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Watch: Robert McIntosh's Aerial GoPro Footage is Absolutely Breathtaking

03.10.13 @ 3:43PM Tags : , , , , , ,

There has been an explosion in aerial videos over the last few years thanks to cheaper “drones” and “copters” and smaller and smaller high-quality cameras, but it still takes a tremendous amount of skill and patience to properly take these machines into the air and get usable footage. We’ve posted a number of these videos in the past, but GoPro recently shared one from Robert McIntosh that blew me away. Taking his GoPro to the Santa Monica Pier, Robert does a few maneuvers that had me expecting the worst, but his camera and the copter came out the other side unscathed. Check it out below:

Robert doesn’t share much of his techniques or equipment with the community, but he does have a few more aerial videos that are absolutely outstanding:

While there is possibly some stabilization performed in post, if anyone has any more information on his technique or his equipment, feel free to share below. Judging by the shadow in at least one of the videos, it looks like he’s using a quadcopter of some kind, possibly a DJI Phantom Quadcopter.

[Update]: Looks like it is a custom rig that Robert has built himself. Thanks to Eric in the comments below for pointing out the blog post showing this photo:

Many people were a bit baffled why anyone would mod a GoPro to allow more manual controls and C-mount lenses like the Radiant Images/View Factor Novo, but this is one of those situations where a camera with a less distorted lens and manual controls would give even more precise control over the footage. The advantage to a camera like the GoPro (and the Novo) is that weight is everything when it comes to copters, and some of these machines aren’t capable of taking DSLRs, which are much heavier. The smaller the copter, the more easily you can squeeze in-between objects like Robert does above.

What do you guys think? Have you seen any other videos like this? What kind of aerial rigs have you used or are currently using?

Link: Robert McIntosh — Vimeo


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Description image 53 COMMENTS

  • Gavin Kilduff on 03.10.13 @ 3:57PM


  • Oh my goodness. I want to hire this guy. He’s doing everything I could possibly dream of.

    Imagine the production value added to a micro-budget film with aerial footage of this quality. That shot of the Golden Gate quite literally took my breath away. I couldn’t believe it. And did he crash his copter into the tree voluntarily in that second clip? Geez.

  • Pretty cool stuff. The sky is the limit to what you could do with this technique…no pun intended.

  • Whoah. That first video had me celebrating. Sweet moves.

  • The only way he could do that is with a custom aerial photography rc helicopter wired for hd video downlink – the video from the camera is sent wirelessly to a receiver nearby, where the controller can see what the copter is doing, and still control it. The video could be sent to a computer or ipad, but many people also use special glasses made for the task.

  • It’s not the DJI Phantom since most of his videos predate the Phantoms release but it is a quad of some sort. He might be using some kind of a proprietary brushless gimbal for camera stabilization.

    • well in the actual DJI page they advertise one of his videos ( the one in the park)

      • Well, DJI makes plenty of other multi-rotor products, so if this guy is working with them, or even just using their equipment, he’s most likely using their higher-end stuff. The Phantom is their lower-end model.

  • earnest reply on 03.10.13 @ 5:06PM

    I wonder if he programmed those flight paths. I hear the GPS and on board sensors are crazy accurate.

  • “While there is possibly some stabilization performed in post”

    This screams warp stabilizer.


  • I’ve just been scratching the surface of this stuff recently. While I still have a ton to learn, I’ll make a guess and say that he’s probably not using something as consumer-oriented as the DJI Phantom.
    From the silhouette visible in that skate video, it looks like a smaller custom built quadcopter — similar to the DJI, but most likely constructed with custom motors. frame, camera mount, control board, and first-person view set-up.
    I’m not sure if he’s using a stabilization gimbal or not, since while the footage looks amazingly smooth, it’s also a small enough camera and quadcopter that I’m not sure if it would make sense — I’ve never seen a gimbal just for GoPros (I’m sure they’re out there). They’re mainly for slightly larger cameras.

  • This stuff is great- but hopefully he had permission to fly in these places and keeps up with his RC aircraft licensing. Drones are quickly becoming a hot-button issue for politicians and all we need is one cowboy operator to crash in a very public way before practicing this type of activity comes with felony charges. Remember, its all great footage until someone gets hurt- play safe out there.

  • Thanks for posting this. This is a beautiful flight and very exciting indeed.

  • So…… I don’t have to rent a copter for aerial coverage anymore……? :DDDDDDDDDD

  • Jaw dropping stuff! I wonder if our military has weaponized stuff like this too.

  • @Joe

    Are you sure those videos you just shared here all shot using GoPro?

    I think Robert had shared it before somewhere else and he did mention it was shot using DSLR. Correct me if I am wrong but I remember he shared this info previously somewhere at one of the replies at cheesycam.

    • The first one is definitely GoPro. Not as positive on the rest. If you can find out about the other ones, feel free to share it.

  • Wow! That is just amazing! I’ve hired an Octocopter a few times for shoots, but most pilots were afraid to do anything more than a simple 360 turn at 150 feet up in the air… or go beyond line of sight.

  • FPV stuff there indeed.

    Not the put guy down, put this stuff has been done so many times. From one of the real pioneers:

  • Chris Lambert on 03.11.13 @ 12:16PM

    How long until the paparazzi go and get these things banned for the lot of us? Just a matter of time until someone gets photos of Wil and Kate and the shit hits the fan

  • I think its important to identify these devices as “UAVs”, unmanned aerial vehicles (as classified by the FAA). Drones implies that they are death spying robots from above. The only way we are going to change public perception about the benefits of flying UAVs, is to help distinguish them from military drones.

    Here is a one of my more unique videos flying off a ski lift. Its really amazing what these things can do!

  • We raised buffalo growing up, that buffalo was not scared.

  • That’s pretty awesome! Some of those wrap around shots remind me so much of the video game camera in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3! Anyone remember that? And how the camera would follow you in large aerials?

    Very Cool

  • I’m thinking more something like this for my next shoot:

  • The shadow on this copter is definately NOT a DJI Phantom, I very much doubt you’d get footage that stable from one either. He’s done very well with video from a Go Pro in these videos.

  • Hi everyone. I have been planning to get one of these for two years now. I have been searching all over. I am still not sure if I can use one of these in NYC. I If I can use I want to buy one for the production company that I am planning to have. I even wrote to the sales department of one of these companies. They were friendly but still I couldn`t get the exact answer that I was looking for. They said It`s legal if I don`t go over 400 meter. They told me that There are companies in NYC using their drones. Actually the more important thing for me is that my being able to get the shot that is essential for ending of my feature film. I am writing it right now and planning to shoot it next year. The last scene takes place on a rooftop of a downtown skyscraper at night. My character is going to be left alone at the rooftop. I want to go higher, get away from my character and show the city from a bird eye view. If I can I want to use a drone to do that. If I am not permitted I can only think of placing my camera with a zoom lens on the rooftop of a higher building then zoom out and tilt up a little bit to show the city. Being able to shoot this scene with it is more important than having one for my production company. Do we need a permit or a license to use these drones in this kind of environment? Thanks everybody. Sorry for my English.

  • I live in Venice and yes the footage over ‘Muscle Beach’ was amazing. Keep in mind he did this early in morning, because in a few hours the lunatics will be out in full force. Also VB police sub-station is about 200 feet from the hand-ball courts. I’m sure after he got the shots, he packed up his gear and ran off. If ya don’t have permits cops will shut ya down out. Also the cops in Santa Monica definitely do not have a sense of humor, can’t believe you did a fly-through on the ferris wheel (that was awesome) but if ya got caught, say goodbye to your copter and gear.

  • Very nice and entertaining. I flew model airplanes for over 40 years. Mounted all kinds of small still cams and acivated them with RC servos. Come a long way from where I was. seems like one of the most advanced platforms I could find. Of course, the video link from air to ground, big stable copters with power, cost some good money. Next is developing the skill to fly them.
    But don’t forget the powered RC airplanes, and the various types of gliders from soaring to slope soarers who hug the cliffs and are very fast. A quarter scale cub, with electric power or a glider with a 15′ wingspan would be a nice stable platform. And a gimbal mounted camera with ground video, be really sweet.
    The new camera technology is getting me interested in flying again. With all thy gyro stabilization, and near vibration free power, it’s looking mighty inviting.

  • Well on his profile ( at Diy drones he quotes “all the outdoor A.P. footage made with a conrad 450arf.” And that he has been doing this for over a year.. Sounds like new hope…

  • Awesome collection here guys. I’d love these videos so much, I’ve added them to my list of top 10 aerial videography.

  • He recently put another video on vimeo:

    At beginning and end of the loop you can see him controlling it, might provide some insight as to setup. Cool cool stuff.

  • This site truly has all of the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  • If you are interested in quadcopter videos. Check out We post great quadcopter, hexacopter and multicopter aerial videos and showreels.

  • Pretty sweet videos and seriously impressive flying capabilities. Check out the drone depot for more info on these sweet toys.