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Parkour in Spain—An Interview with Giles Campbell Longley, “Extreme Sports” Winner at NYCDFF 2017

We’ve been interviewing winners from this year’s New York City Drone Film Festival over the last several weeks, and it’s been a pleasure to get so many different perspectives on aerial cinematography, and to get such an array of insights into how these directors work.

This week’s interview is with Giles Campbell Longley, a Parkour filmmaker who directed “Cala d’en Serra – Drone Parkour,” which won the “Extreme Sports” category at the NYCDFF this year. The video was shot by Kie Willis—who is also a professional Parkour athlete—and the Parkour was done by Eric Moor.

Giles has been filming and doing Parkour for fourteen years, and his perspective and experience are invaluable when it comes to talking drones and Parkour filmmaking—let’s dive right in.

Begin Interview:

UAV Coach: This video is so fun to watch. What were some of the challenges you faced in making it? Did anything unexpected arise?

Giles: I think the biggest challenge we faced when filming this video was coming up with enough movements for Eric in an environment that was so unsafe. We found the location via drone racing videos online and booked flights with no idea whether or not the structure would be safe enough to jump on.

The whole thing was incredibly sketchy and we ended spending a ton of time testing and strengthening areas of the building so they could be useable.

[Check out the behind the scenes video at the end of the interview to see just how sketchy this spot was.]

UAV Coach: Eric Moor’s Parkour is really impressive in the video. What was it like working with an athlete doing stunts like that?

Giles: I’m a full time Parkour filmmaker & Kie Willis (the drone pilot on this project) is actually a professional Parkour athlete himself, so we’re very used to shooting this style of movement. Eric is one of our closest friends and he’s incredible to work with, both in his determination to repeat something until it’s perfect, but also because of his sense of humor.

UAV Coach: Editing is an important part of why your video is so amazing. How long did you take with post-production, and how did you work in the editing room to make sure the end result matched up to the vision you first imagined when you started the project?

Giles: The edit didn’t actually take too long, about two to three days. Every night after shooting we would get back to our hotel and play with the selects so by the end of the trip we already had a solid idea of how the final piece would look. Then it was just a case of polishing things up.

UAV Coach: Tell us about your company, Visive Productions. Is this the kind of work you typically do?

Giles: Yes, I’ve practiced Parkour since 2003 so the sport is well and truly engrained in my life. I got into filmmaking because I just wanted to film myself and my friends, and everything has just evolved from there.

Giles shot this video back in 2010—the costumes are silly, but the Parkour is seriously impressive

UAV Coach: Did you have to secure a permit or deal with any other kinds of regulations to fly your drone in Ibiza in order to shoot the video?

Giles: No, we didn’t obtain any permission to shoot there. We wouldn’t have considered the location if it was built up and had a lot of people frequenting the area, as we try to avoid flying anywhere that could cause any safety issues.

The area itself was technically fenced off but there were many spots that didn’t have fences.

Luckily the location was incredibly remote, and due to the fact that we filmed it in the off season (December), we only encountered a couple of people during the whole week of filming. Visitors ranged from family’s coming in to explore, birdwatchers, and even some trials bikers who worked their way down the nearby cliff face and into the courtyard.

UAV Coach: How did you first get involved with aerial cinematography?

Giles: Years ago we had a couple of friends who built their own drone and mounted a small Sony camera on the bottom of it. We played around for a day in an abandoned estate and instantly saw the potential it offered to capture Parkour from the air.

Unfortunately the drone setup was rather temperamental and we didn’t get to utilize it as much as we would have liked. However, within a couple of years the consumer market for drones expanded, with companies like DJI coming into the mix, and we’ve been playing ever since.

UAV Coach: What drone(s) do you fly, and what cameras do you use?

Giles: Currently we work with the DJI Inpsire 1 with the X5 camera.

Another amazing video from Giles and Kie

UAV Coach: What are your predictions for aerial cinematography, and the drone industry in general? Please feel free to answer at length (what you see way down the road, what you see for next year, where you see regulations headed in Spain or elsewhere, new applications, etc.).

Giles: I think in the near future things are going to get a lot more exciting when it comes to aerial cinematography.

I guess my thoughts always apply to the action sports-filmmaker perspective, but when drones such as the early DJI Phantoms came into play, videos suddenly became oversaturated with rather boring over-the-top or high-up angles. These looked spectacular but were too tame for my liking.

Drones have the ability to travel at rapid speeds while making movements that were literally impossible a few years ago, unless you had a helicopter, yet for some reason the majority of people in the action sports world still seem to opt for what are relatively simple shots and flight paths.

