April 2, 2015

The Phantom Flex 4K Was Just Flown on a Drone for the First Time Ever

Brain Farm Phantom Flex 4K Drone Footage
What do you get when you cross one of the world's most advanced high-speed, high resolution cinema cameras with a custom-built drone? Only the coolest aerial footage ever.

The folks at Brain Farm have been pioneering action sports cinematography for years. Their work on epic films like That's It That's All and The Art of Flight has quite literally redefined the entire field and set the bar for quality cinematography higher than most of us can imagine. They were also amongst the first to take advantage of the Phantom Flex 4K and its mind-boggling 1000fps 4K output. However, there was one thing that even Brain Farm had yet to do: launch the Phantom Flex 4K into the sky.

This absurdly awesome video shows us how the Brain Farm team managed to make this amazing technological feat -- one previously previously thought impossible due to the weight limitations of most drones -- come to life.

Here is a brief snippet from the BTS post on Brain Farm's site (which has some absolutely incredible photos of the whole operation):

Brain Farm Phantom Flex 4K Drone Footage
Credit: Andy Bardon

"Brain Farm unveils the latest weapon in their already impressive arsenal of cinematic technology. Capable of shooting  at 1000 frames per second at a resolution of 4K, The Phantom Flex4K is one of the worlds most dynamic slow motion cameras. Until now the images captured by the Phantom Flex 4K have been limited by the camera’s weight. Simply put: It’s too heavy for most drones to carry. For 5 years, Brain Farm’s CEO, Curt Morgan, dreamt of ways he could capture the same super slow motion images from the sky. The solution came when Brain Farm and Swedish drone manufacturers Intuitive Aerial joined forces to create the first UAV capable of carrying the heavy weight of the PhantomFlex4k."

Honestly, this is a jaw-dropping advancement in what we can do and where we can go with these larger high-speed cameras, and it's an incredible technological achievement, even by Brain Farm's ridiculously high standards. Granted, this rig would likely cost upwards of a quarter of a million dollars, so it's probably not going to find much use outside of specialty cinematography companies like Brain Farm for some time to come. Still, technology is progressing faster than most of us could ever imagine. Who knows, in five years time, perhaps all of us will be capturing high resolution, high-speed footage from the sky. In the meantime, however, we'll just have to watch as Brain Farm explores this new frontier.      

Header Photo: Andy Bardon

Your Comment

27 Comments

insane! so cool

April 2, 2015 at 9:48PM, Edited April 2, 9:48PM

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Kyle Lamar
Director Producer DP
948

True, but on the glass half full side at least they didn't have to build a crane to get those shots

April 3, 2015 at 12:21AM

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Very cool in theory, but it's a bummer they only used it to get a shot that you could easily get with a crane or jib. I'm not sure what application for this type of camera would be both interesting and practical though. Aviation shots, maybe? Windmills? Anyone else have any ideas?

April 2, 2015 at 11:07PM

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I believe the term is proof of concept. This was $250K rig being used for the first time. Of course you want to do something simple in a controlled environment. I wouldn't want to be at the controls. That's a big ass insurance claim if something goes wrong.

As for what type of shots this would be useful for, well I'm sure there are a few... Action movie sequences being the easy one, nature documentaries, would love to see volcano explosions at high speed in totally unsafe perspectives. How about research films for scientists who want to study birds in actual flight. Industrial uses, how about putting out oil well fires, wouldn't it be great if the fire fighters could get an up close view and then use high speed video to get a better understanding of the dynamics of what is actually going on then use that info to better inform their response.

I would think this just increased the size of the box of what is possible that we all need to think a bit outside of.

April 3, 2015 at 2:31AM

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Have you ever tried setting up a crane or jib while in the snow in steep terrain? it takes a whole day for one or two shots, riders get bored and motivation is low.

shooting like this riders can do as they please with minimal waiting time between setups, this applies to any action sport.
As for feature films, the same applies, knock off way more shots in less time, saves tonnes of money.

April 8, 2015 at 4:53AM

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Totally true - It was pretty awesome to take it for a "test" flight but it would be great to see it put to real use and take full advantage of that Camera/Copter Combo.

April 25, 2015 at 6:55PM

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JJ Sereday
Director/Cinematographer/Editor
26

This makes sense if you flew really fast tracking a vehicle at insane high speeds. Extremely dangerous but the results would be awesome.

April 2, 2015 at 11:17PM

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Caleb Rasak
Camera Operator / AC
339

Would love to see THIS flying through a fireworks display...!

Other than that, I kind of tend to agree with some previous comments - ended up getting shots that could have been acquired with other pre-existing tools. Still, it's cool that they did it (though it seems a little sad that *this* was one guy's dream for 5 years now... but I digress).

