Thursday 25th January and I noticed this morning that my app is asking to be updated, you may also find the same. Thought I best dig around. I am looking forward to taking advantage of the new features. But not wanting to have a drone fall out of the sky or what ever the flight instability might be. Please hold off updating as requested by DJI. Never a dull moment droning!
Happy Thursday, tomorrow – Friday ! should be nice flying weather in most parts of the UK, make the most of it.
So this morning James Beer was giving his review of the Mavic Pro and now we have the DJI Mavic Air. With the heady excitement of a drone launch that harks back to the time of Steve Jobs launching Apple products in a darkened auditorium with an enthusiastic cheering room of drone geeks. This was no where near as slick, a very nervous Michael Perry, North American DJI head honcho, stumbled over his words either he was very very excited, hadn’t had enough time to rehearse or was just so nervous at getting all the info imparted to the audience it made for slightly uncomfortable viewing. But who cares we have a new drone!
What is interesting is that social media feeds were way ahead of this launch we knew yesterday what was being launched the internet being more leaky than a leaky bucket. We even saw photos and a few of the specs revealed. As the live stream from New York got going it seems that DJI social media team were tweeting way ahead of the actual press conference. The press are such leaky bunch and its all down to who can get this information out faster than anyone else. But who cares we have a new drone!
So like christmas elves Michael Perry informed us as soon as the Mavic Pro was launched 18 months ago (which is dinosaur years in the drone world ) they went back to the drawing board to redesign, reinvigorated and reimagine this drone. To be honest this reimagine thing that DJI goes on about makes it sound so exciting and yes I do believe there are now a number of us wanting a Mavic Air.
So the Mavic Air what is it like? Well its half the size of the Mavic Pro and weighs 41% less. It will fly for 21 minutes on one battery, which were were informed is the longest flight time for a drone of this size. Cue some more heady marketing language it has , power, intelligence, and is portable (my inspire is portable it’s all relative) – they did say it was a good looking drone and stopped short of saying it has a good sense of humour and is good with children! 😉
The Mavic Air is all of these things as described. Because it’s powerful it needed a new ventilation system design, it has a 3 axis gimbal 4k camera with additional new designed casing and also increased distance coverage.
It’s a small drone, to prove this it came out of a Mary Poppins sized pocked of Michael Perry’s gilet, that contained his wallet, his i-phone and the controller which has handy removable joy sticks. I think one joy I won’t be looking forward to if I were to purchase will be hunting around for them as they fall out of your hands and down a hill or crevice and replacing them will be an unnecessary cost. In 300 plus years that plastic will still be in existence and someone will be able to pick it up and say oh my god they used to fly drones here! I see why they have decided to do the removable joy sticks to make the controller truly portable, but I really think that will be a niggle.
So what about the other specs for this drone?
22 Mph wind resistance for a drone 430g that is very impressive, considering that is the one thing that holds me back from purchasing a small drone like this.
The camera is a 1/2.3 CMOS sensor 24mm F2.8 camera that is capable of 100Mbps at 4k and 30fps. Again on a drone this size will be impressive if its capable of all this.
Loads of different flight modes, new panoramic mode that can stitch 25 photos together automatically.
Quick shot intelligent video modes, which are just getting more and more advanced each time DJI re-imagines it’s drones. This means that pilots won’t need the skills they had to have before. Smart capture just like the spark before – this hand gesturing which isn’t always as successful as lot of online reviews have suggested. It apparently is new and improved .
In addition there is this very safe new addition of APAS Advanced Pilot assistance systems so building on obstacle avoidance that was introduced nearly 2 years ago – this drone will go round obstacles and fly over and around. Now that is impressive! This is due to 7 onboard cameras and new software so yes it is going to live up to is safer drone label.
What else, oh yes it comes in Arctic White, Onyx Black and Flame red. But from underneath when flying you will still see a black casing.
I may have missed out a lot of additional information there was a lot to take in.
