Aerial Video Production
Nowsay, a video production company based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been flying drones since its inception in 2013. Co-founder, Zach Burkhart, saw a video while attending UNC-Wilmington of a camera strapped to a model helicopter. He was immediately enthralled with the idea, and started researching and learning about model helicopters. After a few years of learning to fly, Zach stumbled upon the next step. A six-rotor, self stabilizing unit called a ‘drone’. During that time there weren’t many resources available, but he dove in head first.
First Drone Learning
Nowsay ordered their first drone, a DJI Flamewheel F550, the drone rush was in full force. It came in a small box, half the size of your typical cereal box with hundreds of parts. With no experience and no mentors around to help, Zach assembled the drone and took it out for the first flight. About thirty seconds into flight the drone was careening through the air at high speed, right towards Zach. He had accidentally installed the compass/GPS unit on the drone backwards. The drone smashed into the ground. Just like his model helicopter days, Zach was back online ordering the parts he needed to fix the unit.
Certainly the biggest project of all, was the Custom Skyjib Octocopter. Sourcing parts from several different companies and building over the course of a month – this thing was a serious endeavor. In the end, it was a beast! Running dual batteries, eight carbon fiber blades, and carrying a Freefly Movi M5 gimbal with Canon 5D series camera and Canon L glass lenses. The total weight was over forty pounds, and had a range of over half a mile.
Throughout the years Nowsay grew, and drones were an integral part of that growth. The team has always had a desire to push the envelope – creating visuals that are moving, inspiring, and incredibly high quality. In that quest for greatness they purchased, built, and sold six different drones. Finally, the team landed (pun intended) on the DJI Inspire series – which is still a member of their arsenal today.
Currently, as of April 2019, Nowsay operates a DJI Inspire 2 with x7 camera package. This system is the most advanced system the team has used, with redundant batteries, swappable carbon fiber lens system, extremely reliable wireless video downlink, small form factor, and extremely high quality raw or Apple ProRes video files.
Drones are an amazing tool for filmmakers today. They give the ability to get a wide variety of shots, all with one tool. They do not completely replace other film tools. However, they can be a great way to achieve many of the same looks – without the high price point. Shots such as birds eye perspective of location, large jib movements, and full size helicopter movements. Drones also have the ability to create camera movements that were never possible before. For instance, flying through tight gaps or under objects that a helicopter or jib simply could not fit through.
Nowsay has been flying dual opp UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) since its second drone, the DJI s800. This means that there are two controllers and two operators. The pilot is responsible for the movement and flying of the vehicle. The gimbal operator is responsible for pointing the camera in the right direction, as well as controlling the settings of the camera. Using a system like this allows for extremely dynamic camera movements that are impossible to create with a single operator drone.
For years, Nowsay has been perfecting it’s craft of drone operation. The shots do not come easily. They require practice, tact & precision. Communication and teamwork is vital. Both operators have to understand the vision for each shot – planning the drone movement as well as camera movement. Over the years, the team has developed a shorthand, and a foresight of the other operator’s next action. This allows for extremely precise and dynamic movements resulting in creative images.
If you are looking to push the boundaries with dynamic moving images please contact us.