Tag Archive | aerial filming

Drone Startups part 17: Spark Aerial – Your Aerial Cinematography Flight School

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

The proliferation of UAV means that there is a growing number of UAV operators. Sometimes these operators have some experience, but in most of the cases they have none. To make things worse, nowadays, everyone that buys DJI Phantom and attach a GoPro to it, instantly thinks that he is in the aerial filming business. FAIL. The results are bad videos at the best, and serious accidents in the worst case scenario. To get an idea of the type of mishaps that can happen, check out the video below:

Scale of this problem was identified by some smart people from Spark Aerial. And the solution they are offering is simple and obvious now: an Aerial Cinematography Flight School. Spark Aerial Kickstarter project aims to build an Aerial Cinematography video training series and accompanying online resource center for anyone interested in aerial filming. The free video training series (with some premium content) is intended to emphasize flight safety, and would move from such basics as taking off for the first time to advanced piloting maneuvers like the buttonhook sweep, which enables a video camera to remain focused on one place while the drone circles around.

Founders of the Spark Aerial are Radley Angelo, Kurt Selander, and Austin Hill, three engineers from the University of California, San Diego. They said that the goal behind the school is “to teach the world how to have fun, fly safe, and capture amazing content”. They certainly have the know-how and experience to reach that goal, since their work has been already featured on CNN, TechCrunch, Buzzfeed, Good Morning America, the National Geographic Channel, just to name few.

Spark Aerial Team

Spark Aerial Team

Project was successfully funded within three weeks of its launch, no wonder, since among the backers are UAV industry leaders such as 3d Robotics, DJI and Flytrex. Kickstarter campaign runs for twelve more days, so there is still time to get some Spark Aerial goodies for backing this project.

There is one thing in particular that I would like to point at the very end of this article: at the bottom of the Spark Aerial Kickstarter page, there is a section called “Risks and Challenges” in which Spark Aerial guys said that “We are not accredited by the FAA…”. A prudent move by FAA would be to actually give accreditation to Spark Aerial Cinematography School, since it is perhaps the first institutionalized attempt to systematically improve the safety of UAV operations. And that could be one of the cornerstones of the safe commercial application of UAV.

Interesting articles about Spark Aerial Cinematography School Kickstarter Campaign can be found at Yahoo! Finance and Xconomy.

Images and videos courtesy of Spark Aerial.

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DJI Spreading Wings S900

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

DJI Innovations keeps pushing new products into the market. Market leader in flying camera technology recently introduced Ground Station for its Phantom 2 Vision and Drop Safe parachute system (ok, not on the shelf yet, but is coming). This time it is an impressive hexacopter drone, named Spreading Wings S900.

DJI Spreading Wings S900

DJI Spreading Wings S900

It is an improved hybrid of Spreading Wings S800 and S1000. It borrows hexacopter layout from S800 and collapsible arms feature from S1000. Its arms and landing gear are made of carbon fiber, reducing the weight and improving the strength at the same time. Foldable arms are enabling easy transport and portability, something valued by aerial filming professionals. It can be assembled and ready to fly in 5 minutes.

Upper center board is removable, allowing easy access and a convenient way to set up power distribution system or to install DJI Lightbridge video downlink. The S900 fully supports the Zenmuse Z15, GH3, GH4, and BMPCC gimbals. The gimbal bracket is separated from the main frame by specifically designed dampers, reducing unwanted vibrations.

Removable Upper Center Board

Removable Upper Center Board

The S900 weighs 3.3 kg and has a maximum take off weight of 8.2 kg. Simple math gives a useful payload capacity of 4.9 kg, allowing it to carry most cameras and gimbals. 6S 12000mAh battery allows a flight time of up to 18 minutes.

The price of the new DJI flyer is up to $3.800, depending on flight controller and gimbal options.

Detailed  information about DJI Spreading Wings S900, user manual and S900 release notes can be found on official DJI webpage.

Awesome article and an interview with the first UAV pilot to fly S900 in the US can be found at Drone Girl‘s blog.

Video and images courtesy of DJI.