So how much will this drone cost? £769 for the Mavic Air x 1, Intelligent Flight Battery x 1, Charger x 1, Power Cable x 1, Propeller Pair x 4 , Propeller Guards x 1 Gimbal Protector x 1 Carrying Case x 1 Spare Controller Sticks x 1Remote Controller Cable x 3 Communication Cable x 1 USB Adapter x 1 RC Cable Slider x 3
For the fly more combo £949 all the above plus 1 x RC Controller 1 x USB & Lighting cables for device connection, 1 x Intelligent Flight Battery, 1 x Battery charger 4 x Spare propellers, 1 x Propeller guards Pair, 1 x Travel case, 1 x Power cable, 1 x User guide.
If you have recently bought a Mavic Pro – don’t despair you still have a great drone. There are advantages of both the Mavic air and the pro and as DJI reimagines it’s drones so quickly whatever drone you buy it is out of date as soon as you buy it. New cameras and new phones all pander to the tech geeks need to stay at the for front of tech which unfortunately moves so fast you can’t keep up. As always assess the drone that you use and what you use it for, buy what you can afford also what you can afford to crash!,
I am currently using an inspire 1 for TV and everyone is happy but one day I will have to upgrade but that will be once I have the funds and the desire to do so.
What is exciting about drone companies constantly developing the technology means that the new developments from this drone will filter through the ranges to the new drones, I for one can’t wait to see what happens with the Phantom range.
Shipping starts on the 28th of January and you can pre-order from selected stockists I see that Heliguy made their internet page for pre-order live as soon as the press conference in New York ended. Please note I am not affiliated to this company but I recommend them as their customer service is 5 star!
This drone will not be for the drone pro users but a fun drone and may be like the Mavic pro be good for corporates, web and social media films. Anyone obtaining money for drone work will still be requiring a PFCO and insurance to operate professionally.
Please comment if you are planning on buying one, I would happily let you write a review!
I am looking forward to seeing what the footage and real reviews are like and those will start to filter through to the internet in the next few days and weeks
With rumours flying round the internet about what will be announced today by DJI, we turn to the DJI mavic and today I hand the blog over to James Beer a talented film maker from Brighton, I was thinking about buying a Mavic and thought why not get him to do a a review! Over to James
Why did I chose a DJI Mavic Pro? After a year of owning a DJI Phantom 3 Advanced, to get myself to grips with operating a drone and practising for my PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations), I upgraded my drone to a Mavic Pro as I was now qualified to use drones in my video work. The Mavic is fantastic. It is not only smaller and lighter, it’s form factor is hugely more appealing than the traditional Phantom series. It packs down so small that it can be thrown into any backpack or suitcase and taken on your travels and for a videographer that is very very handy.
Before I go on and tell you that this is the best drone in the world, it isn’t, it’s just perfect for me. The 4k video is decent and the photos look good. DJI have used a 1/2.3” (CMOS) sensor which is the same sensor used by the Phantom 4 so its pretty good considering its size. I use mine for both videography and photography and shoot mostly in 4k as the 1080 is not amazing.
Positives. The battery lasts almost 27 minutes (according to DJI) which is usually more than enough time for one flight. The blades don’t need removing each time you pack it away, they just fold in. The arms tuck under and in so all you have is the body of the drone (unlike the Phantom). It is fast, especially when you put it in sport mode. All the different flying modes ‘Tripod’, ‘Cinematic’, ‘Point of Interest’ are really useful but ’Active Track’ is my favourite so far. When it comes to sticking to your moving target this mode does a great job of tracking the subject in centre frame whilst you manoeuvre the drone from side to side. More proximity sensors have been added (5 cameras and 2 sonic rangefinders) that have saved me a few times as judging distances can be tricky when you cant see too well. The list goes on but they are a few of my favourite plus points.
Negative points. It doesn’t have many to be honest. If you want a better picture quality go for the Phantom Pro or another of DJI’s higher end drones. The only little gripe I have with it is I sometimes forget to take off with the lens guard because you miss it when setting up but that is not the drones fault. Professionals will be able to pick holes in picture quality but the average user will think it’s fantastic.
