• Category Archives Opto22
  • IBM Watson Gateway Device

    Just incase you were wondering what we were up to in the Opto 22 studio….
    (I don’t recommend that any of you watch it, it’s just an FYI)

    Paul is editing the second one now and I am writing the script for the third video – they are more workshop videos than this one, so might be of more interest to you lot….



  • AFS video shoot

    A month or three (or it might be longer, duno, kinda lost track of time here) we (the 3 man video team) headed to Phoenix to make another case study.
    AFS, Arizona Facility Services are a great company that have been long time huge Opto fans. While they cover a lot of ground, their specialty is data centers.
    Can’t say too much about who exactly, but it revolves around credit cards….. Enough to say that it matters they have some pretty solid uptime.
    They use our gear in the whole center, power, energy, generators, security, hvac the whole joint runs or is monitored by Opto.
    We had a great few days with the guys, they are really gracious hosts and it was very cool to see the inner workings of the data center (had some flashbacks to the hospital days with some of the gear).

    Here is the video Paul put together.

    (I may or may not have a little ‘wager’ of a bottle of Vodka running with these guys about who has the world’s largest Pac Display project – going to stop by the hospital when we are over that way and take a count of the number of Windows we have there – I’m actually a little ‘worried’, its going to be very close!).



  • Drone footage to add flavour

    Back to beat my drum (hey, none of you lot are going to do it for me).

    We just got approval to post our latest Opto 22 case study video. This one is about Vista Irrigation District. They use our gear to move a lot of water to a lot of people.
    We did all the drone flying and some of the camera work.

    Once again, I want to make the point of how the drone flying is not the only video used, and how it adds a lot of flavour and interest (diversity) to the story.
    We are also careful to only use it where it makes sense.

    Ok, so now the fun bits……
    0:00 The opening shot of the sunrise I am super happy with. It was a typical SoCal day and just a joy to fly in such a beautiful location and at such a beautiful time of day. It was dead calm and cool, perfect multirotor flying weather.

    At 0:08 we do the car chase scene. The guy got a bit of a head start on me and I am pedal to the metal to try and catch up with him. The drone was cranked so far over you can see the rotors in the original shot, so we had to crop the video to get them out. It was THE fastest I have ever piloted a drone and as far as I know, it was flat out top speed for the drone (A Phantom P3 Pro).

    At 0:14 I am using my favorite mode; Orbit. We set it up so the pump station was the center and just made sure we were above the trees and power pole and let it do its job. I still get a kick out of watching the drone do a perfect circle with the camera pointing in. I still feel like a bobble head stick figure, trying to watch all the obstacles and the drone and the data coming back and of course the video image, but it’s a fun kind of stress.

    0:55 We took off from a street next to the reservoir. Had two spotters out so that we could be sure it was free from traffic. It was a very quiet dead end road. Bit of wind made things interesting, but not marginal by any stretch. Had to take off and land straight up between two large trees so we could be well clear of any power lines and make sure we did not over fly any ones property etc. Simple shot, just up and very slow even yaw to reveal the city of Vista. The pipe overlay was added by our video guy in post production.

    1:28 At the end of the car chase, we were to fly up and ‘watch’ the guy open the gate. As ‘luck’ would have it, the gate was right at the 400 foot mark, so the geo-fence feature of the multirotor cut in and it would not fly past the guy. If we had launched 50 feet further to the gate, for the chase sequence, it would not have been an issue. Note to self. Be a (much) better judge of distance in the future…. The video guy had to do a fade out before we get to the gate as the drone pitches up and ruins the shot.

    3:40 I was a bit nervous doing this shot. The multi rotor craft was below my ground level, so I was looking down at it. We had had a GPS unlock failure the flight before in that area and there was nice stiff breeze coming over the top of the dam wall creating some turbulence. It really made the drone rock around and was quite the handful getting back on the ground to reset the flight control system. It was this exact incident that made me understand just how much I was relying (resting) on the software to fly the craft and at that moment was when I vowed to teach myself to fly without all the electronic nanny systems.
    Anyway, this was the second flight, the video director Paul wanted the ‘reveal’ shot, it’s a very powerful shot where we reveal something big to the viewer, so Paul wanted it and while I was on eggshells with the bosses drone in an unusual to me attitude we safely got the shot. The interesting thing is that it is played in reverse here from how it was flown and recorded. We wanted to be sure that we were lined up on the lake, so we started up high with the shot we wanted and ended down low….. Nonetheless I think it works and is a great closing sequence.
    If you look to the far right hand side on the road, you can see me and video guy.
    BTW, the reveal shot is showing Lake Henshaw. The same place I did the practice flight with Martty.

    So yeah. I still think drone flying is better when there is a purpose.



