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Old 3rd April 2016, 13:01   #1
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Default Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

So many car and tyre commercials are being aired these days. Drone and rig technology has transformed the way we shoot cars. Just some time ago I was lucky enough to be part of a car accessory commercial (not named here, as the purpose of this post is to see how crews shoot). We used an excellent drone team from Slovenia who not only had experienced pilots; these pilots understood camerawork, and that’s a rarity.

I should have done this post much earlier. So thanks to the mod team of Team-BHP for encouraging me to put this up. I have not mentioned the brand (it’s not a car at all) nor have I included a link for the final commercial, that’s not the purpose of this post.

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The Location

The High Alpine Road, Austria.

What was extra special is that it was shot up and down the High Alpine Road in the GrossGlockner glacier region in Austria, which commands some of the most scenic ski slopes in the world. Of course winter was just setting at the time of the shoot and in fact we were in a race against time as a cold front had started blowing in from the North which meant a lot of fog and minimal light. Of course in the end what we thought as bad luck turned out to be good luck as the murky conditions gave a mood that went well with the film. Our base camp was the iconic village of Hellingblut where all the skiers stay in the season and it’s offbeat for most Indian tourists who are happy with Vienna and Salzburg.

The High Alpine Road has been nominated as one of the top 10 roads of the world by Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear and that was one sort of unsaid reasons the director chose this location for the shoot. When you travel on this road you can see cyclists, superbikers and car enthusiasts who hire Ferraris and Lamborginis for a weekend just to drive on this road. The road winds up and down almost 180 degrees at places. The climb is nearly a 1000 meters and the views keep changing brilliantly every few hundred meters. Plus there are a lot of vista points with coffee and soup shops to keep tourists and roadies warm.

The Car

The choice of car for the commercial was unanimous; it was the Jaguar XF because it was a perfect brand image fit for the car accessory product we were shooting for.

This first video shows you the beauty of the place, a glimpse of the tight crew and the car.


Meet the Drone

The second video I would like to share is close-up of the drone itself, fitted and ready to fly. It is not a conventional drone that you get off the shelf. This one is custom built for shoots and can easily lift heavy cameras, fly faster and can be far more manoeuvrable than conventional drones. The remote itself if you can spot it in the videos is a much heavier piece. The pilot is required to have actual flying experience and the one we had had many years of flying copters. The drone could climb to about 700 meters if need be but were not allowed to because that’s considered as low air traffic height. The range of flight is roughly 2 kilometres ie the drone can be manoeuvred from upto 2 kms away. Of course there are more powerful drones than this, but for me this was the most powerful one I had encountered.

Drone video:


The drone is not just used for bird-eye view (aerial view) camerawork. Because unlike an aerial camera the high degree of manoeuvrability means we can use it for a variety of shots. And in the process we can get right into the action. And that’s what I would like to illustrate here piece-by-piece.

Car Follow Shot

One of the first shots we did with the drone was to follow the car down the road. Because we were using a wide angled lens we could not only get the car but much of the beautiful morning mist that settled between the turns. Somewhere you can see a glimpse of the Alps too.

Car Follow / Tracking shot:


Fly-across Shot

For conventional truck mounted camera rigs flying in front of an approaching car is a complex set-up. For the drone it’s just a simple movement on the remote.

Fly-across shot video (skip ahead to 1:25):


Side-tracking Shot

The drone easily tracks the camera by the side of the moving car, completely giving the director a side shot. And then the cameraman can even pull back and across and zoom in if need be. This is really flexible compared to a more traditional rig-based truck again. The first two videos below are conventional rig shots so you can see they are a bit more complex to achieve when you compare it to the next two side videos using the drone. Cameras are getting sophisticated each passing year, not too far from cinema quality for drone mounted cameras.

Conventional rig side shot vids:



Side drone vids:



Bird-eye Tracking

This is the more sort of conventional use of drones in camerawork, the top angle bird’s-eye view. Usually the wide-angled lens also helps in giving perspective and a sense of the panorama of the landscape.

Bird-eye tracking vid:


Zoom Shot

There is a lot of joy for directors as they can go from emotion to an establishment shot in one movement. The drone can also be used to shoot a close-up of the actor and zooming out to set the emotion against the setting or landscape.

Zoom vid:


Drone Take-off and Landing

It looks easy. But even with a bit of wind the control required is quite delicate when the drone takes off. Landing a drone requires manual help so that the drone and camera is not damaged, especially since the rig is much heavier than conventional drones.

