The Jump
A Blog by Ribbet Inc.

DRONE DIARIES: Episode 1

I am not a camera shooter. I am not a cinematographer. I enjoy both editing and colour correcting, but video shooting is not one of the things that I really love. I have a huge appreciation for it, of course, and perhaps that is why I love aerial footage.

My love for flying drones has not been around for too long; it has only manifested itself within the last year. It actually started when I attended a photography and film expo for work. I never expected I would get something out of it, but while walking through the presentations, one word caught my attention: drones. There was a presenter at the expo talking about drones, and showed off some of the aerial footage that he was doing, and I got swept up in the movement. 

I’ve seen aerial footage before in movies and T.V. of course, but seeing that everyday people (or those that work in video production) can achieve a level of quality that once only belonged to the few in the industry, I immediately knew that this would be a game changer in the making. I then realized that I wanted to be a part of it.
With this in mind, about a month or two later, I bought my first drone. The idea was learn how to fly by putting many hours into it, and then eventually put a camera on it, whereby I would try to capture some really nice aerial shots. However, this idea did not last too long at all. 

During my testing with the DJI Phantom 2, I ran into some… minor setbacks. On two occasions, I’ve had two fly-aways with my drone and unfortunately, this would not be the last of it. The first time I experienced this was when I brought the drone to the office to show my co-workers and to perform some test flights, and I thought I had amazing control with it. I was clearly wrong as I saw my drone take off from the ground into the sky after landing it, and watching it crash back to the ground. After that incident, I decided to do my research and figure things out. I upgraded the firmware for the drone and made sure everything was in working order. 

The next time I brought it back downtown and decided to practice around with it, the drone suffered a similar fly-away; the only difference being that the device was actually turned off when this occurred. To this day, it still boggles my mind and I knew that I would be grounded for some time. However it did not take me long before I got another drone: the 3DR Iris+. I figured that I would fair a lot better with this device than the Phantom, and the features for the Iris+ put it above a Phantom (in my opinion).
Fast forward many months later, having not really used the Iris+ at all after crashing the Phantom, I figured I would take advantage of some downtime in the office. I decided I would make a pitch to visit places in and around the GTA to capture some scenic aerial footage over the course of one week. The end goal was to post weekly montage clips along with a blog-post, and by the end of it, select the best clips for a reel that Ribbet may use for promotional purposes.
I brought this pitch to the company because I figured we could use something different than what we’ve done before, and with a lot free time on our hands, might as well take advantage before things would get hectic once again.

For my first session, I decided to visit the Scarborough Bluffs. The scenery around the area is gorgeous, and is something very unique to the Scarborough area. If you have ever lived in the area (and I have), it is not something you would expect to find. The Cliffside, beach, and trees all add something to the location, so it was a no-brainer to go and do some testing.
When I arrived at my destination and finally put the copter controller in my hands, I felt pretty nervous. When I booted everything up and saw the propellers spinning, it took me a moment to get myself centred into actually pushing up on the throttle to get things going. My past experiences have led to many crashes and fly-aways, but I remember what I was told at an expo over a year ago: “If you don’t crash your drone, you’re not a real pilot.” I tend to laugh at this statement sometimes, but it is a reminder that not everyone is perfect and things could happen when taking to the skies, even for the best of us. It’s how we deal with it that matters. With that in mind, I finally pushed that throttle and saw my drone take flight once again. While I was up there, I did a few pans and slow fly-bys just to get myself orientated with the device. 

The hardest part about any of this is not having any sort of visual reference while the drone is up in the sky, so its hard to tell exactly what the shots are looking like, which makes the job more challenging. This is especially the case if it gets a little windy and you can’t see those little camera shakes that can ruin the shot.
The rest of the time spent flying went fairly well. There were a few hiccups afterwards also, and I have to work on my landing, but it was a fun experience. I took some of the better shots from that day and threw them together to make a short video

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