First 4K Canon 1DC drone flight (and FS700 / C300 also gets airborne)

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The Canon 1D C has taken to the skies for the first time thanks to Perspective Aerials founder Anthony Jacobs, who has just stepped up their drone to fly heavier cameras. The new rig has a custom built RC follow focus by Anthony Lenzo of Air Sea Land (ASL).

EOSHD readers might be familiar with Perspective Aerials work with filmmaker Andrew Wonder on the Joe Dunton Panavision anamorphic Juice Traim shoot for G.E, providing the sweeping crane-like drone shots of the New York bound locomotive.

Andrew Wonder writes on his blog:

“Last week Anthony reached out to me about [the 1D C / FS700]modifications and how he was able to accomplish them. To fly these larger cameras, Jacob’s would have to incorporate functionality such as follow focus and full 3-axis control and stabilization that can be found on the larger full-size professional equipment. Unfortunately there aren’t many option for ultra lightweight follow focus systems designed for RC copter use therefore Jacobs sought the help of Anthony Lenzo of Air Sea Land (ASL) a production company that has been servicing the broadcast and film market since 1994.”

Lenzo had previously worked on undersea housing solutions for the Red Epic, along with a panel that piped all I/O instructions through the DVI port to a remote breakout box. ASL were perfectly placed to build a custom remote follow focus for the 1D C drone.

Perspective Aerials drone custom follow focus

Writes Andrew…

“Together Jacobs and Lenzo built a custom gimbal with remote Follow Focus and full 3-axis camera gimbal remote operation allowing them to have the same control as the larger professional camera cranes and jibs with the added benefit of untethered RC copter freedom of movement.

“Various wireless HD video transmitters were tested for follow focus purposes and none of them had the range required for RC aerial use. The Paralinx Arrow wireless video transmitter work well over short distances but once we ascended beyond 45 meters or so our signal would become very unreliable. We’re now using a lightweight 5.8ghz analog video transmitter that has been modified to transmit at a higher bandwidth which is somewhat less that full HD but more that twice the resolution as SD which is good enough for focus pulling purposes.”

Here’s what Anthony told EOSHD about the 1D C drone:

“I tried the fSTOP Wireless WiFi Receiver on our copter but as with the Paralinx Arrow we were very limited in range for copter use. Any distance beyond 45-60 meter we would lose signal…very annoying. We figured since we have great range with our RC radio equipment for copter control (up to 1 mile) we figured why not modify a readily available follow focus motor system and incorporate it into our long range RC system…it worked out perfectly.

“The main modification to our 8-rotor coaxial copter for flying heavier cameras was using larger brushless motors, each capable of handling 1100 watts…that a lot of power for such a compact craft. This added lifting power allowed us the ability to build a camera gimbal using commonly used 15mm rods where we could very easily mount any follow focus system or any other add on using the 15mm rod standard. Most RC camera gimbals will not allow you to easily mount standard follow focus or remote zoom equipment without heavy modifications.

“The 1DC performed very well without any rolling shutter mainly due to our copter being very well balances and the use of vibration dampeners. We just wish there was an option for 60p at 4K! Instead of JUST 24p. Before testing the 1DC on our copter gimbal we used a 5D Mark III with the extended battery grip to simulate the size and weight of the 1DC.

“In all we tested 3 high-end digital video cameras: C300, 1DC and the FS700 and our hands down favorite is the C300, it’s video quality is lovely, the narrow body made it easy to balance perfectly on our camera mount and it’s weight is very similar to the other cameras tested. We absolutely dislike flying the FS700, it’s a very awkward camera with its long body which made it very tricky to balance on our camera gimbal. We hope to never get a request to fly this camera!”

Here’s the C300 on the craft:

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C300-4

You can see more of Perspective Aerials work in the video below…

Here’s the FS700 rigged to the drone…

Sony FS700 drone

And the Canon 1D C…

Canon 1D C drone

I was talking with Andrew Schaale at Extreme Facilities yesterday whose drone was used by the BBC on Top Gear. Andrew holds a pilot license and says that to fly a full sized cinematic camera before the era of smaller digital cameras like the GH3 and 1D C would have required a full sized helicopter with pilot and operator! I think this helps drive home the fact that similar results can now be had with RC copters thanks to the ever decreasing size and increasing image quality of digital cameras. This all goes towards making a shoot much more practical and affordable especially in remote locations such as central Africa.

I hope to get my hands on the Canon 1D C next week and expect more RC copter coverage on EOSHD!

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About Author

British filmmaker and editor of EOSHD, Andrew works in Berlin on his own self funded filmmaking and video projects.

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