Take-off and Landing vid:

Drone landing skill vid:


Drift shot on the edge of the Alps

This is one of the drift sequences we shot, the setting is marvelous and not every day do you get to see a Jag drifting. Of course a more conventional rig was used to shoot this, but if anyone has seen the Gymkhana 5 videos drones are used there for the drifts.

Drift vids:



Ease of shoot compared to India

It’s a breeze to shoot in Europe (or even Thailand) compared to India, even if you are to consider traffic being equal. The Alpine Road authority gave us two road wardens at both ends equipped with their own walkie-talkies. They could make sure the traffic halts were organised so takes could be peacefully shot. Also the drivers themselves, no one got out, no one asked, it was like this too was part of their picnic.

Discipline vid:


Map of the High Alpine Road

This is in case you are interested in knowing what’s the stretch of the road in question. You can see the glacier of Gross Glockner and the surrounding peaks. Prime ski country. Though be ready to pay Rs. 40 for a pee, and it does get quite chilly.

Map vid:


Ending Note


I am sure one of these days we will have an entire A-List film shot completely on drone. Not just a thriller but a human drama movie.

I would like to thank a few people for this experience:
John Francis (the director) at Carbon Black films
Janani Ravichandran (the producer) at BWP Totem
Kole Kolisevski (Line Production - Slovenia)
Kopterworx (Slovenia)
Adriana Posso at Camino Media (Spain)
Iztok Medja and the team at Division Productions, Slovenia

Last edited by Rehaan : 3rd April 2016 at 15:57. Reason: Adding urls as hyperlinks
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Old 3rd April 2016, 16:01   #2
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Default re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

Hi Achutank,


Incredible scenery and awesome post! I like the way you've split it up from a point-of-view of someone experienced with shooting commercials.

That drone is a beast, and it would be scary to hand-catch, but losing a finger might be cheaper than repair bills to the airborne equipment! Thankfully the legs of the drone are long enough that its a relatively safe catch.


I think the commercial you refer to should be obvious to most BHPians...

However, I think you've left out the most interesting part of the story !!!

If you can, do tell everyone here what you had told me about how you came up with the "Start a road affair" tagline for the commercial...

BHPians will certainly enjoy that story


-R

Last edited by Rehaan : 3rd April 2016 at 16:23.
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Old 3rd April 2016, 16:21   #3
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Default re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

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Originally Posted by Rehaan View Post

However, I think you've left out the most interesting part of the story !!!

If you can, do tell everyone here how you came up with the "Start a road affair" tagline for the commercial...

BHPians will certainly enjoy that story


-R
Sure thing Rehaan. MRF is a brand I worked on in Chennai. And they are a superb company to work for from an advertising perspective because they are very passionate about automobiles. So as a creative person I could not just write anything that just came in some flash of brilliance. Everything had to be thought-through. So obviously reading up on automobiles and tyres was a regular thing.

Therefore the Team BHP forum. I read a lot of tyre experiences that people were having. And one of the experiences that stood out and which I shared with the client was how one of the members used to take any opportunity to drive to Bangalore airport because he could take a detour on the way back and hit this particular flyover which used to be empty. Because once on it he could do a particular edgy curve at about 70-80 and that was thrilling because his tyres held their grip.

Now this set me thinking because back in the 90s I used to bike everyday in Bombay and always made it a point to take the longer route back home through Worli sea-face. Sunset, no speed breakers (then not now) and a chai at the end of the road. It was a road I simply loved.

So I thought everyone serious enough about their driving would have this one stretch of road somewhere which is like a mistress they go to everytime.

And that's where the concept of "Start a Road Affair" came about. :-)

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Old 3rd April 2016, 19:36   #4
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Talking re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

What a beautiful and unique experience you've shared. You never mentioned you got on to team-bhp nor that you were going to put this up. Im pleasantly surprised !

You revived some vivid memories of the shoot, Achu. It was either Gross-glockner or the Transfaragasen that we were looking at and settled on Glockner for logistical reasons. Please add Ziga Colja, the superb precision driver to the credits if you can.

As the Director of the commercial, shooting this for you and with you was such an awesome experience. Not to mention the drift that almost took the camera out.

