Aerial Cinematography | Castlewood Canyon, CO.
Since taking delivery of my Phantom 2 quadcopter, I’ve completely fallen in love with aerial cinematography. It’s quickly becoming an obsession; whenever I get a chance, I find myself feverishly pawing through my calendar, searching for every and any unoccupied hour where I can charge up the batteries and go flying. It’s absolutely addictive.
I still have A LOT to learn, but the process has been unbelievably rewarding, and I’ve been really encouraged to see noticeable improvements with my piloting every time I go out.
It’s my goal to get a firm grip on flight mechanics by the end of the year. I really want to get to a place where my spacial awareness is intuitive, and I can commit the flight controls to muscle-memory, freeing up most of my brain to focus on framing, composition, and artistic movement that’s motivated by story and creativity, and not just the nuts-and-bolts of keeping the thing airborne.
I’ve been voraciously consuming and studying the work of a lot of aerial filmmakers I admire, and it’s clear I have a long way to go, but I do feel like I’m progressing with each flight. I’m not spending all of my time worrying about crashing anymore, and I’m really starting to view the Phantom for what it is: a little helicopter.
Like a lot of new pilots, my first couple flights were accompanied by totally unsophisticated video– I basically just used the drone like an extended camera dolly. Back and forth. Cast out the drone, and reel it back in. Like an expensive fishing lure.
That’s fun for a little while, but it’s not going to entertain the viewer for very long, and it won’t achieve what I ultimately want to be able to do: chase things, and reveal environments in a way I couldn’t do with any other filmmaking method.
I’ve started getting a more familiar with the controls, and am getting better at anticipating how the aircraft will behave, so I’m really trying to experiment more with movement — going beyond simple Z-axis push-ins and pull-aways, or long tracking shots. It’s not super easy for me to pull off just yet, but I am thinking more and more about how to use the aircraft’s ability to traverse all 3 dimensions to get the shots I want.
I can start to see rotation, altitude, pitch, perspective and parallax showing up in my visual vocabulary, and that’s been incredibly encouraging.
I haven’t had this much fun in a LONG time. I’m so happy I decided to make the investment and give it a go. I’ve been having a blast!