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We have just successfully finished our trip to Papua New Guinea, and are now resting comfortably in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa as we prepare for the next leg of our journey. While we get the rest our bodies are craving, and while the communications available to us are good, we thought we’d take the time to share with all of you a bit of our experiences from the single most memorable shoot of our lives.
 
Firstly, the intention of this trip was to document the native people in PNG with a focus on their close relationship with water, and their innate resilience to many diseases (such as malaria), which would kill most of us.
 
To start our journey, we took a few flights to get to Wewak, PNG. From here we drove for 4 hours to a village on the edge of the legendary Sepik River, where we boarded dugout canoes. After a 2-hour ride down the Sepik, we came to the beginning of a trail where we began a 2-hour hike into the jungle with all our gear. Fortunately, the village we were headed to sent all the men to help us carry the gear down the path. This is where we met the first group we were to document. They arrived in bare feet, and armed with machetes. To carry the heavy cases they promptly hacked down some small trees, then used bark to quickly fashion ropes to tie the trees (now poles) to the cases, so that two people could comfortably carry the weight through the jungle.
 
As we made our way down the path, the village slowly materialized one grass hut at a time. The villagers came out to the pathway and welcomed us all along our way. Finally, we got to the bamboo and grass hut we would be calling home for the next few nights, surrounded by children, men, and women, wishing us a very warm welcome. We had officially arrived in ‘Yamok’ village.
 
The reason for our going to Yamok was to document a coming of age ceremony that occurs once every 6-8 years. The ceremony involves the scarification of the boys, so that their bodies will resemble crocodiles. The cutting part of the ritual takes place in the Spirit House, where outsiders, women, and children are not allowed – only initiated men. As many of our followers know, our main camera / Movi operator is Gabrielle Nadeau – a woman. The production had managed to achieve access unlike ever before in order to get our cameras in there during the cutting, but Gabrielle still had to undergo some extra steps to be allowed in. This came in the form of an offering ceremony in which she had to give a betel nut branch to the village chief. This was preceded with the slaughtering of a pig with the use of a spear. With the village chief’s approval, we were all set to document this fascinating ritual.
 
The ritual began with the initiated men dancing in and outside the Spirit House area. They began around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and continued this all through the night until dawn the following day. This presented us with a great opportunity to obtain some incredible aerial images using the octocopter, the Movi brushless gimbal, and the RED Epic. From above we were able to move along with them as they passed from inside the Spirit House perimeter, to the outside, and then lower altitude to an elegant dolly alongside the entire tribe. Although the remote controlled aerial system was completely foreign technology to them, they were so happy to experience it airborne and to see the images we were capable of achieving with them. A funny thing happened during this part of the filming where one of the men near the monitor where Gabrielle was remotely operating the Movi from began to get quite upset. Thinking it had something to do with the drone’s filming, Gabrielle had the system pilot, Chuck, perform an immediate landing. It turned out that the man was not upset with the system or the images, but rather that the children and women were too close to the screen. Being near the screen, they were able to see inside the Spirit House perimeter, which is off-limits to them, and is a taboo. And so, several men created a wall with their bodies around Gabrielle and her ground station, so that we could continue our work.
 
We went to sleep that night under our bug nets listening to the chanting and dancing as it went all night long. In the morning, the boys were brought inside the perimeter, and the cutting ceremony began. Instead of flying the octocopter during the cutting (which we were concerned would blow dust into the cuts), we converted the Movi M10 to handheld mode and were able to achieve closer, more intimate, dolly and jib styled shots. The cutting was done with razor blades, and happens on the front torso, back torso, and legs of the boys. We cannot begin to imagine the level of pain experienced during the process. However, they take absolute pride in the initiation, and no yells of pain are emitted by any of them. They now heal for 3 months inside the Spirit House under the supervision of the men. During this time, they will also learn the essential skills they need to have as men – how to build a house, gardening, finding a wife, etc.
 
We left Yamok feeling different ourselves, having experienced such an amazing ritual – a ritual performed with an astonishing level of pride and importance.

After more hiking, boating, a small chartered flight, and more boating, we arrived in an even more remote village called ‘Nin’ (pronounced Nine) This place had not had a visitor since 1996 when a missionary came and built a school. It was good that he did that, because that is where they had us sleep ☺. The focus here was on day-to-day village life, as well as their resilience to disease. As for low level aerial cinematography, we managed some really elegant shots of villagers paddling dugout canoes in the river, using the river for household chores and cleaning, boys climbing trees for coconuts, and wonderful landscapes to show off the breath-taking virgin rain forest in the area. The shoot was relatively straight forward, but offered us a glimpse into the everyday lives of these people living completely off the grid and far away from any communications.
 
