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Costa Rica – Crocodiles, Surfing, and Exploring!

We spent 4 days in Costa Rica surfing, hiking, and filming.  This beautiful country has everything a drone enthusiast loves; big waves, empty beaches, tall mountains, and a laid back culture that is as exciting about your filming as you are.

 

We spent time in the busy Playa Jaco, shopping and talking with locals.  We surfed in Playa Jaco, but didn’t find too many good waves there.  We hiked a nearby mountain which provided an amazing view over the entire Jaco area.  This can be seen at about the 1 minute and 10 second mark in the video.

 

Playa Hermosa was another story.  We surfed in 8-12 foot barreling surf.  Hermosa is highlighted a lot in our videos because the footage was just too good to pass up.  We met with a lot of locals and professional surfers who spend their time training and teaching surf lessons at Playa Hermosa.

 

Playa Esterillos was a quiet, empty beach that offered miles of clean surf with no competition.  The lineup at Esterillos was empty for as far as you could see.  The surf was less violent than Hermosa, which was a welcome escape from the danger.

 

Manuel Antonio was a little more crowded, as it draws in quite a few tourists.  The scenery was absolutely stunning as you are surrounded by mountains.  Huge rock formations can be seen just off the coast.  Manuel Antonio has lots of wildlife to offer as well.  We were unfortunately unable to film much here due to rainy weather.

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Weekend Update – Drone in Music Video/Triathlon

We had a busy weekend as we had the opportunity to work in two different locations.  Without giving away too many details, we can say that we have successfully worked on a music video for a well known rap artist, and are actively working to support a local youth triathlon!  Stay tuned as we will have some new portfolio pieces coming in really soon!

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FPV (First-Person View) Flying

Flying FPV is a great way to send your drone to places you can’t physically go.  Before taking off on an FPV flight, there are a number of things to consider.   Proper UAV operation would require that the operator is within site of the drone at all times. You will quickly find that this is not always possible, and if you are going to try to fly FPV you need to make sure you are ready.

 

  1. Know the geography – Relying solely on you video stream can lead to disaster if you don’t know what you’re flying over.  Take the time to scout your flight path and determine the minimum safe flying altitude.
  2. Don’t rely strictly on the video feed – There are a number of things that can interfere with your video signal, and if the signal is lost you need to be able to continue to operate the aircraft until you can get it home.  Practice flying using only the map view, and get comfortable with any autopilot features that your drone may have.
  3. Prepare for signal loss – In the event that you lose signal, you need to know how your drone is going to react.  If you are flying at an altitude that is higher than your tallest obstacle, telling your drone to return to home is a safe option.  If you will be dropping the drone below the obstacle line, you may want to consider programming your drone to auto-land or hover until signal is regained.  Be sure to take into account water hazards!

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Drone tips for beginners

We have spent countless hours flying and practicing with our drones.  We’ve achieved some amazing shots, but we’ve also had a few close calls.  We really wanted to put together a list of tips for new pilots.  We hope this helps you learn from our mistakes.

 

 

  1. Pre-Flight checklist – This is crucial, starting a flight without making sure that everything is ready can lead to disaster.  Especially if you are in a public or semi-crowded area.  There are a lot of things to consider before starting a safe flight, but here are a few aircraft-specific things that we check off before taking flight.
    1. GPS Mode is on – If we are outdoors and have access to a solid GPS signal, we always make sure that GPS is enabled before taking off.  If your drone is equipped with GPS, we highly recommend flying with this engaged.  It will help keep your drone stable, and give you options in case you lose signal or have a failing battery.
    2. Compass is calibrated – Most drones have a compass that helps to keep them oriented.  Be sure that the compass is calibrated properly prior to taking flight.
    3. Gimbal mode is set properly – Our DJI Phantom 3 has a powerful gimbal that provides smooth shots regardless of wind conditions or drone speed.  For nearly every shoot that we do, we want the Gimbal on follow mode, which will keep the camera still even if the drone is bouncing up and down.  If you require your gimbal in another mode that is fine, just make sure prior to take off that the gimbal is going to react the way you would expect it to.
    4. Home position is locked in –  Yes this is something that you can do after takeoff, but it’s best to make sure that your drone knows where it launched from in the very beginning.  If you have an issue right after takeoff, you want to know exactly how your drone is going to react.  If you are going to be flying over water, it is best to launch from shore (if possible) and have your drone set to “Return to home”.  This will force your drone to return to shore in the event that it loses signal with the controller.  The attached video shows some clips of people who failed to set this properly and really paid the price!
  2. Have a flight plan – Knowing where you will be flying will better prepare you in the event that something goes wrong.  Plan your routes carefully, making sure that in the event that you lose signal, your drone will be able to safely return to home without running into any object.
  3. Use common sense – If used improperly, drones can be very intrusive.  Never fly over large crowds, and respect people’s privacy.  Keeping up with the latest drone regulations is a must to make sure that you are always operating your drone within the law.  Don’t be afraid to fly however.  If you are operating your drone responsibly, you should never be given a hard time.  Always make sure you have permission if you are flying over private property or in public parks.  If asked to stop flying, it is usually best to land your drone and then have a rational conversation regarding your rights as a pilot.
  4. Start low and slow – Spend plenty of time flying close to the ground and at slow speeds.  This will give you the opportunity to get comfortable with the controller and to learn the way the drone will react to the sticks.  You may need to personalize the sensitivity of certain controls, and this will give you a chance to do so.  Once you feel comfortable, start attempting bigger and more challenging shots.
  5. Complacency Kills – Getting too comfortable will lead to crashes.  Get into a routine of caution with every flight, regardless of how skilled you become.  Getting too comfortable will mean that you are not prepared when things don’t work the way that you planned.

We will continue to post tips to this blog over time.  Be sure to subscribe to us here, and on YouTube.

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Professional Drone Photography in Orlando

Our batteries are charged, propellers installed and we are ready to fly! It has taken several months to get everything lined up, but at last we are ready to start shooting real commercial photography. We’ve been shooting for a while now and have some demo footage ready for you.

 

We’ve got a few big projects lined up for the next several months, but are constantly looking for new places to fly. If you’ve got a project, or even just a suggestion for a great place to get some footage, let us know in the comments below!

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