Who is it for? I think it is good for videographers with corporate work that ends up on internet but I wouldn’t say it is professional enough for film work or big budget ads. It is also good for the hobbyist who wants to take unique photos and not break the bank. For the money I am still blown away at the value you get for £1,099 of drone. Its build quality and stability in the air fils you with confidence to fly it over water or in slightly tricky places. I would recommend this to anyone looking to get into drone photography/videography. For some it would make a good back up drone to their bigger drone but for me it is the perfect entry drone to filmmaking.
Thank you James for this review and the amazing photos. I adore the shot of Brighton West Pier to think that has been taken on a small drone is just amazing, obviously a great eye for drone photography proving to be a talented creator in many visual disciplines.
In late autumn 2017 I was asked to fly the drone for Radio 4. I admit, I thought it a strange request at first knowing radio to be a listening non visual format. Approached by the production company Whistle down, they were looking for someone to appear in a new programme about niche work, for BBC Radio 4.
Drones are no longer niche and are mainstream, this programme would be about the world of drone defence. A niche industry that is springing up to combat the rogue drone operators that have taken to the skies. We are all aware of those that feel they need to fly near airports and those also delivering drugs to prisons.
This small extract from the programme was to be about an excellent company Drone Defence and they wanted me to fly the drone in a set up scenario and have it defended by the CEO of the company Richard Gill.
Both presenter and producer were concerned I would not be willing. I suppose they were worried that drone pilots would be against such a technology. Not this drone pilot. Currently we have a major problem about drones flying in places where they shouldn’t.
Even with the drone geofencing that DJI and Yuneec have on the drones, to stop them in their tracks around airports and landing strips, there are people hacking the software. I get on a plane, to go on holiday, I want to be safe knowing that those rogue operators are not able to fly near airports. So it was a joy to spend a couple of hours with the presenter Nick Baker, producer Leeanne Coyle and CEO of Drone Defence Richard Gill.
The programme is online for another 21 days! Click on the link below
I am really impressed at the technology that Rick Gill has developed and I do believe he has found a niche and unfortunately with those who continue to cause danger and break the law his company will be in demand.
Glad to say no drones were harmed in the making of the programme.
Happy New Year everyone…can you say that on the 18th of January? 2017 was a great year professionally and I still think it’s amazing every time I get a booking as a freelancer, weather that is a camera operator, a film maker or drone operator! I am never complacent and always thankful. I treat my bookings like it will be my very last booking, perhaps I am not that yet relaxed about the whole freelancing lifestyle as yet.
I planned to have some downtime over christmas and also to get that freelance office sorted, and paperwork except it was not meant to be. I was struck by the dreaded flu on Christmas Eve that meant no family christmas for me, and no new year either. Then my lovely Nanna died she was 90, and very supportive of me. To think of the things she saw in her lifetime, she lived through world war 2, and loved the 1960’s, she brought two young girls up as a single parent and was forward thinking and was interested in other cultures and religions. I will miss her a lot.
I was just getting back to some kind of normality, and waiting for the funeral and then struck by yet another bout of flu. Which means for the very first time in my freelance / working life I have just turned down a job. Hopefully they will try to book me again. I hope non of you have been affected by flu and that you escape it this year.
For the blog I have a lot of posts that need posting that are half finished and the only excuse I can give is the sickness and life stuff happening. I can’t wait to get back to some kind of normality and share these blog posts with you. We have a review of the DJI Mavic by great Brighton based film maker James Beer, a review of a Yuneec drone and also some insights to the judging of the film convert competition from the end of the year.
I am hoping that although its not been a great start to 2018, that I can start afresh in February look to the East and I plan to treat Chinese new year like, well my new year and Christmas rolled into one! My Nanna loved all things Chinese and was fascinated by the East and so I shall look that way whilst remembering her with a smile and starting the year a fresh. I know it won’t be that simple but if I keep telling myself that, then perhaps each day will be a bit easier.
We all have times in life when it gets all a bit much and something has to give. This time it was the blog and the office tidy.
Here is to 2018 being a good one for you and your loved ones, with lots of safe drone flying, health and happiness.
