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Taking Flight: Drone Photography & Video

Lesson 10 of 23

Advanced Aerial Photo w/ Stephen Wheatcraft


Taking Flight: Drone Photography & Video

Lesson 10 of 23

Advanced Aerial Photo w/ Stephen Wheatcraft


Lesson Info

Advanced Aerial Photo w/ Stephen Wheatcraft

I want to bring on a friend of mine and an amazing photographer uh he does nature photography um and it's a steven we craft steven come on how you doing good through good and you've you've done you've done you know quite a bit of flying with it with different levels of craft you've got a um you got a little phantom that you you take out and that's like your pocket pocket pistol you can take that out and just send it up whenever you pull artillery con yeah it's just a quick and dirty way of getting getting some good footage I've seen some of your shots from that and they look really impressive means so yeah you can you can you can you don't get some nice we'll get some very nice stuff huh yeah the phantom's yeah booth vision plus a swell is the one with the gold go pro yeah definitely but we're here in this segment to see your s one thousand and you've got a five d mark three on their credits right right kanan kanan five mark three right so uh we're gonna turn it over to you to kind of ...

show us your gear but uh you really show us how you use it to get some some of these spectacular shots both stills and video and what makes this particular copter really unique is the gimbal that's under in the way that you can maneuver it, manipulate it remotely it doesn't just stabilize, but it does other things and I think that's what really helped us get some of those shots sad plus this cock that the copter is big enough to carry the right with camera soft hey sound off! Even though it's our wind today and it's really, the wind doesn't look isn't isn't as bad as it looks or feels. I mean, we've been measuring it and it's really not that bad we've flown together, actually and stuff a little a little higher. So I think this is this is exciting, so I'm gonna turn over to you, okay? And let's go out and take a look at your copter. Okay? Yeah, let's. Just take a look at it first and, um, get an idea. Try to keep proving over thing I don't want to. So this is ahh d j I s one thousand, uh octo copter. So has eight roaders. It's, all carbon fibre. Um, the batteries alone weigh just about as much as the whole copter does. There. Literally. There bricks the two batteries here. Um, but with those batteries, you get about eighteen minutes of flight time. And so the copter really has a number of parts, it has a flight controller, it has a gps unit. Uh it has a transmitter for both the video as well as the radio signals to control the copter itself and then of course it has thie gimbel that is what the camera mounts on and so once we get airborne we'll talk about the gimbal and what it does is it allows you to get, uh very stable video as well a ce really sharp still images right so I like to call it my four hundred foot high tripod that's exactly how these hard it gets the point of view it any other way way love about these things get really rough in my view it's going to revolutionize uh landscape photography among all these other things that we're talking about here over these two days but as a landscape photographer up until these copters came along you ninety nine percent of last game photography was done within ten feet of the ground maybe twenty feet if you've got a platform on your lander over something um but so now suddenly you can think about landscape photography in the third dimension and while that opens up a lot of possibilities it also gives you the possibility of making taking a lot of bad shots as well I have to figure out howto I could pull the weight from the challenge well but that's why we get to shoot digital now it's not like the old days it was like you hope that came out right digital and especially with that tv we can line up the shots we want to get and you haven't you have a choice before he even really for you pull the trigger so I know there's several different shooting mode you can do on this I'm gonna let you go through that I think ultimately there's a few shots that you want to try to get here with the beautiful bliss dance statue over here ah and also this spectacular view of san francisco here with the bridge um there's a couple of great shots you can line up and uh well on lee seon f tv black and white on life because that's our feet right now but you're going to be able teo so so bye because because of our technology here way only have a black and white feed but you're gonna be able tio give me some some data some shots uh then I can then show the class in the morning sure well we'll be recording video throughout the flight the grave of high definition video that's not a problem I'm gonna turn it over to you and I guess because of the wind we're picking up a lot on the mic you know keep your back to the bay and um okay, well let me think okay well the first thing we have to do I've prepped everything on the copter up to act actually activating you know, the the batteries are plugging batteries in. So before we do that, we have to come over. And like everyone else, we have to turn the transmitter on first, and I've already preset it. The