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How UAV’s are changing the film industry

The film industry has always been one that embraces and runs with new technology, so it’s no surprise that the explosion of the drone industry is making waves in the way movies are made. Before the FAA approved the use of UAVs (drones) for filmmaking, aerial shots could only be achieved with the use of a helicopter or airplane, or a boom arm, all of which could be prohibitively expensive, dangerous or difficult to manage. In comparison, similar shots done with a drone cost about one tenth of the price, and can be done much more quickly and easily.

The advent of drones also means that shots that in the past were impossible can now be achieved very easily. Helicopters, for instance, can’t fly low through crowded streets, or in and among trees, but drones can. Drones can also start inside a building and end up looking down on that building all in one long, smooth shot. There’s no way a helicopter, or any other tool in the former arsenal of filmmaking gadgets, could do that.

So many of those breath-taking, inspirational shots that in the past were hard to get and expensive to boot, are now much easier to come by (though no less inspirational!). One thing is for sure, drone aerial photography is changing the way the game is played in the film industry.

As any artist knows, you need the right tools to get the job done. Here’s an idea of how one studio, Extreme Aerial Productions (EAP) gets some of that incredible footage we’re talking about.

One piece of equipment now commonly seen in aerial movie production is the ALTA6. This workhorse is often used to shoot movies as well as high-end commercials, since it has the brawn necessary to carry sophisticated cameras and lenses, which it turns out, are usually heavy.

Another tool essential in the new aerial film world is the MOVI CONTROLLER.  This piece of equipment allows the director to compose the perfect shot from the ground. With this controller, the director can operate the camera while several hundred feet away.

Gimbals are not new to the movie industry, but have undergone dramatic development since the introduction of drones. One example is the MOVI M15. EAP uses this gimbal to stabilize the camera and help create the perfect smooth shot while in flight. Not only is it great in flight though – it can also be taken off the drone and help “run and gun” on set with the ground crew to create smooth flowing camera shots and angles.

When it’s a low shot required, EAP turns to the FREEFLY TERO to achieve these shots at a fraction of the cost, not to mention dramatically diminishing the danger factor. Not a flying one, but hey, it’s still a robot.

Livestreaming technology is another tool that EAP is making use of to keep the customer satisfied. It’s rare to get exactly the right shot on the first go-round, and with the newly emerging ability to stream live from the camera of a drone to a remote screen, it’s now easier to see what’s what.

TV and film production is just one part of what EAP does. With the tools of the trade at the ready, they are also able to provide aerial film services in the real estate, construction, golf course, and resort industries as well.

Tools of the Trade: How drones are changing the movie industry


Durrr… the Karma is crashing

GoPro makes cutbacks after drone crashes

  • 30 November 2016
Nick Woodman
Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption GoPro’s chief executive, Nick Woodman, had previously forecast the company would return to profit in early 2017

Action camera-maker GoPro is cutting 200 jobs and shutting down some of its services.

The announcement follows a series of drone crashes that made the company recall its much anticipated Karma aircraft.

In addition, the US company said its president, Anthony Bates, would quit his post at the end of the year after three years in the job.

GoPro said that consumer demand for its products remained “solid”.

However, the company has posted a loss in each of its past four quarters.

At the start of this month it also revealed its cash reserves had fallen to $132m (£106m) – less than half the amount at the start of the year.

“I knew they were in trouble, but I didn’t expect them to have such a dramatic fall from grace,” Tom Morrod, director of consumer electronics at the IHS consultancy, told the BBC.

“The Karma drones were their recover strategy, and when they had to be recalled it faltered. This is the result.

“GoPro was struggling as an action cam specialist, which is why it needed an alternative market. The fact that the device was unsalable has damaged its prospects, at least temporarily.”

The job cuts represent 15% of the California-based company’s workforce.

The move reflects the fact that even if the fold-up Karma drone returns to sale, GoPro will probably have missed out on the Christmas shopping season.

It had sold about 2,500 of the drones in the 16 days they were on the market.

A problem with the machines caused a number of them to lose power mid-flight, causing them to fall uncontrolled out of the air.

One video of an accident showed the drone diving on to a beach on which people were walking.

There have been no reports of injuries. However, the company is being sued over claims it misled investors about demand for the product and took too long to alert the public to its power supply flaw.

Entertainment shutdown

Reviews for GoPro’s new Hero 5 cameras have generally been positive. The new devices introduced voice control, electronic image stabilisation and built-in water resistance.

