Video of the Week: A Drone Over Italy

Vernazza and the Sea
This week I’m featuring a video from professional travel photographer, Elia Locardi. Elia captured this video during his 2015 Italy Dream Photo Tour. Elia says, “I try to share my vision with others so they can see things the way I do, full of color and emotion, depth and texture.”

That is exactly what this video does. From the beautiful shores of Vernazza, Italy to the rolling hills of Tuscany to the beautiful architecture of Civita di Bagnoregio, and the Vatican in Rome, the entire video is just breathtaking!

Tuscany at DawnFlorence ItalyBeyond The Vatican Rome

Filmed with a DJI Phantom 3, edited with Adobe Premiere and coloring applied using After Effects, and Adobe Photoshop.

To view more of Elia’s work visit his website or check him out on Instagram.

Video of the Week: Peru From Above

Drone Peru video 1

This week I’m featuring a brand new video from the guys over at Flightgeist which is a two-man New York team that consists of filmmakers Corey Eisenstein and Joseph Pickard. They recently went on a trip to Peru and drove from Ayacucho to Cusco, passing through nearly 400 miles of Peru’s most winding and hilly terrain. On the trip they climbed up through the clouds toward snow-capped peaks, then drove down into warm, lush river valleys.

Watch their gorgeous video below, the opening scene gave me chills (!) and then read the short interview I did with them after the jump!


What prompted this project?

Peru actually chose us!  Though we love to make aerial videos, we also make a lot of “standard” films and videos with, you know, cameras that don’t fly.  In this case, we were hired to work on a documentary project in South America that was not related to our aerial videos.  Knowing that there might be some unbelievable sights, we brought along a Phantom 3 to film with whenever there was free time.  We weren’t even sure that we were going to get enough footage to make a whole video, the main objective was to capture a few great landscapes.  It turned out that there was so much beautiful stuff that we had the raw materials to make a full video.


How did you come across these amazing locations?

The Phantom 3 was always ready to go, and when we were driving from town to town we would often see something unbelievable out the window.  That meant it was usually time to pull over for 10 minutes and do a quick flight.  A few times we were in a rush and unable to fly, and it is painful to think of some of the absolutely incredible landscapes that we just didn’t have time to drone on this trip.


Are there any interesting stories related to this shoot?

There is a shot at 2 minutes into the video flying through a valley where the clouds dip down close to the ground.  During this shot a hawk (or possibly an eagle, we’re not ornithologists) came screaming out of the clouds and sliced past the drone at full speed, missing it by inches.  It was a territorial warning shot!  We had chosen to fly the wrong valley.  We brought the drone back home at full speed with the bird circling overhead, ready for a fight.


What is something you learned as a result of working on this project?

We kind of knew it already, but this shoot confirmed: you basically can’t go wrong with rugged, textured landscapes and late afternoon light.  The play between light and shadow makes for a very dynamic image.

Drone Peru video 2


What is a tip you have for those looking to shoot amazing aerial videos like this one?

There are a lot of people out there capturing amazing aerial images.  The thing we see that holds many people back from making great videos is editing.  And we’re not talking about fancy effects, titles, etc.  We’re literally talking about editing down your number of shots and selecting only the best for public display.  Some people just can’t help but share everything they shot.  When you include a bunch of shots in your video that are just “good” it degrades your shots that are “great”.  A 2 minute video of mind-blowing shots is better than a 5 minute video that includes all your bad, okay, good, and great material.


What is next for you?

Flightgeist is working on a New York City aerial video.  We’ve also got plans to capture the changing of the leaves on the Northeast Coast this fall.



To connect with Flightgeist, check them out on Vimeo and Instagram. (Sound Design was done by Juan Felipe Valencia)

Gear links: LUTs from Neumann Films // Adobe Premiere CC // DJI Phantom 3 // ND Filters from PolarPro

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the SB 142 drone law, now what?

According to the Los Angeles Times, last night California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 142 which was proposed legislation that intended to restrict the use of drones flying over private property (you can read my post on why I urged the Governor to veto the bill by clicking here).

governor jerry brown sb 142 drone law

Vetoed Bill SB 142


Governor Brown vetoed the bill acknowledging that it was well-intentioned but he went on to say that it “could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action” whether or not anyone’s privacy was violated.

With this victory, it is now time that we address some of the issues raised by this bill

While I applaud Governor Brown for his veto decision and see it as a victory for drone users and the drone industry, I also believe it is now a call to action for us to move forward in addressing some of the issues this bill has raised so that we can arrive at a better, more balanced bill.


