What in the world? All this talk about drones invading privacy but not much coverage on the “good guy” drones like these built by a team in Switzerland. Utilizing motion capture devices with positional measurements, these drones (which look like a more aggressive cousin of a DJI Phantom) can assemble a rope bridge thats sturdy enough for an adult human being to walk on. Imagine the possibilities such as rescue and humanitarian missions where drones could access hazardous conditions. For more information visit Robohub.
Upon receiving a built out DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ Quadcopter with the Zenmuse H3-3D 3-Axis Gimbal, we decided to do our first test flight – a teaser trailer for rapper Joey Bada$$ to promote his upcoming album B4.DA.$$. Joey and I came up with a pretty simple concept; we open on Joey and a friend, do a fly over above Brooklyn and finally land on a younger version of himself sitting on a stoop. Only one caveat; we would be tracking a feather floating through the air the entire time. Here’s how we did it.
First we bought a prop feather. Fortunately we found one in black that would help it stand out amongst the overcast sky.
Next we captured the establishing shot of Joey and Powers Pleasant skating off down the street as the drone flies overhead, revealing the setting of Brooklyn. But showing only one street block wasn’t enough. We wanted to show the entire city.
Symbolically, the journey of the feather represents Joey’s growth as an artist and it was important to get steady drone shots at various heights to make the feather transitions feel seamless. Next we had to shoot the flyover.
Flying a drone over a tree lined block in a densely populated area of Brooklyn as a first flight was challenging. To ensure the quadcopter was within range of the field monitor, we jumped on the back of a pickup truck and made our way to the landing location at roughly the same speed. Since doing a perfect 360 degree landing is tremendously difficult, we tried something else.
On action, I had Young Joey place the feather on the ground next to the logo just as the quadcopter rose into the air doing 360 degree spins. The force of the props against the air pushed the feather under a bush concealing it. Just one of those happy accidents you could never plan for. In post production, I simply reversed the shot to make it seem like Young Joey picked up the feather that miraculously fell from the sky.
Next we shot the black feather with fishing line against greenscreen. Since we didn’t have a fan in the house we used the old cardboard fanning trick.
Using some subtle After Effects work, we simulated the flight path of the feather for each scene and extreme close ups as transitions. After laying it over the quadcopter footage with some color correction and sound effects, we achieved the desired look. Overall I’m very pleased with the DJI Phantom 2’s performance and discovered a unique way to present drone footage. Here’s the final video.
Joey Bada$$ “B4.DA.$$” Trailer