I just got these two lens hoods in the mail from OSTRC and they are slick. They barely weigh anything and fit snugly onto my GoPro 3 Black when mounted on my Phantom. They are made out of carbon fiber and damn they look high end. I have not flown with mine yet but I am looking forward to trying the polarizing filter because I fly over the water so much (have you ever tried polarized vs non polarized sunglasses?) I am also looking forward to cutting down on the prop shadowing I seem to get when I am flying in high wind on sunny days when the copter is bucking like a bronco. If you are looking for an easy way to improve the quality of your footage, I would consider a set of these hoods. I will be doing another post as soon as I have a chance to use them and will report the details for you but for now I just have pictures of them snugly sitting attached to my GoPro 3 Black. . In the mean time, here are the links to the Lens Hood and Lens Hood with Polarizing Filter.
I got a chance to interview Dan Smith, the creator of a Kickstarter campaign about his new short film project, FlySpy. Dan has filmed with drones and helicopters and is a 3d effects expert so I found this project especially interesting. It is a dark short film about a guy who builds a drone disguised as a fly to spy on his ex-girlfriend. I am looking forward to watching this short film and it will not get made unless it gets backed on Kickstarter! If you enjoyed this interview, consider backing the project.
I recorded this skype interview and then had it transcribed so it reads like an actual conversation, please excuse any errors!
Dan Smith Interview - FlySpy
Justin: So, cool! Okay. The design of the fly looks mechanical, but it seems to be inspired by an actual fly. Why did you choose biological design instead of a quadcopter?
Dan: Okay. So, have you seen the Kickstarter video?
Dan: So, the story is basically about Greg and he flies it into his ex-girlfriend's house. And so, the whole point of him having a drone is that he can secretly fly into her house. So, obviously, the main reason for him making it as a fly, if you are looking at it logically from the character's point of view, is that it's in disguise, you know, and it's invisible pretty much. Unless you looked at it very closely, you would think it was a fly. But, the other reason for me, is just because it looks really cool, you know?
Dan: A fly drone looks really cool and it's good for a film and it's fascinating, to see a fly robot. It's just an interesting image really.
Dan: But, yeah, the main thing for the character is that it's, you know, it's an invisible thing and there are, I am sure you have come across as a person who is in that whole world, you know, these various art schools that I have seen on the internet that suggest that the military are already making these fly drones for spying and things like that.
Dan: I am sure you have come across those articles of it.
Justin: I have definitely seen them and actually, this is further down, but let's see. So, does the fly have a brain that's been hacked into or is the device purely mechanical?
Dan: No, it's not like... because there are cockroaches like that. Have you seen those?
Justin: Yeah, that's where the question came from.
Dan: Yeah, no, it's not one of those. No, this is a... this is supposed to be a purely mechanical thing that the Greg has built in the film.
Justin: So, one of the things that I love in movies just because I am kind of a nerd who has seen stuff get developed. Like, in the movie, are you going to focus on the actual building design of the drone like how Greg pulls it off?
Dan: My original script had him building it and it was going to be him sitting at desk with a little, you know, one of those little microscopic things that holds things with a magnifying glass and everything, but it's not really about the building of the thing. It's more about the consequences of its existence.
Dan: If you have seen what I mean. You know, the whole point of this film is that it's the consequences of technology on human behavior, if you see what I mean. So, how does our advancing technology impact the way that we behave with each other, you know? And if you look at things like Facebook and things like that how is that effected, how we interact with each other and, you know, you can't go and look at pictures of your ex-girlfriend on Facebook if you want to and stuff like that. And this is a kind of physical manifestation of that. So, for us, in the writing stage, it was less important to see how the thing was being built rather what did he do with it and what were the consequences of it existing.
Justin: Okay. Makes sense. And then what would you say to drone enthusiasts and RC people who like this stuff, who might see this is and they might be worried about making people more paranoid about their hobby?
Dan: I would say get a fly swatter.
Justin: Hahaha - Awesome! Okay. Let's see. Do you have a drone or any RC experience?
Dan: I used to have a radio-controlled car. I have had a few radio-controlled cars years ago. I used to have a Grasshopper. Do you remember The Grasshoppers?
Justin: Oh man! Yeah, they re-released that actually.
