Saturday, 27 July 2019

Drone Hire - considerations for your pilot hire.

The word 'stunning' is used far too often in the world of drone photography. Sometimes 'stunning' shots that make it into local newspapers wouldn't make it past a discerning content creator. Likewise, 'stunning video' can often be straight off the camera or poorly produced.

In order to get high quality video for your project, before you hire, (once you've established they're licensed and insured), contractors should look for a number of skills that drone operators must have. Use their own previous content from their website or YouTube channel in order to judge their abilities and look out for these issues....

1) Smooth movement. 
When you watch drone footage back, keep your eyes on one moving object. Sheep in fields are great as they stand out. Does the object glide smoothly across the scene, or is it jerky? Smooth panning only happens when a number of things are set up correctly. Whilst some of the problems can be caused by playback devices (iPads are great for having smooth playback) a lot of the time, it can be because the film has been rendered and filmed in the wrong or different formats. A great drone operator will already know how their drone films best, and what formats are the best for producing. This can also be down to poor piloting skills though. Sometimes a shot is left in a final edit (that should have been cut) when the drone pilot simply changed direction of their drone or camera suddenly.

2) Consistent colour and brightness
Beginner drone operators will likely pop their video settings on auto. This can cause a number of problems when creating video content. As the light from a moving drone is always changing, so too will the camera settings. This can be identified by regular changes in the colour or brightness, as the camera will use it's ISO setting to adjust the brightness for the scene. One encoded onto the video, this is impossible to smooth out. You can spot this with regular step changes in the scene as it retains the correct exposure.

3) Overblown whites or too much black
Photography, and especially exposure is something of an art. Getting the ISO and shutter balance right for a scene can be difficult. Once footage is acquired though, with the right professional software, a lot of detail can be pulled out from a correctly exposed image. However, it's not always easy and sometimes (when a shot is moving) a complex adjustment will be necessary to ensure the exposure is right, and also smooth if it changes throughout a scene.

4) Composition
The final thought for your drone operator is how well they frame all of their shots. Several rules about diagonals and thirds apply to video as much as they do photography. And while some drone pilots may be great photographers, framing a shot with a drone is much more difficult. Having the ability to adjust the altitude, attitude, movement and camera angle whilst maintaining a satisfying image is a skill that some people just can't get right (in the same way that I'm unlikely to ever be able to skip, or hula hoop).

5) No fly, no fee
Finally, before you book someone, check what their policy is for bad weather. It is common to book a pilot for a day and if the weather prohibits a flight, then they still charge the client. This is common practice in this sector.

If you've seen a pilots example videos of their work and they don't have any of these flaws, then you're safe to assume they know their kit and will be able to get you high quality video that you deserve. If you see these issues, on recent videos they've made (we made these mistake we we were new) then perhaps look elsewhere.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Mac Owners - The end is nigh - Catalina. Don't UPGRADE until you read this...


This morning (10/7/2019) I have taken the shrewd advice from Apple's beta program and installed the Beta of Mac OS Catalina on my secondary Mac (an Air), not my main iMac.

And I'm really glad I did.

Apple have had subtle warnings that have said 'This program will not work with future updates of Mac OS - The developer needs to update this app to work".


So Why? What's happening? 

The new version of Mac OS is going to be for 64 bit programs only. 32 bit programs will no longer work.

So what will be affected? 

This depends entirely on what you use your Mac for and which programs you use. This list is what has happened on my Mac and what it will mean I will have to do now.

0) ** Microsoft Office 2011 ** At the time of writing I hadn't noticed, as the apps for this are in a folder in the applications folder. But this is the big one. Many people rely on Office for work, and an upgrade could cost as much as £200. But the simple fact is, all of your work and documents may have to suffer a clumsy conversion to pages, keynote or numbers. Which would mean formatting awry and missing fonts.
Office 2011 is NOT compatible with Mac OS Mojave.

1) Logitech Harmony Remote Software - I have a Logitech remote which I have used for many years. It serves us well and although it's a pain to set up, it did work well when it was new.
However, if I want to change the settings of the remote, the only way to do it was via this app. I've checked the Logitech website and there is no 64 bit version of the software - (even the 32bit uninstaller doesn't work)
So this technology will likely become obsolete.
Upshot - The new remotes of equivalent function are around £100 each. Eeeek!

2) HDRtist - This is a simple program I used for combining multi exposure images to create a stunning HDR image. Indeed my desktop wallpaper I'm seeing as I type this was made with it.
No update available - last update 7 years ago.
Upshot - Will need to hunt for and purchase new software for this.

3) iDVD - Ok, so my use of iDVD was very infrequent, although one school I work for still asks me to create DVD's for their Year 6 leavers service.
Upshot - Will need to find new software for burning DVD's, creating menu's; opportunity to find BluRay burning software. May buy a Blu Ray burner/software bundle.

4) iWeb - I have one client who I still use iWeb for. This is a very old, but perfectly effective program for managing website, but Wix do the same thing, almost as well (seriously iWeb was REALLY simple).
Upshot - I have emailed the client and let them know we will need to do something before Autumn.

5) Digital Viewer - Simple software I use in school, to let pupils see what a TTS - EasiScope digital Microscope uses.
Upshot - Found free updated software on TTS website as the device is still on sale. Phew!

6) Grand perspective - Software used for visualising content on a computer.
Upshot - Found updated 64 bit software on website.

7) Netgear powerline software - This software let me see if the power line adaptors I have on my home network are connected, encrypted and working ok.
Upshot - I no longer have Netgear power line adaptors, I swapped to Devolo. Not a problem for me, so I just uninstalled it.

8) Google Photos - Using for synchronising images off my Mac to the google photos service.
Upshot - stopped using this a while back. Would be useful though as google photos service is changing from Drive - will need some investigative work for a good solution.

9) Google Music Manager - This I still do use. It synchronises my Music with the Google Play Music service.
Upshot - Update available - done.

Conclusion - Mojave is the last version of Mac OS that will support 32 bit programs.

What to duo now?

Click the Apple Logo - About this Mac - System report and select (under software) Applications to identify those apps that are 64bit (see pic), and have a plan for updating or replacing them. If your work relies on you using 32bit applications that are no longer being upgraded.
Hold off upgrading to Catalina until you have an alternative program you can use.

If I can help at all, let me know.

Google Drive for Desktop.