We've posted about minicopter-mounted cinematography before by the companies Helicam and omstudios -- both of which created some spectacular RED EPIC aerial shorts -- thought they require a rental/operation package. This is more simply to say that you can't purchase the minicopters directly from these companies. Recently, another impressive aerially-shot short has surfaced -- that's a bird's eye night view of a traffic circle (or rotary, or round-about, depending where you're reading from) at left. This time, the company supplying the minicopter -- czech manufacturer JamCopters -- actually has their quadrocopter, hexacopter, and octocopter for sale. Read on for some details and the beautiful and quieting FIREFLY short.

Having seen the video a bit out of context, I found myself immediately confounded by how the shots I was seeing were possible -- was this a combination of truck-mounted rigs, jib, the borrowing of some news helicopter, and some type of cable-running system? It quickly became clear there was no way to accomplish these shots other than with a remote-operated minicopter, which was exactly how it was done. Here's FIREFLY:

A bit of looking into JamCopters (Google translate is a godsend) finds a Mr. Jan Dojcan listed as the primary Czech contact for the company -- you may notice Dojcan is also listed as the the pilot and technical support advisor for FIREFLY. It must certainly have helped to use an operator so close to this type of gear -- the value of an experienced pilot really shows through in the quality of the moves achieved in the short.

Regarding how the short was accomplished, director Jan Minol of Samadhi Production had this to say in the comments on Vimeo:

It was filmed 22:00 - 3:00 so the streets were empty. It was shot with hacked GH2, lens Tokina 11-16 f2.8, sigma 30mm f1.4 and amazing hexacopter from jamcopters.com using Brutus camera head!

JamCopters has a number of gear available for purchase, not least of which include the Quadrocopter and Octocopter. Here's a beauty shot of the Hexacopter, the model used by this short, and the camera gimbal head Jan mentions above:


The Hexacopter goes for 49,900 CZK, which equates to about $2600, while the Brutus head goes for 19,900 CZK, which converts to a little over $1000. If you're unconvinced of what these types of minicopters can achieve, check out this demo video also posted by JamCopters:

Needless to say, the amount of finesse is incredible, combining all the best abilities of dollies and jibs, while adding mobility (and some danger in inexperienced hands, as well) to boot -- of course, a qualified flyer is necessary for such smoothness and safety. I'd also love to see how a DRAGON-equipped EPIC would've resolved those night-scapes -- but I do think the GH2 performed admirably, especially in terms of color representation.

What do you guys think of the short, and of the shots such minicopters are able to achieve? Do any of you have experience shooting with such devices, or been involved in a production where one would've been useful?