Finally, after some more boating and flying, we crossed the country to Alotau to take advantage of a traditional boating festival in order to document the sort of boats that could have been used in our ancestors’ history as humans made their way to various parts of the planet. It was here that the new Movi camera gimbal really shone. In the past, when post-stabilization was part of the process, it became difficult getting shots over open water without the horizon showing because it would make tracking virtually impossible. However, now with the Movi brushless gimbal on our octocopter, and with no need to post-stabilize the footage from the RED Epic, we were able to do complicated movements that would have been impossible otherwise, or offered mixed results. We nailed some impressive flights at this final PNG location, and it was a real thrill to hear over the headset, the director at the ground station monitor yelling, “Yes!,” and knowing that what he was seeing was the actual shot as it will exist, straight from the camera. As the director said when we were packing up all the kit to get ready for South Africa, “We achieved 100% of what we set out to do in Papua New Guinea.” Not bad considering it was one of the harshest environments on our list of places for these upcoming shoots.
 
I am sorry for the long posting here, but Papua New Guinea was quite literally the most amazing shooting experience we’ve had so far. We are proud to have been part of this shoot, and thrilled to be leaving with stunning aerial footage unlike anything else. Look forward to our upcoming stories from here in South Africa and Namibia.
 
Warmly,
- SkyMotion Video
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SkyMotion Video

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Earlier last week we received our new MōVI M10 / MR camera gimbal kit. To those unfamiliar with the new system, it is essentially a state-of-the-art camera stabilization system which uses custom brushless motors in conjunction with a high performance IMU, gyro sensors, accelorometers, and GPS to quickly correct unwanted camera movement and keep the image perfectly smooth and completely rock solid.
 
We are excited by the new possibilities this gimbal will offer to our clients including; longer lenses, a wider variety of camera types, smoother pans and tilts with better easing in and out options, and new camera movements - all without the need for post stabilization. The MōVI can either be flown on our remote controlled aerial multicopters, or used handheld - replacing the need for steadicam. We have begun tests with the MōVI M10 along with our in house RED Epic camera kit, and the results have been stunning. Even when running full speed with the system in hand, the image does not waver. We will be completing more thorough tests over the weeks to come and look forward to sharing everything the MōVI M10/MR has to offer with you.
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SkyMotion Video

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Music Video in the Mountains

Last week, SkyMotion Video was up at the peaks getting spectacular aerial video shots of snowboarders, snowmobilers, ice climbers, and... a rock band. Directed by Michael Maxxis and produced by Blake McWilliam, the latest video for Edmonton-based rock band “Tupelo Honey” features action sports in the beautiful setting of Canada’s Rocky Mountains.
 
Much of the aerial video shooting took place right at the summits, providing a gorgeous backdrop for the action. Director of Photography, Mike McLaughlin (www.mclaughlindp.com), an experienced music video cinematographer, brought his skills to the table to ensure the right aerial shots were captured for the song. As the camera of choice was the in-house RED Epic, it was decided to shoot all the action sports at 120fps, while maintaining a 4K resolution. With this, the choice can be made in post to speed ramp specific moments, then go to slow-motion at the peak of a jump, or part-way through a spectacular stunt. Add to this, the option to punch in on the 4K footage for 1080p close-ups, and it gives a ton of freedom in the edit.
 
This music video will air on MuchMusic later this year, and we cannot wait to share it with you when it’s ready. In the meantime, please enjoy the photos below.
 
We would also like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Jessie Oatway, and Jan Welkerling. Without their help, and the help of all the other snowboarders, and snowmobilers, this video would not have been possible.
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SkyMotion Video

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RED Epic In-House

SkyMotion Video is proud to officially announce that we are flying our own in-house RED Epic. By not renting this camera, we’ve been able to configure the camera specifically for aerial filmmaking. The result is a perfectly balanced system which is delivering even smoother shots than what we had been previously achieving with the DSLR cameras.
 
For those readers who may not be completely familiar with the RED Epic camera, here are a few specs about the camera, and details on why it is amazing.
 
Resolution:
The RED Epic can shoot at resolutions up to 5K (5120 x 2700). This means you can zoom in on footage up to 400% and still maintain 1920 x 1080 HD resolutions.
 
High Frame Rates:
For achieving smooth cinematic slo-motion movements, you want to shoot at higher frame rates so that when it plays back at normal speed, the action is slowed right down to show off the dynamic moments. With the RED Epic, we have the ability to shoot at various frame rates continuously. These frame rates are dependant on the resolution chosen and break down as follows:
1-120 fps 5K, 4.5K
1-150 fps 4K
1-200 fps 3K
1-300 fps 2K
 
Dynamic Range:
The RED Epic boasts 13.5 stops of dynamic range between absolute black, and blown out highlights. What this ultimately means it that detail is maintained in the shadows and the highlights. Even without filtration, the sky detail is held making for gorgeous breath-taking landscapes without compromising foreground detail.
 
Proven system for Professional Applications :
The RED Epic has been proven a worthy professional digital cinema camera on a wide range of productions including: The Hobbit, Spiderman, Pirate’s of the Caribbean, and House of Cards.
 