Dan: Oh, did they? And then I had a Thunder Shock after that and my friend had a Midnight Pumpkin and what else?
Justin: Oh classics!
Dan: I had a radio-controlled plane. I broke that really quickly.
Justin: Yeah, most people do that.
Dan: But, since that, no, I have messed around with drones. I don't own my own, but I filmed with drones a few times.
Dan: And we filmed something on the Normandy beach a little while ago with a drone and they are amazing. We had a helicopter and a drone on the streets so we could do... we are filming a huge piece of art on a beach at Normandy and we were filming with the drone because the guy's, the French artist was drawing a huge number 100 with giant horse hooves and it's about 100 metres across. So, we filmed it with a drone and then we went up in helicopter to get a massive wide top shot as well. Yeah, I filmed with them a couple of times. Yeah, I'd like to do more, actually. I love it. It's great. In fact, right now, I am editing something which has got... which we have used for filming with the drone as well.
Justin: Nice! Well...
Dan: Some horses.
Justin: What do you like using better? Helicopters or drones? Or is there a place for both?
Dan: Oh, there is place for both, definitely. I mean, helicopters are good for getting higher up, obviously.
Dan: And, you know, you can... The benefit with filming with a helicopter and a, I forgot what you call them, but you get this stabilizer with stabilizing head.
Justin: A gimbal?
Dan: A gimbal, but it's more... say, Cineflex they are called.
Dan: And you put them in front of your helicopter and it totally stabilizes the shot and that means you can get a bigger camera up there and a longer lens. So, say, for example, if you are filming animals that you didn't wanna spook, then you can go really, really high up in the sky and then get a really long focal length lens and film from a lot further away. So, that's a benefit of that. But, with drones, you know, the fact that you don't need to get permission at the moment.
Dan: And they are just so much more versatile and cheaper and you can go from a close-up on a person's face and then go right high up in the sky, all in the same shot whereas if you do that with a helicopter, it will be an absolute nightmare. So, it's amazing, for me, as a film maker that drones have come about because they are, you know, they transform everything.
Justin: Cool! And then in your press packet, you said you were looking to film VR footage in 270 degree field of view. Can you give some more details on that? And how are you gonna pull that off? And like, what's the technology you are going to use to do it?
Dan: Yeah. Well, I would rather not go into detail about that actually because I am doing it with a company that they are kind of half way through developing it already. So, I don't really wanna talk too much about the nitty-gritty of it, but yeah, we are hoping to film a little bit of virtual reality video...
Justin: Is it Jaunt's...
Dan: ... of the fly's vision.
Justin: Is it Jaunt VR out of San Francisco, by any chance?
Dan: Is it what, sorry?
Justin: Is it Jaunt out of San Francisco?
Dan: No, no.
Dan: No, no. So, there's a company called... No, I don't wanna say actually because it will... I will probably not, if that's okay.
Justin: Okay. No problem. Yeah. Of course. Well, and okay, so since you are going to be doing that, do you plan on actually releasing any VR content like for the Oculus Rift or the Samsung VR device?
Dan: Uh, actually, yeah. It'd be great if we could. Yeah, we would like to, yeah, we would like to film something and yeah, release a bit of content of the fly's vision, you know? So, there is the fly's idea sort of thing.
Justin: That would be really cool. Alright, I got one last question for you. What is the liquid in the wasp's abdomen?
Dan: Oh, that's a... How much do I wanna give away of this? I mean, it's a poisonous thing. So, it's just poison in there.
Justin: Okay. I figured it was... Is there some special poison? Is it...
Dan: No, no, it just is a specific... No, it's just a, you know, deadly poison.
Justin: Okay. It's not some insanity inducing... okay.
Dan: No, no, no. It's just a poison, yeah.
Justin: Alright! Well, cool! That's all my questions. If you have anything else there to add?
Dan: No, I just like to add if you could somehow just get it into your article that this film's not gonna get made if we don't have contributors because we are funding it on Kickstarter.com and I am sure Kelly sent you a link to our campaign and everything. But, if you could somehow...
Justin: I will highlight that, sure.
