Aerials over the South China Sea

Aerial video is exciting.

As humans need aided flight to take to the air, most viewers can only experience this perspective through video or computer graphics.

For decades, filmmakers used fixed and rotary wing aircraft to present an aerial view. Now we use UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, a.k.a. ‘drones’) to capture stunning imagery from closer and sharper than ever before.

As a filmmaker, I have shot sequences for television commercials and feature films, often from a Aérospatiale Écureuil or Bell JetRanger helicopter with a Wescam gyroscopically controlled 35mm film camera. For decades, this was cutting edge technology. Most recently, I have ‘downsized’ the image capture technology to a DJI Inspire One and a 4K camera.

This approach delights both the practical and creative requirements of a Producer and Director. The size, weight, flexibility, economy and programmability of the UAV and the proximity, clarity and simplicity of the 4k camera result in better and closer images than ever before. 

Current lightweight UAVs, use batteries which can be permitted in aircraft carry-on baggage, provided strict fire-prevention criteria are met. Shenzhen based DJI, is a world leading UAV manufacturer and the Inspire One is its most versatile aircraft.

In October 2015, Digital Tsunami arranged for a pilot and gimbal-operator to travel south from Zhuhai to a remote island in the South China Sea. Here on a beautiful clear day, they shot the site of a future Hanas LNG terminal. The quality of the images is breathtaking.

The video produced for Hanas New Energy, followed on from short videos of power generation facilities which the company manages in Inner Mongolia and the northern Chinese province of Ningxia.

Tracking over the sea on approach to the island, the camera captured the texture of the waves glistening in oblique sunlight and then ascending across the sandy beaches and lush mountainside forest of the island.

For a veteran filmmaker, a corporate client and the audience, the ability to get close to sea, land and the built environment is truly exciting.

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