Busy Autumn times

This time of the year can often be pretty tricky in the drone aerial filming world, mainly due to the weather. Throughout the year I spend most of my time checking one of my 5 weather apps to see the possibility of rain but mainly to check the forecast winds speeds. To some degree the wind is our master and in the UK in the autumn the wind speeds are usually pretty high. This always leads to a lot more checking of said weather apps in the run up to jobs this time of year and can on occasion lead to cancelations. This has definitely been our busiest autumn ever and it has happened to coincide with many storms. For some reason many of our recent shoots have also happened to be on the coast, the one place you don’t want to be when you’re trying to escape the wind. Us and the kit has been tested to its fullest but we’ve had great fun and a lot of great results regardless.

We started off the autumn with a great music video shoot for the artist Lapsley and her song ‘Hurt me’. It was filmed on the coast just off from Liverpool, an area i’ve never been too before but that happened to resemble the pine forests and sand dunes of south west France. This was probably the windiest conditions we’d ever had to handle and once again we were flying with the lovely but rather weighty and expensive Kowa anamorphic lenses. After a few tentative test flights we got some fantastic shots of the windswept beach and the artist on top of the dunes. The music video only consists of three shots and it starts and ends with ours so we were very happy. Check it out here

We were soon back on the Coast in Cornwall filming for the new series of the hit BBC drama Poldark. Once again we faced some challenging wind speeds and a few passing rain storms. We were mostly getting some close tracking shots of two horses and their stunts riders galloping along the beach. These ended up being some of my favourite shots we’ve achieved this year and I’m really looking forward to seeing them in the new series. The Drama theme continued as we did 2 days shooting on a new ITV period drama called ‘Doctor Thorne’. This time it wasn’t the wind we were battling but the early morning mist giving us about 10m visibility!

We were back to the commercials after this working on another Google android commercial. This was a 2 day shoot with the same great team as before, using the Kowa anamorphic lenses again on a commercial about the birth and rapid growth of the LeeFest festival. You can see the commercial here. In the same week we worked on the first of two new commercials for Bisto.

Another feature film called ‘Access all areas’ followed. This is a British coming of age film about “four runaway teenagers who are catapulted on a wild and uplifting road trip out of the city and across the water to a magical island music festival.” This was a great shoot for us as it featured several famous landmarks from around our base in the south west that we’ve been wanting to film for a while. It was a busy shoot as we had 4 scenes to do in 4 different locations, with actors and vehicles, all before the sun set at around 6pm. We got some stunning shots in the morning around Glastonbury Tor and finished off the shoot filming at the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol. This is a land mark that we’ve always wanted to film over and around, being based in Bristol ourselves, and as the production had gained permission to close off the bridge for the shoot, we could do exactly that.

We got the chance to film at the very interesting location of Chatham historic dockyard when we worked on the new Steven Poliakoff BBC Period drama ‘Close to the Enemy’. Set up to look like a full WWII dock complete with guns and search lights it was a pretty fun place to fly. Predictably it was a very windy day and were flying over the water, at night with our new Arri Alexa mini. We were a little nervous! In the same week we were up in Yorkshire filming our second Bisto commercial. During that week the UK was being hit by storm Barney. Amazingly, using the trusted weather apps we managed to pinpoint a break in the weather long enough to get the required shots and got the job done.

We’ve been working on another new BBC drama during the last 2 months that I’m particularly excited about. From the makers of ‘Utopia’ (one of my favourite drama series) and ‘Humans’ comes a new super natural drama series set in Victorian rural England. Having worked on several episodes and seen the trailer Im very excited to see the finished series. The production are luckily also very keen on drone shots and have used us in some very interesting and new ways, working with actors a fair amount. Its been challenging and I’m looking forward to being able to talk about them in more detail on here when the series has been released. Keep a look out for it in 2016!

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!

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!