5 Methods of Achieving Winning Shots With An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Aerial photography is special.

The method of photographing heart-stirring snapshots and videos provide a perspective that can only be characterized as awe-inspiring.

There’s nothing quite like unconventional portraits, and curiously captured, mystifying images of nature, architecture, and landscape from a bird’s eye view.

Balloons and helicopters among them, there are numerous ways to secure aerial photographic images. Kites, parachutes, stand-alone telescopes, vehicle-mounted poles, blimps, dirigibles, pigeons, rockets, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or “drones”).

If you happen to have an unmanned aerial vehicle at your disposal, there are some things you can do to be sure that your drone is capturing truly winning shots. Read on to learn some tips and emerging techniques that elevate an image from good to great:

1 .  After you’ve purchased your drone be sure you know exactly how to use it. Unpack the instruction manual, read through all of the features, and browse the selection of movements.

Before you take the drone outside and introduce to high wind, use the remote control to navigate the device within your home and discover how many hours it can be piloted. Be sure to purchase an aircraft that’s able to boast a video feed. Also, opt for one that’s compatible with a smartphone. Yuneec’s Typhoon, Hexo+, and AirDog designed devices that use smart settings.

  1.  Identify your priorities and purchase the necessary accessories to ensure that your drone has a capable onboard camera. With the right add-ons, you’ll benefit front handling a device that has a number of features, including high-tech heat vision, security, or a live video feed.
  2. Know that you have to register your aircraft, following Dec. 21. 2015. The recent interest in unmanned aircraft means that owners can register with the Federal Aviation Administration for $5. That cost, plus one’s name, address, and email address will cover a fleet for three years. There are other airspace regulations to keep in mind, including the fact that drones must watch their proximity to other aircrafts, and airfields and airports. Respect boundaries and the law.
  3. Adjust your settings as needed. Keep exposure, resolution, frame rate, and white balance in mind when piloting your drone. Familiarizing yourself with the capabilities of your device, whether you have a camera built-in or a mounted camera, will make you appear more seasoned than your peers.
  4. Become a master of post-production. Your editing software will help you correct any color issues, and allow you to enhance brilliant details. Choose from Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, or Photoshop, and these applications will transform your image from standard to extraordinarily professional-grade.

Some other tips you might want to consider include: follow a pre-flight checklist, use a gimbal and prop balancer; master aerial videography pans; avoid wind and other weather that might be hazardous to your device; establish a direct line of sight; and overshoot your time frame. For other valuable tips, visit UAV Coach, which is a company that trains the public on how they might operate UAVs.

 

Drones Meet Virtual Reality – Experience It For Yourself.

powerup fpv virtual reality dronesWhat do you get when you combine the simplicity of a paper plane with the technology of a drone? PowerUp Toys has partnered with Parrot to combine the two into a remote controlled paper drone, the PowerUp FPV. It is fully equipped with an engine, a camera and a wi-fi hotspot. Another bonus? Users will be able to experience the flight firsthand by using Google’s new virtual reality accessory, Google Cardboard. This seamless integration of basic materials, like paper and cardboard, with advanced as well as easily accessible technology has created a product that is intriguing and exciting.

Thanks to the many advancements of smartphone technology, video quality will not be sacrificed, which is often the case with drone footage. Drones available on the market typically fall into two categories. The first is dependent on analog signals to control the drone and stream footage. While the advantage is the ability to travel far distances, the quality of the footage is often sacrificed. Other drones can be controlled via the user’s smartphone, but these are typically unable to travel far distances and usually do not come with a camera.The wi-fi hotspot allows users to live stream footage from the fully rotating camera to their smartphones. The footage can then be uploaded to popular sites like YouTube and Vimeo for sharing.

The combination of PowerUp’s paper plane design with Parrot’s drone technology will create a drone that not only goes far, but provides the user with a high quality virtual reality experience. The product is not available on the market yet, but PowerUp is launching a Kickstarter in November to make it a reality. For more information on the PowerUpFPV and the Kickstarter campaign, check out PowerUp’s website. Be sure to contribute if you want to part-take in this fun.

For more updates, check out GeekTime and Wired. In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Twitter!

Finding Your Drone

There are plenty of options available in the drone market. As new companies continue to hop on board, the market for drones is only going to grow and options will be plentiful. While some consumers may be hesitant to hand over hundreds of dollars for a quality drone, you can currently find a select few quality drones for less than a few hundred dollars. Some of the cheaper options are as follows:

EYE One Xtreme Aerial Photography Set by RC Logger – $279

Ben Sheehy Denver CO EYE One Xtreme Aerial Photography Set by RC LoggerOne of the cheapest available drones is the EYE One Xtreme. The basic model offers a standard HD camera with 720p HD video resolution and 5 megapixels for still images. Another great feature of the EYE One Xtreme is its distinct flight modes – beginner, sport, and advanced. With a 2.4 GHz transmitter, the drone offers a range of 400 feet and approximately 7 minutes of flight time.

QR Ladybird V2 – $220

ben sheehy denver colorado QR Ladybird V2If you are looking to purchase a drone that is easy to use and built for beginners, then the Ladybird is built for you. What it lacks in power, it more than makes up for in user ability and style. For starters, the Ladybird is a flying lady bug – it was built to look like a lady bug, and it was built for maneuverability. The Ladybird includes a 200 MP video camera that can stream live video, though it does not record.

Quanum Nova – $319

ben sheehy denver colorado Quanum NovaThe Quanum Nova, also known as the Cheerson CX-20, has gained a lot of popularity as a customizable quadcopter. While the drone does not include a camera, users have the option to buy and install their own. A major plus of this product is the ability to connect the camera to the integrated gimbal control, which allows you to adjust the tilt and roll functions, giving you a multitude of video angles. GPS capabilities are another exciting feature on this model, enabling position and altitude hold, waypoint navigation, and return-home functionality. The Cheerson CX-20 has a range of approximately 300 meters and around 15 minutes of flight time.

Proposed Commercial Drone Rules From FAA

ben sheehy federal aviation administration commercial drones denver coIt seemed to be only a matter of time before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stepped in and introduced limits on drones, as they have continued to grow in popularity. After all, there is a real potential for issues moving forward as drone technology continues to advance. A day may come when we see drones flying above just as frequently as birds.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration submitted its proposed rules for smaller commercial drones. While many of the rules are to be expected, some may impede the commercial delivery ambitions of major companies such as Amazon.

Key rules applying to drones weighing fewer than 55 pounds:

  • Pilots must be at least 17 years old.
  • Pilots must pass a test to obtain the newly developed drone operator license, which will also require vetting by the TSA.
  • License will apply to all small drones.
  • Review tests will be required every 24 months.
  • Flights must occur during daytime hours.
  • Pilot must see the drone at all times, though a 2nd operator may be utilized as an observer.
  • Drones can fly no faster than 100mph and must remain below 500 feet.
  • Drones must be registered with the FAA.
  • No flights over people and you must maintain visibility.

Amazon’s delivery drones will not be possible under these proposed regulations, however, the rules are not finalized. More rules and adjustments are being considered for different types of drones as well.

FAA Press Release for small unmanned aircraft.

Beautiful Drone Videos

As a proud owner and pilot of a quadcopter, I enjoy spending time searching for aerial drone footage via various online video platforms. No matter how many videos I come across, I am always amazed by the views we are now able to capture because of these incredible personal devices. It goes without saying, but we are so used to viewing the world from one perspective, we often forget the other ways in which we can view everything. Not only is the footage captivating, but they are quite the fun toy to play with. Below I have listed a few of my favorite videos to date, but I am sure there are many out there I have yet to see.

Utah

I enjoy this footage as it reminds me of the various videos I have put together myself. I have been fortunate enough to visit and explore this landscape and it is always breathtaking.

Golden Gate Bridge

I have spent a good amount of time on the west coast and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge tower over the bay area will never get old.