I am now a judge in the competition for FilmConvert read about it here.
So what is FilmConvert and how can in enhance your drone footage?
FilmConvert is both a software plugin for editing packages and also a standalone software that helps enhance and make easier the colour grading of your footage.
What is brilliant about it is it’s very easy to use and also they have camera profiles including ones for drones.
You can download a version for free to try it out and then if you decide to purchase you can then take the watermarks off your footage.
My clients love films I create using FilmConvert, I have been able to enhance and change the mood with the use of colour grading and the filmic look. One example is a cycling film I have just created for a brand where the client wanted it to look bleak and wintery. Filmed in the summer this was possible, I was blessed that day with cloud cover mostly so this helped but its down to the use of FilmConvert that I was able to achieve the brief. I can’t share this with you yet as the brand launch hasn’t taken place as yet and is still under wraps.
Sometimes I use the camera profiles and sometimes I don’t as they may not exists for your exact drone camera that’s ok you can still use the software. I can’t rave about it enough.
This video by my fellow judge in the FilmConvert 2017 film comp, premiere gal aka Kelsey Brannan here in this video she explains what FilmConvert is and how to load it and how to use it.
Recently there was a discussion on one of the drone forums how should you deliver your footage colour graded or not? What camera profile? My advice ask the client do they want a flat image that needs grading or do they want it graded? Using FilmConvert may not be the ideal solution for your client because you could be adding grain and the rest of the footage they may not be able to match up in the edit. This goes for any software not just FilmConvert. Using FlimConvert you can still fine tune the exposure and change the white balance. It’s probably a lot easier using FilmConvert.
The consensus on the forum is that your footage is a reflection of you and that if someone questions the quality who shot this rubbish it’s your reputation so you should colour correct before you send and I would beg to differ. You should always check what the client wants however you may be able to rescue some bad mistakes you have shot but don’t do this too much you risk things not matching up in the edit if there is another camera being used.
I have managed to match footage up from the Inspire 1, GoPro 5 and panasonic GH5 using FilmConvert but then I was delivering the whole film to the client my fully edited and colour graded. This is because of the camera profiles it is very sophisticated
I hope this explained a bit more about FilmConvert but for more in-depth explanations please visit the FilmConvert and check out the tutorials and information
FilmConvert competition launched on the 28th of August and you have up to and including the 9th of October to enter. I was honoured to be asked to judge the Non- narrative category because of my specialist drone work and work for various sports companies and sports broadcasters.
Why should you enter film competitions? There are several reasons and one is to challenge yourself as filmmaker, set yourself a creative challenge or if you haven’t completed a film yet it’s the perfect time to have a go. Win prizes this competition has great prizes to get your filmmaking career off to a huge start or add to your kit if already a seasoned filmmaker. If I had seen the prizes I think I would have said hold on can I not judge and enter instead. Industry recognition nothing like winning a film competition to boost your standing in the industry or on job applications. Increase confidence, nothing like winning or getting down to finalist status to increase your professional confidence. I can confirm the latter two as my work on BBC Body Confidence campaign was entered into four industry awards, I was a finalist in three and won a bronze Lovie award for best use of film for social media and we got through to the final three of the audience vote. It was a total game changer for me, it opened doors and has boosted my confidence.
What the FilmCovert judges 2017 are looking for? On a launch webinar we were all asked the question so here in brief and surmised is what we are looking for.
What are the judges wanting to see?
The Drone Lass (aka Carys Kaiser) me 😉 Judging category :Non narrative which to me mean drones, sports and action cams I am looking for adrenaline and perhaps to be on the edge of my seat if it’s action camera, but equally it could be beautiful shots, using any techniques that you have. If it’s drones please make sure it’s legal in the country you are shooting. If you don’t have a drone don’t be put off entering non-narrative could use other techniques, go pros, gimbal or may be just a camera.
James Tonkin: Judging category :Music Video – Looking for something unique, pushing the creative element of the music videos, letting your imagination run wild.