Top 5 by dronologista @Robohub

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

On 30th of May, a comment appeared on the About page of this blog. Hallie Siegel, the Managing Editor from Robohub, an excellent online communication platform for, well, robotics mostly, proposed to me to cross-post articles. After a brief Skype interview, I agreed (of course!) to share my blog posts, and to join an impressive group of contributors that included UAV heavyweights such as Chris Anderson and prof. dr. Raffaello D’Andrea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waUY6hlG-3k

Two months fast forward, and there are ten articles by dronologista at Robohub. Some of them are more some less successful, but all of them were interesting enough to grab attention of Robohub visitors. Here are the top 5 that were generating quite a lot of traffic:

  1. Drone Startups: Fotokite – This article is a part of ongoing series of Drone Startups posts. It is about a startup that designed what is basically a powered kite, not a quite a drone, ideally suited to dodge FAA scrutiny. The article was submitted to Slashdot harnessing traffic from it, and was even reposted on DIYDrones. Great success!
  2. Quadrotor allegedly seen spying on French teams closed practice at World Cup – Published during the World Cup craze, it attracted a lot of people. French coach Didier Deschamps was calling for investigation after a quadcopter was spotted spying over his team’s closed training session. It was not revealed whose drone it was, but since we know now that it was Germany that beat the French team in quarterfinals, it seems that Germans used high-tech solution to get to semifinals. No drones spied on Brazil team though, so I am out of theories why they lost 7-1.
  3. Rescue drone that finds survivors using their cellphones’ WiFi signals – Post about a UAV that was designed by team of students from EFPL. It includes the interview with Jonathan Cheseaux, the man behind the project.
  4. The thriving drone community of South Africa – While most of the stories found around the internet is focused on drones in US, this post covered a country that is not often featured online in connection to drones. Yet, a thriving community exists, and is very productive and creative.
  5. HorseFly unmanned aerial parcel delivery system – This post described something that could be Amazon’s wet dream. A combined transport system that uses both a van and a UAV to deliver the parcel, utilizing both vehicles advantages.

Those were 5 of mine most popular articles at Robohub after two months of collaboration, which I hope, will continue to flourish. I wonder if I will be able to completely redefine this list in six months time. Just a personal challenge for dronologista 🙂

What is your favorite blog post by dronologista?

Drone Startups part 11 – Fotokite

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Although I am amazed with a UAV and their versatility, I must admit that having a flying camera zooming by and zooming me in can sometimes be intimidating. It can be intimidating not because of the drone with the camera itself, but because I don’t always know who is behind that camera. If the drone operator would be immediately identifiable, there would be no problem.

That is exactly the issue Fotokite tries to solve. The idea was developed around following premises:

  • The regulatory picture is murky and evolving (let’s just mention that the FAA is likely to miss 2015. deadline for setting a UAV regulation and that the tethered aircraft are exempt from these rules)
  • Accountability is important – people are usually not quite thrilled while being the target of an unseen operator of a flying camera

The solution is a tethered, GoPro fitted, quadcopter with onboard algorithms that let it fly instantly and virtually under any conditions, without relying on piloting skills, GPS working or wifi failing.

Fotokite is designed to be launched and fully operational in one minute. To the user, flying the camera is as simple as holding a kite, and framing the picture is as easy as rotating your hand-held monitor, and the tether provides visual accountability for bystanders and property owners.

Fotokite

Fotokite

The man behind the project,Sergei Lupashin, a TED Fellow with 10+ years of autonomous systems experience, assembled an impressive team which includes robotics heavy-weights such as Prof. Raffaello D’Andrea. The project is supported by the Swiss National Centre of Competence for Research in Robotics – NCCR, already mentioned in one of the previous posts as supporters of Flying Donkey Challenge.

There are several concepts already that are enabling a drone to autonomously follow and film the moving object (AirDog and Hexo+). However, the Fotokite seems particularly well suited for use in media, providing birds-eye view, while allowing those around the device to immediately identify the camera operator. The price is unknown still, but despite that, it seems like a pretty cool tool that will be added to many reporters’ inventory quite soon.

Video and image courtesy of Fotokite.

Proudly South African Drones

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Couple of years ago, while I was living in Cape Town, I met a group of people so much into drones and aerial filming, that they managed to initiate me into the world of UAV. I didn’t even realize that (I was always slow-witted), but it turned out that South African soil is a very fertile ground for starting and growing of a UAV enthusiasm and business. Therefore, I will dedicate this post to the thriving drone community of the Republic of South Africa.

Let’s start with the legislation: there is none. SACAA, the South African Civil Aviation Authority created confusion some two months ago, when it firstly declared a ban on the use of drones for aerial filming, and then issued this statement. It basically says that SACAA doesn’t ban something that is illegal already (i.e. using drones for aerial filming). Only problem is that it is not illegal, since there is no legislation covering the issue. On the other hand, Cape Town Film Commission has been n discussion with the SACAA, the Ministry of Transport, the Department of Trade and Industry as well as the Deputy Mayor of Cape Town and has requested that the SACAA implement their model aircraft policy for use of the drones.

