May 12

First Look :: Aerials from the Cinestar 8

It’s been about a month since the first flight of my new Cinestar 8, and since then I’ve logged enough flight time to feel somewhat confident enough to actually try and shoot some cool stuff.  I packed the helicopter up for our Utah climbing trip (trip reports – part 1 and part 2), and got a few good chances to fly, first in Indian Creek and then two days later in Moab at Fisher Towers.

Indian Creek was a little scary at first (a running theme when flying this thing with a 5d mkII strapped to it) – I flew at the base of Generic Crack from a somewhat flat-topped boulder, with about a 5 ft x 5 ft takeoff/landing zone.  Given that I’d previously only really flown in big (soft) grassy fields, it was quite the transition – precision was of the utmost importance.  Also new was trying to frame all the necessary elements (climber, belayer, scenery, etc.) from the air – I haven’t hooked up the first-person video system yet, so it was all essentially blind.  In any case, I think a few of the shots turned out nicely, and all from an angle (as far as I know) never seen before…

Back in Moab, I planned to shoot my friends Jake and Luke on a sunrise ascent of Ancient Art at Fisher Towers.  If you’re unfamiliar with Ancient Art, here’s a shot from a week prior of me on the final pitch and Jason Smith on the summit.  The Fisher Towers area is mind-blowing, and the Corkscrew Summit of Ancient Art is no exception.  So yeah, I had big plans to shoot those guys on the summit, and I had this image in my mind of what it’d look like, but pretty much everything went very, very wrong.  In short : the Cinestar has a very powerful GPS waypoint mode where you can plug in coordinates that it’ll automatically follow, and as I flipped it into GPS mode, it went violently wobbling away at about 900 mph, directly towards a cliff and CERTAIN DOOM.  I was 100% sure it was going to crash, so I flipped it back to manual control, gave it a ton of throttle, somehow avoided smashing into the wall, and flipped it into “come home” mode (yes, it does that too).  By now it was about 300-400 feet above me (higher than I’ve ever flown), though in a happy, stable hover, so all I had to do was bring it back down to me and land.  I’m not sure what exactly went wrong, probably a camera gimbal balance problem, but suffice to say that it was quite terrifying.  Either way, the heli came home safe, and the one decent image is still pretty cool, even though I originally planned on flying much closer to the climbers.

So here are some photos, a bunch from Indian Creek, and the one from Ancient Art – the climbers are just tiny little ants, so there’s a 100% crop for reference.  Next up, if the weather cooperates – City of Rocks, Idaho.