DEFINITION January 2018






The DJI Osmo is a real mini-marvel of a stabilising device, with a full brushless electronic gimbal that’s small enough to be taken anywhere. It’s fast becoming an essential part of many filmmakers’ gear bags as it’s portable, easy to use, and can add amazing moving footage to spice up any edit. It comes in three main types: the original, which uses its own fixed-lens wide-angle X3 12-megapixel camera; pro versions that take the far better 16-megapixel X5 camera with replaceable MFT-mount lenses; and a mobile version, which uses your mobile phone’s camera. It’s the first two types that are most popular with filmers, as the images from DJI’s own cameras are excellent. Both these types use your mobile phone as a viewing device, connected to the camera via DJI’s own app – the same app that controls many of the company’s drones. Freelance series producer at Pioneer Productions, Mark Bridge, makes programming for broadcasters such as Discovery and started using the DJI Osmo with one job in mind. That turned into another when he saw how adaptable it was. “We were going on the road with light kit and quite tight time constraints, and we were going over desert-like terrains with a few mountains, that kind of thing,” he says. “We thought we would use the Osmo to get some ‘jib’-style shots, and that’s all. It certainly could do some of that but I think the main use that we had for it – and what it was incredibly good at – was putting it on a stick. What we found was that a jib shot is tremendously useful because the iPhone controls the head of the camera. So you can have your Osmo on a pole 15 feet away from you in the air and looking at the iPhone in your hand – you can use your fingers to control the head of the camera. So you can move it around and you can have contributors walking into frame, kneeling down on the ground and picking up things and looking at them, and getting those fantastic top shots.”

The Shotover G1 (this is the gimbal from the U1 without the aerial component) can easily be detached from the multirotor and be used as a stand-alone gyro-stabilised platform for mounting on motorcycles, tracking vehicles, cranes, cables and almost anything that moves. So, this is a lightweight, weather- resistant, gyro-stabilised gimbal platform that delivers unshakable stability with ultimate functionality – but at a cost. The U1 is Shotover’s first multirotor craft with features such as redundant flight control and battery systems, customised downlink with two HD video feeds, and great stability even at full zoom. The Shotover has four arms and eight motors. Jeremy Braben from Helicopter Film Services (HFS) owns a Shotover G1: “Shotover has dual redundant flight controllers, and the way they’ve done it is very clever. If one fails, the other one automatically takes over and you can bring the aircraft home. Companies such as Disney and Warner Brothers won’t entertain any UAV unless it can demonstrate the ability to come back with fewer motors than it went out with.” Shotover are also working on ballistic recovery with parachutes, but every time you add something onto these aircraft the payload suffers. The G1 offers remote camera control for RED, Arri, Sony, Canon and Phantom cameras. You get 360° continuous pan, tilt and roll, also HD video encoding and decoding for two video streams (HDMI or SDI). The stabilisation is three-axis with high performance non-ITAR sensors and proprietary gimbal control algorithms. Field of view includes a pan of 360° continuous, tilt of +65 to -120 and roll of +/- 65. The gimbal weight is 5.7kg or 12.6lbs, and payload varies depending on what camera you’re using (unsurprisingly), but Shotover have tested all the major camera and lens combinations for compatibility.

Next on our list is HFS’s Typhon 6 Array, added mainly because of the engineering achievements the company has pulled off, incorporating six ARRI Alexa Mini cameras mounted in a Shotover K1 system, in order to shoot plates that can then be stitched together in post production. The Array is designed to enable both aerial and ground-based filming of sequences when a particularly wide field of vision is required. Oliver Ward, chief technical officer at HFS, explains: “We created the Typhon to meet ever greater need for a stabilised Array, primarily based around the ARRI Alexa camera and using industry-standard prime lenses such as the 24mm LDS Zeiss Ultra Prime.” Tim Wellspring, unit production manager on Paddington 2 , explains: “We had a first use with the Typhon 6 Mini Array on the Shotover K1, and it worked beautifully.” The Typhon 6 was used extensively on a tracking vehicle with a hydroscope crane on Paddington 2 for the train chase sequences. Glen Pratt at Framestore was visual effects supervisor: “The Typhon Array gives us a huge field of view. This provides a better sense of the environment you’re moving through and means that, within the frame, there are a lot of points of interest that can act as a background for areas you’ve shot before. The Typhon can also be used for a photogrammetry aspect, so you can run at a slower frame rate with a hard shutter to build this large field of view, creating a successful piece of tracking geometry. “Only a super-stable system can allow the use of this frame rate/shutter. Having this Array also brings benefits when creating any CG fields on top of what we’ve already shot. When creating a wholly graphic environment, it gives a very thorough starting point, meaning we can reduce the number of CG builds so there’s less work required in post. That means less pressure on budgets and schedules, and more time to finesse the work.”





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