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How to record at sea with a drone

13 de May de 2016 

What we need to keep in mind when recording with drone on the high seas?, is it safe?, are there any precautions to take into account?


As many of you already know, and how many you will have passed, we had an incident at sea with the drone in the past and through it and the experience we have been taking a series of procedures and measures with aim to prevent to the extent possible misfortunes, or at least minimize them.

Not wanting to dwell much on speech, will be putting a series of points we consider to be of some importance to keep in mind when recording in the sea.

We start thinking also that given the risk that involve this type of recordings discarded devices larger than a Phantom DJI or similar, with a size/price/capabilities that allow us to bring us closer to perform a more spectacular scenes.

a bit of Tilt Shift from the air

notes to take prior to the work:

  • On what type of boat is going to be the pilot.
  • View different parts of the boat for establishing the best area for takeoffs and landings, take into account masts, cables, moving parts.
  • What are the maximum and minimum speeds reached the boats.
  • If you're not familiar, ask what kind of movements make the boats, so you can anticipate.
  • How fast boats perform movements, you must know how secure is to be on one side of them.
  • Find out what is the depth in the recording area, if this exceeds 20m is possible that if there is an accident you have no option to recover the device.

How should I equip the drone:

  • The ideal is to have all-risk insurance, however even these require "the body" is returned to assess the damage, so it is very important to recover the device in case of accident.
  • Flotation devices. Water buoy are flotation devices that once submerged for 7-10 minutes they inflate a balloon with 1 L of air for lifting up to 1 kg weight, take care that this ability is within first meters of water, at greater depths there is more pressure, rather than 1L, the volume will be lower, so it will not be able to lift 1 kg. Up to 15-20 meters, two water-bouy devices can lift a DJI Phantom, weighing 1.4kg.
  • Rescue devices. Getterback loose part of the device to the surface (it is small and difficult to see with waves) with a thread able to withstand 4 kg of weight and about 35 meter in length.

Waterbuoy, globos de flotaciónGetterback suelta un pequeño flotador con 40m de hilo

Check prior the day

  • Check the reduced flight time after adding new weight to drone, as an example, 2 Waterbuoy and 1 getterback DJI Phantom 4 may subtract 1 to 2 minutes of flight time.
  • Try the video recording with rescue/flotation devices to observe to what extent affects the aerodynamics and stability.
  • Verify that the footwear that you are going to use is suitable for boats, many shoes may be sensitive to be over that kind of wet surfaces.

preparing the drone in a Zodiac

The day of the recording:

  • It is recommended to take something for avoiding motion sickness.
  • Use an app in your phone for tracking gps position, if the drone goes to sea, it is good to have the position.
  • Forget about standard takeoff or landing from the ground or basis of the boat.
  • Takeoff and land always taking the drone with your hands.
  • It is required a person for observing the environment, checking at all times the position of the drone to prevent crafts approaching.
  • Do not try to achieve multiple goals at the same time, use a full battery for photographs, another full battery for video, you do not mix both activities.
  • To land to pick up the drone with the hand and ask another person to hold the pilot so that he does not have to think about the movement of the boat.
  • Always carry two memory cards, after landing for replacing the drone battery change the card and backup the files while flying again.
  • After each flight pick up everything and put it well covered to prevent splattering.
  • The ideal is to have a bucket with fresh water ready to dip everything in case of accident.

Check after the recording:

  • clean the material used, the saline environment is very corrosive.

To keep in mind:

  • always carry spare propellers.
  • Check the battery status before taking off.
  • There is little space on vessels, do not carry too much "junk".
  • Use ND filters for getting 1/30 shutter speed.
  • Always carry duplicated the most important things, for example in the case of the DJI Phantom:
    • Two devices capable of controlling the configuration if one fails (tablet and phone).
    • Two cables for connecting the remote control device.
    • Two microSD cards.

Veleros participando en regata en Valencia


Testing the DJI Phantom 4 at sea, race Trailer
We tested the recording in the open ocean from zodiac with the drone DJI Phantom 4 in Valencia.

From there we create a very dynamic trailer with air video, time-lapses, and recordings with camera.

Last update 15/05/2016 23:28:09


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