However, some technology blogs doubted whether the features were enough to convince existing owners to upgrade.

And the company faces increased competition from rival action cams and the improved quality of smartphone cameras, many of which now also offer protection against water.

As part of its cutbacks GoPro is also closing its entertainment division.

The operation was announced in July 2015 and offered owners thousands of dollars for videos they had filmed using its equipment.

In return it wanted the right to promote their content through its social media accounts.

It also sought to sell the rights to the material to advertising agencies and split the proceeds.

The company described it as a “no-brainer” for creative professionals at the time.

GoPro’s shares were trading 2.5% up on the day by early afternoon in New York, but they remain down on their value at the start of the year.


A Pocket for Everything and Everything in its Pocket

Let’s be honest: drone people are gear people. With each drone we drool over and eventually buy comes a host of little odds and ends that need to be carried around every time we go out and fly.

There are lots of backpacks and cases that are great for transporting the serious gear, protecting the drone, getting us from here to there. But once we’re out in the field, there are still all those odds and ends that we want right at our fingertips, without having to traipse all the way back to wherever we left the case. I’m thinking extra batteries, extra props, cables, memory cards, sunglasses, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about.


I recently came across a genius solution – the QUEST Vest. This thing was designed with gear people in mind. Claiming to have 42 pockets (I’m taking their word for it, since I tried counting and got lost – seriously, I need a road map for all the pockets!), there’s a place for everything in this vest. It’s an organization enthusiast’s dream come true. There are even little image labels near many of the pockets with suggestions on what that pocket is best suited for. You just better have a good memory to remember what you put where!


There’s a video out there showing how to fit a DJI Mavic into the pockets of this vest (the men’s version). I didn’t have a Mavic on hand to test out whether the women’s version will also fit the Mavic, but I do believe it could. And it certainly does fit every variety of battery, prop and cable you could want while out there for a few hours of flying. Plus your tablet, phone, sunglasses, fpv goggles, waterbottle, hat and gloves…

I was a bit skeptical before I actually had the vest in my hands as to how something so practical would hold up in the aesthetic department. I must say I was pleasantly surprised with the fit and look of the vest. It feels nice, fits well, and looks good. Probably not going to qualify as high fashion, but very nice looking, and eminently useful! It is heavier than you’d expect, though, and then once you start adding in gear, you could easily start packing on the pounds. Even fully loaded however, it still looks nice, if a little bulky.

The makers of the QUEST Vest, SCOTTeVEST, also carry a full line of other gear toting coats, jackets and pants, and the usefulness is not just limited to drone pilots. Travelers, photographers, mothers of small children, anyone who just never seems to have enough pockets…

Top 10 Aerial Photos from Around the World … according to SkyPixel

Showcasing some of the best work from the SkyPixel 2016 Photo ContestThe best aerial and drone photos in 2016The best aerial and drone photos in 2016

SkyPixel, the world’s largest community dedicated to aerial photography, today released its top picks of aerial photos taken by photographers and drone enthusiasts from around the world. These 10 photos were considered to be some of the best works submitted to the SkyPixel2016 Photo Contest thus far.

The SkyPixel 2016 Photo Contest is still accepting entries and will continue to run until December 30, 2016. Photographs from any type of aerial platform are welcome and participants can submit as many photos as they like throughout the contest period. Participants can choose to take part either in the Professional category or as an Enthusiast (i.e. those that do aerial photography as a hobby). The contest is in partnership with TIME, Condé Nast Traveler and Fstoppers who have provided esteemed judges and photography experts to evaluate the entries. To enter the contest: https://www.skypixel.com/events/photocontest2016

The SkyPixel 2016 Photo Contest is sponsored by DJI, Epson, Adobe, Insta360 and Ctrip. The grand prize, valued over USD 5,500, includes the recently released Inspire 2, Mavic Pro and Epson Moverio BT-300 smart glasses. Other fabulous prizes include the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, Osmo, Osmo+, Osmo Mobile and the ‘Above the World: Earth Through a Drone’s Eye’ coffee table book.

The SkyPixel 2016 Photo Contest joins DJI’s 10th Anniversary Celebration to highlight the spectacular images that aerial technologies can create. The goal is to show the world why aerial imaging is the next evolution of photographic art and showcase new talents from around the world.

Note: Media who would like to feature any of the photos above can do so with credits to the original photographer and a link to the original image or to www.skypixel.com.

Photographer name and description on next page.

