"Lights, Aerial Camera, Action!" 

PictureImage by Adam Pass
The 3rd pre-Photoshop World workshop about aerial photography and videography was all about getting lots of stick-time, flying in 110F heat over an awesome Ghost Town,  and learning from some very talented instructors. And it was a ton of fun too... 

While Mark was chosen to be the Guru of Repairs and Q&As, I got to lead an all-female pilots group. 

I had suggested that all female pilots should be in one group. No, not because they need extra attention but it had been my experience that one gets better results by taking that "competition" and "intimidation" factors between male and female pilots out. 
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Image by Adam Pass
In a previous class I had a mix of female and male pilots and there was some tension between them, as the guys were trying to show off and the female pilots were just so very precise in their maneuvers, resulting in the guys getting even more aggressive. So having an all female group was the optimal solution - in my opinion. 

Of course you never know how something plays out until you are standing in the middle of it; in this case, in the middle of my group of trainees. The moment we were all together, I had a feeling that this would just be one awesome class. 

I had the privilege of working with Abbe, Anette, Devin, Dianna, Kim and Stacy. They showed lots of patience and desire to learn something very new. Stacy had flown before and even shot some incredible shots with her original Phantom without any FPV capabilities. It truly was a joy to see them develop their skills throughout the day.  
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Image by Adam Pass
When you have any group with a wide skill level, you pretty much have to cater to the one with the lowest skills and bring those skills up to the level where the rest of the group is. That is not always fun as not everyone is getting the same amount of focus and attention.

In our case we had a very even skill level between our six ladies and that made leading the workshop a lot of fun. I was able to go over some of the basics and still capture everybody's attention and keep them busy.

As I mentioned earlier the goal of the workshop was to have a final movie with segments shot from each and every group. For that we also practiced a few maneuvers - but before you can master any maneuver in mid-air, you really have to learn how to take off and how to bring back your machine first.

Note: The final movie can be seen at the bottom of this post. 

We spent some time doing just that before we "dove" into some of the aerial videography maneuvers; we practiced landing. Landing in a designated area, landing despite some gusts. Landing under pressure of low batteries, no FPV etc. And so it was to no surprise that it was suddenly 4 PM in the afternoon and we had not yet shot one single second of video. 
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Image by Adam Pass
So now it was time to start flying the DJI Phantom Vision+. Up until this point we had practiced with the original Phantom, then upgraded and flew the Phantom Vision and learned about FPV (First Person View) flying via the iPhone. 

It was remarkable to see the difference in flying capabilities between the original Phantom (with the latest DJI self tightening props) and the much more powerful Phantom Vision. Since there were some gusts, all my students did extremely well with that upgrade and seemed to be flying with more confidence. 
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Image by Adam Pass
Other groups were buzzing all over Nelson capturing some really great views. And once our team starting to roll and shoot footage, it really became a party. I had already envisioned a couple of shots that I wanted the ladies to get and so we practiced those. One was from behind the town, over the mountain ridges to the side of Nelson, flying straight over the town to the other side. That one turned out really good! Another one was flying straight up towards Nelson and over the most eastern barn, just barely over the roof. Challenging but a ton of fun. 

Then we moved location to execute the last shot. The "Killer-shot"! We moved to the western part of the Ghost Town. At that area the shadows of the mountains was covering the town first. 

The light was just great and it was now time to take something else out of my bag of surprises... it was time to fly with the EPSON Moverio BT-200 glasses. If you are not familiar with them - these are see-through glasses which also display the view of the camera; right in front of your eyes. The big advantage is that you still see what is going on around you, and you see what your aerial machine is seeing - both at the same time! If you want to learn more about them - go here. 
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Image by Jennifer St. James
One of the most memorable moments was when Abbe put on the Moverios and for the first time saw the beauty of FPV flying through glasses. Her first words were "Oh fuck!". - I couldn't blame her for that expression as this is pretty much what I said the very first time I put on goggles and was flying at the same time. 

Once everyone got a chance to fly with this FPV set-up, we wrapped up for the day and joined the rest of the workshop teams. We ended up being the last team still out in the heat, flying and capturing the beauty of the sun setting over the desert. 
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Write-ups about the Event 

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Wonderful ESPON blog write up "Drones on a Plain" by Jennifer St. James. 

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Abby Lyle's blog "Bringing the Passion Back to the Workday! - Work Hard Play Hard" was inspired by her attendance at our workshop. 

  

The Final Movie "Take Flight in Nelson"

OUTTAKES 

Video by Randy J. Braun - the one and only! 
 


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