We've posted about cameras attached to RC helicopters before, but unlike that fraudulent Kickstarter campaign, there are legitimate companies pursuing the marriage of camera and RC helicopter. So, here's the lowdown -- folks in Germany and Finland have attached RED Epic cameras to remote controlled octocopters in a devious attempt to blow our minds. I've embedded two videos below. One shows the RED Epic being epically flown whilst attached to an octocopter. The second has ninjas. To be honest, the only thing that would have made this more internetishly savory would been if the ninjas revealed they were actually cats. All goofing aside, the stability and smoothness of the footage is pretty remarkable:
The first video is by an Estonian/Finnish company called Helicam Services Oy, they can fly "Canon 5Dmk II, RED Epic, Ikonoskop a-cam DII, Panasonic AF100, Canon C300 .etc The whole package starting from 2000 € / day" (that's around $2600). But no Arri Alexa, apparently it's too heavy:
The video caption notes that no post-stabilization was applied to the footage. That's pretty impressive. Of course, you have to be a very good, very experienced, pilot to achieve that kind of stability and smoothness. In case you are wondering, from the company's FAQ:
Q: How much it costs to buy such helicopter?
A: We are not in the business of selling them, but anyone can buy RC copter for about few thousand euros. To be able to use it for video, it takes
lots of customizing and literally years of practice! It important to understand that in wrong hands RC helicopter can be extremely dangerous.
So, yeah, there's that. Luckily, that's why the piloting service is part of the package.
The second video is the most recent offering from German visual effects company, omstudios. They made news last fall when they first started attaching RED Epics to octocopters. Judging from the earlier footage it looks like they have achieved much better piloting since then. Definitely worth watching the video to the end -- it really shows the kind of breathtaking shot you can achieve with this rig.
[Update: And now you can watch it in real(ish) time too! This looks like it might be sped up a tad in places.]
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/36091209
You can see more aerial footage shot by either company at their respective websites and on Vimeo (links below).
Have you experimented with attaching cameras to RC helicopters? Are there any companies doing this kind of thing here in North America? Do you think you would risk your $20,000 plus camera for that sumptuous shot? (Before you answer that, check out what happened to that Sony FS-100 Koo posted about.)
mind = blown
what an awesome place to shoot too
March 15, 2012 at 7:03AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
We offer Stabilized Octocopter Footage with the FS100 here in Switzerland, we even do 3D or HDR arial Footage with our special dual NEX 5N Rig. Contact us in case you are interested. But our rentable Scarlet-X stays on the ground not worth the risk. Pick your poison =)
March 15, 2012 at 7:05AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
We have just started getting aerials in our videos. It is extremely difficult to get smooth shots like that, not only does the pilot have to be great but you need almost perfect conditions. Not sure I would ever put a Red Epic up in the air, but the Gh2 is a decent aerial cam for around $1,000.
March 15, 2012 at 7:11AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I'm glad you said worth watching until the end, because I almost didn't. Once he starts climbing the stairs though I really started to dig, and the aerial shot on the roof was money.
As a short to demonstrate the helicopter's ability this was sick, I could see some really sweet stuff happening with this though.
March 15, 2012 at 7:16AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
very nice location.
but the footage is not that great.
its slow motion and software stabilized.
and rolling shutter does not help with this.
March 15, 2012 at 7:18AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Are you joking?
March 15, 2012 at 7:20AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I agree. It's pretty wobbly. I'd like to see it real-time. Also, I LOVE the katana pickup-fail @ 1:55... which kinda says something in itself - reluctancy to get another take, for whatever reason.
March 15, 2012 at 7:30AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Well this could have been the third or fourth take as it is, and the actors probably weren't getting paid so that might have been the reason :p
I think aombk is a tad harsh, but I do agree that the only thing this video has going for it is the helicopter footage (and the location), granted the whole POINT is to showcase that... but I think they could have had the other areas pull their weight too
March 15, 2012 at 7:33AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
That's about as stable as you can get with RC helicopters man. As someone who is just now getting into it, I would kill for those shots. It's some of the best RC aerial footage I have seen to date and I have watched a ton of examples over the years.
March 15, 2012 at 7:41AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
March 15, 2012 at 8:36AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Hey Luke are you picking up that 5d mk 3 or waiting for NAB to hopefully reveal a 4k dslr?
