Drones to Replace Cameras in Film Animation – Boon or Bane

Drones are replacing the cameras at a faster rate. Drone model in film animation would help filmmakers a lot. Read how drones are attracting animation industry.

7 months ago
Drones to Replace Cameras in Film Animation – Boon or Bane

Gone are the days when you were obsessed to buy a camera to click pictures. Today, you have smartphones with best picture quality and other types of equipment to capture moments.

The history of the camera is surprisingly attractive. From pinhole image to clicking pictures by DSLR, cameras have continued to change through generations of technology including film, dry plates and to the modern day with drones.

Thanks to the smartphones, almost everyone today has a camera with them at any moment. Rewinding time, when selfies were not born, photographers used to invent new technology now and then. And now, there are selfie-taking drones to solve your selfie-problems. 

In the film industry, when filmmakers are using cameras to capture stunning images and videos, drones are surprising them with better options in terms of presentation. Drone is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. Also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV is the major component of UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) which includes a ground-based controller, UAV and a system to communicate between them.

While they are majorly used in military applications, their use is expanding to agriculture, commercial, film industry and in other applications like aerial photography and drone racing. Today, drones are playing a crucial role in filmmaking. It has completely changed the game. Both independent and mainstream filmmakers are using drones to shoot the video and to capture an aerial shot.

Because of drones, film producers and directors are doing great in presenting their work. Let us understand more how using a drone in filmmaking is speeding up the production.

The Strong Connection Between Drones and Filmmaking

Source = Bigcommerce

When you are into a business that involves videos and clicking of pictures, having a drone is surely a PLUS. A drone equipped with a high-quality camera makes a difference to your existing film setup. With a drone, the filmmakers now capture awesome videos and footage without a cameraman holding a camera for long hours. It allows getting more pictures and videos with less manpower. What’s more surprising is this gadget can shoot high-resolution videos at minimum cost.

When drones were not in trend, the filmmakers and the videographers would team people to different areas of the venue to take shots from multiple angles. But now with a drone, a single person can take pictures/videos from multiple angles just by moving the drone everywhere.

Other film equipment like large cameras usually takes a lot of time setting up. But drone onset can reduce delays.  Do you know how much time it takes to shoot if helicopters are used for aerial shots? Maybe more than 7-8 hours. With drones, setups won’t take time, and the shots are done more easily.

For instance,  the filmmaker Paul Cameron shared that the setting up of drones while shooting for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales took only a few minutes. The shooting cost less money and gave the team more time for the promotion.

How Drones Help in Film Animation – How it Works

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It is very time-consuming to make characters look real in animated movies. Tobias Nägeli, a Computer Scientist and the Head of the Advanced Interactive Technologies Lab at ETH Zurich, says drones have a great potential for animated film.

He said –

“For the figures to appear natural, the first step is to film an actor performing the movements. The second step is then to build the animated figure around this.”

To re-shape an actor’s movements for animation, they should be recorded with two cameras simultaneously. They should be sequenced properly, and that needs more technical work. It either requires adding of 3-4 or more cameras at different places, or other installations like cranes or dollies can be used.

But these techniques may soon be obsolete. On the other hand, the drone technology by Tobias Nägeli follows every move of the actor and then automatically adjusts its position so that movements can be recorded from two angles. This requires less time and work as the cameras only have to be in the areas where they are needed.

The drone system is quite impressive as it anticipates what would be the actor’s next move. It then calculates the time and angle where the drone needs to be moved to keep the actor’s movement in the same frame.

To reduce the volume of the data collected, infrared diode markers are fixed to the actor’s joints. The drone model checks a few points from which it calculates the body’s position and the next movement. (15.1)

“Of course, this kind of demo system is not good enough to meet the requirements of the film industry yet. But it does offer a promising approach,” he added.

Here’s the video showing how the system can be used to record actor’s movements over long distances.

Source = "AIT ETH"

Some Major Advantages of Using Drone Model

Today when drones are small, light-weight and mainly used for films, back in the time, these drones were used for missions. Here are bizarre drone designs ever found.

While several animation industries are still using traditional cameras, the popular ones are planning to switch completely to drone technology. Here are some of the best advantages of using the drone model.

  • Lower Production Cost Than Regular Aircrafts

Drones significantly reduce production costs because this gadget has taken the place of equipment like helicopters and jibs. For instance, a filmmaker said –

“A helicopter would nearly cost $30,000 to $50,000 for 10-12 hours of shoot, while a drone with its maintenance and crew member only costs nearly $20,000 a day. In this way, the film companies could save money that can be utilized in other aspects like post-processing and marketing.”

  • Advanced Features

Source = Wired

Different drone models are equipped with different features. Some feature smart management system for battery life while others provide safety for higher shots. Choosing one with the smart features helps a lot in animation. Drones with harnesses and built-in cameras are capable of 4K aerial shooting.

  • Easy to Use

Well, the drones are designed to fly anywhere you want. It is lightweight and makes it perfect for aerial shots. In the film animation or shooting the high technical film, this mini aircraft is good to go with powerful motors and light-weight. It is portable and shoots at high resolution to make it a theater worthy.

  • Capture Impressive Shots

Source = Sciencenode

With professional drones, you can make a video or a film of more than 3 hours. That is because professional drones come with a higher video latency which makes it ideal for filming. While a ground camera can only capture an actor performing in a limited area, drones allow the directors to capture a complete view of the surroundings.

When the World’s Largest Animation Was Presented by 38 Autonomous Drones

Source = Collmot

It was on 20th August 2018 drones attracted millions when Hungarians celebrated the foundation of their state in Budapest. For the first time, the event was framed with live drone shows. The drone shared a true story with 3D animations and aerial images related to their history.

Hungarians stamped their name into history as the world’s largest 3D animation presented by 38 autonomous drones as a part of their National day’s emblematic firework show.

Over half a million people watched a giant Miraculous Deer walking nobly over the Danube, a 100m high Hungarian cross and the Holy Crown of their first king rotating in peace with the music that lures the crowd.

The Miraculous Deer animation was designed by Ágnes Előd, a sculptor from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts and Art Director of Open Dimensions Ltd. The 3D animation was based on motion pictures of deer. (15.2)

Concluding Thoughts 

If it is the first time you are trying your hands on a drone, then get in practice as much as you can. The more you practice, the better you will control the drone.

At present, we are doing much more than recording and sharing. Drones are helping us in making films and capturing stunning photos. But the challenge is to continually upgrade the drone technology for more applications. It’s is a good sign that drones are replacing cameras and benefiting the filmmakers and various industries in terms of money and quality.

What do you think will drones survive in the market for long? Or another gadget will be launched to replace drones? Drop your comments below.

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