I've done a fair bit of car commercials but this by far is one of the most exotic commercials and experiences. Thanks.
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Old 4th April 2016, 01:07   #5
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Thank you for sharing this behind the scenes story! We fail to realise the days of hard work required to make even a 30 second commercial! The videos were perfect way of giving us a spectators perspective.
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Old 4th April 2016, 12:07   #6
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

Awesome! Awesome!! A great post on drone shooting and appreciate the details that you have provided. I am a drone enthusiast and hoping to get one this August, fingers crossed.
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Old 4th April 2016, 13:05   #7
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

Wow, you guys have got some really beautiful shots. My friends and I are part of the aeromodelling community and do some aerial photography. I have a similar sized rig (custom built hexacopter) with retracts and everything. We dont do it commercially but more for fun. Main problem we have here is very few open roads like that and most roads will have lots of power lines as well making it a bit tricky. Would love to do a nice car shoot if any of you are interested in bringing your beasts here
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Old 4th April 2016, 15:34   #8
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

Using drones for advertisements and films is gaining momentum really quickly. The angles and seamless nature that can be achieved is very difficult if not impossible to replicate using traditional means. The altitudes which these drones can operate make them ideally suited for tracking objects which would be quite difficult to do so from other forms of aircraft.

Coming to the this particular drone. This is what is called a Coaxial octacopter with wooden props. These are quite popular in shooting films and adverts as they offer great stability over other configurations.

There are few operators (Including me) in India as well who fly aircraft capable of heavy lifting including cameras from RED and BlackMagic. Of course, there is always a trade off between weight and flight time.
If anyone has any questions, please feel to ask. I will try to answer them as best as I can.
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Old 4th April 2016, 18:03   #9
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

This is great, especially for someone like me who has almost no knowledge of drone photography. If possible, do share a link for the completed advertisement so that we can relate the finished product to some of the videos you have posted here. Thanks!
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Old 4th April 2016, 19:08   #10
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

These Drones - autonomous flights are going to change the way things are done. Like Raffaello D'Andrea says in this below TED talk, the dazzling flying machines are getting smarter and better!



Use of these drones for simple parcel delivery may seem gimmicky but i believe they can be used for far more important and better things too!
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Old 4th April 2016, 21:32   #11
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

Thank you for sharing this drone experience. Drones are the next big thing to hit aviation after jet engines were introduced on airliners in the 1950s. According to most studies the drone population is expected to hit 6 million in 2026. Compare this with the total number of all kinds of aircraft flying today of approximately between 450,000 and 500,000. the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) is concerned by the number of 'drone sightings' airline pilots have reported especially when coming in to land. The reportings now run into 4 figures. Aviation regulation will come in very soon governing drone operations and training on flight safety a drone operator will need to undergo - this will apply for all drones (toys or otherwise) weighing more than one pound and that can fly higher than 50 feet.

Drone applications are more than we can think from traffic control, to checking oil pipelines, to air-sea rescue to agriculture, to insect like drones that can go hide somewhere and do God knows what. Interesting times.

The fact that weddings in rural Haryana are now getting covered by drone mounted videos says it all!
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Old 5th April 2016, 09:46   #12
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

Thanks a LOT for this thread achutank. It's very unique and was very interesting to read!

The drones will change the world. I have been following drone tech for quite some time now and the way it is advancing everyday tells a lot. I am also waiting for it to get more economical. That way, even more people will become drone enthusiasts. Maybe one day, Team-BHP will have a section dedicated to drones and we will write ownership reviews of our drones and share footages!

Also, amazing landscape and a beautiful car to go with it!

Neel
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Old 5th April 2016, 13:48   #13
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

Quote:
Originally Posted by avdhesh15 View Post
If possible, do share a link for the completed advertisement so that we can relate the finished product to some of the videos you have posted here.
Here's the directors cut of the ad:


Last edited by Rehaan : 5th April 2016 at 14:40.
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Old 6th April 2016, 12:16   #14
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

Lovely insight on what is a game-changing device - thanks for sharing .

A nice car on an open road can turn even an old man into a teenager! Whoever has acted has acted well.

I like the attention to detail in applying Indian plates, even though the shoot was in Europe. Jaguar should learn a thing or two from you guys. They're too lazy to even change the plates on their Indian ads. Meanwhile, the nincompoops at BMW send press releases of important launches with LHD cars & German plates (related link).

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Old 9th April 2016, 15:38   #15
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Default Re: Using a Drone to shoot a Car Commercial at the High Alpine Road, Austria

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post

I like the attention to detail in applying Indian plates, even though the shoot was in Europe. Jaguar should learn a thing or two from you guys. They're too lazy to even change the plates on their Indian ads. Meanwhile, the nincompoops at BMW send press releases of important launches with LHD cars & German plates
I feel they do this on purpose. To give the Indian 'junta' the feeling of buying a 'phoren' car. That it's an imported luxury brand. Same awesome stuff of their dreams they only see abroad or hear about their cousin driving.
It's more of a marketing ploy.

But then again I could be wrong.
And again, the attention to detail (as is almost always seen in a TeamBHP review) is not the forte of many.
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