March 15, 2012 at 10:15AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I'm wandering back forth every single day. Scarlet, C300, mystery door #3. I am starting to settle on the Scarlet though.
March 15, 2012 at 8:01PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
lol, good catch on the katana pick-up fail. I also wonder what it would look like at normal speed instead of slo-mo. Pretty cool demo though.
March 15, 2012 at 9:07AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Amazing shots, but I still found myself wanting to see closer than they wanted to go (it's understandable not wanting to take chances with a $20 000 camera and a $?000 Octocopter.
But I think for a real movie it still needs a little more work. (says the guy who only dreams of playing with such toys)
March 15, 2012 at 7:59AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
There is a company which is located in Utah which specializes in aerial cinematography.
Their website is http://www.pixairpro.com
Check them out if you are interested in this sort of thing.
March 15, 2012 at 8:29AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
It's hard to get stable footage from most Octocopters since most Camera Platforms are either not stabilized or not well centered. The footage with our specially engineered Camera-Platform in combination with the amazing warp-stabilizer from adobe is very stable, and you could even stabilize it even more. check out this sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxJ7DAm0ozI&feature=related
March 15, 2012 at 8:41AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Those are some excellent shots. Since you asked about US operators, here is our company. We call all of the Western United States "home", but we operate world wide. Our latest clients included Casio watches in Utah, Specialized bikes in California, and Claro cell phones in the Dominican Republic. We have some of the most competitive rates in the industry and can travel on a moments notice.
On Location Aerial LLC (www.onlocationaerial.com) uses custom built radio controlled helicopters to lift cameras for stills photography and aerial video. Our helicopters are capable of carrying a wide range of stills and video cameras including almost all current DSLRs, and the latest in video cameras like the Sony FS100, Panasonic AF100, and Canon C300. Our helicopters are purpose built heavy lift machines, designed and tuned to smoothly and reliably carry almost all cameras in the sub 10 pound range.
We set ourselves apart from the competition by being one of the most experienced and dedicated 2 person crews operating the highest quality professional aerial video platform. As a husband/wife team we have made flying cameras our full time job for the last several years. We operate on large commercial sets just as comfortably as unsupported on remote location shoots. Our equipment can be packed into military style cases that can be flown on airlines, or backpacked into the most remote locations, where we can fly and film completely unsupported for several hours.
The other comments are correct, while buying a R/C helicopter and strapping a camera to it might initially sound easy, it actually takes years of hard work to both develop the building and tuning skills needed to get smooth shots, and to develop the flying skills needed for safe and consistent operation. I have a background in commercial aviation and over 2 decades of competitive R/C flying. My wife/camera operator/DP has an education in photography, vast experience with film photography and digital cinematography, and possibly more experience controlling the sophisticated electronically stabilized camera gimbal than almost anyone else on the planet.
demo reel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l9ujHUlf70
latest projects: http://onlocationaerial.com/projects.html
March 15, 2012 at 9:08AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
You want to know about a U.S. company that can fly Pro cameras. These guys may be the best!!! I have personally had the pleasure and privilege of watching these insanely talented guys fly Pro quality cameras, to obtain beyond pro quality footage! These dudes are the real deal! They're called Snap Roll Media. I first saw them work on the set of the Rodney Atkins "Back Road" music video, and have been mesmerized by their work since. Check out their reel here: http://snaprollmedia.com/2012-reel/
March 15, 2012 at 9:35AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Industrial ruins are quite the playground
March 15, 2012 at 11:32AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
i'm just nit picking, but a score would have been nice
March 15, 2012 at 11:51AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Here's a demo I shot a little while back. Octo with a DSLR, + parkour.
We operate in the US, and willing to travel.
March 15, 2012 at 1:19PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Wow those shots are smooth! I recently used rc helicopters in a parkour short film I directed. Coincidentally, the location is very similar to that ninja one. You can check it out here: http://vimeo.com/38426669
The camera on the micro-copter was a 7D and some of the shots were a bit wobbly but on the other hand, a lot of the shots are extremely smooth and you only really realise that it was a mini helicopter taking them when you wonder how the shot was taken. From my experience, the shots where the helicam was able to move quickly while shooting something were a lot smoother than when it was simply static. All the other shots in the film were taken with an EPIC on a steadicam and a RED M-X with some dolly shots on a 5d mkii.