6 items that now need to be addressed include:


  • 1) Coming up with a clear definition of what private airspace ownership constitutes (James Grimsley has an excellent article on this topic that you can read by clicking here)


  • 2) From a privacy perspective, what is an acceptable altitude? Based on my experience it is very hard for anyone to gauge how high a drone really is and once a drone reaches past 125 feet the image details on the ground are hard to make out. So we need to establish what is fair and reasonable. Some leaders in the drone industry say that 200 feet would be a reasonable altitude (see here and here).


    • 3) Having better, more defined rules from the FAA (which is the national authority that has exclusive jurisdiction of the airspace in the US) so that local and state governments don’t have to navigate, manage or regulate the complex airspace system.


    • 4) Ways to better educate drone pilots so that ignorance is avoided and drone operators know, understand and follow the FAA’s rules (for more info on what the drone rules are click here).


    • 5) There should be a required license or certification of some sort for anyone who flies a drone to insure that pilots are properly educated and deemed responsible to fly.


    • 6) Lastly, those who fly/support drone technology need to help educate the public to the benefits surrounding drones so that the drone hysteria that is currently being fueled by the media can be remedied.

While this list doesn’t cover every single issue on the drone spectrum, I hope it can serve as a starting point for having meaningful discussions centered on safe, fair and respectful flying. We need to start researching, educating and conversing with the public and government officials on these issues so that we can arrive at solutions that benefit all parties, otherwise we could be in this same situation next year with another well-intentioned bill that misses the mark.


Help me in urging Gov. Brown to veto California’s Drone Trespass Bill SB 142

California Senate Bill 142 drone law

Governor Jerry Brown is currently sitting on Senate Bill 142 which would make it illegal to fly below 350 feet over private property if the operator does not have permission from the property owner. This means that a UAV pilot could only fly within a small 50 feet band of airspace since the FAA’s altitude cap is currently set at 400 feet. It also means that operators of model aircraft could be subject to possible law suits and civil sanctions (more detailed information on this bill can be found at the end of this post).

We need a better bill that specifically protects First Amendment rights while addressing privacy concerns, rather than a bill like this one that puts a broad ban on aerial imaging and the act of flying.

Not only would this radically change flying for hobbyists but it could greatly stifle or completely stop innovation for the over 100 companies in California that are currently developing drone technology as well as the hundreds of millions of dollars that are currently being invested in the drone industry just in California alone.

The bill was originally drafted with intentions to combat offensive photography by those looking to cause trouble (like the stories of perverts trying to spy on people). I applaud the efforts of those trying to protect people’s privacy but unfortunately while doing so the bill has gone too far and is now considered too broad and unbalanced. While I think there should certainly be laws and guidelines in place that protect people’s privacy, SB 142 is not the one. The current proposed bill now threatens those who like to fly for fun and possibly those looking to innovate with this technology in the state of California.

The original bill created a cause of action only when someone was trespassing for a very specific purpose — to violate one’s privacy. (Gregory S. McNeal)

There is still time to make your voice heard if you would like this bill to be vetoed. Join the Innovation Movement, founded by the Consumer Electronics Association, and easily send a prewritten email to Governor Jerry Brown urging him to veto Senate Bill 142 by clicking on this link. I have already done so (it only took 20 seconds) and I have also called his office.

Those urging Governor Brown to veto this bill include the National Press Photographers Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Small UAV Coalition, the Academy of Model Aeronautic and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International to name a few. Governor Brown has until this Wednesday, September 9, to either sign or veto this proposed legislation.

If you believe that this bill is too broad and overreaching please consider making your voice heard! Quickly send an email to Governor Brown by clicking here or consider calling his office at (916) 445-2841.


For more information check out these links:

• The actual SB-142 Civil law bill: unmanned aerial vehicles
• California’s Drone Trespass Bill Goes Too Far
• See what drones can really see at various altitudes

Video of the Week: Drone views of Sedona, Arizona

sedona arizona drone 1

This week’s video comes to us from Charlie Kaye of Back in May Charlie and his wife set out on a 3,000 mile road trip from Dallas, Texas to Santa Barbara, California. One of the spots they were most looking forward to seeing after the Grand Canyon was the beautiful desert town, Sedona, Arizona.

Charlie used a DJI Inspire 1 to capture drone views of Cathedral Rock, Church of the Holy Cross, Schnebly Hill Road, Bell Rock and the Courthouse Butte which was all done in just a day and a half. He admits that he is already thinking about going back to Sedona so that they can spend two weeks hiking around all the more remote spots in the area. Read More