The days of the Box Brownie are well and truly behind us, and so are those of the 8mm Videocamera and Instamatic cameras. Even those nifty Polaroids after a bit of a comeback and now passé.
Today, when we travel, we want to show off our locations and antics in more imaginary ways, hence the success of the so-called “Action Cam” – GoPros, Sony ActionCam and others. Lately, 360° degree cameras have flooded onto the scene, mostly in our experience being rubbish sadly, but there are apparently a few good ones out there and one day, one of those manufacturers such as Vuze, Yi and others may deem to accept our requests and send us one …
And of course there is the drone.
12 months ago, every man and his dog were bringing out a drone of some sort, most usually with a camera / camcorder in the nose of varying dubious quality. We played with many of them – one from Swann that tended to slip sideways of its own accord and crash, the weirdly named Dobby that flashed onto the scene and as rapidly flashed off again, hoards of Chinese manufactured, mostly toys, the Parrot BeBop (no longer represented in Australia) and of course the ill-fated GoPro Karma with its battery problems (we still have one at the bottom of Hervey Bay if anyone is interested).
Sailing serenely through all this drone-y turmoil has been Chinese behemoth DJI with its range of drones from the low end – but still very good – quadcopters to industrial strength beasts.
It has to be said that from a reviewing angle, getting anything out of DJI (or its Aussie representatives and agencies) is like letting blood from a stone. We begged a MAVIC from a dealer which we had for a couple of weeks, but that is about it. But we will keep trying, as there is a plethora of new models (and other gadgets) from DJI consistently being released.
All that is a long winded way of saying that a drone is a great way to get a different perspective on a location and we found just this at Eco Beach Beach resort near Broome. Whilst we don’t have a DJI MAVIC, we do have our second GoPro Karma (the fixed version) with a GoPro Hero 6 4K installed in the stabilizer in the nose. It is a little bity heavy to cart around on budget flights where baggage is limited to 23Kg, but we managed to squeak through at 23.3Kg with the Karma in its case inside my case along with other camera kit, fishing gear and the odd pair of shorts, a shirt or two and a pair of thongs (flip flops if you MUST) along with other necessary bits and pieces of clothing and, well, stuff you need on a weeklong trip.
Like stubbie holders. Just kidding. No I’m not…
And the careful weighing and packing proved worthwhile, as this location (see map) is a brilliant location for shooting drone video due to the changing landscape because of the huge tides, varying light and simple remoteness of the place.
With a 10 metre rise and fall, and the distance between high water and low tide being 200 metres plus, brilliant sunrise and sun sets, the colour of the water, the red of the earth, white of the sand and the incongruity of a 4 star resort in the middle of nowhere, we had a ball flying the GoPro Karma around – indeed we were encouraged by the management there to do so!
But, if you are tempted, remember there are a few rules to obey.
According to the CASA APP, “Can I Fly There”, Ramada Eco Beach Resort is outside the Broome airspace area, however they DO have the occasional helicopter land guests there, and also have days when there are tourist flights over Roebuck Bay for whale watching etc so make sure you check with the management for those days and occasions.
I also strongly you register with CASA as a drone operator where you will be issued with your unique number. This proves useful if you are ever challenged (as I have been) as to your intent, and you can do it here. Having a registration with CASA you can show seems to placate the very few who get a bit over top about you flying a drone in what they deem as their personal space.
Additionally, there are CASA rules to obey when flying in terms of where, how high, how far and when you can fly. These can all be found here.
And of course, it makes common sense that you KNOW how to control your drone so that if something untoward happens, you can recover relatively unscathed, with no damage to it, buildings or objects and of course people or animals around you. I have a scar from a mishap very early in my flying days proving those whirling blades are unforgiving and bloody sharp!
Like anything else, practise, practise and more practise will make, if not perfect, you a better and safer drone pilot.
Don’t forget also the skills in using the on-board camera. Avoid the temptation to perform circles (your viewer gets dizzy), perfect slow pans and plan you flight path to get the best chance of shots with the least risk in the least time – batteries only last so long.
Make sure you have your light source (the sun usually) in the right position, camera settings correct before take-off and the camera angle at the right elevation to avoid just shooting the sky or just the ground directly below.
And again, practise, practise, practise.
Finally, carefully edit the captured footage to make it an enjoyable watch. Add subtitles and / or a voice over, overlay maps to show the exact location of the flight, use something such as Smartsound to create a soundtrack (or better, hire a musician or even do it yourself!)
Create something, as you would with any footage you take, that you and others can enjoy as a memento of a holiday, event or simply a location you enjoy being at or in.
The accompanying video a shows the beach and surrounds at high tide at the Ramada Eco Beach Resort, 140Kms south of Broome in Western Australia. This is by no means a finished videoas per my last paragraphs above, as only an hour or so editing was done from about 18 minutes footage available.
It was also mainly done on site with a small laptop and without 240v power (Eco Beach runs 12v), battery charging only was available, so time was at a premium. MUCH more could be done to this video I admit. I’ll have a low tide one posted soon.
But hopefully you get the idea.