transmitter actually has count down and count up timers so that I can keep track of my time in the air. Um, the the time in the airs, about eighteen minutes. But what you really keep track of on your on screen data is the voltage of the battery, which goes from about twenty five down to about twenty two. So you have three volts of range, and so it's it's kind of tricky to keep track of that sometimes. And so then the other thing I do is just check and make sure all my switches are in the proper position and they are so now I can go arm the copter. You're saying that record now cracked. That's correct? Sometimes there's a glitch in it will start reporting that stops and you have to restart it. It's technology. But some of the other things you do for prepping for flight um, well, one of the important things you do it is not every flight, but probably every five flights or so I go over the entire copter and check. All the screws and make sure they're tight great especially the ones on the landing gear because it doesn't do much good if you put your landing gear up and it will come back down it's a problem so I've gotten this glitch I've got to go reset the recording and that's something that apparently has happened with cannons from time to time is bill they'll kick kick out a recording mode automatically and you just have to restart it can you do that by power off and then on again yeah I just I just I just want to live you got you got you huh well you see now I can see so that's good and you up and we got a red button shows that it's reporting so just to go over a little bit of the telemetry that you get the upper left hand corner is the voltage on the copter twenty five point four volts means it's it's it's fully charged and it's going to go down to uh twenty two point two volts approximately and that you need to be landing at that point or have before that um on the left you've got uh distance from your takeoff point to where the copter is and then under that is the height that is the altitude um this one is all in meters but I'm used to that because uh other life has a geophysicist I'm pretty used to the metric system um and then you have a variety of things you've got vertical air speed on the right you've got the number of satellites you see a little satellite image here and then twelve shows I have twelve satellites um and uh then you've got actually measurements of pitch and roll in the diamond which I think romeo and mark were talking about earlier that tells us that the copters right out in front of us um so I think we're uh actually ready tio tio start the motor so I always go through a procedure for safety in which I especially when there's people around I say uh starting motor so everyone I want to announce that I'm starting the motors then I go through what I call a cycling check on the ground and I just give it some forward pitch some backwards pitch left and right and that tells me that the copter is at least qualitatively responding properly um and at that point if that works right then I say lifting off and I'm gonna lift off waken talk about me I'm gonna move it out a little further that big bucks so the idea is to do landscape photography and cinematography so what makes this aircraft so good at doing that well keep your eye on the camera and watch what happens when I do very sharply left very sharply right notice the camera is still horizontal and that's because of the gimbal the gimbal is in real time, counter acting, the pitch, roll and yaw so that pitching is pitch forward or back. Roll isn't left to right, and y'aii is a pan or rotation, so the left stick controls the throttle. If I go up or I go down, and then a ballistic also controls the yacht or rotation. So there's a, uh, counterclockwise and a clockwise role, and then the right stick is, I call it the cycling after the helicopter, uh, terminology and so forward on the right stick takes you forward backward takes you backwards, left takes you left, and then, right. Um, so that is, uh, basics of the copter and the gamble, but we can talk more about the gimbal in what it does. Yeah, well, you're doing the shots. If you want to set up a specifically shot, you know, how do you move that gamble and you can rotate the gamble independent of the craft yeah let me just bring it a little closer and I'll put it in free mode and now I'm rotating just the gimbal but I could also rotate the copter in the other direction it doesn't affect what the gimbels doing it all way independent waken see on our f b screen feet that it's uh spinning around yeah so now there's three modes that the gimbal can operate in again let's get it a little further out way uh easier just to talk yeah that's uh that's an angry bird yeah speaking of angry birds I see the sea eagles around again today you tried it out yesterday they were used to getting attacked by siegel's they do not like it they don't like it it reminds him of something really bad. So uh so that was basically three modes of operation for the gamble which is again what helps you get the kind of shots both video and stills church you want? Um if if you're I have this set up in what's called single pilot mode meaning I am both the pilot and the photographer you can set it up in a dual mode where you have two of these controllers one person is the pilot of the copter and