Helicopter Shots Sans Helicopter

This one claims to be able to carry a RED camera with a small-ish lens for 7 minutes on a single charge.

You couldn’t walk very far at NAB this year without tripping over one of these things. I got to watch a few “test flights” of a few different models by a few different manufacturers (the one pictured is from a Dutch company called Aerialtronics and costs around $10k, “ready to fly,” not including camera/lens, and they claimed it can fly as high as a mile).

My main observations:

– They are noisy as heck, so make sure you have an ADR budget.

– The demos were all done when there was virtually no wind, so the shots looked smooth like buttah. Am skeptical about the potential reality of shooting in windy conditions.

– The demos were all done by operators who clearly had lots of experience flying these things. Training is clearly required to get good results (and not send your precious camera/lens crashing down from 10,000 feet).

– They all look like FUN TO FLY.

Considering the costs of renting a real helicopter, this could be an interesting trend. In the right conditions, you could also do jib and crane type effects. Wish I had $10k kicking around right now.


“DSLR Killer” Too Good to Be True?

I went to NAB last week, mainly for biz dev meetings for my company, but managed to get a look at some of the new toys as well.

The New Blackmagic Cinema Camera - 2.5K, 13 stops, takes Canon lenses, $3k

My team has shot quite a few projects over the past few months with Canon DLSR cameras, such as the 5D.  On the plus side, you can use a wide range of Canon lenses to get rich, cinematographic looks very inexpensively, and for the $ the 1080p image quality is quite decent.  On the minus side, the 5D isn’t really designed for video production at all, from both a form-factor and feature perspective. I don’t expect a whole lot of innovation from Canon on the DSLR side of things, as they would like us pros to move up to their much more expensive, and higher quality, C series cameras (which I also had a look at during NAB — they look rather impressive).

Blackmagic Design has put out some stellar products over the years, but as a friend pointed out “they’re not known for putting out quality 1.0 releases.” That caveat having been said, I can honestly say I’m pretty stoked about the potential for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, which they debuted last week at a massive NAB booth, the footprint of which used to belong to Apple before they quit the farm and became the iPhone company.

You can monitor your shot here, and simultaneously with an external client monitor via HD-SDI

If this camera does what it’s advertised to do, it will solve every major complaint I have about DSLRs in video production.  Better image quality, form factor, connections to external devices such as a client monitor, SSD storage — and my company can use the wide range of Canon lenses we’ve purchased (several more expensive than the 5D itself BTW).  On the surface, this looks like a no-brainer.

I expect to have one in my hands in July to try for myself.  Anyone have any thoughts on what might prevent replacing a 5D with one of these?