1DC DRONE TAKES FLIGHT

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WONDERBLOG '1DC DRONE - FIRST FLIGHT'

Last week Anthony Jacobs (founder of Perspective Aerials) reached out to tell me that he had become the first person to fly a Canon 1DC with his drone rig. The 1DC is a camera I have a very mixed relationship with but when you see the way someone like Anthony puts it to work you can only imagine what the 1DC's ability to capture 4K in such a small package could make possible. In the above video you can see some of Anthony's first test footage of his new rig as well as Behind the scene footage of the Canon C300 and Sony FS700 being prepared for take off. 

Check out Perspective Aerial's demo reel. Be warned it might make you obsessed with shooting with drones

After the success of Undercity I was fortunate enough to have a lot of creative and talented people reach out to me about collaborating. One of the ones that always stuck out to me was Perspective Aerials’ Anthony Jacobs. As he explained the rigs he was building and showed me his demo reel I was blown away and excited at the prospect of working with him.

Jacob's first big hit. A bird eyes view of the old Yankee stadium during it's last game.

The image became a hit being picked up by USA Today and the NY Post.

As legend goes, Jacobs started Perspective Aerials and began his aerial photography business in 2007 flying small point and shoot canon cameras capturing primarily still photography. Anthony began to take RC aerial multimedia serious when a photo he captured an image of the old Yankee Stadium during the final game before the stadium's demolition which was picked up by the NY Post and USA Today.

These two events sparked a lot of interest in his unique business, within weeks Jacobs received a call from an editor at TIME magazine who wanted to run a story on his business in their technology section on TIME.com

Jacob's decided to venture in the RC aerial video realm in 2009 after purchasing a Canon 5D Mark II. At the time no one was flying this camera on an RC copter and Jacobs was up for the challenge and succeeded. I had seen a lot of aerial footage but I was impressed with the nimbleness of his rig and how it could act more like a Technocrane (allowing a director to start close, move around a subject and then end with huge sweeping panoramas all in one run) then a traditional helicopter (which only offers establishing shots).

GE WORKS 'JUICE TRAIN' featuring Perspective Aerial's shots which serve as the intro and grand finale our this epic two day time lapse

I was dying to work with him and after many tries I was fortunate enough to bring Anthony onto our GE WORKS ‘JUICE TRAIN’ shoot. Anthony’s rig was so efficient he was able to leave it built in the back of the rental car and launch at a moments notice. I honestly don’t believe the scale and scope of the video would have been as impressive without the intro and outro shot that he was able to contribute.

The Canon 1DC being flown on Jacob's rig. He is the first person to fly the 1DC in this type of configuration. What an amazing way to put 4K to work.

At that time there were a few limitations to his rig was a limited weight range (a FS100 with light weight lens would be close to maxing it out) and no follow focus. Still, even with this the results were astonishing. Years of traveling around the globe solely flying DSLR cameras, Jacobs felt it was time to step up the game by flying larger higher quality video cameras such as the RED Epic, Canon C300/500, EOS 1DC and Sony FS700.

Last week Anthony reached out to me about these 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 FF systems design 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. ASL specializes in High Definition productions, Underwater Cinematography, and Jimmy Jib camera crane services and rentals.

ASL President, Anthony S. Lenzo has been a consultant on the design of several underwater camera housings for HD systems. Lenzo has been shooting with the Epic underwater since its release. In 2007, Lenzo started 'Toys 4 Red', a design company that released the "RIP KIT', an I/O panel for the Red One camera that converted all mini-xlr connectors to full size xlr, converted all mini-bnc to full size and timecode to bnc. The panel also piped all I/O's down an DVI cable to a remote breakout box. This project was approved by Red and announced by them on the reduser forum.

A better look at the Follow Focus system Jacob's and ASL's Anthony Lenzo attached to the Canon 1DC

Camera Operator pan/tilt control box. The follow focus unit (right) plugs into the control box.

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.

The Jag35 EFF that was modified for RC copter wireless functionality which has a range of over 1/2 mile.

I am very grateful to Anthony for allowing me to share his results with you. I think he’s a real trailblazer when it comes to aerial photography and it’s amazing to watch how his creativity and ingenuity has allowed him to push his drone rig so far. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next and see what other potential he can unlock for filmmakers utilizing aerial rigs.

If you'd like to reach out to Anthony to congradulate him on a job well done or book him for aerial work please conact him at his website. To find out more about Anthony Lenzo and his team at ASL check out their website.

The 1DC DRONE FIRST FLIGHT video was shot by Anthony Jacobs and Anthony Lenzo. Editing by Justin Sharp.

Here's some more gear porn of the new Perspective Aerial drone flying the Canon 1DC, Canon C300 and Sony FS700

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