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GoPro HERO3 Meets the DJI Phantom Quadcopter and Gets the Aerial Treatment

01.20.13 @ 7:00AM Tags : , , , , , ,

Several impressive videos achieved with minicopters have surfaced in the last year or so (pun intended). We’ve seen soaring ghost’s-eye views of hauntingly deserted urban nightscapes, and ninjas battling through ruined buildings in impossible ‘dolly shots’ — only made possible, of course, with such compact aerial shooting platforms. Now, the ‘King of the Action Cam,’ that is the GoPro HERO3, gets the sky-flying treatment — and if there’s any camera you won’t be too worried about strapping in to the DJI Phantom Aerial Quadcopter for blast-off, it’s the GoPro — check out the footage below.

It’s worth noting a few things before we get to the good stuff — firstly, depending on where you’re shooting, local ordinance may have the legality of RC minicopter use all but grounded in red tape, even for professionals, which leads into the second point: if you are legally able to shoot with such camcopters, your no-doubt best-bet is to hire a professional ‘pilot’ or operator — unless of course you already happen to be one yourself. This is, most importantly, for safety — but if you want control over your shots, chances are a pro-op will do the best job anyways. If you’re very interested in this type of thing, you’ll have to do a lot more research than we could include here — but here’s one thread on the US’s standpoint I was able to dig up. With that out of the way, check out these HERO3 copter shots, all of which were achieved with the sub-$700 DJI Phantom Aerial Quadcoptercourtesy Cinescopophilia for the finds:

Test of the DJI Phantom with GoPro HERO3 onboard. All video is original from camera without any softwarestabilizing or editing except clipping. Some clips are in 50% speed. (ElefunTV):

I took a video with GoPro2 during 9min. ( Lipo 11.1V 2200mAh 35C ) Approx max height 70ft, distance 230ft flying from the home position. Outside Temp. approx 35F degree in Korea.Phathom is good enough for taking a snap video or more professional video when you want to have just 3~10sec video.
It was sabilized by YouTube tool. (TheHelicraft):

From the Globe Flight Team:

Shooting GoPro or any action cam doesn’t necessarily totally overlap with conventional ideas of cinematography, but the HERO3 in particular is very serious about making ‘actionematography’ a non-oxymoron — that’s for sure. The aesthetics found here may be things your own eye considers adequate for your uses, or not, that’s on you. In the right circumstances, though, the aerial GoPro could cut seamlessly enough to achieve an effect of some impact — or even add to the effect because of a jarring cut. Think gritty, frenetic, ‘chase-scene,’ quick-cut, perhaps Paul Greengrass — you get the picture.

Do you guys think the footage is impressive, or do you feel minicopter cinematography is better suited to other cameras? What are some circumstances you could see yourself using the HERO3/quadcopter combination to its utmost potential?


[via Cinescopophilia]


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Description image 31 COMMENTS

  • Thanks for this blog post! It really got me thinking about whether we need to get some inhouse minicopter expertise. I think the GoPro esthetic could work, if you use it very, very briefly (Greengrass-style, as you suggest) – but then you’re really not getting the full value out of the production resources put into the aerial shots. That’s the downside. I love the sort of stuff that has been done with Red EPIC (, and want to pursue track – though probably with somewhat less expensive gear (e.g. Blackmagic) to begin with.

  • Chris Lambert on 01.20.13 @ 8:57AM

    Whilst it’s great for those of us using it for legit reasons, press intrusion is going to get real interesting real fast with these things.

    • And living in the USA and fairly close to a military base, I’ll probably get arrested. ;-) I have been thinking about a setup like this for about a year.

  • on 01.20.13 @ 10:14AM

    This is great, though from the looks of some of the test footage, one would need to be very cautious when operating the copter if nothing more than for stable footage. It seems as though the lightness of the rig can be a detriment.

  • Good post. Ordnance is military weapons and supplies. Ordinance is a law. Small typo with a drastically different definition.

  • Yes now everyone can spy on their neighbors with ease. This looks pretty amazing. I can’t believe for around 1k you can get some really nice aerial shots!

    • If you wanted to spy on your neighbors you could just climb on your roof. It’d save you $1000, and it would be less conspicuous than flying a noisy copter around them.

  • ” Phathom is good enough for taking a snap video or more professional video when you want to have just 3~10sec video. It was sabilized by YouTube tool.” Stabilization tool and very short clip times are two huge red flags.

  • yeah, it’s a good thing for practice, but hard mounted gopro doesn’t look good because you see every movement of the dji phantom. if you set the gopro to a lower field of view you can get good results with a stabilised gimbal.
    i planned to build a small quad with a bit more power to lift a stabilised gimbal with gopro 3 to make some fast actions shoots where you don’t want to crash your big heli :)

    but also for under 3000usd and some building by yourself you can get this footage with a nex5n


  • Great video Marcus. Puts this one to shame. What Is your rig — a gaui 500x?

  • Hahahah, it was about time someone made this things cheaper. It is not OK that until yesterday these kind of “copters” cost about 10 000 dollars. And they are not that much better….

  • used the same copter modified to fly a Sony RX100 with IS (

  • Useless without a shock mount. I am really surprised that GoPro hasn’t created one yet.

  • @Marcus

    So that rig of your is around USD 3k?

    • yes, if i’m correct it is 2700usd. but you have to build and solder by a bit before to understand what you do. all the expensive hexa and oktocopter you can buy for 10k usd are not that expensive when you build them by yourself. you can easily build a hexacopter who is carry your 5d for under 6000usd.

  • If you’re interested in this stuff, I STRONGLY recommend finding a ‘support group’ of sorts where you can go see all the different configurations people are flying and figure out what’s best for your needs. I’m one of the organizers of the Washington, DC – area “Drone Users Group” ( and I’m sure there are similar groups all around the world. It’s a steep learning curve; more so because screwing up costs immense amounts of time and money to rebuild.

  • Anbody interested in the DJI Phantom or who may already have one there is a very good facebook group with many users of the Phantom so there is a lot of info and tips for this quadcopter.
    Please note this not run by Quadcopters Uk it is run by a guy called Richard also known on youtube as That Hpi Guy.

  • Nice, I like it. Would be good for helicopter or big crane shots if you did not have the budget for those. For film making purposes though it would be good if there was a version of the GoPro that had a lens that was not quite so fisheye. All footage from a go pro looks like you are looking out of one of those security peep holes in the front door of your apartment.

    Having said that, a less wideangle lens would make framing the shot more difficult. It would be good if you could see a live streaming image from the camera so you could frame your shot better. The streamed version of the image needn’t be the full 1080 resolution, a lower res version for the purpose of streaming could be sent, but then the full 1080 version of the footage could be recorded onto card for later retrieval from the camera.

    Just some thoughts for the relevant peole to make such things happen. ;-)

  • Visual journalists are very interested in finding affordable and stable flying cams for filmmaking and gathering images that support journalistic goals – such as being able to verify crowd numbers at rallies, natural disaster coverage, etc.

    My Hero 3 records decent 1080p video when attached to my car while driving through Scotland. At different resolutions, I can select other wide angle views.

    But most importantly I found that when the camera is in Time lapse mode recording high resolution still, a higher quality video result can be achieved. It is exciting to be arrving at this intersection of RC toys, Action cams and filmmaking. I have DIY since I was a kid, so I am really keen to follow up on what Marcus is doing as it will suit the needs of professionals who do not have a BBC-sized budget.

  • The only problem I see is the fisheye effect common with GoPros.

  • How stable will be the video with this unit?
    Does it move Forward and Reverse?
    If the battery dies, does it just fall down?

  • Mon Dji Phantom a parcouru 1500 mètres avec la radiocommande blanche d’origine.
    Voyez vous-même :)

  • I wouldn’t be surprised if hollywood were employing these DJI phantoms with gopro to record the latest flicks. I know they use DSLRs like 5D Mark2 for video capturing. For indie film makers, the only concern is filming near airports or above 400ft. You can check out the FAA regulations here:

    Quadcopters bring a unique perspective, because the general populous don’t normally see or take aerial photography. I think it’s absolutely cool though. Check out some other quadcopter videos here:

  • There is a world of difference between the WOW factor of a stock DJI Phantom and the unbelieveably eye dropping footage of a Phantom equipped with first person view and an effective camera “gimbal” (which allows the camera to sway with the Phantom’s movements to keep it level). So in the hands of the uninitiated, yes, the Phantom footage may leave some to be desired. But in the hands of an experienced Phantom flyer and video post production editor (to smoothen out any remnants of “jello effect” in the video), JJ Abrams himself would be impressed.

    To learn more, join the Phantom community:

  • Not sure its possible to have as much fun as I do with this thing! I searched all over the web and found the best deal on it here:

  • Here’s my best video yet:

  • A blast, but not as easy as it looks to fly. See this one minute video:

  • Hi, dear

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    Our customized DJI phantom 2 battery was launched,the capacity have 5400mAh.
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