NAB 2014 Aerial Videography & “Drone” Overview

Field Trips, Workshops & Manufacturers Make A Huge Splash This Year!

Above all the buzz about 4K cameras and monitors at NAB this year, were flying cameras that sounded like large swarms of bees. POV photography and videography have literally taken off in the past 18 months in a big way, and NAB 2014 was just the place to learn more about this rapidly emerging technology… and how filmmakers will benefit from above AND on the ground!

Since the premiere of the DJI Phantom in 2012 and their first show-floor appearance at NAB 2013, UAVs (multirotors: quadcopters, hexcopters and octocopters – commonly referred to as “drones”) have become more prevalent in the filmmaking and hobbyist photographer/videographer worlds. From the affordable entry-level Phantoms to massive heavy-lifter multirotors costing tens of thousands of dollars, there continues to be a rapidly growing interest in this technology and everything associated with it.

There was plenty of activity and interest in Aerial Video at this year's NAB show with what promises to be an even larger scene next year with added manufacturers talking about exhibiting in addition to DJI. The field is expanding wider and the technology is getting deeper. What a difference a year makes!

NAB 2014 Aerial Videography Field Trip

Kicking off NAB through the Post|Production World workshops, I was invited to be one of the demo/instructors in an Aerial Videography Field Trip on Sunday and the Workshop that followed on Tuesday after the show opened.

The Aerial Videography Field Trip sold out in the first couple weeks that the posting went live. It was capped at about 50-60 attendees (a bus full) that were taken from the Las Vegas Convention Center out to a little “ghost town” an hour away called Nelson, NV, where a lot of photography and filming is done to capture the various replica buildings and vintage cars/props that speckle the landscape of this historic mining area.

Photo by Steven Holden

Photo by Mannie Frances

Once the group arrived, there was an overview given by the event manager Mannie Frances from VASST with a guest demo of a heavy-lift multirotor used in motion picture production (pictured below). And there had been several “stations” setup in advance and everyone was divided into smaller groups and rotated through the stations throughout the day.

Photo by Robert Keeran

The first station was manned by instructors from UXV – Unmanned Aerial University where attendees got some preflight schooling and hands-on flying experience one-on-one with the instructors. With an impressive team that brought a lineup of gear for attendees to take their first flight, they showed patience and professionalism. Instructors were Jerry LeMieux, Mike Ferguson, TJ Diaz, Andrew Baker and Paul Aitken.

Photo by Mannie Frances

In my station, I handled the overview & introductory segment to show various entry-level craft like the DJI Phantom 2 Vision and flying basics, plus safety and FPV capabilities with the DSLRPros Cine Phantoms. I covered items such as the type of gear I use for various flying conditions, preflight checklists, safety checks and battery management. I had a separate receiver and 7″ LED Field Monitor on a stand where the group could view the FPV feed from the GoPro while we had a pair of goggles passed around for everyone to see what that experience was like. There were so many great questions raised and experiences shared in all the groups that the day literally just flew by!

Photo by Robert Keeran

 

 

Photos by Brian Ramage

There were two other stations manned by members of the DSLRPros team showing FPV and Monitoring Equipment with Jeremy Weiss plus a lot of pro gear brought in by DSLRPros and LA-based DP, Leigh Hubner with his custom S800 and S1000 rigs on display.

Photo by Mannie Frances

Photo by Robert Keeran

Photo by Steven Holden

We then ended the day by gathering everyone around the water tower for a group shot from the air by Leigh Hubner shot on a great fly-by, which he's posted for public view on Facebook here. (NOTE: this link may not work for everyone)

 

Photo by Robert Keeran

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Photo by Steven Holden

A Full Day of Workshops

In addition to the Aerial Videography Filed Trip, there was a full day of Aerial Videography Workflows workshop sessions that was open to anyone attending the Field Trip and those who registered for the NAB Post|Production World Conference. This was the first year for these sessions and the classes were packed and well received. I think you can count on even more sessions next year, with the increased popularity and demand for information. Here's a run-down of the sessions presented this year:

In-Depth: Aerial Drone Video & Photos for Profit: Navigating the Business & Legalities

Attend this In-Depth session and learn about the exciting field of commercial drone businesses and how you can profit in this new industry. Dr Jerry LeMieux will discuss the current state of the industry including commercial applications and economic forecasts. Example drone products and prices will be presented. You will learn the basic technologies and technical issues associated with integration of drones into the National Airspace System (NAS). You will also learn about drone operations and regulations. Finally, you will learn about the requirements to be a drone pilot and how to start a commercial drone journalism business.
Presenter(s)
Jerry LeMieux , Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU)
President & Founder

TJ Diaz , Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU)
Instructor

Paul Aitken , Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU)
Instructor


Examples of Drone Journalism

In this session you will experience a drone aerial photography flight plan. Sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. Experience drone aerial photographs from all around the world. The amazing camera views and angles you can get from a drone will change journalism forever. You will see how flexible and fast you can assemble and fly by watching a drone film the Alps. Drone camera stabilization and film editing methods will also be explained. The following examples of drone journalism categories will be presented: Drones for Broadcast News, Drone Documentary Without Words, Drone Sports Journalism, and more. After the flight you will enjoy drone aerial cinematography from places that no person can go including: Wildlife, Landslides, Firefighting, 3D Mapping of the Matterhorn, and Search and Rescue.
Presenter(s)
Jerry LeMieux , Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU)
President & Founder

Paul Aitken , Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU)
Instructor

TJ Diaz , Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU)
Instructor

Aerial Videography in Post

Attend this session and learn how to get the best results from your aerial video footage, including tips on stabilizing and applying lens correction in Adobe After Effects CC and editing and color grading with Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Attendees will also learn how to stitch a wide panorama from aerial video footage using Photoshop CC. Plus special FX for re-timing and Depth of Field techniques, to make your aerial shots truly special.
Presenter(s)
Jeff Foster , VASST
Author, Producer, VFX Artist/Compositor


Pocket Production: Small HD Productions Kits

Whether shooting in HD or 4K/UHD, extreme sports, documentaries, or full-tilt productions, size frequently matters. In this session, we'll display and discuss options for traveling light without missing a shot. HD Cameras are smaller than ever. Now, production equipment can be minute and every bit as effective as larger gear with les shipping cost. Learn about pocket-sized production kits in small, smaller, and smallest packages without compromising image or audio quality. We'll show light-weight video, audio, and lighting packages that can be carried in an overhead bin or backpack (small sliders, LED lights, pocket slider, etc). This session is aimed at the small-budget, small crew producer, corporate producer/trainer, free-lance camera operator, or pros who needs to “carry light.”
Presenter(s)
Douglas Spotted Eagle , VASST
Managing Producer/Trainer/Author

Photo by Douglas Spotted Eagle

New UAVs and More at NAB

I was fortunate to get invited to several meetings and previews of upcoming products by various manufactures and designers – including some who were only attending NAB and didn't have a physical presence at the show.

One of these new entries to market allowed me to take a few snapshots of their prototype craft that's due out around the end of the year called “Tayzu”, which I covered this release from my hotel room at NAB the night before the show opened. It's a modular heavy-lift UAV system that really challenges the competition in design and functionality. Read more about it here.

Another great private meeting was with the folks at 3D Robotics who I'll be doing some follow-up reviews on their product line in the coming months. As with all the players in this industry, they have exciting plans to revolutionize aerial photography and videography with their own unique innovations and designs.

Of course DJI Global was in full-force at the NAB Show with a huge booth packed with a variety of UAVs and curious attendees. They had flying demos inside their “mesh dome” and showed a variety of their new products and upcoming designs. They showcased their newest Phantom 2 Vision+ and the 3-axis Zenmuse H3-3D gimbal for the Phantom 2, as well as the new S1000 multirotor, but I only had a chance to see the static displays. Notice also the handheld DSLR gimbal in the bottom-right image below – a prototype of DJI's answer to the MoVI – only this one works upside-down as well. I got to try it out and it was pretty amazing! Funny how technology designed for one application can lead to others that help make filmmaking tools more accessible to everyone.

 

And let's not forget about cameras and optics!

While much of the entry-level and compact market is focused on the GoPro Hero cameras, we're anxiously awaiting whatever GoPro has in store for us in the coming year that can take this genre to a new level. Already, there are grass roots third-party developers making optional lenses and filters for the Hero3/Hero3+ that remove the fisheye distortion and improve the FOV for various levels of capture.

I did this review of the Peau Productions lenses before NAB and will be following up with even more options and advancements in the coming months.

I also spoke with the guys at ReplayXD who are working on a gimbal for their new XD1080 and 1080Mini cameras. I'm trying to talk them into making a twin-mini mount to record stereo video, so we'll see what the months ahead bring!

With many new technological advancements, designs and ingenuity in an exploding industry – not to mention how easy it is for individuals to make 3D printed parts which further move these designs forward rapidly, it will be an interesting year indeed. Looking forward to where it will be by NAB 2015, but just keep an eye on this channel, as I will be releasing news and product reviews on everything Aerial Photography/Videography as it happens.

So until next year… the sky's the limit! 🙂

Photo by Robert Keeran


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Jeff Foster is a published author of several how-to books and training videos in the motion graphics, animation and video production industries and is an award-winning video producer and artist. Visit his web site to learn more about his training methods, tips & tricks at PixelPainter.com


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Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster has written and contributed to several books and magazines, and has been producing motion graphics, photography and creative design for major corporations, television and film for more than 20 years. See his full bio and content at http://PixelPainter.com