February 06, 2015

If you have been watching the Xgames over the past week, not only would you have seen a glorious display of new level snowboarding from Marc McMorris, claiming victory with two gold in two days. You would have also watched the action via outstanding views from the live-feed drones.

Watching the X-games and hearing the commentators talk about the live footage from the drones got me thinking about the new technology in video and photography. It was only a few years ago GoPro exploded providing the coolest angle in action sports filming. An easy to use, affordable and durable camera and it seemed anybody who was anybody who could do an Ollie wanted to capture it with GoPro. These mini extreme sport cams provided an angle and quality that made any amature edit look pro. They are still hugely popular, in fact rather mainstream, the art is now trying to get an angle that we haven’t seen 1000 times before .The ego shots and follow cam have turned from ‘SICK’ to ‘making me sick’. This reaches to the upper levels with photographers who used real fish-eye lenses in the past opting to keep them in their bag to avoid the ‘GoPro Look’.

With a need to capture new looks, and spice up some creativity, is this where the drone comes in?

Drones are getting cheaper and easier for the general person to purchase, many equipped with an on-board camera. We are already seeing a lot of drones flying around the ski fields, the footage and angle provided from a drone is ‘in’ at the moment. Just like the GoPro phenomenon it appears we may get inundated with the same angles and shots over and over again. That said, despite the affordability and ease to get your hands on a drone, using one effectively is a different story. I have made numerous back-garden GoPro sticks out of ski poles, however operating a drone is nothing like following your mate over a kicker with a ski pole in hand.

Our team shooter Lukas starting building his own drone back before you could buy one off the shelf ready to use for extreme sports filming. There was a small community using them, in the shadow of RC helicopter pilots and you needed to get individual parts to put together, so I thought there was no one better to gather some insights.

Talking with Lukas, he explains, “Operating a drone, especially a non toy one is nothing like filming with a drone. Without a screen to view or a FPV goggle (first person view) whilst operating, you need a fair bit of practice with it, in fast action sports anyway” He says he has never been so scared flying his drone as he was flying it over the Zillertal from the top of the mountain. “If something fails, the chance of getting my drone and camera back after a crash might me quite small, to the point of even killing someone below”
Lukas assured me that watching “drone crashes” on you-tube would blow my mind, and wholly! These things are dangerous. A good insurance will be key if you are thinking of investing in a drone.

It seems that any decent videographer today has a drone in their artillery, its just so versatile to get those dramatic clips and stay up with the action. On the flip side, unless you want to fly your €4000 DLSR on a drone capable of holding your prized camera, a cool €15,000, as a photographer it doesn’t seem necessary. A good eye, creativity and skill will still prevail.

So ‘In’ with the drones and ‘out’ with the GoPros in the video world. To be more realistic we are going to see a mix of the two. Especially with the GoPro 4 now out providing a better quality low angle option, there will be GoPros IN drones. But hey, that doesn’t make for a very cool title.

A big thanks to Lukas for his input.
www.lr-pho.to is where anyone needs to go to see some creative drone footage from Mr. Riedl

Catch you next week.
Chur

Carl
Team Vallerret

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