Expensive! And you thought losing your drone was bad… have a thought for this!

Last night Perth (in Western Australia, not Scotland) held its annual City of Light Christmas Show that featured 500 drones. But something went wrong and about 50 of them simply dropped from the sky into the Swan River. The total cost of the loss is estimated to be around $100,000 according to Drone Sky Show managing director Joshua Van Ross.

No cause is yet apparent as to what befell the casualties, but today divers are attempting to salvage as many as they can to try and ascertain what went wrong.

Nobody in the huge crowd was in danger by the way as there was a 120 metre exsclusion zone around the area the drones were flying – or not as the case may be.

Perth is known as the “City of Light” because in 1962, Perth residents and businesses left on their lights, shone torches to the sky and lit lanterns to generate as much light as possible – Astronaut John Glenn commented on the brightness from space and Perth became known as The City of Light.  Glenn was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.

Image and footage from Nine News Perth


Shooting the Perth Skyworks. Fireworks on Australia Day.

The 26th January in Australia is marked as “Australia Day” and is the commemoration of the day the British flag was raised in what is now Sydney, and the British took dominion over the lands.

To this day, there are divided opinions over this holiday / commemoration, with many local indigenous people calling it “Invasion Day” and wanting it abolished or at least, the date of “Australia Day” changed.

One wag the other day suggested May 8th, as this is easily memorised by all Aussies “May 8… M-a-a-a-a-t-e!” Gerrit?

Anyway, politics aside, on this day many cities and towns hold commemorative fireworks displays, and the one in Perhttps://www.australia.com/en/places/perth-and-surrounds/guide-to-perth.htmlth, the capital city of my home State, Western Australia, is noted as one of the biggest and the best.

Dubbed the “Skyworks”, up to 300,000 people gather on the Perth foreshore of the Swan River to watch the 20 minute or so spectacle that starts at 8pm sharp and explodes above Perth Water.

Now, to our US, European and Asian cousins (at this point the UK is still in the European Union so I include them in Europe by the way), 300,000 might not seem a lot, but when you consider this is about ¼ of the city’s population, it is pretty impressive.

One of the challenges is photographing or videoing the event, and this year, myself and Jacqui did the 4 hour trek from home in Quinninup (near Manjimup), leaving Budweiser and Shnorky the Hounds to play Guardy-Dogs for a couple of nights.

We stayed at the Great Southern Hotel in Northbridge, and at 6pm, walked the 2Km or so into the main city and then a further 1Km to find our 1 square metre of plot in the absolutely crowded Langley Park, the main viewing area (the other is at Kings Park above the river and about 2Km downstream).

The cameras I had with me were a Panasonic WFX1 4K camcorder and VUZE XR 360/180  VR Handheld.

One problem the average person gets in this situation (apart from the absolutely pointless act of leaving the auto flash turned on in still cameras / smartphones), is using auto focus and auto aperture. Simply, on this setting, the camera / smartphone is continually trying to “hunt” for something to focus on – without success in the alternating dark and bright flash / light from the fireworks, and doing the same for the aperture as again, the ambient light switches from black to bright light.

So, the simple trick is to pre-show, set the aperture manually – I used F8 – and focus to infinity. If shooting for still images, for the shutter speed I set to 1/60th, but playing around a little in the first few minutes of the show with settings and checking the resultant images will get you your ideal setting.

And it goes without saying – or does it – to hold your smartphone horizontally! This way you’ll fill the frame rather than have those wide, empty black vertical stripes on the sides of your video / photo. In other words, like your TV, the long sides to the top and bottom.

What I was after was to get the effects of the fireworks putting a reflection on the water, and also putting the crowd in front of me in silhouette.

I confess I wasn’t 100% successful, but the result – and there is no doctoring in this footage as it is direct from the camera, I just added the titles and logo – is not too bad. The footage has been down sampled from 4K to HD for this post though and I have included my Vegas Pro 16 layout so you can see the compositing and layering used.

Vegas Pro Screen Layout for Video

On The Road Again…

Jacqui and I are off again on a trip to a) have a well-deserved holiday and b) in the process, test out a number of cameras and other devices in the real world.

So what devices you ask.

Panasonic GH5S

OK, the flagship is the new Panasonic GH5S, this time, as against our weekend at the South West TARGA Rally in Manjimup and Pemberton two weeks ago, pushing the video capabilities of what (so far) we have found to be an outstanding model.

RODE Videomic Pro

Second, as a comparison in 4K, we are using a Panasonic HC-VXF995 dedicated consumer camcorder, married to a RØDE Videomic Pro (we’ll also place the RØDE on the GH5S on occasion by the way).

And to test the low end, we have a Panasonic HC-V180 camcorder that shoots in HD, so that those on a lower budget can get the idea and see how a decent camcorder compares to a smartphone for video (in this case it will be a Samsung Galaxy S7). I think you’ll be surprised!

Outside the dedicated camcorder / mirrorless camera area, we have a GoPro 6, a GoPro Karma drone with a GoPro 5 on board, and for our snorkelling and diving expeditions, a GoPro 4 in a housing.

Rounding out the mix, is a Sony RX0 we’ll be using for candid work. Too many people equate the RX0 to an “action camera”, and we want to once and for all, prove it is far, far more than that! It’s resemblance to an action camera is very deceptive.

RODE Wireless Filmmaker Kit

Accessories we have are a Joby tripod, RØDE Link radio mic and a set of filters of different colours and gradients that fit into a universal mounted lens hood mounting to get some effects.

Where are we off to?

Perth Architecture – Shot on Panasonic GH5S

We are driving Jacqui’s Suzuki Grande Vitara 4WD from Quinninup to Perth where I have a specialist’s doctor appointment (nothing serious I assure you) and staying for 2 days at Miss Maud’s Swedish Hotel in Murray Street, and then up to Exmouth and Ningaloo Reef via Geraldton and Carnarvon.

Where we go in between up and back is up in the air at the moment; we have choices of Kalbarri, Monkey Mia, Useless Loop, Denham, Coral Bay and more. With almost 3 weeks to do the return trip (we have a mate Chris looking after Buddy and Shnorky, the dogs, back home), anything and everything is possible but we hope to encompass as much as we can.

Apart from the 2 days at Miss Maud’s in Perth, and probably a day on the way back, the idea is to camp out most of the time, so have the Suzuki full to the brim with tent, sleeping bags, blow up mattress, camp stove, camp chairs, lanterns, fishing gear, eskies, camera bags, tripod, diving gear and more.

The plan is to provide a daily log on this website with links via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram showing what we are doing, what we found, how we did it, the mistakes, the victories, the footage, images and audio, and give an honest precis of how we found each piece of kit.

Stay tuned – and see some of the most stunning country this country has to offer over the next few weeks! And fair dinkum reports on what may be your next camera or camcorder or even accessory.

If you have a request for us to do something with one of the cameras you may be interested to know about, please let us know (and be nice!) 😊

Text me on 0499089034, email via david@auscamonline.com, Twitter via @FVandVR or Facebook also via FVandVR (or Twitter and Facebook using @auscamonline or Australian Videocamera if you have issues).

Miss Maud’s Smorgasbord Selection on Jacqui’s Plate

PS: And this is NOT a paid plug. If you have an opportunity to stay overnight in Perth, Miss Maud’s Swedish Hotel and Restaurant in Murray Street in the CBD is sensational, inexpensive and the smorgasbord dinners and breakfasts are out of this world and brilliant value.