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Posted by on Feb 9, 2013 in Blog, Video

Aerocam Photo Log – Episode 1

Aerial Stills Sep 2012 – Jan 2013.

It’s raining outside, and nothing needs maintaining or doing on my hex, so I’m using the time to do a little compilation of photos that me and my craft have taken in the last 6 months or so of flying about over (mostly) the Hampshire countryside.

Twitter has started reducing the resolution of all my photos, so I wanted to do a slideshow people could watch in reasonable HD, although I have used some low-res shots from the earlier days that I wasn’t expecting to ever be used in a video, but even so, it’s nice to have a little slideshow every so often…

All these are stills taken from 1080p video filmed with a GoPro2 on-board or from 720p video from a FLIP or Nikon D3100 from the ground. Photoshop has been fairly seriously involved in most of them as I really hate washed-out photos and as these images were all taken whilst moving I usually have to reduce resolution and sharpen to get nice crisp images out of the GoPro, which we use primarily for it’s ability to survive a fall from 400 ft rather than its exceptional lens and CCD. I hope the GoPro 3 that might be arriving soon will improve that… it is certainly sure to do so in low light, so I’m looking forward to that…

God, it’s massive !

Here’s a vaguely hi-res (4000 x 2700 odd) mosaic of some images in my ‘previously tweeted’ folder… you might as well click it – you’ve already waited for it to load :)

Probably about 150 hours of flight time in those pics...

Probably about 150 hours of flight time in those pics…

 

Historically speaking…

I started flying proper UAV’s (that is to say flying things that are not toys) in June 2012, but didn’t start my blog until I felt I was a sufficiently competent pilot to fly in anything except the emptiest of fields. And even so, alot of my earlier vids, which aren’t very good if we’re honest, stick to fairly wide open spaces, not particularly interesting scenery and document something of the process of learning to fly, both Line of Sight and FPV.

It’s not until later in October that I’m starting to develop my first vaguely ‘cinematic’ moves, refine my techniques for getting smooth video in difficult conditions and really start practising my ‘signature moves’ (nothing special, just things I do a lot of)  which seem to be the ‘launch to close pass’ (have never hit a structure yet doing this), the ‘backward breakaway’ and the high slow-pan.

It was perhaps only as Autumn kicked in that I found my aerial feet, and started producing video approaching the sort of quality I was looking for, and began branching out from my practice areas to film more interesting things. The film quality still isn’t quite as high as I’m aiming, but I will do a slow steady progression from GoPro2 to GoPro 3, then possibly a Sony Nex 5N or similar if that isn’t doing the job…

I’ll also be developing gimbal options as I’m not convinced the x-aircraft arrangement I have at the moment is ever to going to allow the next leap in quality because it won’t let me mount batteries underneath the craft to effectively neutralise the CoG. This means the Flight Controller is always fighting to balance the craft which makes it more ungainly than it should be. Still safe, eminently flyable, and usable on missions, but not yet producing the sort of ultra-clear images I’m after, especially with ropey old British low-light overcast days for which that camera is very much not optimised…

Evolution

In the time we’re covering here AeroCam 1 (AC1) has gone from version 1, a standard DJI F450 quadcopter to an F550 hex, and then on again to its current incarnation, version 3.5, a Heavy-lift monster with bigger motors and props, and a 2 axis servo-stabilised camera gimbal. I’ve added FPV goggles, cloverleaf antennas, field monitors, gone up to 4S power, fallen in love with Tiger Motors, and marvelled time and time again at the joy of flying with a Naza-M flight controller. It’s been great.

So what have we got ?

A bit of a change in approach from me is what we’ve got. A whole video without anything moving. Yep, today it’s just photos. There will be a video comp at some point, but not today.

So here for your continued enjoyment, or relegation to a background window while you do something else…

It’s a lot of hills and fields and trees and sky and clouds, but also some interesting buildings, sunsets, the sea, the seasons, rivers, forests, hills and plains…

I’ll do some annotations over the video if people want to know where stuff is…

Songs in A minor

But then transposing to Bb Minor shortly after that. Music today is by me, an older track I like but one you’ve probably heard before. I really must write some more of those. I have just got my audio PC working again, and I do live in England, so it’s not like I won’t have rainy days to sit indoors doing that…

Anyway – more of all that… soon. Thanks for watching.

JW