the body of the helicopter, with gyroscopes and servo motors and stuff to help stabilize it.

And as for *literally* focusing on the car, they use a lens with a pretty “wide depth of field”, meaning that instead of focusing tightly on an object and having everything else blurred, the focus is very loose and easy.