May 3, 2014

Lighting from the Sky: A Drone-Mounted LED Illuminates the Mountains of Sweden

Aerial drones are quickly rising in popularity in the world of video production. Glorious aerial shots that would have once required an expensive helicopter rental are now possible with equipment that is relatively affordable for the masses. However, is it possible that these devices have untapped video-production potential outside of simply capturing footage, perhaps in the arena of aerial lighting? Swedish DP Simon Sjörén recently put this theory to the test by mounting high-powered LED's to a drone, while using another drone to capture the footage. Check out the process below!

In this epic BTS video, we see Sjörén and his fellow filmmakers using two Intuitive Aerial drones, one mounted with a RED EPIC and the other mounted with a high-powered LED from Digital Sputnik, in order to capture night skiing in a way that it has never been seen before.

Unfortunately, the finished video (or even just some example footage of the aerial lighting technique) isn't yet available, although we will certainly share it with you when it is.

This technique might seem as if it would have very few applications outside of capturing something like skiing at night. However, because these helicopters are becoming somewhat ubiquitous in the filmmaking world, the possibilities are only as limited as filmmakers' imaginations. I can see this technique being used in a multitude of night exterior situations where a heavy toplight is needed for wider angled framings. It could also be incredibly useful when lighting for specific effects, like a helicopter flying by with a large spotlight.

Of course, for narrative work these rigs might not be entirely practical for several reasons. First and foremost is crew safety, which is of utmost concern on most sets these days in the wake of the Sarah Jones tragedy. It usually takes a small army of people to make a narrative film, which greatly raises the safety-stakes when it comes to having equipment flying around. Second is sound. Most of these drones are loud enough to render production audio unusable, which could be a deal-breaker for many productions.

What do you guys think of this technique? Are there legitimate filmmaking applications for aerial lighting, or are rigs like these too problematic for narrative film work? Let us know down in the comments!

Link: A BTS Look at Using a Drone Mounted LED Rig to Light a Night Shoot -- PetaPixel

Your Comment

24 Comments

Enjoy playing with your drones now before the FAA regulates the shit out of them

May 3, 2014 at 9:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

+1000

May 3, 2014 at 10:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Adam

FAA regulation is a USA issue.

May 4, 2014 at 5:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nikos Mamalos

Nikos, guess where the two previous comment came from.

It is endeed an issue for the majority, (low budget productions).

May 4, 2014 at 10:29AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Edgar

Guess where all the visual culture in the world is made?

May 4, 2014 at 2:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

China? hehe

May 4, 2014 at 2:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Thats a very American way of thinking.

May 4, 2014 at 9:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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America bashing is getting kind of lame, yawn

May 5, 2014 at 7:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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been there

Pretty sure Greece banned them for commercial use. Same here in Australia unless you go out and get an actual pilots license. South Africa also banned.

May 4, 2014 at 6:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Spain too.

May 4, 2014 at 7:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mr.Floppy

The FAA already agreed that they have no say in civilian model aviation below 400 feet in the USA and have no law enforcement functionality whatsoever, so this is a non-issue. Why so negative toward aerial footage? It adds a lot of production value at a very low cost. Isn't that a good thing?

May 8, 2014 at 3:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Yeah. I think people are getting so sick of them, we're gonna start seeing people throwing rocks and stuff at them---they don't care if it's a GoPro or an Epic.

May 16, 2014 at 4:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Daniel Mimura

I think it's pretty cool. I could see myself using this in a heavily styled narrative.

May 3, 2014 at 11:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Michael

Could see myself using this as a practical effect, simulate a police helicopter. Pretty cool.

May 4, 2014 at 10:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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PayDro

OK, so you've got:
a skier going downhill in pitch darkness except for a wobbly blob of light that's trying to keep up with him and which probably makes it even more difficult for him to see what's in the gloom ahead or judge the terrain;
a setup where two hexacopter operators have a challenge finding a position from which to operate while maintaining line of sight;
then they have little to judge actual distance on; and to add to the challenge they have to follow the skier without hitting any trees or each other.
No wonder they haven't come back with any decent footage!

May 4, 2014 at 11:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Really cool but I'm WAY more interested in those LED's!

May 4, 2014 at 11:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Looks more like sth for border patrol: https://vimeo.com/91418140

May 4, 2014 at 5:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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SpartaBear

I'm all droned out...everyone and their monkey is an "aerial media company" now.
Plumber one week, aerial "filmmaker" the next. ha!

They sell these things to anyone.

Especially the average 45yr white male who thinks he's going to go out and make a ton of money doing real estate videos. Like he's the first to figure it out and do it. haha!

May 4, 2014 at 7:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nick

Not untrue, but it still is obvious that you've never tried it. Honestly, one of the most fun and addicting things I have ever done. I suggest anyone with ANY interest in video at any level try it out. Don't knock it until you've tried it. I said the same thing until I put that Go Pro SD card in the laptop for the first time...

May 4, 2014 at 9:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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+100!

May 8, 2014 at 3:38PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Where is the actual footage from this activity?? Doesn't look like they got a result from the video above.

May 4, 2014 at 9:15PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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No film? Well what did you expect from 'No Film School'. Just kidding!!

May 5, 2014 at 5:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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May 5, 2014 at 3:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Nick

What do I think of this idea? Well, it's a very interesting use of a brushless gimbal to support those LED lights! It gives me a couple tips to add to our inventory. I would personally prefer a soft spot light, something more diffuse than the one they used, but just personal preference.

As for ideas, you could fly several multicopters with powerful lights and possibly cover a bigger area as well. Also, another idea, get a good flashlight, install it on the bottom of your quad, get it up to 200-300ft altitude, and then yaw the craft 360 degrees continually, to create a nice beacon effect, or flying stars, or meteors, you get the idea.

Lastly, for those of us who are into tracking and CGI, I would use a DJI Z15 gimbal and shoot footage to be use later in our tracking software, alternatively you can also capture high res panoramic pics to create 2.5d projections later.

Plenty of uses.

May 15, 2014 at 1:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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