Extreme Sports in Maui

Who doesn’t like extreme sports footage in an exotic location like Maui?!

Aerial Archaeology

The ever changing landscape of aerial photography has found traction in yet another profession.  Archaeologists around the world are now finding use in modern technology, using aerial drones as a means of complementing their traditional tools and carrying them into the future.  The application of drones and aerial photography is helping to defend against looters and land traffickers worldwide.  The struggle to protect the extraordinary archaeological riches of Peru exemplifies this fight.

Peru’s vice minister of cultural heritage, Dr. Luis Castillo, is one of the many archeologists on the front lines leading an army of drones into battle.  The use of drone technology appears to have accelerated most in Peru, where Dr. Castillo’s air force is mapping, monitoring, and safeguarding his country’s ancient treasures.  While Peru seems to be ideal grounds to implement these new practices and technological advancements, the use of drones is not exclusive to Peru.

ben sheey aerial photography peruArchaeologists in New Mexico are also putting this into practice.  If simply taking aerial photos was not enough, experts are now fitting drones with thermal-imaging cameras to track the walls and passages of the ancient Chaco Canyon settlement.  Researchers in the Middle East are finding drones extremely useful in their efforts to survey ancient sites as well as aiding in the fight against looting.  “Aerial survey at the site is allowing for the identification of new looting pits and determinations of whether any looters’ holes had been revisited,” said Morag Kersel, an archaeologist from DePaul University.

These technological advances now allow researchers to convert aerial footage into 3-D images and highly detailed maps.  By developing these maps, researchers can establish legal boundaries and use them in court should anyone damage or begin development on the ruins.

While these advances in technology are not without complications, it is inspiring to see the landscape of archaeology, aerial photography, and drone technology evolve so quickly.  From the aerial perspective itself, to the introduction of special imaging lenses, these technological advances are opening new doors for older professions.  It would appear as though drones and aerial photography have limitless potential to those who dare to explore.

Read more in the New York Times article

Drones Moving Into The Sports World

Aerial photography is an emerging field. Some are hobbyists, some are using it to get offer a unique perspective of their real estate, and some are using it to design football plays. Wait, what?

Drones are being used more and more by the football community as an inexpensive way to see exactly what is happening on the field. The view – one that is similar to the view offered in video games so that the user can control every player – has become more and more accessible due to the rising popularity of the practice.

Colleges such as Clemson, UCLA and Oregon State are just a couple of the major Division-1 schools that are using the technology.

It’s not unusual for football teams to have a director of video operations; in fact, football practices are filmed more than any other sport due to the nature of it. Every 30 seconds, a new play is set up and executed. It’s not a fluid game like basketball, baseball or hockey. The offense determines what it wants to do and the defense has to react.

Drones are popping up at more and more practices - and even in high school football games.
Drones are popping up at more and more practices – and even in high school football games.

In the past, UCLA’s Ken Norris would be running a camera from the sideline. Sure, you can go higher up in the bleachers, but you’re still not getting a perspective like the one you can with a drone. Norris has the ability to float a drone right above the quarterback’s head, watching his progressions, seeing how the offensive line operates, etc. With all of the precision and execution required to perfect a play, this data is incredibly valuable.

Norris has been using drones at UCLA’s practices since last spring. Norris noted that having a drone sit right above the line of scrimmage is somewhere that they’ve never been able to access before. They have the ability to look at the linemen’s footwork, hand placement and schemes. It’s impossible to see these details from the sideline.

The first adopters in the sports industry were those participating in extreme sports – skateboarding, snowboarding, motocross, etc. It offered a way to view their mechanics, critique their form and improve their skills.

Now, many startup drone companies are trying to acquire football teams as a client. Michael Williams, a student at Oregon State, simply visited the Beavers’ practice and started filming. He handed the coaches a tablet computer and allowed them to watch the footage in real time.

With FAA regulations limiting drone use to less than 400 feet in the air, it is very feasible for teams to operate the system without any intervention. Don’t be surprised if we see more and more drones popping up at practices across the country.