Have you taken a drone selfie yet? Today I did when trialing 3D Robotics’ new Solo drone that just launched in Australia.
The Solo uses a high resolution GoPro camera to take incredibly sharp video. But instead of hit-and-miss attempts at shooting the perfect overhead footage while you simultaneously steer the drone, you specify ahead of time what you want the Solo drone to do.
And there are four preset “smart shot” modes to make this even simpler.
One of them happens to be a ‘drone selfie mode’ and all I did was select that mode, tweak settings such as flight path and speed, frame the shot I wanted, and then press a button.
The Solo then took over, climbing away into the air away from Cockatoo Island with the GoPro still dutifully pointing my way. After reaching the end of its path, we then got to fly back, with it zooming in on me and other media attending the event as it returned.
The drone knew exactly where it needed to go and I hardly had to do a thing.
It’s the ability of novices to get perfect pre-programmed video sequences that is likely to make the Solo a hit among amateur and professional film makers.
I imagine we’ll increasingly see drone scenes in film at local festivals as well as in cinemas, and affordable but clever drones such as the Solo will be the reason why.
Another mode, called ‘cable mode’, involves flying the drone to two points, and at each point, specifying factors such as the shot orientation and height. You could be wanting to fly past, say, a bridge and get smooth video of it with the camera oriented towards it.
After setting up the A and B points, you simply press ‘play’ and the drone will automatically go from one point to the next and shoot a smooth video sequence according to your preset instructions.
There’s an ‘orbit mode’ where you set the drone to shoot video of an object, say a building or tree, while slowly circling it. You specify that object by pinpointing it on a map.
There’s also a ‘follow me’ mode where the drone will stalk you taking overhead video as you move. At this stage it’s not clever enough to do an overhead shoot of you skiing, as you still need to operate a controller.
Colin Guinn, 3D Robotics’ senior vice president sales and marketing, said film director Michael Bay had decided to use Solo drone footage in his upcoming action thriller 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazim, due for release in January.
Mr Guinn said the company was creating more preset modes which would be delivered via software updates.