As a traveling filmmaker, I’m on the road for most of the year, so I’ve figured out a thing or two about traveling with gear. On my last big trip I had over seven hundred pounds of gear, so I’ve become an expert at keeping my gear both mobile and protected! One of the hardest things to do is to keep gear both safe and accessible when you’re on the go – good protection doesn’t necessarily mean accessibility. To combat the challenges of the road, I use a mix of hard and soft cases – soft cases can be packed in larger hard cases to give you a one-two punch that’s sure to keep you ready and protected no matter what the road throws at you. Here are my top five tips for managing gear on the road.
I’m writing this from a café in Amsterdam, where drones are now effectively banned in the city limits. Before 2015, you could pretty much travel anywhere and fly without issue. But as the world becomes increasingly leery of the threats drones pose, it’s also getting increasingly difficult to show up somewhere and expect to launch one without weird stuff happening.
Just yesterday, some locals were telling me about the hefty fines police are levying against hobbyists who go to a local park to take to the skies (this from the city that’s also banned electric skateboards), but I haven’t been able to find corroborating information online.
The Inspire 1 Pro and Phantom 4 are the newest, best drones available in their respective lines from DJI — how could you possibly decide between the two? This handy guide should make the decision easier. Let’s start with the biggest differences and work our way down to the nitty-gritty.
Have you set out to find a crew for your film/commercial/music video/passion project and realized you have no idea where to start? If you don’t live in one of the world’s big production hubs, like LA or London, where you can’t swing a cat without hitting potential crew, the internet offers a bounty of crewing rescues to suit your needs. Before scouring the web to find those who will carry your vision to greatness, however, there are a few important things to consider.
Though still in their relative infancy as a technology, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, aka drones) are already essential tools in the kits of filmmakers, documentarians, and journalists. To content creators, small quads — like the DJI Phantom, for example — may in fact be the single most powerful camera-support tool in our kits, dollar for dollar. Can anyone fly? Sure. Can anyone fly safely and legally, get the shot(s) they need, and recover their flying $1,000+ investment? Maybe.
Here are some helpful tips to get you thinking about the types of shots you can get in the world of unmanned aerial cinematography. If you’re new to drones, I highly recommend spending time at an official R/C flying field to practice your skills. The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) can help you start your career in remote flying — I joined when I was 11 years old, and have always found them to be a dependable resource.
Having flown almost 200 flights on the DJI Phantom 3 drone, there are some things I got used to doing — like flying backwards or cruising at 30 MPH. As I’ll discuss below, the new Phantom 4 requires an equally new approach to flying, but promises some great features in return. My first six flights with the P4 have been a bit of a rocky road, but a little learning curve can be expected with each new iteration of technology.
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I’m writing this while on a campaign with the conservation group Sea Shepherd, en route to Antarctica to conduct an annual anti-poaching mission in the Southern Ocean. My role on the ship is to produce video content that will later be cut into a broadcast television show — my new role this year is to also pilot the complement of drones that we have on board. I was thrilled when, just a few days into the campaign, one of the crew members spotted a blue whale mother and her calf near the ship. We ran for the drone and got it up into the air as fast as we could.
It’s generally accepted that the three lights in a three-light interview setup are known as the key, fill, and kick, rim, or backlight. The key provides the main source of light on your subject; the fill controls the contrast between the left and right sides of the face; and the backlight provides some exposure on your subject from behind, to help separate him or her from the background.
What does it mean to survive in the world of filmmaking? For content creators working on location, in addition to keeping ourselves alive, we have to be creative, innovative, and able to perform under pressure — to do whatever it takes to get the shot. Whether we’re shooting extreme sports, adventures in the outback, or episodic television, once we hit “record” (or release the shutter, or roll the film, or tap the screen), the pressure is on and we need to be equipped to handle it. These collected nuggets of (somewhat unorthodox) knowledge from my travels around the world shooting content for broadcast television, documentaries, and feature films should help you out the next time you’re headed into the danger zone.
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