It’s hard to know what to include in a 3 1/2 minute representation of an entire years work of Media Production across the Pacific. The obvious answer is “the best bits” or make it longer than 3 1/2 minutes!. But it’s not that simple. Because without wishing to appear like a braggart, it has been a very busy 2018.
There has been 3 filming expeditions. One to the South West Islands of Palau and two to Kiribati. There has been projects on the Protected Areas Network of Palau and Dugong conservation. Various spawning aggregation documenting and VR 360 projects. Aerial Surveillance missions. National Geographic assignments, even Taro cultivation and responsible cat ownership…The list is certainly diverse!
Compared to last years show reel, we have expanded our range out across the Pacific. Filming in some extremely remote locations but also doing a lot of work still in Palau.
I haven’t been able to include a bit of everything into this years show reel but hope that what is included is representative and entertaining at the same time.
Over the year we have expanded our range for media production across the Pacific, providing underwater and drone filming services to clients including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute of which you can read about here.
It’s who you know for media production in the Pacific region
At the same time we have increased our range of contacts across the Pacific region. We visited a variety of Environmental and Fisheries themed workshops thereby networking with a huge number of contacts. This networking is hugely valuable in future media production projects across the Pacific. From the Solomon Islands to Hawaii, Vanuatu to Pohnpei, Yap to Fiji. We can help put you in touch with media production professionals across the region. Contact us if you would like to know more.
If we can’t help you directly, we can certainly help you find someone that will. We look forward to hearing from you.
Drone filming is considered an art form in its own right. It is after all both the artistic discipline of media production and the ability to control an aircraft remotely and safely. This can be done by single or multiple operators.
Drones or more specifically quadcopters in 2019 can be operated with just hand gestures. However for the best results the aircraft is controlled via the traditional multiple channel radio transmitter.
This blog post though is not about the technological aspects of drone filming. The industry is evolving at such a pace, this blog post would be out of date before I’d finished writing it.
What I want to talk about is the aesthetics of good drone footage. What makes the difference between something that is run of the mill and something that is truly dynamic.
The beauty of drones after all is that we can put them and the cameras they carry in a space that would either be very expensive or impossible with traditional systems. I’ve talked about this before here and the big reasons I use them myself.
Are drones still a novelty?
Broadcasters and filmmakers have been incorporating drone shots into their productions for a number of years now. Gone are the days when all that was available was a fisheye GoPro image and people were amazed by that. Now we have at our disposal the best cameras that money can buy and behemoths of aerial platforms to carry them. The technology to accomplish this is likely to be cutting edge for many decades to come. But the footage coming from them will start to be more and more commonplace. The regular shots, the reverse, the ascending reveal, the orbit even. These are going to become so commonplace that they will stop being noticed as drone shots. Consumer drones available now for less than $800 will pull off an orbit shot with the press of a button….
What makes good drone footage?
As with any piece of footage, aesthetics are important. Composition needs to be there to attract the viewers eye and this is relatively straight forward in a static aerial shot. Moving the camera however starts the ball rolling on what becomes a much greater challenge.
Adaptive three dimensional composition
I just made that bit up. It kind of fits what I’m trying to explain. Moving the camera through 3 dimensional space and maintaining a well composed scene as the subject is itself moving. Sometimes predictably, often not. Aesthetics is an appreciation of beauty, and creating a beautiful shot of something simple is where this art form will flourish.
Dare to dream
“Spiral around a boat, as it itself meanders through a maze of coral heads in a shallow lagoon. Introduce the passengers on that boat.”
Imagine starting out high and wide. Then as you orbit, dramatically descend in a spiral down to 10-15m above the water. Now you are orbiting 20m from the boat as it meanders. Maintain composition depending on where you are in relation to the boat and it’s wake. The shot is smooth and flowing, the arc of the camera movement is continuous. There are no interruptions in the shot, no hard stops or movements that disrupt the evolving three dimensional parabolic arcs.