Philip Bloom: Judging category :Documentary – looking for an engaging story, something he hasn’t seen before, something that connects him to the subject. Looking for really good visuals as well as a good story. This can still be simple shots that don’t get in the way of the story but they still need to look good. Don’t feel you need to put loads of tricks and use too many toys to tell the story, because these could distract the audience from the core story you are trying to tell. A fine line between tricks and techniques as they do add but not to be distracting it’s about composition, lighting and good sound.
Henry Martens Judging category :Wedding – He would like to see something different, from the usual storyline of the day. Can you take the getting ready, arrival at venue, ceremony, speeches and first dance and show him something different creatively in your output?
Kelsey Brannan (aka premiere gal) Judging category :Corporate/ Commercial looking for simplicity how colour is complementary and adding to the story. Even though is corporate she would like it to have that human element, whilst also looking to for something that is unique and different.
Tom Antos Judging category :Creative is looking for something that has a bit of everything, good sound, good music and good visuals, good colour grading but most importantly it’s about good pacing don’t drag out a 5 minute story to be longer than it needs to be. Think about the structure.
What we are all looking for is good use of the colour grading in your film.
I know some of you that read this blog are new to filmmaking so I will do a quick explanation about what FilmConvert is in the next blog post and how you use it. Please visit their website as it does explain it in more depth than I will be covering.
You don’t have to own the software you can download it for free and submit your film with the trial version, so there are no excuses.
I am really looking forward to seeing the entries and know I am going to feel so inspired watching them all.
Please visit the FilmConvert website for information about the competition and the terms and conditions etc.
I am making no apologies but this blog post is one that is a bit more personal as I reflect back on the year that has just gone.
Tomorrow 26th August will be a whole year since my redundancy. I left TV land with a carrier bag of belongings had a few tears, after a few too many cocktails. For the record that’s probably three, as I am a light weight when it comes to drinking!
Whilst I was walking through Manchester City centre to the train station back to the Peak District, I started to worry what will I do now? This would have been the third redundancy in my working life and I know what follows is always a period of no or little work. To be fair I had worried for a whole month but the walk made it seem very real.
I am a people person, I like working with people and like working in a team. The demands over the four and half years or so had taken its toll on my social life. I had totally embraced the work culture of a person working in TV. The long hours, trying to keep on top the chores and personal admin in a few small hours on a rare day off. Living out of a suitcase and feeling totally exhausted. Part of this is my own fault, I am one of those people who loves working, I always have. I love my work and to be busy and after life changed completely five and bit years ago. My job became a place where I could be myself for a few hours and then when I switched roles within that organisation. I used it as a distraction for the loss. I really did throw myself whole heartedly at the work.
Now was going back to what I had before, a desk at home with a phone trying to create work for myself, the exact thing I could not face when I landed in Media City. Just me responsible for creating my own work not seeing a soul for days. My dear now ex- colleagues had no idea about how I felt when I arrived, I left my emotions at the car park and threw myself into prepping cameras. Only collecting that emotion on the way back home. What would happen, if I couldn’t find work and people to see everyday? In those four and half years, I had met so many many lovely people, talented and who shared a sense of purpose in creating content, who by their sheer kindness and friendliness gave me hope.
For a couple of weeks I watched rubbish TV, ran around the hills, edited showreels and went to bed in the afternoon. I wrote a website, started blogging more and started looking for work. Two weeks later I was making a film for Blackpool council, then a couple of other low key filming jobs and since then I really haven’t looked back. The work has ebbed and flowed and when it flows I feel so lucky. I did apply for a number of job roles but it didn’t work out.
I have been a creator of my own opportunties, I am thankful every single time I get a booking from whatever source. I have flown the drone for TV, for commercials, for a cinema release and also online content.
In the last year, I have learnt new skills and made mistakes, mistakes I made before to make sure it was a mistake the first time around. My work now predominately comes from my ability to plan, script, shoot and edit films and the drone is a sideline but also a skill I can use to create content. I am happy to work on projects that use one or all of those skills.
