Radio controlled model helicopters have been used for aerial stills and video photography for some time now, but in the last 2 years or so the technology has improved to such an extent that a quadcopter drone, that is a model helicopter with 4 rotor blades is now able to hover in one place without the constant correction from the RC pilot. Like the GPS device in your car, the auto-pilot locks onto 6 satellites or more to achieve a stationary hover.
This advance in technology allows a single operator to both fly and control the photography or video by himself, the flying being assisted by the onboard auto-pilot.
A small levelling device called a brushless gimbal is used between the quadcopter and the video camera to produce the super smooth tracking you can see in the Video section.
A monitor on the ground can see whatever the camera in the air is lined up on and receives this wirelessly as a live video stream. This system is versatile and compact allowing us to be up in the air within minutes of arriving at the location. Video footage and stills photography can be reviewed by the client on an iPad or laptop computer before we return to the studio.
Top right photo: stills payload installed comprising of a Nikon P330 12Mp camera mounted on a custom carbon fibre mount. The middle photo shows most of the equipment we take on location when we need a two man operation, a UAV pilot flies the large octocopter while a cameraman controls the direction of the video camera using a separate radio transmitter.
Bottom photo: CITC on location for R.N.L.I. May 2016 Holkham Beach Norfolk.