Flying With The DJI Phantom And The First Ever Drone Film Festival

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) such as the DJI Phantom have become very popular and turned into a viable and seriously creative option for capturing breathtaking aerial shots on a budget.

Aerial shots provide significant production value and impress clients.

However, flying with such drones on a professional job isn’t as easy as it may seem on the surface. Flying a drone carries a lot of responsibility, involves a stringent preparation, a lot practice and taking the necessary safety precautions, in addition to mandated permissions as well in some cases.

The next video, produced by Foster Visuals, covers the fundamentals of getting a quad-copter up and running. Home lock, Course lock, GPS, Attitude mode, and preferred flying methods to get the best footage possible are covered as well.

An Intro to Flying Your Camera | Using the DJI Phantom for Cinematographers from Foster Visuals on Vimeo.

Unlike most of the competition, the DJI Phantom offers GPS capabilities, which allows it to stabilise itself automatically, and even return to its launch point if the batteries are running low or if it loses connection to the remote control. The DJI Phantom is also quite durable and can often survive a few crashes before sustaining serious damage.

The fully loaded batteries are essential for the proper functioning and safe flying. It is recommended to fly the drone for about 15-to 20 minutes at most before you’d have to swap the battery.

DJI-Phantom-2-Zenmuse-GoPro 4K Shooters

The DJI Phantom, equipped with the new Zenmuse H3-3D and a GoPro Hero 3/3+, can achieve some great professional results. However, there are two major downsides that may occur during shooting. One – the “jello effect”/ skewing of the image and the fish eye distortion produced by the wide lens of the GoPro. Fortunately, you can fix those bugs later in post.

One of the options that could give you formidable results is “Optics Compensation” within After Effects.

  • Load your clip in Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Right click the clip you want to fix and select “replace with After Effects composition”
  • Then drop the effect onto the clip, select “Reverse Lens Distortion” and adjust the “Field Of View” to a setting that works best for you

The artefacts produced by the jello effect could be fixed with the Warp Stabiliser in Premiere Pro CC. The process is a little bit time-consuming though. It depends on the hardware configuration you have at your disposal.

Philip Bloom also has some thoughts and tips on the topic:

Learning fine control is key. Take it out into the middle of nowhere. Learn how to land exactly where you want to. Learn how to make it circle an object. Create subtle jib like shots. Not everything has to be a big sweeping motion, although they are very cool! What makes the Phantom 2 and other multi rotor systems amazing is the freedom they give you. You just need to be aware that there is a learning curve, and you must be aware of the safety aspects, and of course the legal aspects.

If you like to check his very informative post about the multi-rotor systems and his personal experience with them. And this is one of the videos he produced with DJI Phantom drone.

Koh Yao Noi from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Furthermore,  if you are a quad-copter owner you might be interested in the upcoming first-ever Drone Film Festival. The director, photographer, and aerial cinematographer Randy Scott Slavin has created the event The New York City Drone Film Festival, which will take place in NYC on February 21, 2015 and was created to “celebrate the art of drone cinematography.” 

Slavin created the festival after a short film of his, featuring aerial drone footage of New York City, went viral. Noticing an increasing interest from audiences in drone footage, coupled with a frustration over the focus on legal and ethical issues surrounding drones, Slavin said he wanted to create a festival that showcased the artistic work of drone pilots. 

The festival is in its very early stages, with its venue, prizes, and jury members to be announced soon. Some of festival’s jury members will be experts in the drone world; others will be experts in the world of filmmaking. 

Submissions are open for from August 11th and will continue to be accepted until November 30th. You can submit work here.

[via and Foster Visuals]

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