Dan: ... include that in there and say there's a signed artwork Jake Lunt, the guy who did the flying wasp, the signed artwork has one of the rewards which is proving to be pretty popular and we are hoping that we are gonna be able to sell quite a few more of those in order to fund the whole thing.
Dan: But, yeah, if you could just say there's some really cool rewards up there and steer people towards the site so they contribute.
About a week ago, I got an email from Stephanie who heads up a non-profit in Austin and told me she wished I still lived in Austin so I could go to their drone inspired fundraiser. We exchanged a few emails and decided to try and live stream footage from my Inspire 1 flying over the ocean from the north shore of Maui since I could not be there in person. Around this same time, DJI released new firmware for the Inspire 1 that you have no choice but to install or it will not allow you to fly.
To make a long story short, the firmware update messed up my Inspire 1 and I had to send it back. My friend Ian also just got his Inspire 1 so I thought maybe we could use his but he had a different issue related to the firmware. They told him to send it back as well but before he sent it back he figured out a way to fix it confirming my suspicions that the DJI tech support people have no clue about the product they are supporting. The only advice my rep gave me was to take the memory card out of the Inspire 1, put it back in the computer, then remove it and put it back into the Inspire 1. I did not forget to type anything, that was all he had me do before he issued an RMA. See you in a month Inspire 1.
Anyway, the live stream idea was out so Ian and I offered to do a google hangout and put together a short clip of some of our coolest footage. They were having technology problems at the event so the audio was messed up making it hard to communicate. Even though we had a ton of issues from the start, we had fun. The fundraiser raised over $1500 for the women and children shelter of Texas.
We were hanging out in Kihei at a popular beginner surf spot called the Cove and we saw a shadow in the water. Luckily, Ian from DroneMaui.com had his phantom with him so we decided to quickly do a shark check because the waters were full of surfers and swimmers. While we were pretty sure there was not a shark, we could not be sure and this would be a great way to demonstrate another positive use for drones - Shark watch!
With proper training, lifeguards at popular beaches could quickly and easily check out possible shark sightings (or other unidentified objects in the water) at popular beaches. Shark attacks are extremely rare but they do provide a bit of anxiety to many people who enter the waters around Hawaii. I could also imagine they would be really useful in situations where people get into distress far out while there are big swells coming in, the drone could easily hover above their head and monitor their position while help is on the way. Even with a small swell, it is easy to lose sight of something floating in the water from shore.
Here is the footage Ian got of my wife and I surfing in case you want to see it. Drone shots look really cool even if you are learning like us! Thanks again Ian for getting this footage, it was really cool to be on the other side of the drone camera. The first shot is of me and I had no idea who was even filming because I did not know he was bringing his Phantom out. I think he got the other bald guy sitting next to me confused with me, so this is great considering how confusing it was!
My friends Marty and Ian from DroneMaui.com invited me and my family out on their boat today to try and observe some humpback whales. We got to see some amazing action and as usual, our boat was able to stay well away from these majestic creatures because of our drones. The day before we went on a Pacific Whale Foundation boat and I am always a bit disturbed by how close the boats get to the whales and their whale babies. If they had drones with HD downlinks the boat would be able to stay farther away and offer the people onboard a better view of the action. Hopefully in the future these boats will incorporate the use of drones just like they use hydrophones. The more respect people have for these creatures the better we will all be able to protect them.
The Inspire 1 reveals its first major flaw
The DJI Inspire 1 will not take off from a small boat on the water because the IMU will not initialize. The Phantom 2 has always flown just fine off of boats, so until this gets fixed this is a major downside for the Inspire 1 for me. If you want to fly off of boats, you should NOT buy the Inspire 1 (yet).
Whale Footage and Adobe PREMIERE
Today I flew my Phantom 2 instead of the Inspire 1 because of an IMU calibration issue while on a moving boat. I set my GoPro 3 black to 2.7k 30fps and got some cool, interesting footage of some amazing humpback whales. This is my first time using the lens correction in Adobe Premiere and it totally fixed the fish, curved horizon. If you follow the blog, you know I used to use Windows Movie Maker but I recently switched to Adobe Premiere pro because I am working with 4k now. This software is more complex but it is able to do much more if you take the time to learn it. If you like this video, feel free to share it!
