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!

A very busy March

March has been a very busy time for us. Starting off filming at the Royal Shrovetide football match in Ashbourne. A crazy event much like a giant rugby match between a whole town on a pitch 3 miles long with no rules except you can’t enter church ground and you can’t purposefully kill someone! Other than that anything goes. This was an amazing event to film but presented some challenges for us in terms of being able to film safely around all these people whilst following the laws of our license. The producer managed to find us a flat rooftop away from the event that we could take off and land from whilst still keeping our 50m distance from the crowd. As well as filming the 2 day event we got some beautiful early morning shots of the town and surrounding landmarks with an early morning mist and sunrise.

After this we had a shoot on the Isle of Wight for the official America’s cup video. This shoot involved a lot of filming over water whilst carrying a Red Epic on our new Movi gimbal. An expensive set up and a nervous time! Again we got some lovely footage ending with a trip out on a boat to the light house at the end of the needles. This involved jumping from the boat onto the light house steps, basically in the middle of the sea, with all the gear, in between waves! This was only the second time in 6 months the sea had been calm enough to get onto the light house. With 20 minutes till the sun went down we had some beautiful light and got some of the best shots we’ve ever shot from a unique angle that will be pretty hard to replicate again as very few people are allowed onto the light house and Im sure no ones been on there with an Octocopter and Red Epic before!

A shoot for a new Disney/ABC television show set in a fantasy medieval Britain followed filming riders on horseback galloping along a stunning beach in wales. This was a big production with 2 film units, us and a full russian arm set up. It was a fairly wind day by the time we got to film and as the schedule was fairly tight we only had around 30 minutes and 3 flights to get our shots. Working with animals and against the wind it wasn’t an easy shoot but again I think we got some lovely shots. Unfortunately we weren’t the most exciting bit of kit on set as the Russian arm was mounted on a matt black AMG Mercedes 4×4 and at £30,000 a day hire they were the main priority and got given more time!

Coming up we’ve got 2 more drama shoots, a music video for Pink Flyod, a feature film and 16 days in Vietnam! Exciting and busy times ahead! Continue reading

Kingston Prison Shoot for UKTV

Yesterday we had a shoot for a documentary about the UK TV series ‘Porridge’ for UKTV. As for what has seemed like all winter it was a very windy day and we were a bit concerned about how much we would be able to achieve until the client informed us they mostly wanted interior shots inside the prison wings. This solved the wind issue and also gave us an opportunity to do some very technical interior flying in relatively small spaces.

We managed to do some exterior shots as well or though we did struggle with a lot of wind sheer around the buildings. On landing at one stage a strong gust of wind hit the octocopter at just the wrong time resulting in 2 broken props but nothing too serious. We decided at that stage to abandon outside and the strong winds and move to the interior shots. With long tunnel like prison wings to fly down we experienced a fair amount of the octocopters own down draft being directed back at itself causing a bit of drift and height variations making the shots harder to achieve. But after getting used to how the Skyjib was handling we managed to get some very different and dynamic shots flying up the stairs between the two floors, drifting down the wings looking into cells and rises past the iron bars. The client seemed very happy with the results and they will be airing on UKTV Gold very soon.