“Oh my God,” Abbé Lyle said softly. Her reaction made the rest of us nervous: Would she crash the drone? Would she blow the last shot of the day? Tears ran down her face, followed by something peculiar: a wide smile.
Abbé was one of 45 participants who left the hubbub of the Las Vegas strip and headed southeast to a dusty ghost town nestled in a red-rock valley to attend Russell Brown’s Lights, Aerial Camera, Action! Workshop.
Nelson, Nevada is a photographer’s playground and the perfect place to fly a dozen camera-toting DJI Phantom drones. Tilted, hollow barns surrounded by antique trucks sitting on melted tires lined the single road. Detritus of years past, including a crashed WWII plane, covered the desert. It was surreal, hot and…dangerous. We were warned to watch out for fire ants, rattlesnakes and cacti that will literally shoot their spines at those who pass too close.
Our goal was to create a collaborative video. The participants, their skill level ranging from beginner to advanced, were separated into eight teams. The instructors put the participants through their paces, making sure that their team had the skills required to not only take great shots, but to keep the drones safely in the air.
As the sun set, the shadows grew long and the sky turned a deep amber. Magic Hour had finally arrived. Up until this point, everyone had flown the drones using a smart phone mounted on top of the drone’s controller to frame their shots. But Abbé’s flight was different. She was the first to pilot her drone wearing Epson’s Moverio augmented reality glasses. Her tears of joy resulted from her first person view (FPV) from the drone.
The rest of the participants tried their hand at FPV flying until it was too dark to continue. And while a dusty, tired crowd of newly minted drone photographers filed back on to the bus, the Adobe video editors had their work cut out for them—to comb through the day’s aerial footage and assemble a video to commemorate the day—a video that is as mind-bending as the town of Nelson itself.
Here’s the result of our day in the desert.
|Note: This is the first in a series of four posts inspired by a pre-show workshop arranged by Adobe’s Russell Brown for Photoshop World 2014. Check out the second and third posts called Propeller Panoramas and A Stitch of Nine in No Time.|