Aerial Photography platforms

[Eric Austin] is using a Canon 7D with this RC helicopter to capture some amazing HD video. His success has manifested itself in a company that is now manufacturing these platforms ready-to-use. Take a look at their blog to see some of the hardware they’re working on, such as a tricopter and hexacopter photo platforms. We’ve also embedded a video after the break of the unit seen above and the stunning shots it’s able to grab.


[via Gizmo Watch]

42 thoughts on “Aerial Photography platforms

  1. This is pretty awesome. I’m guessing they have some problems with vibrations though. I’ll wager that’s what the bungee cord is for. Note that the bungee cord changes at least 3 times (2 configurations + 1 w/o bungee).

  2. RC helicopters are really fucking stupid. You need an absolute windless day to fly them as any little bit of wind will crash it unless you like spending many many thousands on one. Not only that but they are extremely hard to fly and one crash and the whole system is screwed. Have fun trying to perfectly balance the camera on it and dealing with extremely sensitive electronics where the smallest mistake and its all gone.

    On the other you can buy any $150 brushless electric lipo airplane, slap on a camera and you have over 40 minutes of flight time which can go much higher and navigate in much harsher conditions than a helicopter. Not only that but they are extremely resistant and you have to really try to permanently break it. True you can’t hover like a helicopter, but they go so slow (~15mph) and are so maneuverable it doesn’t matter.

  3. @andrewciscosmith:

    I bet they have insurance on the camera. Most pro photographers insure their equipment. If the chopper crashes, they’ll just call up the insurance company and say, “Uh, yeah, I dropped it.”

    There’s a company in the Seattle area that makes good money taking marketing pictures of what the views will be from high-rise luxury condos, before construction starts on the building. As I recall they use a tethered balloon.

  4. @kirov: Troll Harder!

    Pretty cool! A Canon 7D is certainly not light and I imagine it takes a toll on the helicopter’s lifting ability. Also, the copter looks sturdy enough to withstand mild crashes…I’d really like to have/build one of these.

  5. These days RC helicopters have gyro units available that make flying them a lot easier and safer. That’s just the single rotor models, the quad copters are really stable. The ability to hover pretty valuable for aerial shots, especially if you want to capture the motion of an object on a landscape instead of the landscape flashing past the camera.

  6. IDEA – What if your effort went into controlling the camera, rather than the copter? Design the thing to “lock location” using GPS or some other positioning method such that it can hover automatically, then you can control the camera angle, zoom, etc. This would be an AWESOME product for TV NEWS companies to offer areal videos for important things that might not be big enough to warrant a real chopper.

  7. Honeywell has been developing this idea for the past 10 years or so for various law enforcement and military applications. Platform stability is key. An RC helicopter is iffy as per the other comments.

  8. Anyone else think this guy sounded like an incredibly annoying, pretentious jack*ss? I could totally see him leaning against a 1998 Camero he had supercharged himself saying something like “Yeah, I blow the 911s and bimmers off the line all the time.”

  9. It looks like they were filming “blind”? At least, I couldn’t see any video transmitter on the camera, to check the picture… (btw, somebody hack a decent digital video transmitter to plug into the HDMI port of the camera, currently these things seem to cost more than everything else combined)

  10. I would never ever ever ever ever put THAT camera on a FLYING contraption of any sort. Jesus. Just imagine a freak just of wind or a rogue kite taking down a camera worth 4 zeros. Gives me the chills gentlemen.

  11. Why are so many people flaming helicopters, i bet none have you have flown a decent sized heli like a trex 600 or bigger, they are very stable and just take some hand eye coordination to fly! even on a gusty day i can still hover in one spot no problem and have no problems with swaying +the trex can lift up to 20lb’s

  12. video on helis is a growing activity that is very achievable by damn near anybody these days.

    A lil’ Trex 450 has enough power to get 100g up in the air. I know, mine does. Vibration on that is irritating however.
    Once you get blades over 500mm long though, stability increases quite markedly, and vibration drops a lot.
    My Gaui 550 holds a camera quite nicely and I’ve got some reasonable clips from it. Nothing brilliant, cause my flying skills are still quite basic.

    go drop by helifreak’s video and photography section for what hobbiests and semi pros are doing around the world.

  13. kirov, you can use a plane but you can’t hover in one place. plus you need a runway to take off and land. Unless you use some thing very small with a cheap lightweight camera, which will degrade your quality and be very unstable anyways. You also can fly a rc heli with winds and keep it stable. If you had watched the video and had any knowledge of rc helicopters he’s using a flybarless stabilization system. This keeps the rc heli locked in place barely any drift even in heavy winds. This RC heli in the video has 3 gyros to keep it stable. He still has a lot of work to do controlling it and can not do both aim the camera and control the heli, but with two people this is easily done. I have a few friends of mine that take aerial photography using a trex 700 and the shots are amazing. also full 360 shots can be taken, but you can’t do that from an rc plane.

  14. Don’t mind kirov — he always makes cynical comments.

    As for this chopper-cam, it’s great and seems like a fun toy (provided the 7D is insured), but which part of this is supposed to be a “hack”?

    This is a readily-available photographer’s tool.

    Not a hack.

  15. @rilopez:

    you obviously have no idea what RC planes are capable of, you can get ones taht are extremely stable and have extraordinary thrust to weight ratio, far greater than a helicopter of the same size could have. You don’t need a runway for many such setups – you can either hand launch them or get a simple portable catapult system, landing them will work in any field.

  16. “I just took the restrictor plate off the Red Dragon. Its not exactly street legal, so dont tell anyone.” (same school of douchebaggery IMO)

    I’ve been wanting to build a KAP for ages. This post caught my interest… but I don’t see how its a hack/project/re-purpose/etc. I mean, it is pretty much an advertisement.

  17. Nice hack, although I wouldn’t put my Canon on it. I wouldn’t mind attaching one of those crappy 1.2 megapixels cameras to it. I wouldn’t mind crashing it with the helicopter either (guided missile) :P

  18. My personal favorite project like this is the Mikrokopter Hexakopter, which is here:

    Admittedly, he’s likely an expert pilot, but just wait for him to put it on autopilot. Their platform is astonishingly powerful, as well as altitude and positions holding auto.

    Wouldn’t be a huge stretch to program in flight paths, and to scale the airframe up for larger payloads, I suspect.

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