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!

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