Best of NAB Show

Best of NAB 2016 compilation picture

BEST OF NAB SHOW 2016

You might be familiar with the NAB show in Vegas each year, but for those of you that are not, its where heaps of new cool products are launched each year. This year for me, maybe wasn’t as exciting as last year, but definitly a lot of awesome products to look out for in the near future.

This is our favourite products list from NAB show 2016.

DJI Matrice 600

DJI Matrice 600

DJI Matrice 600 heavy lift hexacopter, MTOW of 15.1kg.

So probably the worlds best know consumer drone brand dropped its biggest product this year, 6 battery heavy lift hexacopter. There is definitely a lot of nice features to his aircraft, some of which also seem like a bit of a downfall too.

This is now DJI’s biggest drone,its MTOW is 15.1kg, which sounds more impressive than it actually is, unfortunately it only equates to 6kg of useful payload, so weight will probably become pretty tight once you add the new Ronin-MX and a RED.

Their thinking was obviously to try and let people fly on domestic passenger planes with the lipos needed to power this craft, 6 99.9WH DJI specific batteries to get it airborne. This is probably going to set you back somewhere in excess of  $1000 per flight. Now the idea is twell and good, unfortunately its still not going to cut it, as most passenger planes still won’t let you check batteries and the drones is obviously going to be too big to carry on, which means your only option will be to deconstruct the thing and carry the PDB, batteries and flight controller system on board with you, not ideal, if allowed at all.

The best thing is probably the new flight controller, the A3, which could be a bit of a game changer, this also makes our list.

DJI A3 Flight Controller

DJI A3 Flight Controller

The newly released DJI A3 Flight Controller, capable of integrating with 2 other A3’s.

The new DJI flight controller, the A3, supersedes the A2 and looks like it s does so in a big way. Its capable of working together with 2 other units (total of 3) to become somewhat of a super flight controller called the Pro system, with centimetre accuracy, triple redundancy and the ability to control up to 5 aircraft at the same time.

All the details of the system are detailed on the DJI preview video here.

Ronin-MX Gimbal

DJI Ronin MX

DJI Ronin MX gimbal, specifically made for drone use

This is the third delivery from DJI, the new Ronin MX, a super cheap and light gimbal capable of carrying up to 4.5kg. Maybe on the light side for payloads compared with its opposition, the MÔVI or even the Gremsy, still substantially cheaper though, will be interesting to see who comes out on top with the horizon drift issues they all suffer from on board drones.

As expected, it looks like its going to be really easy to balance and uses the intelligent batteries. A dedicated position designed for an optional battery plate provides a mounting point for a 2nd battery providing two 12V P-tap power sources for powering cameras like the RED and other accessories (if you can spare the weight), it a USB and light bridge port, so thats pretty nice. Good job all round I think its going to be very popular.

Atomos Shogun Inferno

Atomos Shogun Inferno 4K monitor and recorder.

Atomos Shogun Inferno 4K monitor and recorder.

This years NAB uncovered to new 4K monitor/recorders, the first of which is the the Atomos Shogun Inferno. This thing is incredible, capable of recording 4K RAW and up to 240P in HD, its also got the new HDR technology that was only just released on the Flame a few months back. We use the Atomos here at FLYFILM and they are very very nice, we love that they keep pushing themselves further, putting out new tech frequently. Check out the full details here.

BlackMagic Designs Video Assist 4K

BlackMagic Designs Video Assist 4K monito & recorder

BlackMagic Designs Video Assist 4K monito & recorder

The second of the 4K monist/recorders is the BlackMagic Designs. They released the HD version last year at NAB and we have been using it here at FLYFILM, its a nice piece of tech. As good as the new 4K now looks, I just don’t know if its up there with the Atomos inferno, to be fair its just different.

So the main differences are that this one records to SD cards, so not sure how that will go in the real world, recording ProRes at 4K, but time will tell. It also takes the canon LP-E6 batteries that the HD VA takes, which works well enough.

As far as advancement from the HD 5″ VA, its got a lot more features, 2 X SD slots, SDI and XLR and HDMI in, SDI and HDMI out and its way bigger, so that’ll be nice on location. All in all  it looks great and at $895 US its well priced and will compete with the likes of the Atomos Ninja Flame, I just hope they make a sun hood for it, which they currently don’t for the 5″ VA.

GoPro Omni

GoPro Omni

GoPro Omni 360 VR rig.

Finally on our list is the GoPro Omni. Everyone was expecting to see the new drone from GoPro, already named the Karma, but instead we got the 360 VR rig. This thing looks pretty cool and with GoPro making it nice and simple to stitch together using AutoPano pro it should be easy enough for anyone to use.

You obviously either need to already own or have access to 6 GoPros that are the same or buy the full rig, which is going to be $5000US, not cheap, but what VR rig is at the moment. The GoPro site has some sample vids up, they look pretty nice, check them out here.