I have been reminded of the faith you have to have in your own skills to be my own champion when the chips are down. To be fair and professional when that client has decided he won’t pay or didn’t have the intention to pay anyway. There have been lows including a few months with little or no work. Two scary months in the spring where there was nothing on the horizon. No money coming in is quite scary to anyone with bills to pay.
I have reminded myself join with others on the journey of a solo creative life is really important, to not beat myself up about my excessive use of social media as it reminds me that there is a world outside. I don’t know if I will stay freelance / running my own company but for now I am just going with it. Now I have more time for myself and have seen family and friends a lot more and really feel life is a bit more balanced.
I still work hard but also know when to stop working and go for a walk, a run or just watch some TV. The house often gets cleaned and tidied properly and that makes me more creative and more motivated. To take breaks to look for inspiration be that business inspiration or motivation.
Two things I have done that have inspired me most was going to Shadow and Lights filmmakers conference in Brighton. I went to my first one when redundancy was on the horizon in July 2016 and then again in May 2017. To meet fellow filmmakers who are making amazing films and content for brands and corporates, gave me hope that a mix and match approach could work for me. Although most of the people I have met are in the South of England or based abroad, they have become part of my wider network and this has become a great supportive group to ask technical questions. The work of this group and the people inspire me.
The second thing I have done for business networking, I have been attending Freshwalks which is like business networking never seen before. To walk ten or so miles with fellow entrepreneurs whilst admiring the hills or getting stuck in bogs. The type of person who attends a Freshwalks hike tends to be a positive and driven person.
I have improved my fitness and finally got out into the beloved hills of the Peak District, I have bounced ideas about and been given further opportunities. I often think of it as a metaphor for business sometimes the terrain is up hill and hard and then it starts raining, and then your boots are giving you blisters to over come this you have to push yourself onwards and upwards to achieve the goal. Even if you are freelance and happy to work alone having a few trusty souls and suppliers around you can help you achieve that goal or get up that damn hill!
Thank you to those who have recommended me for jobs you know who you are, I really appreciate those recommends. Dinner and drinks on me when you are avaialble 😉
Thank you to Leonie Upton, John Morrissey, Tracey Higgins for a day filming for international women’s day and for friendship going forward from that mad day! I still don’t like being in front of the camera, but thank you for the film.
Massive thank you goes to Ben Cambridge editor extraordinaire and May Mulki who are my flight assistants thanks for being part of the drone journey!
To all my lovely ex-colleagues in TV land I really count you as friends these days. Now I have time for coffee let’s make arrangements. Also a huge thank you to my long suffering Mum and Dad who often ask “what the hell are you doing next?” But also show lots of support to my madcap ideas.
To my friends who don’t inhabit the world of work I do, thanks for waiting for four and half years of mad work hours to pass and it’s been great finally spending more time with you.
Thank you to Lens Flare TV for the opportunity to hire kit the latest kit, for excellent advice on camera and lenses. Inspirational work from them (do check out their website)
Thanks to the talented photographer Joolze Dymond being a small part of the 5311 Media journey it is full of cycles, laughter and cake. Thanks for respecting my request “please don’t photograph my face or get my bum in shot whist I am working!” Long may this association continue.
To the person that signed my redundancy paper work, deciding that the role I was doing no longer existed and sent me on my way, I thank you.
You know what I wouldn’t change this year of work. I thought I would have ended up temping in an office and it could not be further from the truth. Fingers crossed it continues to be positive. Life balance is nearly in reach.
Finally to the 17 clients for the projects this last 364 days…thank you for trusting me to fly a drone, hold a camera, to tell your stories and create films. I have made TV for Sky one, Sky Sports, BBC One and created online content as well as TV commercials, short form films for the web the list goes on. Honestly, I can’t believe how lucky I am.
Ha ha these BAFTA/ Oscar speeches just write themselves! 😉
AKA The Drone Lass
I can be found on twitterInstagram and FB each social media feed often has different content
In my previous blog post 360 cameras and photography pt 1 I talked about my passion for creating 360 content and I had managed to secure somewhere to post my new images. This was an opportunity when taking photos on a radio outside broadcast I was doing some photography for.
