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Second Bristol Drone Cinematography Workshop

Image of the Workshop Program and the MultiDrone Flyer

On December 5th 2019, the MultiDrone Consortium organized its second Drone Cinematography Workshop at the University of Bristol. The workshop brought together some 50 experts in drone cinematography – users, producers, and technologists – to explore the future potential for this exciting and growing area. It included talks from specialist operators, cinematographers and producers, alongside research presentations on drone control, sensing, tracking and the use of simulation tools. 

The first half of the workshop brought presentations on the critical computer vision and target tracking in Multidrone by Prof. Nikos Nikolaidis from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a talk by Philip Dalton of John Downer Productions giving fascinating insights into wildlife filming using unmanned aerial vehicles. Nico Heise from Deutsche Welle, explained how drones are employed as key production tools for short formats such as the “Daily drone” programme,  as well as for longer documentaries and features. Lin Wang, from QMUL, introduced his team’s work on Audio-visual sensing from multi-rotor drones summarizing challenges of acoustic sensing due to strong ego-noise from rotors.

Presentation of and real-life drone model for wildlife drone shootings

Aaron Zhang from the University of Bristol’s Bristol Vision Institute concluded the morning program with a presentation on a simulation-based tool based on a games engine for planing, rehearsing and pre-visualising shots in realistic geographically-accurate environments. His colleague David Hall demonstrated the tool with a simulation.

Demo of the simulation-based tool of the University of Bristol

The afternoon session began with Maurizio Montagnuolo from Italian state broadcaster RAI, giving the audience an understanding of their Director’s Dashboard designed specifically to allow editorial teams to define shooting missions in an easy manner during a preproduction phase and to interact with the drone fleet during mission execution. The technical and production challenges of using drones to capture video of volcanic emissions including beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations to collect ash samples and realize gas measurements at large distances were at the focus of Tom Richardson’s presentation from the University of Bristol.

Presentation on using drones for volcano research

In the following session, Samuel Oberholzer from Tinamu Labs in Zurich described their work from ETH allowing ‘Drones on Rails’  and how control complexity can be reduced for camera operators guaranteeing repeatability of camera trajectories and enhancing safety even for non-expert users.  

Hector Skevington-Postles, an independent cameraman and drone pilot (for e.g. Netflix and BBC) spoke about sequence building and how the drone aerial platforms have enhanced wildlife filming, bringing a new feel and new possibilities in building aerial spectacle as well as behavioural sequences in his presentation.

The workshop closed with an extended audience discussion, chaired by David Bull of the University of Bristol, including a summary of the lessons learned from the Multidrone project given by Prof Ioannis Pitas, the Multidrone project lead, from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. This engaging discussion revisited many of the excellent presentations, exploring how drones can extend cinematography through greater immersion, intimacy and revelation, and the extent to which autonomous operation can indeed enhance production capabilities.

MultiDrone Archievements the participants discussed about.
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