DriftVFX is involved in Visual and Virtual Asset making, for film, game and VR presentation. We specialize in natural environments re-creation.
In the past we have primarily used ground based photogrammetry to build assets such as rocks, logs, cliffs that can be accessed physically on foot.
However with UAV copters we can now get a new angle. This allows us to capture much large rock formations, or taller cliffs.
After researching a number of brands and RC news groups, we decided not to go with the most common UAV on the market, but favoured a more flexible and customisable solution from:
The 3D Robotics Iris+ became our first workhorse Quadcopter.
Although advertised as a goPro platform for aerial video (and its follow me mode) we have a different use.
Now our ground work together with an ‘Eye in the Sky’ to capture larger individual assets, or a full location.
At the moment the ground team have the more powerful cameras (Sony A7R, Nikon D800E) so capture the bulk of the detail. but once the subject is beyond ground line of site, the Iris can take over and capture from above.
With a Laptop/MacBook and ground station software for continual information (with voice response and alerts) and a remote display, we can see what the camera is framing and trigger the shutter remotely from the Iris+ Radio Transmitter.
Due to the Iris+ being designed more for goPro camera and gimbal weight, the Sony rx100M3 camera does push the weight limit a bit. The full setup with battery weighs in at 2kg. Using the standard Iris 3S 5100Mah , or Zippy 5000Mah I get approximately 7 min flight before a 10.7 volt warning kicks in. This is lower than expected with a goPro setup, but generally enough to capture what is needed per mission/battery.
The Iris GPS controlled Return to Launch (RTL) is a nice feature to get the copter and camera safely home. Auto land is possible, but in general once the Iris is near home we prefer to switch to full manual (or “Stabilised” mode in APM terminology) to get the Iris down promptly and under full control.
The 3D Robotic range of UAVs use the Pixhawk, an APM based Flight Controller (Computer). Not only does it keep the copter stabilized, it can hold altitude, and/or position via GPS. There are a number of flight modes for beginner to advanced and sporty.
One of the best features is the ability to use Mission Planner (APM:Planner on OSX or Tower on Android) to create Waypoint based missions, overlaid on a Google/Bing styled satellite map. You can literally point and click to where you want the iris to go, or define a series of Waypoints for a planned Mission. This is extremely powerful for setting up accurate photographic and aerial survey paths.
The various Ground Station software you can use also allow a lot of customization of how your craft behaves, so advanced users can setup exactly what they need their UAV to do.
For an entry level useful aerial photography copter I really recommend the 3DR range. Iris+ (or X8+ for more payload) 3D Robotics have been impressive to watch grow as a company, and their customer support team are probably one of the best in the UAV/Drone business.
The Iris+ has a Facebook Group which is active and friendly, and constantly monitored by the 3dr Support team as well as a number of key active members. It is a great resource for new users.
The DIY Drones site is also good for Drone news
For the near future DriftVFX will be using the Iris+ and rx100M3 for Photogrammetry to build Visual FX asset packs such as their latest Unity Asset Pack, and for survey, as well as leisure photography.
As we expand and grow we’ll very likely stay with the Pixhawk Flight Controller on any other UAVs we purchase or create. The Pixhawk can be purchased separately from the 3d Robotics Online Store.
If you have any questions please Contact Us
To see more of our photography visit our personal flickr pages: