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Aerial GoPro Footage Shows What a Gold Rush Ghost Town Looks Like from the Air

Video thumbnail for vimeo video See What an American Goldrush-Era Ghost Town Looks from the Air - nofilmschoolBy now we’re well acquainted with the power of aerial cinematography, with both ‘big’ cameras and small — and, conversely, big copters and small copters. Results can range from strikingly beautiful to beautifully haunting, and anywhere in between. Even (or especially) with a GoPro! Now, Aaron Grimes and Russell Brown have combined the disembodied perspective of aerial photography with the strangely deserted modern ruins of an historical Californian mining town. Meet Bodie, CA by way of the GoPro HERO3 and DJI Phantom quadcopter.

“A town in a ‘state of arrested decay,’” Bodie is considered “the official state gold rush ghost town” as Gizmodo points out. As such, plenty of people find themselves in Bodie each year, but always as tourists, never as residents. According to Wikipedia, the town’s deserted and decaying nature makes it “a popular destination for organized night photography, emphasizing the eerie nature of the park.”

Though Aaron and Russell’s piece was shot when the sun was up, that eerie nature is not lost on the viewer. On the contrary, Bodie looks as breathtaking and bizarre in the daylight, when you would expect to see signs of any kind of life. Check out, through the lens of a GoPro HERO3: Bodie – From the Sky:

An aerial view of California’s best ghost town. Filmed with a DJI Phantom and a Zenmuse H3-2D on a GoPro Hero 3. The settings on the GoPro were 2.7k with ProTune on. Edited in Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Photoshop. Filmed by Russell Brown and Aaron Grimes.

It has been clear that HERO3 footage is not only good enough to intercut with “better” digital cinema cameras — which in itself is a great thing, especially if a GoPro is the only way you can shoot aerially — but that it’s capable of achieving just plain beautiful material in its own right. I think Bodie stands to further solidify these sentiments.

Thanks for the heads-up Aaron!



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  • The footage from the GoPro looks actually very beautiful, whoever did this video is very skilled and I tip my hat to them, great job.

  • While the CableCams don’t have the same range – height or distance – as the RC Copters, they are capable of supporting heavier cameras at the moment. Their smooth movement is likewise similarly impressive.

    PS. The same fellas also have a MoVi type brushless motor stabilizer that can support Red Epic as well. Add the wheeled dolly on top of that and all you can say is “wunderbar”!

  • Didn’t find the video itself to be very good, but I’m fascinated by this town now!

    • Very interesting! Why exactly did you not find it very good? What do you think made it ‘less good’ or what could have been improved for it to be ‘good’ or ‘very good’?

    • Geoff Longford on 08.15.13 @ 6:06PM

      I’d like to see all of your aerial work.It must be very,very good.How about people start to put there money where their expert mouths are.Seems to be a hell of a lot of armchair experts out there who like to criticise and make comments without any backup.

  • Wow. This is freggin incredible work with a phantom. The gopro3 footage is unreal.

  • Dang, that video was too short! That church is a beautiful structure. :-)

  • Wow, impressive work! Go pro 3 and Zenmuse h3 2d are ment to be toghether!. I have the same set up here in Santiago de Chile and this is my first “aerial reel” hope you like it guys!

  • What color grading software did you use?

    • Aaron Grimes on 08.13.13 @ 11:51PM

      Hey Andres everything was color corrected in After Effects. If I had more time I probably would have played with it in Resolve but I was in a hurry.

      • Does the editing software on the GoPro web site work good for you?

      • 0:20 to 0:23 look so good! GoPro is good with sun on landscape. It reminded me of how good the sun looked on the dirt in this video:

        [ ]

      • Aaron, have you tried or consider trying different sub/compact size cameras like Sony NEX series or Samsung’s new NX 300?

        • Hey DLD, I’m am quite sure the DJI Phantom can’t lift the Sony NEX with a lens. Don’t really know the NX series either, but guessing the NX 300 is in a similar situation to the Sony NEX range.

          People have modded the DJI Phantom to lift a RX100, but it requires a lot of trickery, and it is a lot less stable and has a reduced fly time.

          • Aaron Grimes on 08.16.13 @ 7:42PM

            Yea the Phantom has trouble as is with the gimbal and everything. I need to graduate to a bigger copter hahaha

  • Oh Dear, More GoPro rubbish. Crystal sharp does NOT mean great image. The hideous distortion is painful. This regular low-budget Phantom aerial pap where they cannot even organise their flight path to avoid the MR’s shadow is stereo-typical of the thousands of video-from-the-air – I hesitate to use the expression Aerial Photography as I do not want to besmirch such an admirable profession – clips that clog up YouTube/Vimeo etc.

    The Phantom and GoPro are cheap, which means they are more readily available to an even wider section of erm … ‘Film Makers’. There are decent quality clips from educated, film orientated folks who spend money on proper gear, i.e. bigger, better cameras and bigger, better airframes, why don’t you ever show those?

    You always show GoPro rubbish.

    • Haters gotta hate. Your initials say it all, MF!

    • Aaron Grimes on 08.16.13 @ 7:39PM

      You lost me at BESMIRCH… hehe

      I feel that clips from “educated, film orientated folks” who have “bigger, better cameras and bigger, better airframes” deserve to be posted on “” as opposed to “”. And for the record I left the shadow in there on purpose because I thought it was cool, forgive my poor taste.

      Kudos for using the word “pap” BTW, you’ve expanded MY vocabulary.

    • Wow, that is… You sir are pretentious. Technology increases over time, get out of the new road if you can’t lend your hand. That is all

  • seth.iamfilms on 08.16.13 @ 9:20AM

    Man, that gopro footage does look quite gorgeous considering. Some wonderful shots in there. From an editing standpoint tho the “film” itself takes a dip when using the lesser takes. WOuld work better shorter, or replace the shots with plane shadows, and iris issues. Just took me out of it. As far as everything else goes, there are some wonderfully captured shots.

  • Geoff Longford on 08.16.13 @ 11:07PM

    What does MF stand for.I have a pretty good idea.Go armchair critic go.

  • I think the video is way cool and it’s quite a testament to the exponential growth of video equipment the last few years. Great job!

  • Aaron,

    Do you normally shoot at 2.7 also wondering if you shot at 60P? Great work!