What a great meeting we had last night.  Paul Wolffram came along to demonstrate and then talk about “Flying Cameras” (sometimes called drones, UAVs, quadcopters, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, etc.). Paul is a filmmaker, ethnomusicologist, and photographer currently working at Victoria University of Wellington Film Programme. He teaches production and specializes in documentary production and ethnographic film. It was cloudy, a bit gloomy at dusk, with a bit of wind, but the wind was no problem for Paul and his DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus.

Paul Setting Up

Paul Setting Up

It was an impressive demonstration. The gimbal system on the Phantom keeps it incredibly stable. The included camera can take 1080p video, or switch to taking 16 megapixel still images in Adobe DNG RAW. The remote control connects to the Phantom via radio, while a separate wifi link can be used to show a live view of what the camera is seeing on an iPhone or Android phone. Here’s a short video (taken with an iPhone 6) showing the initial takeoff and hovering around the Otaihanga Boating Club, before rapidly taking off over the Waikanae River. So long as it stays in line of sight, it can be controlled as far away as 3 km. But it must keep under an altitude of 400 ft.

Piloting The Phantom

Piloting The Phantom

After the demonstration, we went inside for a presentation by Paul all about “Flying Cameras” and his own experiences at learning to use the Phantom.  He showed us a beautiful short film “Free As A Bird” he made using it at Great Barrier Island.

Paul is about to return to Papua New Guinea to work on a documentary feature on sorcery practices, where he will use the Phantom for taking video (and no doubt impressing the locals with his own skills). A big thank-you to Paul for taking the time to demonstrate and talk about Flying Cameras.  Great stuff – there’s an exciting future and lots of opportunities for using these for photography and film-making.

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