Australia’s New Drone Rules & The Safety Problems

DRONE RULE SAFETY PROBLEMS

ACUO

Whilst the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority has sought to widely promote its new drone rules as a boon for industry, devils reside in the detail and safety stands to be compromised. What wasn’t widely publicised by CASA are its ‘new’ Standard Operating Conditions, which all operators of drones (known in the industry as Remotely Piloted Aircraft) must abide by when the new regulations take effect at the end of September this year.

Currently, the Standard Operating Conditions for all drone operators dictates they must stay outside Controlled Airspace, a defined volume of airspace around busy airports where access is limited to aircraft with a proven safety record, and approved & registered aircraft can expect to operate without conflicting with other aircraft – including drones. By its very name this congested airspace must be ‘controlled’ by Airservices Australia to provide safe transit for passenger aircraft operating in and out of the airport, and to more broadly protect aviation and public safety.

If a certified drone operator wants to operate in Controlled Airspace they must make an application to CASA providing details of how they propose to de-conflict with manned aircraft. As one would expect, applications cannot be approved without a comprehensive risk management system being utilized. Certified drone operators are also not permitted to operate in Controlled airspace without a qualified radio-operator monitoring the aviation radio for localized traffic and possible conflicts with manned aircraft in the congested airspace.

Come October however, under the amended regulations, untrained and uncertified drone operators will be permitted to operate up to 400ft high in Controlled Airspace, as long as it is more than 3nm from the towered aerodrome. Since almost all towered aerodromes have quite a bit more than 3nm under control around the aerodrome (Brisbane CTZ is 7nm around; Sydney CTZ extends up to 11nm to the South & West), large amounts of controlled airspace at Australia’s major airports and regional aviation hubs will soon have a whole new set of risks to factor, and not just bird strikes anymore.

In an odd twist, CASA is silent on how a drone operator is expected to know the difference between a towered aerodrome and a non-towered aerodrome, if they don’t require any training or qualifications beforehand.

Also missing from the amended regulations are the usual safeguards for general aviation. Currently general aviation is protected by regulations prohibiting the operation of RPAS within 3nm of all aerodromes, including helipads. Under the amended regulations, however, untrained and unqualified drone operators will be able to operate a drone of up to 25kgs in weight, at up to 400ft above ground level, virtually right to the boundary fence of a non-towered aerodrome or helipad. Given that, historically, the risks of a mid-air collision are greatest around non-towered aerodromes, the amended regulations can be expected to significantly increase those risks for general aviation.

Just how CASA determined the amended regulations are somehow safer than the existing regulations, is not divulged. Yes, CASA did conduct a Standards Consultative Committee (SCC) process with industry to explore regulatory reform, but many industry members of that working group are now wondering; where is the data that supports the announced quantum shift in CASA’s risk analysis of drones at large?

Two study papers commissioned by CASA in 2013 were woefully short on real data but both papers were very clear about the potential consequences. A damning conclusion of the 1st study paper titled;CASA Publication 1 – human-injury-model-small-unmanned-aircraft-impacts, states: “The velocities in the loss-of-control scenario, in which the RPA descends from altitudes greater than 60m and reaching its terminal velocity, lie far above the determined acceptable values (typically above 30 m/s). At such high impact velocities practically any RPA mass is likely to cause unacceptably severe injuries.”

In the 2nd study paper titled; CASA Publication 2 – potential-damage-assessment-mid-air-collision-small-rpa, a questionable assumption is made that: “the highest threat of penetration is from the most compact and heavy components of a UAV”, and only a computer simulated model was performed. Additionally, the focus was on the consequences to a modern multi engine jet only. It was concluded that the most likely collision scenario was ingestion into one engine and the subsequent thrust loss. The consequences were deemed not likely to be catastrophic as modern multi engine jet aircraft are designed to continue safe flight with one engine loss. All other aircraft, however, including single engine jet aircraft, single engine propeller aircraft, helicopters, microlights, etc, were not included in the study!

The drone industry is all too well aware that hard data about RPAS and RPAS operations is very limited. This was the reason ACUO insisted CASA initiate a mandatory registration system here, similar to the drone registration system in the USA, to capture much needed data on small and very small RPAS use in Australia. Instead, CASA has created regulations which may have effectively regulated themselves out of enforcement. It’s a sad day when the nation’s aviation regulator capitulates to the most problematic sector under its authority. Not only has CASA crumbled under pressure, they have made our skies a dangerous game of cat and mouse, a game CASA would appear to have given up playing years ago.

The commercial drone industry now has real questions about the capacity of CASA to do its job properly or effectively. Making regulations is only one part of the equation, being able to enforce them is what makes the regulations effective. Without an ‘active’ deterrent value there is no incentive or benefit to complying with any regulations, old or new. CASA’s view that more relaxed regulations will lead to greater compliance is sheer folly, but this is the situation we are now confronted with.

Despite leading the world with ground breaking drone regulations back in 2002, CASA is now struggling just to keep up with the pack. These latest amendments to the drone regulations are only the second time in nearly 15 years that they have been amended. The UK by comparison, has updated its drone regulatory regime at least 4 times since being introduced in 2006. What’s more, the UK aviation regulator is actually being pro-active in enforcing the regulations.