The moment we got our hands on the Inspire and had the potential for rapid movement coupled with independent camera movement, we knew we had to push the limits of what we thought was possible.

Now with the rise of racing drones, and incredible small cameras such as the GoPro Session, I’m hoping to see more people utilizing these tools to push things even further. The benefit of racing drones is that their movements are less stabilized than something like a DJI Inspire, so when it comes to action sports you can create something far more visually stimulating.

Regarding regulations, I think that unfortunately we will see these getting more and more strict in the near future.

With drones being so accessible, it just increases the chances of reckless pilots putting other people in danger, effectively spoiling the fun for people who are trying to push their creative boundaries while being sensible and safe. I don’t really know what the end point of this will be, but I seriously hope nothing major comes into play, like an outright ban on drones.

In the first question of the interview Giles talks about how sketchy the location was where they shot the video that won the “Extreme Sports” category at the NYCDFF this year. Here’s the behind the scenes video that shows just how unreliable some of these structures were:

Want to see more of Giles’ work? Check out his showreel below:

The post Parkour in Spain—An Interview with Giles Campbell Longley, “Extreme Sports” Winner at NYCDFF 2017 appeared first on UAV Coach.

Yuneec Announces Livestreaming for Its Breeze Flying Camera Drone

Yuneec just rolled out a new livestreaming feature for its Breeze camera drone that allows pilots to stream on Facebook, YouTube, or their output of choice.

Last year we did a write up about the Breeze when it first came out. Its stand out features at the time were that it could be controlled from a mobile device; that it had autonomous flight; and that it allowed for instantaneous social media sharing.

Oh, how far we’ve come since then! It’s amazing to look back just a single year and see that some of the advances in the industry make 2016—even in April of 2017—look like ancient history.

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Livestreaming with the Yuneec Breeze

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The Breeze is already one of the top drones with a camera on the market. The new livestreaming feature gives the Breeze an edge on the competition, and helps Yuneec continue to secure its place at the table in the camera drone market battle.

Here are the livestreaming details:

  • New feature on Breeze Cam App, available on iOS and Android
  • Stream in 720p HD
  • Instant interaction with audience
  • Facebook, YouTube, RTMP (Real-Time Messaging Protocol) compatible
  • Video recording via Breeze drone
  • Audio recording via mobile device
  • Ability to name live stream recording

The Breeze is controlled by a smartphone through the Breeze app (available in Android and iOS); you can also fly it with a dedicated controller FPV kit.

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Use Cases, Or Who’s Driving Whom?

The drone industry is one of those special places where technology drives user intent, instead of the other way around that.

That is, now that we can livestream from drones, it’s a safe bet that new use cases will start proliferating for livestreaming from drones. The creation of Samsung’s Gear 360, which was popularized in part by Casey Neistat’s HUMAN FLYING DRONE video, is another example—we’re sure to see lots of innovation come from that new technology as well.

Or look at the way that developments in gimbal technology has led to new uses for camera drones that would never have been considered before the technology existed. The gimbals on drones are so good now that you sometimes see cinematographers carrying a drone in their hands to get a smooth shot instead of using more clunky methods, like body-mounted steadicams.

And heck, look at what Robert McIntosh is doing with FPV technology and camera drones, which certainly wasn’t the original reason this tech was invented—check out this video, which won in the “Freestyle” category at the New York City Drone Film Festival this year:

The point is, we don’t know how livestreaming will be used just yet, but there are sure to be new use cases, and it will be exciting to see the creative ideas people come up with for using this technology.

It seems like we’ll probably have people sharing personal sporting events (think of your son’s little league game being livestreamed for your parents thousands of miles away, or maybe your friend’s skateboard tricks at the local park being streamed on Facebook). And we’ll probably have people streaming video selfies on vacation, or elsewhere…but what else will we see?

Let us know if you have a unique use case for livestreaming from the Breeze. We’d love to hear your idea.

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The post Yuneec Announces Livestreaming for Its Breeze Flying Camera Drone appeared first on UAV Coach.

An Interview with KopterCam, “ShowReel” Category Winner at the New York City Drone Film Festival

KopterCam, a company of professional aerial cinematographers, blew it out of the water with their showreel at the NYCDFF this year, as you can see for yourself above.

As we watched all the reels at the film festival I had a feeling that theirs would win. The work was excellent in every reel, but KopterCam had achieved an extra level of quality in the syncing of their music with what was onscreen, and with the continuity of images from one shot to the next (just how they pulled this off is something we’ll touch on when we get into the interview in just a moment—turns out finding the right music and using that as a guidepost in editing is essential to their process).