The first obstacle was how to publish these photos. I wanted ‘true’ 360° images that you could have a look around, not flat modified versions – but neither Twitter nor Instagram support this kind of content natively. I looked at using third party sites such as Kuula and then sharing the content to Twitter but in the end the decision was made to just put my images onto Facebook where the files would be instantly recognised as 360° content and be viewable correctly on both computers and mobile devices.
This worked well, the only downside being that FB compresses images and 360° content doesn’t look anything like as sharp as it does when you view it via camera apps such as Theta’s own viewer. The response however was very positive and I found myself being approached a week or two later by the same department for more 360° images – but this time of an art and sound installation which had been created for Manchester International Festival.
This turned out to be a great opportunity and perhaps the perfect subject for a 360° capture. The artwork was made up of stories from homeless people that had been painted over the course of the festival onto cardboard which was fixed to the walls, floor and stairs of a disused shoe shop in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. The venue was long with pillars dotted throughout; there were different lighting level and the art filled every wall and parts of the floor so visitors were completely surrounded. It was a work you couldn’t photograph in its entirety in a single frame and it was impossible to capture the feeling of how the words covered the whole room – unless of course you photographed it in 360°.
I photographed the venue using the Theta S (not owning a Samsung at this point) and took some images with a tripod and then some low down, placing the camera gently on top of the art in places where the public simply couldn’t stand. The resulting pictures captured the work really well and a couple of images were put on Facebook where they were used to promote a radio programme about the artwork, which was broadcast with binaural sound (making the fact that we had 360° images as well as sound even more sweeter). I also wanted to create images which could be used on Twitter and Instagram so made some manipulated flat images which showed the walls of the room shot from a higher angle using a tripod.
Then a colleague of mine suggested I look at making a rotating gif of one of my images to give the feeling of 360° on platforms which couldn’t support 360° content. We looked at a few ways of doing this but I was reluctant to use any method which wasn’t extremely quick and simple because a lot of my work involves me photographing events in real time where images need to be ready to use in seconds. We eventually opted for the paid app Pi2Video (which costs less than two quid), which enabled me to import 360° images, select the angle and speed I wanted to view them in and then make a short video clip of the picture rotating. I put one of these on my Instagram feed not knowing if it would play correctly or if it would be that satisfactory because you couldn’t explore the image manually – but the clip still got a great response so it’s a method I would definitely use again.
So that’s where I am on my 360° journey so far. I have plans to look at AV capture that can be viewed with or without a VR headset and I am keen to find more projects where 360° material will enhance the viewing experience rather than be an unnecessary addition. I would like to try out
More cameras and particularly those where the offload and stitch is relatively simple and would be accessible to self shooters (rather than complex rigs which use multiple cameras that require complicated stitching in edit afterwards).
As for the current crop of consumer cameras I don’t want to give my opinion on which is best because there are some great comparison sites out there such as threesixtycameras.com and thewirecutter.com and I have only used four different cameras so can’t comment on the whole range of makes and models available.
I’ve used the Ricoh Theta S, the Nikon KeyMission, the Samsung Gear 360 and the Samsung’s newer model the Gear 360 2017 (which allows for iPhone integration) and whilst every one of them has specific things which give them the edge of over the others, I’d happily use any of them. That said, when I bought a second 360° camera I went for the Samsung Gear 360 2017. My decision was partly based on the need for a camera that had decent video quality (the Theta’s video output is notoriously bad) but mostly down to price. The new Samsung has a slightly lower spec than its older sibling but not only does it work with an iPhone, it also only costs around £200 (unlike the previous model which still retails at well over £300). At the time of buying my Samsung I had also been trying out a loaned Nikon KeyMission and I liked it a lot. The Nikon is robust with a good weight (handy for when you place it windy outdoor places and then have to hide out of shot), it pairs with a phone reasonably well, the picture quality is great and the offload process is straightforward. But it costs over £400 and that extra £200 over the Samsung 2017 can’t be justified. If money is a consideration then it’s worth remembering that the tech is still quite new and the prices will come down and I’m not sure the Nikon can justify such a hefty price tag when there are now comparable cameras on the market at half the price.