the other person is completely independently controlling the the camera with the gimbal um so eso basically most of the time when you're flying you leave it in what's called the f p v mode first person view mode and in that mode the gimbal is just stabilising the camera it's not moving the camera and the camera will move you know if I rotate left the camera will rotate left if I rotate right same thing you're gonna see a rotation but if I say I want to just focus on um let's say I want to focus on the city view here I can put that into free mode and now if I rotate the copter noticed that my see my first just like right all right it's almost like a laser you see the little diamond go by scripts so the copter I can rotate it as fast as I want and it really it's moving a little bit in the wind but it's certainly not rotating that's easy yeah it's pretty amazing so now it's actually the diet is showing it's pointing back towards me so okay so that's um that's the so called free mode which means that you basically you can orient the camera towards a spot and then it's it's gonna just stay locked on that spot um the f p v mode is really just so that the camera and the and the copter like literally acting is as a unit together and there's a third mode that's a bit of a hybrid called the limit mode and in the limit mode I can go ahead and say I want him actually the best use for it to be honest let me, uh let me re re set it so that it's it's facing forward on the copter okay, so the best use for it really is to do a pan down like this and now it's going to stay in that position and but it will rotate with ok but you're going to stay in the in the pan position now if I also rotate the camera in this position but the copter stand the copter stay still and now the cut now basically the camera's pointing you know, out to the left and the copters well pa copters actually pointing right for us but it still goes with the copter so you can't so this is really good but see if I put it in tow f p v mode then what happens is you're you're stuck with that just straight and just straight up okay, so so I put it in limit mode when I wantto face just a little bit down let's actually look at the statue and um I got to make sure my pan is not panning okay, so now we're gonna go out and I kind of get a little closer to the statue what shot it is that we're going for again yeah so now let's let's get some point you want you want to forget you can't really forget about being a pilot but at some point you want the copter itself to disappear and now this is your camera just moving the camera right? And so I'm saying, well, I want a line up a shot of course we're limited here this isn't where I would normally be to try to show shoots in portfolio shots it's not like being at moto lake or something, but this statue is particularly interesting so I'm thinking that we could get a shot with a composition that has the statue in the foreground and then in the inner the intermediate distance, the palm trees and then the far background will be the city right? And so you got you got your three parts your composition is short, intermediate and distance so let's just see if we can line line a shot like that. Uh uh I'm gonna get on the other side of the uh, you know, on the other side of this thing just a reminder, folks out there that what they're seeing at home is the f b b beat and not the quality of the right way seeing thiss this capture, this is, uh might be mark three so you can imagine the capture is quite clean this ftv free feed has two things going against it. One is that gets a little radio transmitter it just helps you line up your shots. Most part it's not really anything that you would use it in a mile fact right? And we're also trying tio funnel it with our, uh all of our other feats. Uh, we've got a body cam feed everything to, uh, having a little trouble with reception. We could fix that. I think that that's it yeah. You know, I've got I've got I've got basically so now I'm gonna move forward a little bit to be careful not to get too close to the the wires and they were gonna come down see that's why you want a line of sight? Yeah, well, is yeah, it's just you're not gonna see those wires to see a wire and you're gonna run right into wires. Yeah, I was flying in iceland a few months ago and ran into almost ran into a power line. I came so close that in the video, the power line is this thinking that you actually it's on one of my youtube videos, so they tipped it. So this this is kind of a nice composition because in the foreground you have the statue, the palm trees lead your eye away from the statue and off to the bridge and the bridge, then lead your eye off too skyline in the distance so you have a nice s shape to your opposition and that's a good time to basically convict is still so we're taking video the whole time but if I flip this switch then up and it goes back down it returns I'll just take another one and you know you're taking a picture because for about two seconds or so your feed disappears so you know, you're getting a still shot and then the other thing I think we'll do for fun is uh to take ah pano panorama so I'm gonna rotate a little bit to the left I mean here it's not gonna be that good because you're looking at the streets and but you know, it'll be in and you know, it