The FAA has released the rules for commercial drone use for rigs under 55lbs. Here is the link to a summary of the major provisions and here is a link to the release below. It is much easier to read than the following but I will post it anyway. As I work my way through this I will post updates, for now I am just passing along the information. Click Read More below to check out the actual release.
I Love the Hubsan X4
If you follow my blog, you know I am a fan of the Hubsan X4 as the perfect first drone / quadcopter to learn on but it also has another use at my house - it is my dog exerciser. Flying this in my small yard while my 70 pound dog chases after it is a great way to keep my line of sight flying skills sharp!
If you are thinking about getting into drone photography, the Hubsan is a great place to start. People ask me all the time how to get started and this is always my recommendation. Having good line of sight RC skills is an important part of aerial photography so make sure you have a good practice quad like the Hubsan X4 to boost your confidence to fly safely. This thing is also the coolest toy you can buy under $50!! If you want to get the GoPro Fetch Dog Harness, you can get it here.
Making the Video
We had fun making this video, I crashed it way more than normal but that makes for a more entertaining video. A new Hubsan is already on the way so I figured it was worth it. The one I have now has lasted forever, it is amazing it still flies! I have been trying to train Benny to be more gentle with it when he shoots it down, so maybe that is actually working.
Wind is not a problem for the Inspire 1
The wind was blowing at a steady 20-30mph and there were light polls and trees everywhere. I do not usually fly over in Kihei but I really wanted to get some skateboard footage along this sidewalk. This was the perfect test before I go fly half a mile out over the water to film windsurfing.
It seemed to drift a bit when I first took off and seemed to really lock into position after I put the landing gear up. You will see in the video how stable it is in such windy conditions, the palm tree footage should give you a pretty good idea of the type of winds that were going. I am not sure the Phantom could handle this much wind this easily but because of the Inspires higher voltage, larger props, more powerful motors, and more aggressive flight software it did not have any issues. Even when I went full stick into the wind it managed to get up to a respectable speed although it was obviously sluggish.
So this thing is cool, but can it fly in wind?
So the goal of this test was to see if I could make a short video clip of my friend skating down this sidewalk along the beach in Kihei. I also wanted to practice getting different angles from ground cameras on the ground to make the video a bit more interesting. I ALSO wanted to start talking more in my videos because I think it makes them more useful and gives it more personality. What do you guys think of all this? Check out the video below and let me know!
Conclusion? Yea, it flies really well in the wind.
My friend Chris (Aka Bonafide Hustla of YouTube fame) is here visiting. He does some really cool editing and uses drone footage properly. DroneAbove.com Pro Tip: Take video from the ground as well, it will really make the aerial work stand out and also helps paint the story of what is actually going on. This is something I talk about in my book on drone photography but often I do not do because... I get too excited about flying. This video goes to show how cool multiple camera filming can be.
Besides using multiple cameras, you can also study his editing. Short, quick clips keep you engaged and entertained. Unless something truly epic has happened, chop that footage into short 2-3 second bursts.
Have you filmed something using multiple cameras from ground and air? If so, post it in the comment section below so we can all study it.
How to do a Family Reveal Drone Shot
Drones are really cool, especially the DJI Inspire 1 but cool things seem to cost a lot of money. One way to justify the purchase of one of these flying cameras is to start a business or side business to cover the cost. If you have a family and a spouse, you might also need something to get your significant other to get excited about. Cue the Family Reveal from a Drone shot!
In case you are unsure how to make this shot, here is how I did it. Fly as close as you safely can (the Inspire 1 is nice because it does not have a fish eye lens so we don't seem too far away), set the tilt and do not move it when you start, wave at the camera, pull back on the stick while adding altitude and fly backwards. This will look awesome on cliffs, dramatic coast lines, and really anywhere with sprawling natural beauty.
Cables for the Dominators
One of the things that was unclear was goggled flight with the Inspire 1. I ordered the fancy new Fatshark Dominator HD goggles (which are not actually HD..) so I could hopefully use them instead of staring at the screen on my iPhone 6. When my Inspire 1 arrived, I was excited to see how the ground station would work but alas I needed a cable.. and a strange cable that is not actually made or at least hard to find. You need to get an HMDI to HDMI Micro cable and a HDMI to HDMI mini converter because the goggles have an HDMI Micro input and the DJI Inspire remote has a HDMI Mini output plug. I drove all over Maui looking for this stuff and it was not available anywhere, so I ordered it from trusty Amazon (I love Amazon). I have attached links to these cords if you want to order them.