Personally I can’t wait for the next crop of cameras and in the meantime I am going to continue exploring what I can do with this sort of material and build up my 360 chops until I am as familiar and comfortable with 360° capture, editing and workflows as I am with regular content.
Thank you for joining me these last couple of days
Thank you so much Emma that was really enlightening and an enjoyable read.
Carys x aka The Drone Lass
If you visit 6 Music Facebook page you can see some of the content Emma created ….shhhh 😉
Next two blog posts will be by Emma Gibbs as you know sometimes I hand the blog over to someone who has something to share that is drone or technology related. Emma is a talented photographer and we often chat about different cameras so over to Emma.
For the past ten months or so I have been playing around with 360° photography. It’s taken me a while to really appreciate it. Whilst I totally understand the appeal of being able to capture an entire scene (including the sky above your head and the ground beneath your feet) I struggled to produce content which I felt had much impact and I was frustrated that it was difficult to widely publish the photographs in the form that they were meant to be seen – as images you could rotate, twist and explore.
On more than one occasion I nearly gave away my Ricoh Theta S, a 360° camera I had chosen purely because I owned an iPhone and therefore couldn’t use the higher spec Samsung Gear 360 which required a Samsung phone to operate it. The Theta lived in the bottom of my handbag; I would use it for occasional pictures but my increasing annoyance at my inability to get any output from it that I was happy with meant that one night when a guy down the pub started talking to me about his interest in 360° photography I very nearly whipped the Theta out and gave it to him. Fortunately good sense prevailed and it was this very camera which finally helped me develop my love of 360° content.
It’s still early days for consumer 360° cameras and as a result the image and video quality isn’t always as good as you’d expect which can be disheartening. Whilst venting my frustrations to a techie colleague at work I suggested that I was impatient for a standard of technology that doesn’t exist quite yet and my colleague said it was like when people go to a wedding with a point-and-shoot camera and then get disappointed that they don’t end up with DSLR quality photos. It was an accurate analogy; having a camera that can miraculously send stitched 360° digital images instantly through to my phone is so amazing that of course I expect the images to be as sharp as anything my other cameras can do. And to be fair, the pictures *do* look tight when displayed as flat equirectangular files (or even as spherical pictures via the camera’s accompanying software) but as soon as you view them spherically via sites such as YouTube, Flickr or Facebook the images lose a lot of clarity and you find yourself wondering why they don’t look as good as they should.
So what’s it like to shoot 360° content? The thing I’ve found most interesting is that there are several ways to present your work. When I started taking 360° photos I found (to my disappointment) that I couldn’t put images that I could rotate onto Instagram because the platform didn’t support it. The 360° pictures I found on Instagram looked great but they had been twisted and manipulated, with many being made into flat ‘tiny planets’ which aren’t accurate representations of the subject they are supposed to be capturing. I had always approached 360° photography in a very literal sense, thinking it should show what a place was like from all directions, when in fact other ways of displaying 360° images are equally as valid and perhaps creatively more exciting. Where I had been looking for places that would be visually interesting to explore via a photograph that you could navigate around, I realised that I could also look at capturing other environments which had prominent landmarks or textures (such as grassy parks and wide open spaces edged with recognisable buildings) – and whilst they wouldn’t be that exciting as rotatable images they would lend themselves really well to spherical manipulation as flat photographs.
Realising that there is more than one way to approach 360° material was a bit of a light bulb moment for me but that said, I still wanted to find subjects and environments which would be enhanced by being viewed as a rotatable image. 360° visuals still felt a bit like a novelty approach to photography and I wanted it to be something that gave viewers an experience that regular stills or video couldn’t. So I approached colleagues from a radio outside broadcast I was due to be working on and asked if I could take a few 360° stills along with the regular images I would be producing for their social media feed. I didn’t make a big deal about it or promise anything amazing but they agreed and so I had my pilot.
Join me tomorrow when I go into more detail of the pilot and the challenges of creating the images.