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The Octocopter Revolution

A camera drone, in short, is a remote controlled flying support system used to capture aerial photography.

The Octocopter Revolution

Posted Monday April 21st, 2014 by in Trends + Technology.

The film and television industry is constantly in motion. The stories that keep the Hollywood money machine cranking seem to be falling short of impressive. However, technology continues to evolve with every passing day, giving birth to amazing new tools for us filmmakers. The ability to use these tools to our advantage opens the door to great possibilities. The most important part of our art is to understand the tools we use to craft our ideas. One of the tools that have captured my attention is the camera drone.

A camera drone, in short, is a remote controlled flying support system used to capture aerial photography. (Also, known as multi-rotor support system.) This new technology is becoming increasingly popular in the photography and video world due to its ability to create exciting and unique shots previously attainable from helicopters and big budgets. More importantly, they are just plain cool! Perhaps my inner kid is bursting at the seams, but who doesn’t want to fly a remote controlled copter with a camera strapped to the bottom?

With that being said, let’s get real and try to grasp which system is right for your specific needs . The number of companies designing this vastly expanding technology can be overwhelming at times. So overwhelming, that I traveled to fabulous Las Vegas for the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Convention in pursuit of some “technical” answers.

The basics of a multi-copter revolve, quite literally, around the rotors. Quad copters utilize a four-motor/prop set up designed to carry smaller payloads. These are nimble, easy to control, and usually come ready to fly right out of the box. Some models even come equipped with a gimbal head to control camera pan and tilt while in flight. Battery life averages at about 15–25 minutes and has a communication range of about 1000 meters.

Six blade copters are larger in size, have more powerful motors, and can carry a larger payload (cameras in the 5-12lb range). Most of these systems are fully customizable depending upon which camera you plan to use. The customization options also give you the ability to use larger receivers and transmitters for greater range. The main difference between this set up and a quad copter is control. This system utilizes an advanced gimbal system that dampens vibration and keeps the camera steady. This set up requires two operators, a pilot to fly the drone and a camera operator to control the gimbals pan and tilt movements. This design gives users the ability to create really dynamic and sweeping shots.

The octo-copter (eight blade) is the six-blade’s big brother. This system utilizes eight rotors to carry more weight with amazing stability. The gimbals are larger as well, in order to handle larger payloads. (Cameras in the 12-20lb ranges.) These systems cost the most but are masterfully built. The CineSar by Free Fly Systems is a great example of the six and eight rotor set-ups.

The freedom, capabilities, and production value turn the camera drone into an amazing tool for a film maker’s arsenal, including ours here at GEM Advertising; we’re feverishly awaiting the arrival of our first. We have incredible things planned for our new toy. If you have any questions or would like to pick our brains about which copter is best for you, please contact us.


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