Hardcastle Aerial Imaging – Fall 2010

I’ve taken on a new challenge that get most people laughing the first time they hear of it.  Yep, learning how to fly remote control helicopters with the intention of adding aerial imaging and video to my repertoire.  Obvious, no?  Ya right – here’s how it came about….

Recently, advances in digital imaging and video have really taken off.  Over the holidays, I found a video recorder marked down to $59 that records in 720p HD video and is the size of a cell phone.  Incredible.  It’s the kodak version of the Flip brand video cameras that are stripped down to the basics, but in return extremely compact.  Combine that with one of the things coming out of the CES (Consumer Electronics Show), there was this.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3KrFV0-WFw

A remote control helicopter, equipped with a forward video camera, that you control from an iPhone.  The video quality leaves a little to be desired, but in due time, we’ll be able to fit a 1080p HD recorder in the same size package.  Full HD quality video, recorded via a remote control helicopter, streaming to your iPhone where you also are piloting the ship, and who knows – GPS enabled geotagging of videos, instant upload to youtube and facebook…as one of these R/C companies claims – the sky is no longer the limit.

How does this relate to me?  Well I’ve always been into remote control flying things, even if I haven’t exercised my interest by actually owning one.  I had a plane that my dad and I built when I was too young to fly it.  With the help of an instructor at an R/C airfield in my old hometown of St. Charles, IL – I flew it one time for about 5 minutes.  I think it took us almost a year to build.  However, the building process was probably more valuable at the time, hanging out with dad in the basement for a few hours a week, but I digress…

Last year about this time, I was putting in my typical hours of research before buying some gadget-esque item, and I nearly pulled the trigger on an R/C helicopter purely for the fun side of flying it and the challenge involved.  One year later, in a PhotoPlus Expo web article I came across, a company called Aericam makes a remote control helicopter outfitted with a mount for a professional DSLR sized camera or video camera.  Now a perfect excuse to combine something that always looked like fun with a potential for a business venture (albeit a far-fetched one).  The video below was taken using one of their products.

With a steep entry fee of $9-$12k depending on the arrangement you choose, not everyone will be jumping online to place their order.  Combined with the fact that flying the helicopter in the first place is a serious challenge requiring plenty of training flight time, it isn’t for the masses.  Which is why it’s great.

I picked up an E-Flite Blade CP Pro 2 from Hobby Town USA in Westminster last week (while on lunch break at the Spyder shoot) to be my learning rig.  I’ll keep you posted on the progress and how many parts I can break en route to remote control helicopter mastery. Will I conquer the skies and bring back pictures to tell everyone? Or will I crash and burn?  Only time will tell…

One thought

  1. Sitting post race at the 2009 Fat Tire Tri I turned to my brother and co-race director, “Tony, we need a helicopter. I don’t know how and when, but this course sets up perfect for aerial videography!” Thinking I was crazy, he simply nodded yah, as this was another one of my hair brained ideas to toss on a list over the 2009 season. Flash forward 5 months and after 1 ride with Allen of Hardcastle the solution magically appeared. You can be sure that if Hardcastle Photography makes the plunge that Without Limits will be the first to invite him out to an event.

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