The KopterCam team is based in Helsinki, Finland (some amazing work is coming out of Finland lately—it’s also where our recent interviewee, director and animator Lucas Zanotto, lives and works), and it’s worth mentioning that in addition to being incredible cinematographers and pilots, they’re also really nice guys.

We’re grateful they gave us the time for this in-depth interview, and we want to give a special shout out to Marco Godles, KopterCam’s CTO and one of their RC pilots, who was instrumental in getting this interview together.

Now let’s dive in.

Begin Interview:

UAV Coach: That opening shot in your reel with the snowboarder jumping from one roof to another is amazing. Can you tell us the story behind that?

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KopterCam: This shot was filmed as part of a snowboarding documentary called Ender that was released last year, produced by Pablo Films and Red Bull.

The documentary is about the life of Eero Ettala, one of Finland’s greatest snowboarders, and tells the story of his passion and dedication in pushing the limits of snowboarding over the past decade. The shot was at a roof gap in Helsinki, shot in the early hours of the morning. The gap itself spans about 40ft with a drop of about 50ft. (Yikes!)

It’s spots like these that Eero has made iconic during his years snowboarding the streets of Helsinki. We’ve been filming with Eero for multiple projects during the past five years and there is never a dull moment. Only last week, he released his latest project Helsinki Transitions, which also pushed the limits of our drone filming.

UAV Coach: It looks like you guys do work for the movies (unless you just happened to come across pirates on the open ocean 🙂 ). Can you tell us about the movie that appears in the reel, and other movie work you do?

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KopterCam: Our main focus is aerial work in TV and feature films. We specialize in heavy lift rigs, usually carrying cameras such as the RED epic or Alexa Mini.

The shots with the pirates at 00:13 and 00:46 were filmed as part of a Finnish TV series called Heroes of the Baltic Sea. It was a fully decked out pirate ship and we actually filmed in the middle of the Baltic Sea, between Finland and Estonia.

We were taking off and landing from a separate boat that was usually used for scuba diving, so it had a large enough platform, but this also created the difficult challenges of flying from a moving object out at sea, wind speed, and also dealing with the generally unstable platform of a boat on water. 

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It’s situations like these where having a reliable team and equipment is really crucial. But when it all comes together, you manage to capture great moments!

The film industry in Finland is quite small compared to most countries, and we’ve been lucky enough to be part of most of major productions, especially as drone cinematography has really boomed over the last couple of years here. We have also done productions outside of Finland, working quite a lot in India and Morocco. One of the most recent projects last year was filming for the new season of Prison Break in Morocco. That was super fun!

UAV Coach: Describe what Koptercam does in one sentence.

KopterCam: We use the latest in UAV and camera technology combined to push the boundaries of what is possible to capture in digital cinema and media.

UAV Coach: There are so many amazing moments in your reel (one of our favorites is the high contrast shot on the sand dune at :58. So beautiful!). What are some of your favorite shots from the reel, and why?

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KopterCam: It’s difficult to choose a stand-out favorite shot, but if I had to, it would definitely be the amusement park shot at 00:38.

To give you a small back story of the shot, it was filmed at an amusement park called Imagica, about two hrs south east of Mumbai, India.

During filming that area of the park was closed to the public and all the people on the ride were extras. They were all given directions by the Assistant Director, in accordance to the story board, to not look at or focus directly on the camera and drone at any time. But it seems that this one guy never got that message, and he gave us an epic reaction that wasn’t planned or wanted, and which produced an unusable (but amazing!) take.

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Spontaneous moments like these are part of what makes drone filming so exciting, and that’s why that shot made it into the reel.

UAV Coach: Something that stands out in your reel is a sense for drama and pacing. Can you tell us about your editing process, the effect you were trying to create, and how you pulled it off?

KopterCam: Creating a reel showcasing your own work has to be one of the most challenging things to do as a creative process—not only do you as a creator have a visual connection to the footage, but you also have an emotional one.

Visually, it could be a very basic shot, but if it has a memorable back story (like the one I mentioned above), it will obviously feel more special to you than others. So it’s finding that middle ground of how you can use the footage to tell the story to your audience, and then a whole lot of compromising.

There were MANY shots that we cut out of the final result to get to this showreel. For our process specifically, we started with the music. We wanted to create a sense of epicness, and the music is the first thing that creates that mood.

We have attempted to edit projects in the past and then add music as the last step, and they never quite work out. Music is a key compliment to showcasing your footage.

Then it’s about compiling and cutting segments from original footage into a single location for ease of access and review. It’s then down to trusting the editor’s vision in placements, cuts, transitions, and flow. If you’re doing the edit on your own, it’s often worthwhile getting outside opinions that you trust to be objective, and asking people to give you constructive criticism. The first version of the reel never looks anything like the final version.