1. Infinity Road to Transylvania by Calin Stan – The Drone.ro
The true beauty and winding nature of Cheia (DN1A), a road in Romania that leads you into Transylvania, can only be shown through aerials as depicted here.

2. Ship Wreck at L’Agulhas by Dirke Heydenrych
A dramatic sunset is the perfect backdrop for this shipwreck off the Cape L’Algulhas headland in South Africa

3. Dronie by Manish Mamtani

A bridge caked in snow in New Hampshire was the perfect opportunity for Manish Mamtani and his wife, both wearing bright clothing, to create a contrasting “dronie” (selfie taken by drone) against the monotonous white winter cold.

4. by 225158586

Rice terraces are more commonly synonymous with Bali, but the man-made phenomenon also occurs throughout Asia, as user 225158586 showcases the presence of this unique feature in Fujian through aerial means.

5. WWII airplane by Salim Madjd
A World War 2 airplane at the outdoor display of the Belarusian Great Patriotic War Museum is caked in snow from a light snowstorm overnight, with a photo taken during ‘blue hour’ in the early morning.

6. Crop Triangle by Eddie Oosthuizen

Crop irrigation and agriculture can also be fascinating visually, as shown here with a barren triangle forming between three crop types planted in a circular motion for efficient irrigation.

7. Barskog by Atle Goutbeek
The sun and snow form a beautiful contrast in a wintery forest

8. Night lights by jeff
A private superyacht stands out with its lights in the dark waters at night from above

9. Winter by Tomasz Walczack
A road cuts through the harsh starkness of a forest experiencing winter.

Camels cast a long shadow in the sun of the desert on a trek to find water

About SkyPixel

SkyPixel was founded in 2014 and has become a leading global community for aerial photographers and videographers. The platform has over one million registered users and hosts thousands of aerial images and videos uploaded daily by users from around the world. Leading works have received over 1 million views. The world’s largest aerial photography contest was hosted by SkyPixel in 2015, with over 11,000 entries received from 146 countries. In addition, SkyPixel also promotes the growth of the aerial community, with an educational section featuring key experts of aerial imaging who provide tips on how to produce the best aerial photography. www.skypixel.com

Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161127/443076

Researchers fly UAVs through whale blow sprays to help measure humpback health

Researchers are using a drone to obtain samples from the blow sprays of humpback whales on the B.C. coast and analyzing the contents as a way to measure health.

Lance Barrett-Lennard, a whale scientist with the Vancouver Aquarium, said Saturday that a drone used last August off northern Vancouver Island flew three to four metres above humpbacks.

In an interview at a marine mammal symposium at the University of B.C., Barrett-Lennard said that the drone is flown off a small motorized research vessel, first conducting flights at an altitude of about 45 metres to obtain images of the overall health of the whales.

Then new batteries are put in the drone for a separate flight in which it hovers low and flies right through the blow plume collecting “whale snot, basically,” he said.

“They have a V-shaped blow,” he noted. “Sometimes we’d be right in the middle. It takes a while to get used to. It’s flying through a cloud with droplets in it. The drone ends up all slimy and rusty.”

The drone is then swabbed off and samples sent to the provincial animal pathology lab in Abbotsford and to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

The information should provide information on fungal, bacterial, and viral organisms in the respiratory tract of a living whale, something that cannot be duplicated during a necropsy on a dead one. Ultimately, the research is meant to offer more detail into what a healthy whale looks like.

Barrett-Lennard said that drones are a cost-efficient alternative to helicopters and are quieter and less invasive. Humpbacks give no indication of being bothered by them flying low overhead.

“We haven’t been able to detect any reaction on their part … or reason to think they even recognize the drone as something interesting,” Barrett-Lennard said. When feeding, humpbacks often attract seabirds and are “presumably used to small objects” close by, he added.

Drones have been used on the B.C. coast since 2014 on resident orcas to assess body size and health, including pregnancies. Drones are currently being used only on humpback blow sprays due to the large size.

Reduced body size can reflect age as well as lack of food, which for resident orcas tends to be chinook salmon. The killer whales are known to share their salmon catches.

The research is in cooperation with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The symposium learned there are 12 distinct populations of orcas in regional waters: four are fish-eating residents; seven are mammal-eating transients or Bigg’s killer whales; and one is labelled as an off-shore group, known to eat sharks, among other species.

Southern residents have the lowest genetic diversity by one study measure, while eastern Aleutian transients and southern Alaska residents have the highest.