looks like illustrative so that will be fine um so let's take a shot there and then we'll rotate you didn't do about a third rotation take another shot you want about seven either five or seven share too three, four and five okay, so that and I can stitch that together here to you later that you see how what is it that easy? And so basically those five still shots will go into photoshopped uh photo shop doesn't really nice automatic job maybe it's still minute manipulation, but it's pretty easy to do not too much with this camera, because with the gopro's, we've got such a uh, uh, the barrel distortion of the wide field of view. Uh, you have to actually do let's correctional before you start stitching it. Otherwise, you get this really strange uh, strange fishing effect, but it looks like printed on ribbon candy, but this lands which lands are you shooting? Twenty four mil? Twenty four mil lens it's a fix it's not a surprise. Twenty four prime. So we're not going to get that much barrel distortion on the horizon, so this will stitch really nicely in photo show. Oh, yeah, they it's really does a nice job of it. So I I actually afford it doing this shot it's stitching it together. So so that's um, you know, so you have a question, put him through that summarize that panel shot because we haven't done any of those yet today. Oh, yeah, and so and we've seen a lot of those and some of the examples earlier, so you were taking the five shots, but you were what was it that you were if you verbally talk through like that, what was it that you were looking for when you turned to make sure you were getting the right five shots, so you get an idea of that? With that you want for your panorama and then you wrote et I always go left to right because that's the way we read so you know it's like naturally don't have tio so then I I rotate but little further to the left and where is I want the left boundary of the shot to be and then I and then I take the shot and then I rotate enough so that there's about a third of the screen moves off a third of the shot moves off the screen then I take another one and I repeat that process similar to if you were on the ground yeah it's exactly the same way around men two isto have for that is because you know it used to be off the certain land fifteen degrees and all of that but with this we were doing a kind of my sight you always use the third's rule you're you're gonna have enough overlap without too much overlap too much overlapping mess it up so so just to bring it back I'm going to show another feet if you want to jump to another issue right again you know this is a you know there's fifteen thousand dollars in the arab there yeah and you wanted to come back in one piece out right that's really your only goal is to get it back in one piece and so there's a lot of things you can do first of all there's a fail safe that similar to the kinds of things called and talked about this morning if I flip this switch let's say I lost track of it it's like fifteen hundred feet away oh my god I can't even see it which happens a lot then you just say okay I'm gonna flip it to fail safe although that's not the first thing you do but it's one of the things you could do and you put a fail safe on and they will come back and land right where it took off because it records it's home position is it takes off as a gps coordinates but really the best thing to do before the failsafe is your last option so the better option is to switch it there's something called intelligent orientation control and there's there's two modes and I'll talk about the one that's the easiest to understand first which is home lock so home lock is just super cool you flip it to home lock and now if I pull back on the stick it's gonna come back to me I can rotate the copter and it's it's just coming back to me no let me just show you what happens if you rotate the copter normally see I'm pushing forward on the stick and it's not really going forward just kind of going around and around I'm making the audience really dizzy I'm sure okay but if you go I lost track of it I don't know where it is then you flip toe home lock and you just bring it back back on the stick brings it back to you regardless of the orientation of the craft. See, I'm I'm pointing off to the left forty five degrees and it's still coming back to me or if I push forward, it goes away from me again. Especially if you're like in fog or just it's kind of debts and because these things are symmetrical in the air. It's a little hard unless you can see where the lights are flashing. It's hard to tell which way it's going, especially if it's up a bit. So that's actually a very cool feature. Be able to do that and bring it back over your head and leave. Yeah, and we're gonna have to land it because our batteries are way fantastic. Okay, so gear down that's my favorite thing. What are you thinking about as your landing? Uh, just making sure that I do a safe landing, keeping it away from people, um and and obstacles. I mean, if there's a wind it's gonna do a good job of counter at sea how it's see how it's just tilting, but is there a slight tilt which is counter acting the wind um if I put it, well, I'm not gonna put it in attitude mode this low. But, um, anyway. So now it's gets down and we could just bring it on down way, alright.