UAV Coach: What have been some of your favorite projects as aerial cinematographers? What have been some of the most difficult?

KopterCam: During 2016, we were heavily involved with filming for a World War 2 historical drama production called Unknown Soldier with Finnish director Aku Louhimies. It’s adapted from the best selling 1954 novel, and there are two previous film adaptations from 1955 and 1985.

This production stands out for us, for one, because it is a very significant movie release for the 100th anniversary of Finland Independence, and secondly, because of its ‘push-the-boundaries’ film techniques. Aku Louhimies and DoP, Mika Orasmaa, really tried to push the possibilities of what can be achieved with aerial cinematography today, and we were really stoked to be part of their vision.

There’s always the usual difficulties and hurdles you have to overcome when filming with UAVs—weather being the most common—and then things like limited flight times and equipment malfunction that can all cause unexpected down time.

Operating in extreme temperatures is also very difficult. We have filmed in -30°Celsius right up to +45°Celsius. It’s when you start to reach the extremes that you start to face restrictions in all your equipment, and you have to know your gear and understand where your limits are.

Apart from dealing with the elements, It’s those ‘one take’ shots that can be the most challenging.

The scenarios where there is some form of large action, explosion, or dangerous stunt that can only be done once, and you only get one chance at capturing it perfectly. In our reel, at 01:28, there is a car flipping on a dirt road. This was captured for a movie called Bodom, and it was one of those live stunts that could only be done once, driven by a stunt driver with multiple cameras and rigs set up to capture the same shot.

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UAV Coach: How did your team first get involved with aerial cinematography?

KopterCam: I teamed up with my colleague David Brickhill-Jones back in 2010 as he was looking for new and out of the box ways to film the sport of orienteering.

David competed on a world class level and wanted to bring more interest into his sport with more dynamic videos. With our knowledge of RC systems and my basic skills in electrical engineering, we built and tested a couple different systems, and eventually had the most success with a system from MikroKopter, out of Germany.

It was very rudimentary and wasn’t going to win any beauty contests, but it worked. There was still a heavy amount of post-processing and stabilization to be done on the footage to make even half the captured material useable, but the initial concept was there and we continued to build on it.

It wasn’t until the brushless gimbal revolution in 2012 that we really started to see the boundaries being pushed of what was truly possible with drones and cinematography. I can say without a doubt that I don’t miss the sleepless nights in the garage fine-tuning settings, only to have a heavy landing the next day and then needing to rebuild yet again. But that’s what it took back then.

UAV Coach: What drone(s) do you fly, and what cameras do you use?

KopterCam: Our office is filled with different random drones we have built over the years, but right now we mainly fly custom built X8 heavy lift drones from Airborne.ee and Gryphon Dynamics. With these setups we lift the RED Epic or ARRI Alexa Mini, usually attached to a Freefly Movi gimbal. These setups generally range from 6-8kg depending on the lens configuration at the time.

We also have DJI’s S900 and S1000 rigged with Zenmuse gimbals and GH4 setups, and potentially other smaller camera setups. There are certain applications where we use Phantom or Inspire drones. We have just started using the Inspire 2—it’s truly a mind blowing machine.

UAV Coach: What are your predictions for the future of aerial cinematography and the drone industry in general? Please feel free to answer at length (what you see way down the road, what you see for next year, where you see regulations headed in the U.S. and abroad, new applications, etc.).

KopterCam: It has certainly been a rollercoaster ride to this point already, and its unreal to think of where we are headed.

The fact that there are already plans in place to have automated commercial drone fights in Dubai is incredible. The technology is getting pushed out at alarming rates—even as professionals in our field we find it difficult to keep up with the latest releases and trends. It’s really no wonder that every day a drone regulation somewhere is being changed, revised, or abolished.

Drones are becoming easier to fly, more robust and reliable, cheaper, and essentially more consumer friendly. These are all great things, and hopefully these improvements will level out the fluctuations of constantly changing regulations. I could honestly talk for days about drone regulations, but my biggest hope for the future is to have some form of standardization.

At least with aerial cinematography, I think there will always be a level of creativity, art form, and skill that any type of automation will not be able to replicate. Personally when I fly any Phantom or Inspire drone, I tend to turn off every sensor and automation that I can. Otherwise I just don’t quite feel in control while piloting (although it’s great to have those options).

But the manual option is one thing that could change quite rapidly. As regulations get tighter and stricter, the amount of manual overrides could start to diminish. It won’t surprise me if DJI’s GeoFencing will also start to include some sort of max height and distance limits based on geo-location and local authority limits.