It is quite telling that in almost 15 years of drone regulations in this country, and with over 500 certified commercial drone operators now, there has never been a prosecution or conviction for operating a drone commercially without certification. This, despite the fact it is a breach of Strict Liability. Ask yourself, do we allow untrained & unlicensed electricians or other tradesmen to work in industry? Do we allow untrained and unlicensed doctors to work in our health system? So why would we allow untrained and uncertified commercial pilots to operate in our national airspace, particularly our controlled airspace?

Australia has a rampant non-compliance issue with drones, such that illegal drone operators are openly advertising services on social media, knowing full well the likelihood of a fine or a prosecution from CASA is extremely remote. They also know that even if they are caught, CASA doesn’t penalize illegal drone operators, so there is simply no disincentive to stop doing it. It would seem to be cheaper just to pay the fines than it is to get properly trained and certified. Of these practices, there is no end in sight, with Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) figures for drone incidents steadily increasing since 2011. Such practices would be immediately stamped upon by CASA if it involved manned aircraft. In such circumstances the biggest devil in the detail is this: We stand at risk of deaths by drone until the regulator steps up to, and implements, its legislated role of ensuring Australia has safe skies.

About ACUO: ACUO is the peak industry body for commercial unmanned aircraft system operators in Australia. Established as a legal entity in March 2010, the association is chartered to promote the growth and expansion of the commercial unmanned aircraft industry in Australia, and to ensure the safe and orderly growth of the sector.

For further information: President: Joe Urli PH: 0408 382 165 Email: president@acuo.org.au

Top 20 Drone Companies of 2016

top 20 drone company 2016

So the numbers are in and here are the results for the Top 20 Drone Companies of 2016 Q1. Looks like DJI has missed out on the number 1 position which I thought was surprising, instead French company Parrot took the centre podium. A reasonably unknown, in Australia anyway came in at number 3, Ehang, thanks to the success of the GhostDrone, and may be better known for their insane person carrying drone the Ehang 184.

A lot of appearances from companies producing drones and software for the survey and industry areas, with the likes of SABRE, Pix4D and Sensefly all on the list.

The biggest surprise for me was Hexo+, a kickstarter drone, promising autonomous follow me for extreme sports and the like. The most surprising part of this, was it is one of the only kickstarter drones that actually made it to market and obviously doing very well.

FLYFILM missed out on the list, maybe next year.

top 20 drone company 2016

top 20 drone company 2016

Tourism Drone Cinematography BTS

Two weeks ago we headed to Nauru to shoot aerials as part of a 6 island Nauru Airlines TVC campaign being produced Wallis Media. As usual it was a late night packing and an early flight, the good people at Nauru Airlines looked after us and we enjoyed the extra room in business class for the 4 hour flight. So the Nauru International Airport isn’t a big airport, but its definitely got tonnes of character, which includes stopping local traffic around the runway to allow us to land.

The setup we used on this shoot was our custom DJI S1000 octocopter paired with Freefly Systems MôVI M5 gimbal and Panasonic GH4 4K camera. The Connex Amimon HD downlink allowed us to see what we were capturing without any delay and in real time on the Black Magic Designs Video Assist making sure we got the shots as they happened.  I was a little worried about the heat being a problem with at least one of the components in the setup, but everything pulled through perfectly without issue.

We were lucky enough to shoot with some of the locals in traditional dress, as well as them showing us some other traditional aspects to the culture, which was great to be part of. The weather was kind the rain stayed away, but the humidity was pretty hard to deal with standing in the sun in the middle of the day, but we managed and got some incredible shots.

The shots we captured we really nice and I am very excited to see them in the finished product, which will hopefully be out soon, which Ill post for sure. Here are a few of the  behind the scenes shots that were captured throughout the 3 days.

 

$1MILLION DRONE RACE IN DUBAI

Once again Dubai has upped the ante by creating the worlds biggest prize for drone racing as well as releasing this very cool promo clip, maybe its time to start training!

NOW FLYING FREEFLY ALTA

We are now flying the Freefly Alta after taking delivery almost two weeks ago now, the hexacopter has performed incredibly well. With almost 7kg of lifting capability we are now excited to offer high end cinema grade UAV operations with the ability to fly RED epic/weapon/scarlet as well as ARRI mini amongst other industry leading cameras.

With flight times up to 20 minutes the Freefly Alta really sets the standard as far as professional grade UAV systems. The Alta folds into such a small case, which makes it a dream to transport, especially navigating busy airports.

The Freefly Alta has bulletproof construction and is beautifully crafted, the synapse flight controller seems to work incredibly well too. One feature that is really great is the ability to control the LED colour and brightness. It also has 2 receivers and 2 batteries, so it is really covered on the redundancy checklist too, which is always a positive.

We have been using our MôVI M5 & M10 and have the ability to fly with cameras mounted not only underneath the drone but now also on top, unleashing even more possibilities and potential new angles.

Currently we have been flying with the Tattu 10,000mah 22.2v lithium polymer batteries which have worked well.

FLYFILM's FREEFLY ALTA

FLYFILM Freefly ALTA capable of lifting payloads of up to 6.8KG.

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