Movie makers were some of the early adopters of drone technology. Today, the movie industry continues to push the limits of UAV capabilities to get the best shot of the action. Both
On the set of the Game of Thrones
April 14, 2019 Game of Thrones launched its 8th and final season. In a series that HBO calls “the most popular show on TV” with a budget of $15 million dollars per episode, no expense is spared to create the most breath-taking images ever seen on TV. Season 7’s episode 4 won the show 2 Visual Effects Society Awards with its “Loot Train Attack” scene, combining the latest in visual effects technology with cutting edge cinematography techniques. In this scene Daenerys Targaryen takes matters into her own hands and flies atop her fire-breathing Drogon, leading her wild Dothraki cavalry against the Lanister army.
“We needed to sell speed. And we needed to shoot elaborate dragon’s points of view.” Said Matt Shakman, film director. Below is a list of challenges that Matt was faced with to make his dream-scene happen.
- Flying the camera high enough to provide a wide-angle downward shot of the huge dragon who is flying 30 m (98 ft) up in the air over the battle scene, breathing out a column of fire 10 m (33 ft) wide.
- Flying the camera at a speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) over several kilometers to show the speed of the flying dragon.
- To guarantee the safety of people on the set below, the flying camera needs to follow a precise route at full speed.
The answer: An unmanned helicopter engineered by a company called Flying-Cam, who have been pioneering top-performance UAV technology since 1986. Two times Oscar winner and one time Emmy award winner, this helicopter could follow a precise flight-path while filming from above with a top-quality gimbal camera. Here are some of the specs of this unique UAV.
- VTOL Auto take-off, auto-piloted waypoint navigation and return to launch
- Septentrio GPS/GNSS receiver providing RTK centimeter-level precision of flight needed for set safety
- Heading orientation provided by a dual frequency GNSS receiver and a dual antenna setup
- Highly stable due to its single rotor, and maneuvering at over 100 km/h (62 mph) in forwards or backwards flight, it could capture the speed expected from a fully grown dragon
- Unique ability to film “through” the rotors by adjusting rotor speed and camera frame rate
“With about 500 people on the set, precision was key to make sure we fly exactly in the area that was planned” – said Emmanuel Prévinaire, founder of Flying-Cam
Each video frame was time stamped with GPS time and then geotagged with RTK centimeter-level positioning and camera orientation angles, which in turn allowed the graphical effects team to add in the flying dragon precisely as planned. The combination of computer animation with a real background and a real person made the whole scene come to life.
Mission Impossible 6 – Photogrammetry in the heart of Paris
Flying-Cam’s helicopter also had a role to play alongside Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 6. The film’s visual effects team needed a detailed 3D reconstruction of the Grand Palais. This meant a photogrammetry flight in the center of Paris less than 500 m (547 yd) from the Presidential Élysée Palais.
A challenge arose when the Flying-Cam’s team spotted significant magnetic interference coming from the subway below the street where their helicopter was standing for take-off.
“The only way for us to take off in that location was with the use of Septentrio dual GPS antenna on board. Thanks to the heading solution and precise positioning, we could take off and fly out of the magnetic disturbance.” said Emmanuel Prévinaire “We also witnessed very clean positioning during the whole 3 hours timeslot, which was key for geotagging more than 1000 images taken during this photogrammetry flight. “
Georeferencing and navigation solutions anywhere
Navigating a precise flight-path on a movie set, accurately georeferencing photogrammetry data or other industrial flight missions rely on high-accuracy GPS / GNSS positioning and orientation information. Septentrio AsteRx-i receiver combines centimeter-level RTK positioning with precise 3D orientation from a high-grade MEMs IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). Advanced Interference Mitigation (AIM+) technology shields the receiver from internal or external interference. Accompanied by a UAS-tailored carrier board it can be integrated seamlessly into your aerial vehicle. Who’s up for a “Game of Drones”?
Published at Mon, 15 Apr 2019 17:52:35 +0000
The University of North Dakota, along with research partners from Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) and the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site (NPUASTS), successfully completed initial field testing for a first-of-its kind command and control (C2) ground radio network to support beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights this week.
The radio network adds C2 functionality to the North Dakota-based Harris UAS Network, a 55-mile-long system of integrated communications and surveillance infrastructure between Grand Forks and Fargo that enables commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), i.e. drones, to fly farther and safer in national airspace. The field tests confirmed the C2 radio network’s ability to provide reliable data communications between remote pilots and unmanned aircraft over long distances, which is critical for safe BVLOS operations that can unlock the benefits of UAS technology for public safety, disaster management, critical infrastructure monitoring, package delivery, precision agriculture, law enforcement and other industries.
Currently, UAS operations are limited to short distances, largely because reliable long-distance communications solutions have not been available. The Harris UAS Network’s C2 service, however, makes safe and routine BVLOS operations possible by allowing pilots to send commands to unmanned aircraft that are necessary for take-off, maneuvering, landing and maintaining control at all times. The unmanned aircraft use the same link to report important information back to the pilots, such as aircraft location, battery life and images collected using on-board cameras. This C2 service is aligned with the Command-and-Non-Payload Communications (CNPC) radio standards that are being developed specifically for integrating drones into the national airspace.
UAS industry taking off
The global UAS industry is forecast to be a $100-billion sector by 2026. Mark Askelson, interim executive director of UND’s Research Institute for Autonomous Systems (RIAS), said the activation of the BVLOS C2 service moves North Dakota closer to unleashing this multi-billion-dollar industry.
“With each testing step, we get closer to realizing the tremendous benefits, both humanitarian and economic, that BVLOS operations provide,” Askelson said.
North Dakota’s willingness to invest in UAS technology has led to several UAS successes for the state, including the deployment of the Harris UAS Network, the nation’s first and only infrastructure for multi-user BVLOS drone applications, at the end of 2018.
The Harris UAS Network, part of a North Dakota Department of Commerce ResearchND project, can be expanded into a statewide infrastructure supporting BVLOS UAS operations. George Kirov, vice president and general manager, Commercial UAS Solutions, Harris, said the deployment of the Harris UAS Network and the activation of its C2 service continues to validate and enhance the attractiveness of North Dakota as a leading hub for UAS innovation and commerce.
“North Dakota is unique in the combination of political leadership, sustained investment in UAS, deep research talent at its leading universities and unmatched technical and operational expertise at its UAS test site,” Kirov said. “This made the deployment of the Harris UAS Network possible, which is just one example of how the state is positioning for technology-driven economic development and growth.”
According to Chris Theisen, director of research and development for the NPUASTS, who leads testing of the technologies that make up the current Harris network, having a network infrastructure to enable longer UAS flights is extremely valuable.
“The end solution to enable expanded UAS operations is going to be a layered approach,” he said. “This network has provided the initial steps in understanding that layered environment and will allow for growing the commercial UAS activities in the region.”
UND, NPUASTS and Harris have plans to expand flight operations and testing as well as to continue to add new capabilities to the UAS Network between Grand Forks and Fargo. The partners are confident that new companies will be attracted to the region to take advantage of this unique infrastructure and to participate in cutting edge UAS research, development and operations.
Published at Mon, 15 Apr 2019 17:42:49 +0000