If approved, the policy will require adopting the below guidelines, which are similar to those used in Europe and Australia:

– Flying only under 120m
– No flying within 4.2 nautical miles of an airport
– Flying only in line of sight of the operator (500m)
– No auto pilot flying or night flying
– No flying over public property and roads without permission

Meanwhile, filmmakers are still flocking to Cape Town, taking advantage of breath-taking scenery and skilled local aerial filming production crews. One of them is Skylab Productions. This prolific company founded in 2012. produced aerial shots for National Geographic, and gave its contribution to Cape Town version of (in)famous Pharell Williams “Happy” video.

And if somewhere are guys that are using drones for filming, there would be someone catering for their needs and providing them with equipment. SteadiDrone is a proudly South African UAV manufacturer, founded in 2012. in a beautiful town of Knysna. Their flagship product is the QU4D, RTF quadcopter that uses the APM 2.5 autopilot from 3D Robotics and is able to carry a GoPro camera on board.

There are others, however, that are manufacturing a UAV with significantly less creative purpose. The Skunk Riot Control Drone is made by Desert Wolf, a South African company, and it has already been sold to mining companies, notorious for their problematic treatment of mine workers and frequent riots.

Luckily, there are more jesting endeavors. SA Beer Lift challenge, although tiny compared to the one organized by HobbyKing, still managed to produce some respectable results and some funny fails. I couldn’t find any information if it will happen this year as well, but it would be awesome. Where else could you find such cool drone fail videos?

Despite all the challenges that are present in today’s South African society, community that has been growing around Unmanned Aerial Vehicles seems very dynamic and healthy. Dronologista hopes that it will remain so in the future, and will be happy to bring the news to the world about individuals and companies that are using or producing proudly South African drones.

 

Human Side(s) of UAVs – Future Concepts

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Couple of days ago, I stumbled upon an article describing the potential future use of drones. It actually fits perfectly in the Human Side(S) of UAV topic, and after writing about demining and search&rescue application, here comes the post about possible applications in the years to come.

1. Firestorm

Dronologista already wrote about UAV used for firefighting. This drone would act literally like a scout wandering through the building on fire searching for victims. It could be fully equipped with different sensors in order to detect dangerous gases and possible threats. Also camera can be attached, giving the firefighters both conventional and thermal image in real-time so they can asses situation more precise and make relevant decisions.  LEDs could also be attached to the drone so it can act like a beacon for victims and guide them through perilous conditions to safety.

2. Snow Cyclops

One of the most interesting application of  UAV, is to search for potential avalanche risk zones. This is of tremendous interest for the ski resorts, remote mountain villages and roadways. Also, if needed, it could carry a small amount of explosives in order to trigger the „controlled avalanches“ where needed. Moreover if avalanche strikes before it could have been forecasted, drones could be sent in search and rescue mission, something already described here. Last but not the least, it could carry small first aid kit in order to assist at the very first moments after the undesirable event. All in all a couple of drones could easily replace helicopter with a crew of several men in this kind of situations. From the cost perspective there is not much to say since it heavily supports drone’s side. About the human life in whole story it is not necessary to say anything.

Snow Cyclops

Snow Cyclops

3. The Cyclodrone

This concept is bit far-fetched, but hey, it just might work. This drone flies in front of a solo bike rider at a predetermined distance from the rider and while maintaining the connection with the rider’s mobile device. Large LEDs should make a visible warning to other riders, cars and any object that might affect rider’s path and safety.

AirDog, the drone that has been successfully funded on Kickstarter is a similar concept, but it follows the object (bike in this case). These two concepts could be combined and provide enhanced traffic safety while making breathtaking shoots of the movable objects. Actually, just imagine the “Le Tour de France” with these flyers instead of bunch of guys on motorcycles with huge cameras. That could give someone an idea…

Some of above mentioned concepts could become reality sooner, some later, but they are all products of a vivid imagination, and as Albert Einstein noted „Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere“ . It would not be surprise to see some of these solutions a reality in near future, where dronologista will wait and give you the latest update.

Pictures property of DesignMind

DJI releases Ground Station function for Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision+

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

On June the 24th, DJI has released update of the Ground Station function for Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision +.

With the new update, Phantom 2 Vision pilots can set up to 16 GPS waypoints by simply dragging pins into the area map.

Once the pilot has set up the flight path, he or she can focus on filming, and let the Ground Station app do the flying. The app also features “Go Home” button, which brings the flyer back to the initial launch position. Also, the pilot can switch from auto to manual flying in mid-flight.

Key features:

  • flight plan with up to 16 waypoints (including altitude and speed setup)
  • “Go Home” function
  • 5km flight distance limit
  • 500m maximum flight radius from home point and 200m flight altitude limit

Current owners of the Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision+ just need to update the Vision app for Android or iOS, as well as the Phantom’s firmware, to version 3.04 to start using it.

Video courtesy of DJI