March 15, 2012 at 1:20PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the FAA shut down RC's for commercial use recently?
March 15, 2012 at 1:43PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Amazing location, awesome operator. Almost looked CG at times, it was so smooth.
March 15, 2012 at 1:50PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
The Crane of God
March 15, 2012 at 1:58PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I would love to be able to get aerial shots. They especially look awesome when making a video for real estate or tourism. I still have yet to master using a Glidecam so I can imagine the time investment to get solid aerial shots.
I also, definitely agree that it would be cool to see the footage closer to the real speed. It looks cool slower at times but I think a faster pace would make the ninjas more exciting. I guess I'm just a huge fan of those long-cuts from Children of Men. The location was awesome, I would love to find stuff like that in my area.
March 15, 2012 at 2:38PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Technique for techniques sake usually doesn't work. A tripod mounted camera, with good editing, would have made for better action. The run-up-the-stairs was impressive for technique, but boring to watch.
Go rent some early James Bond films and see what well shot and edited action looks like. The Film School standard example is lighting a cigarette, you see the match struck then cut to match lighting cigarette -- no need to see the match lifted-up to the cigarette.
March 15, 2012 at 5:30PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
This game looks awesome is it playstation or PS3? That ninja could really use a power-up at about the third flight of stairs though.. he had the grab the hand-rail.
March 16, 2012 at 9:08AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Pacing was not great. I feel like the right edit on the speed would change things. Charlie Chaplin in some places (stairs for instance), Ninja Gaiden for the fights, and in general just a more speed ramp/300/video game approach would have your attention, or mine at least.. Also maybe more contrast in the CC? Too late now to put a white headband on him so the eye follows him easier...dude in black pajamas can be hard to light, authenticity bedamned.
Bitchen footage regardless.
March 16, 2012 at 11:31AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
The realtime footage was more interesting and kept up the pace. The camera work was top notch regardless of the editing.
March 16, 2012 at 8:38PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Hi Guys and Gals,
Thanks for the nice comments and thanks to NoFilmschool for featuring our clip!
Wanted to take part in the discussion to point out we're not really re-inventing the wheel here, but such Helicam stuff has been used in big budget hollywood movies alot for past 10 years. Pioneered by Emmanuel Prévinaire and his company Flying-Cam. They have been doing shots for the last 5 James Bond movies (as mentioned here) and their film credits are really something to awe at. Much respect! But they operate at the very high-end market, and where we aim is to help to do the same for aerial shots that Red One and Canon 5Dmk2 did for digital cinema cameras - bring them available to the larger groups of creative and indie film-makers, who operate below Hollywood mega budgets
Helicam Services Oy
March 17, 2012 at 1:38PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
That is some great footage! Have you heard of http://www.omstudios.de/ ? They film with the Red Epic and have a great behind the scenes video on their site.
We film aerial cinematography with remote helicams all over the world but we are based in New York. We have worked with Discovery, NatGeo, Science Channel and others. It certainly does take skill and hard work. We salute all of the successful companies doing it right!
March 18, 2012 at 1:01PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
Those are amazing devices. One of the biggest challenges for amateur film makers was always aerial shots until now.
October 9, 2012 at 5:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
The remote control helicopters get the shots that were not possible few years ago.
October 10, 2012 at 11:48PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM
I thik he is right....watch footage shot with a Zenmuse and a GH2 and then you will see what smooth footage looks like... ;-)
February 16, 2013 at 7:22PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
OM Copter really were the leaders in putting RED EPIC and similar film cameras on octocopter drones, we are huge fans of their work. Based in South Africa, we offer RED EPIC , 5Dmkiii, C300, and similar cameras on our octocopter drones here in South Africa to the commercial film industry. Some of our work at http://dronecrew.co.za/red-epic-drone/
We also salute all of the successful companies doing it right!
September 27, 2013 at 10:10PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Where is this shot!!?? What an amazing location, would love to know where it is.
October 3, 2013 at 2:19PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
great stuff! we've got the c100 flying mostly but up to the epic. you can check out our last 2 months work here on vimeo https://vimeo.com/103393517
August 22, 2014 at 8:57PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM