M104MC – Final Project – Drone footage

Drone still 1

To document the Canal Warehouse building, I decided to use a drone to capture the exterior aspects and the immediate surround areas of the canal basin. As I had never flown a drone before, I enlisted the help of one of my colleagues at Coventry University. Jon Constable is a theatre technician who has undergone his drone pilot training. I though this was a good route to follow as film in a public area and over water could have dire consequences, not only for passersby but for the drone crashing into the canal never to be seen again!

We arranged a date to meet up at the canal basin and I booked out the DJI Inspire that is available for the 21st Century Media course. I briefed Jon on the shots I wanted to achieve and took the role of director for the shoot. The drone was sent up for it’s first shot, an over head of the area from above. After a couple of minutes the camera gimbal suddenly collapsed  and the camera ended up pointing at a random angle and wobbling all over the place. We brought it back down and checked it over. After a power reset the gimbal was back in the right position. We sent the drone back up again and yet again after a few minutes the gimbal collapsed again! We persevered with the shoot and tried to get the shots I needed in the time before the gimbal collapsed mid flight. I took the footage back to see if it was usable, but there seemed to be another issue with the camera that was causing it to glitch and jump rendering the footage unusable.

Jon had access to another drone, a DJI Mavic, and offered to re-shoot with it on another day, which we organised for a few weeks later. The Mavic is a smaller drone and the camera doesn’t have a pan function, but Jon had been using it regularly and he knew it was working properly. On the rearranged shoot we ran through the same shots as although the first batch had the technical problems, they looked like a strong set of clips.

After a Skype tutorial with Ken, he gave me the advice to make sure the opening sequence that was going to be used was the correct one to set the tone and mood of the documentary. From this I decided that I would use the drone footage as the main opening sequence as it had a a dramatic scale and set the scene for the location of the documentary. One problem with the drone footage is that there is no audio, just video, so I had to make sure it had an audio soundtrack that fitted with both the visuals and helped set the mood. In an ideal world I would have created an experimental soundscape, but I was running out of free time to create an original work. My sound library from previous projects wasn’t up to scratch to do the video footage justice. I did however find a great website of royalty free soundtracks called freemusicarchive.org. I had a short list of three tracks that had the right feel to them, but settled on an experimental track called ‘Open Window’ by Noel Griffin. It’s has a creative commons license attached to it so was ok for non-commercial  use. I used the track to help pace the edits of the visuals. Overall I think it is a good film to open with.

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