Beyond regulatory limits, we’re also facing new travel limitations with drones every day, mainly because of batteries. Just recently we have seen certain airlines ban laptops and tablets from cabin luggage because of their batteries. Air travel is a large part of our operation and we have experienced many setbacks because of inconsistent airline information, and uninformed staff who aren’t familiar with correct procedures and limits (even with the same airlines on a different day or week). 

To account for these uncertainties, we now have to pre-ship batteries to film locations. In some cases we’ve even purchased batteries at the location and left them in storage upon departure. I’m hoping that at least in the short-term future there could be the possibility to rent drone batteries, either from rental houses, or even from other drone companies in the areas of travel. In the long-term future, I’d love to see a new type of battery technology that could be safer, have a longer shelf life, and longer flight times.

360 Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 3D Modeling, Mapping, Aerial Thermography… the list goes on! Aerial cinematography is only a small part of the ecosystem that drone technology has the potential to be.

It’s safe to say, I’m excited for the future!

Below are some more impressive videos from the KopterCam team. Enjoy!

 

The post An Interview with KopterCam, “ShowReel” Category Winner at the New York City Drone Film Festival appeared first on UAV Coach.

Check Out These Leaked Images of the New DJI Spark Drone

News recently leaked on the web says that DJI is gearing up to launch a small drone that looks like the Mavic Pro’s younger brother.

The drone is called the Spark, and pictures of it first appeared a few days ago on a Chinese DJI forum (the page has since been taken down, or we’d link to it).

Rumors are flying around about when DJI might officially unveil the Spark, and whether it has the same foldable design as the Mavic Pro. We should say that DJI has publicly denied the existence of the Spark, but the fact that DJI has already registered the name “DJI Spark” makes those denials a little hard to believe.

Here Are Some of the Leaked Images

As you’ll see, the Spark looks like it has brushless motors and fixed arms, similar to the Mavic.

The bottom of the drone seems to have sensors facing downward, which may help in positioning, and there’s a panel on the front above the camera that could be hiding additional sensors, which may help the Spark sense obstacles.

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A Selfie Drone or a Racing Drone?

Based on the images, it’s hard to say, but the internet is buzzing with speculations about which of these two the Spark might be.

Given the Spark’s similarity with the Mavic, which is a great camera drone, it could make sense that the Spark is a selfie drone. But FPV racing drones are also small and nimble, as the Spark appears to be.

The Spark’s camera is mounted on a gimbal that looks noticeably different from the one used on the Mavic. It looks like the camera on the Spark can only tilt up and down, which could also serve to confirm the selfie hypothesis, since it seems like a simple selfie wouldn’t require the same kind of range of motion that a camera drone being used for aerial cinematography might need.

There are still a lot of unknowns here. We don’t know the Spark’s specs, whether it has foldable arms (like the Mavic), what the controller looks like, when the Spark will be released, or how much it will cost—though for the last point, we feel like it’s safe to guess that it’s going to be less than the $1,000 it costs to buy a Mavic.

The Mavic was DJI’s smallest drone yet when it was released. Whenever the Spark does come out, it will now take that claim.

But whether it’s a selfie drone or an FPV drone, it’s a safe bet that the Spark will help further establish DJI’s domination of the market when it comes to remote control drones.

Want to See More Pictures of the Spark?

You go it.

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The post Check Out These Leaked Images of the New DJI Spark Drone appeared first on UAV Coach.

FAA Establishes No-Drone Zones Over 133 U.S. Military Facilities

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established airspace restrictions over 133 military facilities to address national security concerns about unauthorized drone operations.

The specific restricted locations are detailed in a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) – UAS NOTAM FDC 7/7137, and may be viewed online via an interactive map here.

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The Agency is using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) § 99.7 – Special Security Instructions – to establish these restrictions. The relief provided under § 99.7 is limited to requests from the Department of Defense and U.S. federal security and intelligence agencies based on national security interests.

The FAA went on to explain:

U.S. military facilities are considered “sensitive” as they are vital to the nation’s security. The FAA and the Department of Defense have agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the facility’s lateral boundaries. There are only a few exceptions that permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA. The restrictions are effective on April 14, 2017.

Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

And this might not be the first restriction we see of this nature:

The FAA is considering additional requests from federal security and intelligence agencies for restrictions using the FAA’s § 99.7 authority as they are received.

Stay tuned for updates as they come in.

 

The post FAA Establishes No-Drone Zones Over 133 U.S. Military Facilities appeared first on UAV Coach.

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