Festival filming

We had another first at the start of August. Filming at a very large festival. When I first got the enquiry about the job I thought it would be impossible to film at the festival and stay within the rules of our license. I can’t think of a worse location than a festival for crowd control! Thankfully it was a production company we’ve worked with a lot, Bristol and London based Clockwise media,  so we were able to spend a lot of time planning the shoot to make it possible. The festival was Boom Town Fair, near winchester in the UK. Unlike a lot of festival that just occupy a massive square of land, Boom Town Fair takes place in several massive bowl like valleys that all connect together. In between the valleys are bits of high ground and woodland areas that are fenced off from the rest of the site. After giving the site map a good look a few weeks before the festival I could tell these were going to make pretty good launch and flight locations. As well as a few spots just outside the main fence these gave us our safe flight locations and made the job possible.

As it was a festival and the production company wanted some night shots it was a late start and a late finish. Once on site we needed a fair few extra hands as it was very difficult to organise any kind of transport around the site and we have a lot of gear. We were using the Sony F55 camera and Zeiss CP2 lenses for the first time on the drone too. These belonged to the production company. The set up looks a lot bigger than the usual Red Dragon rig but it actually all came in a fair bit lighter with the bonus of extra flight time and slightly less being to carry about. Whilst trekking around the site the number of comments from slightly inebriated festival goers about my ‘big drone’ were too numerous to count.

Throughout the day we launched from serval sites around the festival covering various stages and areas. It was great having such a different subject to work with. Boom town fair stands apart from other festivals by the size and look of their stages. It was like being inside several massive movie sets. One stage designed like a huge Mayan temple, another like a 5 story palace with huge pyro flames going off from every corner. It wasn’t hard to make it look good! When the evening came we were operating from a perfect spot overlooking the whole site. As the light went down the sea of flames, lights and lasers were truly amazing! On top of this we got to film the festival fireworks display (from a safe distance!) At the end of the shoot it was hard not to be in the festival spirit so a few rum and gingers were had to round off an amazing day.

Google commercial and anamorphic lenses

At the start of August we were asked to shoot a new commercial for a very well known international brand. The shoot was another very early start (3:30am!), on a beach on the east coast of England. It was a very dramatic spot called Botany bay with some amazing white cliff formations. The shoot was a first for us as the DOP wanted to use anamorphic lenses on our Red Dragon, something we had never flown with. They were a set of light weight Kowa anamorphic lenses that were a perfect size and weight for using on our heavy lifted octcopter. We organised a test day the day before the shoot just to make sure all would work as it should in the air, as is always advised when using new kit.

The shoot itself involved capturing sunrise shots flying low over the sea and a series of shots circling a group of swimmers as they approached the ocean. All the shots looked great with perfect light and weather conditions throughout the morning and the addition of being shot on anamorphic lenses. The only thing we had a watch was keeping the horizon dead centre of the frame as the anamorphic lenses tend to slightly bend the edge of frame at the top and bottom, which is especially evident when looking at the ocean horizon. With an early start comes an early wrap and we were finished by 11am ready for the long drive home!

Freefly Alta

Im very excited at the moment as we are weeks away from getting our hands on our own Freefly Alta. This is the latest product release from Freefly and will probably be the best ready to fly UAV on the market. It features Freefly’s own flight controller, the Synapse, which has been in development for the last 6 years. By all accounts its pretty special. All the components on the ALTA are custom made by Freefly including silent drive motors. By all accounts these are the quietest motors you can get, so maybe those pieces to camera will be possible now! With Freefly track record of past products you know its gonna be good! It has some very exciting features which are gonna be great for us and allow us new levels of creativity. This is the first UAV where you can top mount the gimbal allowing you to look up in flight. This brings a whole new level of achievable angels and shot opportunities for every shoot. The Alta also folds down and fits into its own Peli case with a set up and de rig time of 5 minutes. This makes it the perfect tool for taking on foreign shoots or shoots that involve trekking to hard to reach places. I wish we had one if these when we had to trek for three hours through the jungle in Vietnam last year!

The ALTA will be able to carry our current main payload of the Movi M15 and Red Dragon so will be being put straight into action.

We will get our Alta at the beginning of August and can’t wait to start using it on jobs. Have a look at some of these photos to get you excited!

June Drone Jobs

It’s been a while since I last posted anything. Here’s a round up of some of the jobs we did in June. We started the month in Weymouth shooting for Volvo filming the GB Olympic sailing team. They were practicing along with all the other international team for upcoming competitions. I always feel a little nervous flying all that gear over the sea but it seems many jobs recently have been taking place on the coast so Im starting to get used to it! It was great fun have such a dynamic subject to shoot with a lot of movement to track and follow. We got some great footage on the C300 that will be appearing on a show reel soon.