I have also heard that Fatshark is going to be making this cable but I have not come across it yet for purchase. I will try and update this post when it becomes widely available. If you have any questions or comments, please be sure to leave them below!
Using the Dominator HD with the Inspire 1
When I first plugged the cables into the Dominators, I could tell that the goggles were getting a signal but it was all messy. I knew I was close but I had to consult the user manual to figure out that you had to press the contrast / brightness down to change input modes from AV-2D to HDMI 2D. Once I did that, it came up crystal clear and unlike any video I have seen through goggles.
I did a quick test flight around my house to test things out and it worked. I was actually not that impressed and I am going to need to do more testing to see if I would actually recommend using these $500+ goggles instead of just watching your iPhone or iPad Mini. The OSD from the ground station is clean, but totally different from the mini iOSD I am used too from the Phantom. It was hard for me to tell where the home point was and the horizon indicator did not seem to work that well. After doing all my testing so far using just an iPhone, I think that is a really good option for most people.
Where I WAS impressed was when I tested out my Phantom 2 with these new goggles. These have to be the goggles for any other kind of FPV flight. I am looking forward to using these in other areas of my aerial work and play.
This is a guest article written by Paul Madsen. It is always good to look back at where we have come from and this story really does a good job pointing out how far things have come in RC aerial photography in terms of safety, reliability, and quality. Could you imagine how dangerous and difficult it was to fly a gas collective pitch helicopter around taking pictures? Now you can do what Paul did with a Phantom 2 safely, with 10x the quality and ease for around $1000 -- how things change!! I hope you guys enjoy reading this as much as I did. Be sure to check out his new venture at aerialbids.com.
It’s a pretty exciting time for those who are interested in starting an aerial photography business! New technologies are allowing just about anyone to take stunning aerial photos and video
on par with the best in the business. Aerial photography got its start back in 1858 when Gaspar Tournachon captured the French village of Petit-Becetre using a tethered balloon that reached to 240’. The tools of the trade have progressively improved since then, however in the past ten years we have seen an absolute explosion in aerial drone technology which has brought pricing down so its affordable to those who are interested. My day job is piloting a Boeing 777 around the world, however I got my start in aviation
back in the early 80’s flying radio controlled aircraft. It began with line controlled airplanes, then RC airplanes, followed by RC helicopters.
In the late 90’s I decided to start an aerial photography side business, figuring as a pilot, I had a leg up on other aerial photographers who had hire pilots to get the shots their clients needed. I started Sky Photos Aerial Photography and in a year or so had a viable business. It wasn’t long before I recognized that close-in, low altitude aerials offered a look that was superior to the higher-up oblique shots typically offered. So I bought an X Cell gas helicopter off Ebay and went to work modifying it for photography use. My first drone aerial drone job was for a friend who needed photos of an office building in Northern Virginia. I have to admit it was a little nerve wracking. After pull starting the 2.5HP gas engine and warming up, I spooled up the rotor head. The resonance created by the helicopters long legs made me cringe every time I wobbled my way through the spoolup. After all, the landing gear was made of a hockey stick and aluminum tubing by someone with no engineering experience. After lifting off and doing a hover check, I noticed a crowd of people forming around me. I'm sure only a fraction would have shown up if the aircraft didn’t sound like a flying chainsaw! I was a little surprised at how much my fingers were shaking, but I pressed on and slowly climbed to a height of about 300’, careful not to fly over any cars or people. My wife directed me into position while peering into a shrouded mini TV with live video feed. The 35mm camera that was resting on a home-made 3 axis pan/tilt successfully captured the photos we needed with the use of a separate RC controller for aiming and triggering the camera. The flight and landing were uneventful and I was very relieved when my buddy told me the photos were just what he needed for his clients website
I did this for a few years, photographing commercial properties, homes for realtors, car dealerships and many others sites, but after a particularly eventful flight where I briefly lost radio reception ( we used FM receivers then), I realized the machine wasn’t as safe as I had hoped and it didn’t make sense to continue flying this contraption due to the lack of insurance.
