Learning to fly – First flight

With the Inspire one updated to the latest firmware it was time to take it out for it’s first flight. There are however some really important things to consider before doing so and just to clarify those I’m going to run through them.

Know how to fly

This seems a bit obvious but it would be all too easy to get to this stage and think you can just figure out the flying part as you go, I highly advise against that as any mistakes are likely to be very costly indeed. Having not owned a drone before I spent a lot of time using simulators, theres an app for IOS called Quadcopter FX Simulator which I used a lot in the weeks before getting the Inspire. Although using the app is a long way from handling an actual remote control unit it does give you a really good understanding of how to control a quad. If you enable Smart Control and Pos Hold it’s closer to working with a DJI device in GPS mode as when you let go of the controls the aircraft will stay in place.


Using the app you can practise things like flying the quad around an object whilst maintaining camera position, it also has FPV and stabilised Gimbal views so you really can get a feel for basic operation. Of course using an iPhone screen to make control inputs is far from ideal and is actually a lot harder then using the joysticks on an actual controller but it definitely helps you to form some muscle memory and start making inputs using the correct thumb.

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Harley-Davidson Euro Festival 2015

Here’s another video shot for Harley-Davidson recently in and around St Tropez, France. I had the pleasure of shooting aerial footage for this one by hanging out of a helicopter with the door off, that never gets boring!

Huge thanks to The Xcerts for providing the awesome soundtrack for this one. Check them out!

Canon C300
Canon C100
GoPro Hero 4 Black

Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS L
Canon 24-105 IS L
Tokina 11-16

Miller DS20 Carbon Tripod
Kessler Pocket Jib traveller
Kessler Stealth Slider


Learning to fly – The Inspire 1 arrives

I took delivery of my DJI inspire 1 this evening and thought I’d share a few pics and initial thoughts with you. Please bare in mind that this is my first Quadcopter, I can’t give comparisons to other models in the same price bracket other than the Phantom that I have looked at in the past. None the less..

The case 
The first thing that greets you after removing the outer packaging is this rather nice looking case. It’s not a particularly tough case though, it’s fairly soft and has zip closures.

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Opening up the case reveals the Inspire 1 and and it’s associated accessories. Some of the accessories are supposed to be held in place by straps with velcro closures but even before touching these some of the velcro straps had fallen away from the case and were useless.

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The case is really not very reassuring, the quality isn’t great and while it does work well as a basic container for the Inspire I can’t see it lasting very long with real use or at the mercy of baggage handlers. I’ll have to look for a more substantial alternative.

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Learning to fly

I’ve been watching the whole aerial photography industry expanding over the last couple of years with great interest. The technology has moved forward so quickly and a lot of the imagery being produced is simply stunning.

Much like the rise of DSLR video, these devices have brought yet another area that was once reserved for high budget productions within reach of the everyday filmmaker. I haven’t been as excited about a camera technology since ordering my Brevis 35mm adapter in 2008!

I’ve been very tempted to grab one of DJI’s Phantom 2’s for nearly a year now but every time I got close to placing an order I was scared off by talk of changing regulations and unclear requirements involved in being able to use these tools commercially.

With each country around the globe struggling to find ways to regulate UAV’s there are a lot of grey areas for somebody stepping in to this field so I plan to try and demystify the process here in the UK. I’ll document my journey and share my discoveries as I go about both learning to fly, and from a regulatory point of view.

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Using markers as visual sync guides in FCPX

here’s a quick tutorial showing how I use markers in FCPX to give me a visual indicator in case any audio syncing issues crop up due to a mistake using the magnetic timeline.

Although the magnetic timeline offers many advantages when editing, I find that it’s very easy to inadvertently trim a clip without realising you’ve done it and as a result have all of the clips later in the timeline jump out of sync with a music track that is attached near the beginning of the project.


As each section of my projects start to become tuned to the beats in the music I drop in pairs of markers so that any future changes in sync are more obvious. The markers are dropped in place by selecting the target clip, moving the pointer to the desired location and then pressing the ‘m’ key if using the standard keyboard commands.


Quite often I notice these markers have moved out of alignment even before I notice any sync issues so it provides a good alert system as well as giving a visual clue as to where any unwanted changes have been made in the edit.