“Imagine you are a bird”
It is as if we are a bird wheeling around the boat in total control of ourselves moving with the utmost ease. The boat stabilises to a straight path accelerating. You flatten out your curve to track next to it. You accelerate past the boat, rotating as you do but closing in on the passengers until you are just ahead and at eye level. One seamless, smoothly flowing, beautifully composed 2 minute shot that would be impossible by any other method than cutting edge CGI. The shot then transitions seamlessly via the sun flashing off the water to a continuous shot within the boat with close ups of the passengers faces. Can it be done? I think it could.
The future is now in drone filming
Cinematic drone filming is not a one man job. There will be the pilot, the camera operator and the focus puller at least. You’ll then have various people looking over the shoulder of those people. They give them directions or just observe what is a well rehearsed manoeuvre. There are marks to be hit at different stages to tie up with the surrounding shots etc….
I don’t pretend to know everything but being able to orchestrate and pull off something like this is where drone filming will really shine. I think that it will continue to shine even as CGI gets ever the better.
But what is the Future of Drone Filming
The big question however is just how far 360 VR filming will take us away from traditional media production? Will we rely on VR “Overcapture editor” with its ability to point the camera in any direction after the fact? The answer might be: of course, but you still need to move that VR set up through that 3 axis reality. We shall see.
The future of drones no doubt lies in the future of 3 axis GPS positioning and the onboard Artificial Intelligence that will take over the piloting aspect and place the platform to within a few millimetres of a predetermined point or adapt in real time to proximity.
Are you thinking of filming in Palau? Are you looking for a reliable and professional media production company to assist with your project?
Lightning Strike Productions is run by husband and wife team: Richard Brooks and Bernadette Carreon-Brooks. Together they have over 30 years cumulative experience living in the Republic of Palau. Richard has been filming underwater for over 20 years and in Palau for over 12. Bernadette is an internationally renowned journalist specialising in fisheries, economics and politics.
We can help you with all aspects of your production. Filming permits, accommodation, land transport. Underwater camera operator, boat hire, rental camera equipment. Interviews, drone pilots, on camera talent…..
Lightning Strike Productions has worked with numerous broadcast entities in Palau over the years. Clients include the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Aljazeera, ABC, Animal Planet, National Geographic and Discovery Channel. It’s also a regular contributor to online news media through it’s stringer services.
Our cameras, both underwater and drone mounted output Raw footage, ensuring the very highest in 4K 16 bit quality.
Whilst things have improved, Palau is still remote and does not have a huge amount of media production resources. There are no dedicated camera stores and spare parts etc need to be ordered in from overseas, which can take at least a week at best.
It’s regional and national government structures can be tricky to negotiate for filming permits and site access. We can help you navigate and succeed in this local arena.
If you are considering filming in Palau it’s well worth contacting us to find the lay of the land and get a bespoke solution for your success.
The Republic of Palau has a huge variety of healthy and almost pristine ecosystems. Palau provides a huge wealth of opportunities for media content. It is visually stunning with tropical islands, coral reefs, jungles and plentiful iconic species.
We have WW2 wrecks, their de-mining and recovery of human remains. Extensive underwater caverns and of course the many marine lakes with their millions of Jellyfish.
Additionally the other side of the coin is also available. Stories on illegal fishing and the black market trade in protected species. The need to balance tourism and development with conservation. Tuna economics, Climate Change, Ocean acidification, renewable energy, coral bleaching, plastic pollution….
There are stories waiting to be told and new technologies waiting to tell them with and since we are based in Palau we can start production quickly.
Palau Stock Footage library
If you need footage quickly or something specific but time consuming, there is always the option of stock footage. As a result of filming here for over 12 years we have a huge stock footage library available.
Filming in Palau with Lightning Strike Productions
Lightning Strike Productions has the experience and the expertise and is therefore perfectly placed to help you with any element of your filming and media production needs in Palau. Feel free to contact us for more information.