Well times have certainly changed. The aerial drones of today have reliable electric motors, radios that are interference free, and many fail safes designed to engineer out the problems of the past. Camera cost and performance has improved and you can even get insurance to cover your drone aerial photography business.
The only thing holding back drone use is how to integrate them with traditional aircraft. As an airline pilot, I have had close calls with gliders, had bird strikes, and even had to lower my cockpit seat to avoid lasers intentionally pointed at my cockpit inflight. I understand why the FAA is reluctant to allow commercial drone use, however with training, monitoring, advancing technology, and regulation, there is no doubt that risk can be minimized to an acceptable level.
My photography business continues to this day, however my recent focus has been creating a website that links clients with aerial photographers in their area. The site; www.aerialbids.com is designed to provide one-stop shopping for clients looking for great aerial photos and video shot by competent aerial photographers. We are looking forward to the day that the FAA fully integrates aerial drones into US aviation and hope that you will add your name to the list of professional aerial photographers in your area.
I wanted to test out the ND filter that came with the Inspire 1 and the still pictures came out looking amazing. Here are some test shots. I also shot a bit of video but I do not have time to post it right now. Here are the pictures below - these are the unedited JPEGs straight from the camera. It was drizzling so some water got on the lens near the end.
Are you thinking about getting this amazing aerial camera? What are you waiting for - it is worth it!! Click here to order yours today!!!
When I got my Inspire 1, the first thing I wanted to do was install the DJI Pilot App. However, because of something to do with the video in / out via the cord Apple will not currently let them put this on the App store. So you need a work around. I am going to describe this simply and give you a file, a link, and some directions. If this is not enough or you have problems, PLEASE post in the comment section what your problem is and how I could make this post better for other people. I will update it and add to the details as well as help you get it installed if you should have any problems. The DJI Pilot App is really amazing and adds a ton of functionality to your Inspire 1!!
This took me awhile to figure out and I wanted to do a post for others so they would have an easy way to do this. There are three steps:
1) Download this file to your PC. This is actual DJI pilot app version 0.9.2.
2) After you have downloaded this file, visit http://diawi.com or just click it and it will open up in a new browser window.
3) Drag and drop the file over onto the Diawi.com page where it says "Drag files here."
4) Click Send and it will give you a link. Copy and paste this link and email it to yourself. Check the email on your iOS device and click the link. It will install the DJI Pilot App!
This is the link that I made, http://install.diawi.com/PY3iwM. You can try clicking on it from your iOS device but it will only work for a few people. If the link is expired you have to go through the steps yourself.
I hope this helps, again if you have any questions or problems please post in the comment section so we can resolve the problem for everyone!
I had two days of glitch free flying so I decided it was time to start flying over the water. There is a pretty big swell here and the winds were really light. There were only three surfers out because it was big and it was early so no one was charging out. I did not get any cool aerial surf media but I did get to see how the water looks through the DJI Inspire 1. There is a ton of haze and you can see it in the pictures, clear morning would be sharper but I still think these turned out cool. There is a flock of pigeons that gets fed every morning and you can see them flying around. After reviewing the footage, my recommendation is to leave your drone stationary and let the birds fly through your field of view. I thought I was being crafty by rotating around following them but I think it just ended up with too much motion.
You can apparently change the camera mode to turn on burst, bracketing, and continuous but I have yet to figure out how to do this. Time to start reading up on the DJI Pilot app. I have learned that there are two customizable buttons on the back of the remote as well and I can already think of some cool uses for these like switching between these camera modes and changing the resolution of video speeds depending on the amount of motion I am filming. 1080p 60fps for fast moving stuff, 4k 30fps for the still shots. I am new to 4k and still blown away at the detail when I just stop and hover. It is just beautiful.
The Inspire 1 also came with what I think is a neutral density filter that the manual says will fix those issues I mentioned in the previous post, so I will be testing that out soon!
It also seems like the youtube videos do not show up in feedburner email that goes out to subscribers so if you want to watch the video below you might have to click here.
If you found this useful or interesting, please consider visiting the following link to consider your DJI Inspire or other DJI stuff!