  • Drone flying is better when there is a purpose

    We have done a little more drone flying since the last blog. Not a lot. Just the one ‘work’ related batch and a bit of practice at home with the nano.
    What we have been doing is looking at other pilots drone video to learn what works and what does not…… There is a ton of it out there. Hundreds of 2-10 minute boring as paint drying videos.
    What’s interesting is that they are (for the most part) just gushing with excitement about how amazing the flight and video is…… Umm… It’s a sunset….. It’s a beach…. It’s a park….
    It has no meaning to the viewer. None.
    To them and their friends/family, sure, I bet it is a cool memory video, but to me and you, not so much.
    We don’t know what the holiday was about, we don’t know just how amazing the sunset was (yeah, ok, it looks pretty from 200 feet up, but we really don’t need a full eight minutes of hovering to enjoy it).

    Storytelling

    Video is about storytelling. Did Hitchcock or Spielberg or Cameron have a drone? No, they made great movies because they could direct people to tell a great story.
    I personally think that drone flying is amazing when it is told as part of a story.
    Here is our first attempt.

    To be clear, we are all finding our way with the drone. But, that said, I think it helps tell the story.
    (Looking forward to sharing with you all the next video that our team is editing at the moment, it has some more drone footage in it).
    If you are super interested we can share what bits are drone and what’s not (it might surprise you which shots are from the drone), otherwise, have fun guessing…..

    Drone Based Data Gathering

    What I am looking into more and more is using the drone as a tool. The ability to quickly and cheaply get video and data from a different viewpoint is something that is going to come into play more and more as time goes by.
    Check out these websites; (Not in any order, just a bookmark dump)
    https://www.mapsmadeeasy.com/drone_mapping
    https://www.dronedeploy.com/
    https://pix4d.com/
    http://www.3dflow.net/3df-zephyr-pro-3d-models-from-photos/
    http://www.agisoft.com/
    And this (but you need to sign in to read it); https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303559305_A_Statistical_Examination_of_Image_Stitching_Software_Packages_For_Use_With_Unmanned_Aerial_Systems

    To-Do List

    I guess my point is this, drones are cool, yeah, sure, but if you just upload a home video it has very little impact.
    Tell a story and use your drone as part of that story and you will get some traction.
    But, for me, the real power of the drone I suspect is science. I am super looking forward to getting my hands on some footage and software.

    Watch this space.



  • Drones, multirotor, quadcopters

    Events have conspired to push us back into flying radio control aircraft. Specifically, drones, multirotor or quadcopters… They all the same thing, but people call them different names. Here is a quick recap of how this all came about.

    We shoot video case studies at work to highlight how companies use our gear to automate a process. It’s good for them and it’s good for us, it helps their future customers understand how that company can help them, and it helps our future customers hear and see how others have used our gear.
    So, a few weeks back, we had a case study video shoot to do in Northern California, cold storage of fruit.

    At first, the boss said that he would be flying the drone… It is after all, HIS drone. He has flown it a few times and he also doubles as the director for the film crew, so it makes sense for him to be there.
    Events built to the point where he was not going to be able to make it, so that left me to pick up the drone (I also do camera B and audio duties).
    Long story short, I had around 3 days to learn how to set it up and fly it.

    Phantom 3 Pro Drones

    dji phantom 3 pro drone
    dji phantom 3 pro drone

    The DJI Phantom 3 Professional is no longer their top of the line drone, but it is still a lot of drone. Costing something north of 1500 bucks, it is also out of my price range.
    The really interesting thing for me is that flying the thing is as much about the software as it is about flying.

    The system uses a tablet, in this case an iPad something (Sorry, I don’t know anything about Apple products – it just works with the drone is all I know), it gets the feed from the remote. Both video and data show up. Both are required to fly the drone.

    Quick practice

    I was not going to learn how to fly on the job, so we did a few quick flights the Sunday before we left.

    Rusty, but the drone has GPS, altitude lock and active stabilization electronics to help. The thing that really weirds me out is that you pretty much fly it from the video feed 99% of the time. Only during takeoff and landing do I look it (and even then I’m sure there are guys that do the whole thing from the video feed).
    This is very different to how I have flown fix wing stuff in the past!

    drone prop ballance

    We also had to brush up on old skills like propeller balancing.

    On location

    To say I was nervous is a MASSIVE understatement.
    If we get some time, I plan to rough edit some of the video shots we got and share them here.
    orchard shoot

    Here is a photo that our video guy got of me, I had no idea that he took this photo.

    calca cool room

    Here is one that I took of me from the drone.
    At this point, I am flying inside the massive cool room that they store grapes in.

    Nano practice drone

    The good news is two fold. Firstly, I did not crash. Secondly, I get to do more flying latter this week at another video case study.
    In the middle of the two weeks Freddy and Terry asked me what I wanted for a Father’s day present (apparently I am hard to buy presents for… and my name is not even Gary…).
    The answer was pretty simple…. I needed a small practice drone.

    practice nano drone

    So. There we are.
    I am flying for work and pleasure.
    Right now the FAA are between rules, so we are looking at whats required to keep this up moving forward.
    At the moment it is still the bosses drone. Not sure whats going to happen there as he has been using it less and less (that was happening long before this shoot – just to be clear). It’s the sort of thing that if you don’t keep it up, you get rusty…. As I can attest to.

    You might read or hear more about drones moving forward. Radio control aircraft seem to be making a comeback into my life. Amazing how stuff like this works out.