April 3, 2015 at 12:22AM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
2120

Do any drones have programmable flight patterns that you could set? That way I just press a but and it re does the same flight path exactly all the time? Kind of like motion control.

April 3, 2015 at 1:21AM

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Vincent Gortho
none
537

Many drones let you set waypoints via Google Maps and they will follow that flight path. But even the early DJI Phantoms have a flight mode that will let you fly a path, then pull back on the stick and it will return on the same path, so you could accomplish something similar.

April 3, 2015 at 10:55AM

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Lathan Hopsecker
Multimedia Specialist
161

Ohhh wow, this looks incredible... now this needs to be used with our 4K Bullet Time rig! :)
http://www.newworlddesigns.co.uk/case-studies/land-rover-bullet-time-tv-...

April 3, 2015 at 4:12AM

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Ian Wright
Bullet Time/Time Slice Photography Specialist
74

WOW! Far out! Who needs a techno-crane. Great first flight!

April 3, 2015 at 6:33AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
884

Not trying to be a buzz-kill, but that same shot could have been obtained from a crane. No?

April 3, 2015 at 10:55AM

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Torrey Rogers
Filmmaker
178

True, but technocranes can take from hours up to a full day to set up, depending on size. This setup might offer reduced setup and more flexibility, as long as you don't need audio.

April 3, 2015 at 12:04PM

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Chuck McDowell
1st AC
548

But this one took 5 years to set up...

April 4, 2015 at 2:46PM

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Thomas Koch
Director/DoP
280

I love how the stunt driver wants to stay anonymous....

April 3, 2015 at 11:37AM

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Rob Wilton
DoP
308

Why ?

April 3, 2015 at 11:46AM

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Very underwhelming. Put the cam on a crane or a dolly and you get the same results.

April 3, 2015 at 11:45AM

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Did you see the handshake they where about to have at the end. It's called the "StickShift" It's where one person puts up the high 5 and the other puts up the fist. Instead of a high 5 or fist bump, the high 5'er slaps the fist and wraps around their hand like a stick shift . It's a pretty awesome handshake when used properly!

April 3, 2015 at 1:19PM, Edited April 3, 1:19PM

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asa martinez
Camera Movement Tech, Camera Operator
108

This is very cool - and the results are beautiful. But, 5 years to develop? My partners and I were flying drone 16 pound 35mm cameras on 3 axis stabilized mounts 25 years ago.
http://ericdustrude.com/public/gadgets/PegasusSixFlags.jpg

April 3, 2015 at 2:41PM

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Very nice rig !

April 5, 2015 at 4:52PM

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Nice setup. What kind of blades were you spinning, and was that a gasser or a nitro? I used to have a 800mm gasser made by Century helicopters (the one in my thumbnail), and that thing was big, yours look like 2x bigger!

April 7, 2015 at 5:02AM

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J. Fandino
Drone sales at www.providentialsystems.com
86

Thanks for your input - this was a custom built machine, running a (now discontinued) Tartan Super Twin gasoline engine. The blades were made for us by Tech Specialties - don't remember the size/weight, but the overall rotor system diameter was about 6'6".
Here's an interview I did around 1994 or 95:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQw7KnmSfgs

April 13, 2015 at 11:22AM

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I hate to be a Debbie Downer but I wish they would have done something that better illustrated the coolness of the technology. Splashing a truck through a puddle is not "jaw-dropping" or "absurdly awesome".

April 3, 2015 at 5:14PM, Edited April 3, 5:14PM

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William Stewart
Director of Photography
534

These drones are great and all but the best remote controlled aerial work is being done by a bunch of guys in France called Soul Cam who use miniature blips instead of Octocopters. The grace of their work is pretty much unmatched but they can only do it when the wind is just right.

https://vimeo.com/user18000421

Pretty mind blowing stuff.

http://soulcam.net/en

April 4, 2015 at 12:26AM

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This looks very interesting, thanks for the share!

April 6, 2015 at 4:29AM

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PJ Palomaki
Cinematographer | Motion Graphics
423

It's enjoyable seeing companies pushing the creative envelope in cinematic/video production.

April 8, 2015 at 1:50PM

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Matt Blick
Owner/Producer
81

Enough with the drones and slo-mo. It can make something boring a little more interesting, and yeah, there's a time and place for each tool, but that seems to be the focus way too much both on here and in the filmmaking community as a whole. This stuff is just not that interesting.

April 11, 2015 at 12:04AM

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Daniel Mimura
DP, cam op, steadicam op
2119

This is really cool, but it was funny how much they hyped it up. Yeah, like they didn't test it in the studio with some weight before attaching the camera.

April 14, 2015 at 11:29PM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
341