Saturday, 16 February 2013

Drones for video.

In the last few years there has been some big changes when it comes to the accessibility and cost of using drones for video. This new and exciting area and aerial videography is making it more accessible to people helping them get amazing aerial shots while not spending a fortune. Small affordable drones are becoming cheaper by the day and what some people are doing with them are truly amazing. In this post we will look at some of the most common drones for video, the technology and how you can utilizing them for your own video productions. Gone are the day where renting a helicopter was the only option for
 getting amazing aerial video.

There are many different drones out there that you can purchase anywhere from a few hundred dollars and to thousands dollars. They vary in size from very small to very large and everything in between. Typically the larger the drone the more it can lift and the less wind will be an issue. However there are some very small drones that do a decent job when paired with a GoPro camera.
Parrot, has small drone that is relatively cheap. It is powerful enough to lift a GoPro Camera. However there are some limitations. The drone can fly up to 6 meters or 20 feet. The average range is about 50 meters or 160 feet. It uses wifi and can be controlled using an iPhone or iPad via the Drone 2.0 App from Parrot.
it can reach a top Speed of 18 km an hour or 11 miles an hour. Has an operational time of roughly 12 minutes with a charging time of 1hr 30mins. It has a lift capability of 250grams. However if you exceed this weight it may become unstable. The new GoPro Hero 3 with battery weighs 74grams. Even adding this much weight o the A.R Drone may cause problems with stability with wind however you can still get some nice shots out of it. As some of the below videos will demonstrate. It will be necessary to do some sort of stabilization in post to smooth out the image however it may be well worth it in the end to get some amazing shots you wouldn't normally get.

The below videos demonstrate what is possible withe AR. Drone and the GoPro when used properly. Some cropping may be necessary to get rid of the rotters.

                GoPro + AR.Drone from Laurent Heideyer on Vimeo.

Here are some more videos using the GoPro with the AR. Drone. You can see how some stabilization filters will be needed in post to deal with the rolling shutter issues.

                        Cap Flight from Bernhard Queisser on Vimeo.

Parrot's AR. Drone is of course very small and inexpensive but is a sign of things to come. For under $300 dollars Canadian you can buy a drone that is capable of lifting a GoPro. I am sure as newer versions come down the line this drone will get even better.

For those who want better quality video, longer range and better stability it will be necessary to look at getting a more professional drone that is capable of carrying a heavier payload and offers better stabilization. There are a number of these drones on the market and some can be purchased for less than a thousand dollars. However many will set you back between $1000-$10000 dollars US. Depending on load capacity, gyro system and stabilization options. Quadcopters and Octocopters offer the best solution for working with larger cameras. a company based in the US overs some great drones for everything from Gopros to RedScarlets

Small quadrocopters like their DJI Phantom, is capable of lifting a GoPro and can be purchased for $679 US. Here is a video to demonstrate the quality.

Here is the link if you are interested in learning more about the DJI Phantom or interested in picking one up : DJI Phantom All in One Ready to Fly

For those requiring a little bit more horsepower has some more powerful drones capable of lifting DSLRs, Sony FS100s and more. The OktoKopter 2, capable of lifting a DSLR and costs $6,377.00 US. Here is a video to demonstrate the quality.

Mikrokopter Oktokopter2 flight with Canon T2i from on Vimeo.

You can purchase the Oktokopter and find out more information here: Oktokopter 2 Ready to Fly

In the professional category offers something really exciting. The CineStar 8, a professional drone with a much higher load capacity of 200 grams or 4.41 lbs. This drone can utitlize GPS way point flying to up to 500 meters and offers a flight time of 25 minutes. Check out the video of it action.

Sony CX760 zoom control on Cinestar 8 with 360 stabilization from Quadrocopter on Vimeo.

You can learn more and pick one up here: Cinestar Ready to Fly

Here is a video from their site with a GoPro mounted to the bottom of one of their other drones the Hexakopter:

Here is another video showing one of the Cinestar 8 drones lifting a 5D Mark 3. The results are really amazing you can see how these are quickly replacing helicopters for arial shots for productions do to the cost savings and the accessibility.

This is a video taken using the Cinestar 8 with a FS100. Yet again, great results.

For those of you who are interested in another drone company checkout Turbo Ace they have a variety of drones that can lift GoPros and DSLRs
They specialize in Quadcopters for GoPros and Octocopters for DSLRs. They have a varity of different copters to choose from.

Check out some videos of their drones in action.

All of these videos above demonstrate the potential for use a variety of video applications. Imagine using these for weddings, corporates, real-estate videos and narrative films. It really is the endless the applications for these drones. I will be updating this post in the future with more exciting drone information as I find it.


  1. Parrot, has small drone that is relatively cheap. It is powerful enough to lift a GoPro Camera. However there are some limitations. The drone can ...

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