The high-tech setups used for aerial videos look more like something from a movie than the remote-controlled toy helicopters some of us might still be playing with.
The aerial filming companies we worked with had custom-built helicopters, expert operators and a complicated map of wiring and circuits to allow complete control over multiple rotors.
Projection Films’ octocopter rotated eight propellers on eight arms for enough lift to carry a small DSLR camera, and required two operators – one for the camera, one for the copter.
Barry of Ultimate Aerial Vermont opts for a smaller four-prop copter with a set of smaller cameras that lets him see what the copter sees. Those of us stuck on the ground can also get a peek on a nearby video monitor.
As I toured the mountain with them, the most common question we got was “how much does one of those things cost?” The answer is upwards of a few thousand dollars and a lot of mechanical know-how to build and fly it.
But it is easy to see why they love flying when watching the soaring video they produce. It’s a vicarious and unusual pleasure.