Our second shoot over the sea was in Cornwall filming for a new National Trust commercial that will be shown on the TV and in the Cinema. We were shooting back on the Red Dragon flying off the cliffs at Boscastle. It is a beautiful spot that we got to see in some stunning light as we arrived at the location at 3am! Its not easy getting up that early but it pays off when you get to see such an amazing location at first light and through to sunrise. The shoot involved flying along side cliffs, out to sea and some nice graphic shots with full frame rock faces and shore lines. Looking forward to seeing the finished commercial.

Next we were back filming for a big new Sky One series due out later in the year called Apocalypse Slough. We were filming the end shot for a rather complex CGI sequence which involved tracking about 6ft directly behind a moving car. The passenger in the back was staring out down the lens so the shot had to remain dead centre. It was fairly tricky and took a few takes but we eventually nailed it. The CGI director said after “You couldn’t get it any more perfect”, so we were pretty happy! We had a second shoot for the same production a week later getting shots of Slough for the title sequence and to be used throughout the 10 episodes. This was fairly straight forward although it was fairly windy but all went well.

Mid June we shot a commercial for Carlsberg. This was in Croydon and was a lot of fun. It should be on your screens fairly soon so lets just say it evolves a kick around in the park that escalates somewhat! It was a great team with a lot of big toys on location. Our rig looked pretty small next to the techno crane!

At the end of the month we were back down in Cornwall filming at the Pendennis super yacht boat yard. We were filming a very impressive super yacht coming into the wet dock for a complete refit. It was an amazing place to film at with a lot of opportunities for some diverse shots. We got to fly inside huge boat sheds and covered dry docks as well as in and around all the huge machinery and hoists on the water front and around the super yacht as it came in from the sea. Amongst all the fun we were having we did encounter a few new hazards. There seemed to be a fair bit of RF and compass interference on site There is obviously a lot of transmitters on boat and probably a lot of high power electrical cables running round the site. We had to monitor the levels throughout the day and stay away from a couple of locations for safety. Secondly there were a lot of very aggressive seagulls about that seemed intent on dive bombing our 8, carbon fibre bladed, heavy lift octocopter. Lucky none followed through with their threats as it wouldn’t have ended well for anybody! Always things to be wary of on shoots!

June was a really great month. Looking forward to a great July, especially the birth of my first child! UAV carrying baby footage soon I promise!

Saudi Arabia: KAFD development

So we have just returned from Saudi Arabia. After some initial issues getting kit and especially batteries through Saudi customs we had a great week shooting the new King Abdullah financial development. Its a very impressive development with over 50 huge towers built from scratch and on course to be completed in a 10 year period, in around 3 years time. At the start they had over 52,000 people working on the project!

With all the restrictions in the UK on flying in a built up area it was great to have the opportunity to film in an environment of huge sky scrapers that we’ve never been able to film in before. We got some stunning results with the Red Epic, some of which will definitely be in the new showreel. We had to deal with some new wind conditions with the angles of the buildings creating some unique shear factors but luckily the weather in Saudi at this time of the year is pretty calm and only at around 25-30c rather than the 55c it can get to in the summer months! We had lots of different shapes, textures and refletions to work with as each build has a unique design with some very unusual shapes using a variety of materials including a lot of glass and some copper and steel.

One unusual circumstance was taking off from the 35th floor of an unfinished tower in order to get some super high wide shots of the development. Again, as we were in Saudi Arabia and under the unusual situation of having the Kings permission to fly, we didn’t have the same height restrictions as in the UK so we were able to get up to around 700ft from ground level for some unique angles.

All the kit was performing great. This was the Movi M15 gimbal’s first real test and it performed amazingly giving us super smooth results even in some windy conditions at high altitudes. The Skyjib 8 octocopter with the Tiger MN 4120 motors and carbon props is also flying really well with the extra weight of the Red Epic and the M15.

We got a lot of interest from the locals and may well be headed back shortly to complete some more filming on a different development in Riyadh.

Busiest months ever!

Well what a time its been at the Flying Camera Company! It’s been so busy I haven’t had time to write a post. In the last couple of months we’ve shot a several feature films, one a hollywood blockbuster involving two weeks filming in some incredible but hard to reach locations in Vietnam. We’ve shot for large scale drama series for Fox, Disney, ABC, Nickelodeon and the BBC. We’ve filmed lots of horses and some bee’s as well as some more super cars and lots of mountain biking. It’s been an amazing couple of months. Lots of new kit has been bought including a fully customised VW Transporter with racks and charging stations which has all made our operation as smooth as possible! Im still waiting to get some of the photo’s from the Vietnam shoot but in the mean time here’s a few photo’s of us flying the Red Epic over some more water!