Class Description

Drone photography and videography captures some of the most stunning images out there, but the tools, techniques, and gadgets used to capture the action are often confusing and difficult to master. Join Jeff Foster and special guests for an exciting and highly informative class and get a running start at unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) photography.

In this course, you'll learn how to capture stunning aerial shots with an impressive range of aerial gear – including; 3D Robotics multicopters, DJI multirotors, GoPros, DSLRs and more. You'll get an introduction to the best tools for beginners and see demonstrations of the sophisticated gear used by the most in-demand professional photographers and filmmakers. You’ll learn essential skills for controlling a UAV flight; basic flight controls, necessary equipment for successful shooting, planning and lining up the perfect shots, flight prep and safety, waypoint navigation and more. You'll gain an understanding of the production and post-production techniques unique and essential to aerial photography – including how to stabilize video, create stunning panoramic photos, and remove lens distortion in your photos and videos.

If you're ready to explore this wonderful world from a new elevated visual perspective, then this is the course for you!

Guests include:
Colin Guinn -
Mark Johnson and Romeo Dursher -
Stephen Wheatcraft -
Peter Sachs -
Russell Brown -

CreativeLive is proud to announce that Jeff Foster was a Bronze winner in the 36th Annual Telly Awards for this class.   With nearly 12,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries, this is truly an honor. Congratulations Jeff!  

What You Will Learn in This Course

1. Gearing Up: Intro to Aerial

    • Jeff will take us through some of the various quadcopters and multirotors that are commonly used in the hobby/commercial photography markets today. Basic concepts of pre-flight prep, safety, equipment, and terminology will be covered for various disciplines.

2. Basics of Flight

    • Colin Guinn from 3D Robotics joins Jeff in demonstrating the basics of good flight, best practices to improve your skills and get those important shots you want!

3. Practical Application – Commercial Flight

    • Jeff leads off with some examples of fixed-wing drones used for various commercial and environmental uses, such as precision agriculture, search and rescue, firefighting and land surveying. Colin Guinn shows us how 3D Robotics is already addressing these important fields with advanced technology.

4. Advanced Flight for Film Production 

    • Romeo Durscher and Mark Johnson of to show us the S1000 octocopter and how to use it to get those high-definition aerial video shots that filmmakers demand. Stephen Wheatcraft then brings his S1000 octocopter in to demonstrate how he gets beautiful landscape panoramas with his setup. 

5. The Future of Drone Flight: Laws 

    • We will be talking in the studio with drone expert and visionary, Colin Guinn from 3D Robotics about his vision of the industry – where it has come; where it is today and where he sees it in the near future. We are then joined via a live video feed from Maine with drone legal expert Peter Sachs, Esq. To discuss the recent mandates and restriction imposed by the FAA in the US and what that means to the industry on a global scale.

6. Processing Aerial Footage in Post w/ Premiere

    • Jeff will show us some footage from the previous day's flights as well as some examples that might need a little “help” with stabilization and color correction, using Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

7. Processing Aerial Photos in Post w/ Photoshop

    • We're honored to have THE Russell “Doc” Brown from Adobe join us for a head-spinning session in Adobe Photoshop CC with tips on working with drone-captured images and what projects he currently has brewing!

8. Processing Aerial Video in After Effects

    • Jeff returns to turn up the heat in Adobe After Effects to share with us some of his techniques for footage stabilization, lens correction, tilt-shift lens effects and much more!


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This is a great course! This workshop was very professionally put together. This was my first experience with CreativeLive and I was impressed at every turn with how well everything turned out. The content was engaging, the guests and instructor gave out many many useful tips on responsible drone operation... I can't say enough great things about this course. I'll be watching many of the segments over and over again to pick up all of the quick golden tips that were shared, as well as picking up the proper industry terms for types of shots, or piloting techniques. Very impressive! Thanks to Jeff Foster, his guests and the entire crew of Creative Live for making this happen. Simply Amazing!

a Creativelive Student

Not for experienced/informed pilots looking for the next level. It was a good intro for those new to the concept of UAV's in photo/video but never got specific enough about maneuvers, equipment, or shooting styles to be useful. The outdoor flying was a complete mess. Demos of what the equipment looked like, not how to best use it creatively. Glad I watched it live. The chat rooms were very informative.