Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Rise of the Quadcopter - Friend or Foe?

The DJI phantom with stabilized flight, GPS positioning and advanced flight modes
The World is stating to embrace the emergence of highly sophisticated flying platforms that will carry high quality camera equipment and allow camera moves that would have been almost impossible using traditional camera gear or helicopters.  Often called 'Drones' - with the associated negative connotations from combat operations carried out on a daily basis by larger UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) - they are starting to become part of daily life.

At Bucks, we are starting to explore the potential of these devices.  As a platform for exploring complex camera moves they are excellent.  An entry level system will usually carry a 'GoPro' camera and more advanced systems will incorporate Gimbals which allow the camera to be largely unaffected by aircraft movement and vibrations.  The larger multi-rotor systems will carry much heavy cameras and are less affected by wind and turbulence.

So what's not to like?
Here comes the rub!  They are inexpensive, sophisticated, highly capable, easy to fly (to a point) and allow very creative camera moves that are becoming part of the visual language of film making. The tricky thing is that this also allows them to be used to intrude on peoples privacy, and they can also be dangerous in the wrong hands. To safeguard the public, the CAA has legislated on their safe use. This legislation makes perfect sense, but it also limits the experimentation possible as an aspiring VFX artist.  The law varies depending on whether the drone has a camera or not and whether the camera is used to record (drone is then seen as a surveillance aircraft) or whether the camera does not record and is there to assist flying. Weight is also a factor and the law changes if the drone weighs more than 7.5kg,  If the drone is being used commercially, the pilot needs a license!

Gateway building
We wanted to do a flight around our Gateway building and this would mean being at least 50m away from cars, people, structures that we don't control, and being in a town, this may mean an increased height restriction.  We are also supposed to notify our local airport at Booker and if our drone is over 7.5kg, we need their permission to fly!!

I've bought a drone and I'm learning to fly it in a way that lends itself to filming and useful camera moves.  The stabilized GPS mode of flying auto corrects position changes and holds position in moderate breezes.  It also adds to unwanted motion and can affect filming so  other modes where the aircraft glides, can be more useful for smooth camera moves.

I'm finding learning to fly drones,  addictive, and I've successfully tracked footage with a very low end camera.  We're looking into Drone use as part of University policy, and who knows, drone piloting may become part of the course!

---- Dave

1 comment:

  1. Quadcopters are flying cameras. Information about Quadcopters are very great info.
    DJI Phantom 3 Professional for sale in London