So that is the RED Epic in a nutshell. Look forward to smoother shots, higher resolutions, and professional cinema level quality.
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Clients full of smiles!

An article just popped up in the "Niagara Falls Review" about the new marketing campaign being put together for the Niagara Falls region. This is the same one that SkyMotion Video provided aerial video service for this past autumn. The article sings praises to the stunning imagery which would not have been made possible using traditional techniques.

Excerpt:
"When our ad agency (St. Catharines-based Loud+Clear) showed us the video, we were stunned,” said Tourism Partnership of Niagara CEO Robin Garrett.

In some clips the camera hovers inches above the brink of the falls, and then slowly descends down them leaving viewers with the sense they are going over. Another shot has the camera flying above Clifton Hill, capturing the entertainment district at night before panning over to the SkyWheel."

We at SkyMotion Video are thrilled that the article was first about the visuals (the end result and goal), with the technology behind being secondary. As active filmakers, it is story and image which drives us.

For the full article, please visit the link.
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Have them in circles
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SkyMotion Video

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Here we have some test footage from our new gimbal, the Movi M10 / MR. There has been NO POST-STABILIZATION applied to the video. Other than a very light colour correct, this is exactly as the footage came from the camera.

https://vimeo.com/76790109

Camera flown for this test was the RED Epic shooting at 5K resolution with a 24mm lens.
 
In the video, there is one shot which is much longer than the others. We wanted to illustrate how effective the aerial system is at achieving very different looks within the same flight. We start high above our model and follow behind her as she walks down a path. At the end, the system comes down to a head-height altitude, and we perform a long lasting dolly shot back in the other direction.
 
As you can see from the test, stabilization has been improved immensely, and is proving effective for flights going both up and down in altitude. Additionally, the Movi M10/MR camera gimbal offers better easing in and out of pans and tilts, and feels much more organic than mechanical.
 
We look forward to flying the RED Epic with our new Movi brushless gimbal throughout the next few months of international shooting.
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SkyMotion Video

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In May of 2013, SkyMotion Video was sent to Brazil for three weeks to shoot with one of (if not the) most respected natural history organizations in the world - the Natural History Unit of the BBC. The NHU at the BBC is responsible for such global sensations as Planet Earth, Human Planet, and Frozen Planet. Producers at the BBC were looking for a fresh new way to make the landscapes come alive on screen, and began investigating the use of remote controlled helicopters or ‘drones’ for this purpose. After checking out a number of companies from around the world, they decided to approach Canada-based SkyMotion Video for their project.
 
The challenge in the past has been transitioning smoothly from shots on the ground to high angles from a helicopter equipped with a Cineflex. In the past the BBC employed jibs, cable dollies, and other methods for getting the cameras to start with a low intimate shot, before rising up to a higher vantage point with the intention of cutting to an aerial. What they quickly realized with SkyMotion Video’s aerial system was that now, the shots can start close to the subject, float up higher and higher, and get the aerial shot that the cineflex would have done. This made for a perfect way to cut to any other cineflex material already shot, plus as an added bonus, SkyMotion Video was flying their RED Epic camera, which would cut in seamlessly with the rest of the show being shot on RED.
 
It is no mistake that the NHU at the BBC is seen by the international community as some of the best filmmakers in the world. The approach taken on set was professional, deliberate, and well thought out. Despite having this new toy at their disposal, capable of shots unlike anything done before, story and elegance always took precedent over a ‘cool shot’ for the sake of it. It was an absolute privilege to be part of such an amazing project. Watch out for ‘Wild Brazil’ in 2014. Also make sure to watch the behind the scenes portion at the end of the episodes which will surely feature SkyMotion Video on location.
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Awesome technology! Love the logo, too! :)
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SkyMotion Video

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Indoor Aerials at Britco
The latest video in the CAPP (Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers) campaign which highlights how other industries outside the province of Alberta are benefiting from the oil sands project will feature aerial video from the SkyMotion Video team - making use of our new 5K capable RED Epic camera package.
 
Unlike most of our projects to date, this one took place entirely indoors. Within the factory line of Britco, a company specializing in the design and manufacture of custom factory built modular and mobile buildings, SkyMotion Video was able to move around the plant in unique ways to create camera movements which would have otherwise been impossible. With great precision, the team was able to navigate the system through multiple modular buildings within the same shot, as well as offer more conventional movements such as dollies and jibs - all with the same system, and all without laying any track.
 
The shoot was a huge success due to the wonderful cooperation of Britco, as well as the entire Holiday Films crew. We can’t wait to share the commercial with you once it is available online.
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SkyMotion Video

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Hello all, we have been on facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn, but are just getting things started here on Google+, Check out our videos to see breath-taking and stunning aerial cinematography achieved through the use of advanced remote-controlled helicopter technologies.
Providing professional remote-controlled aerial cinematography services world-wide.
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Our favorite demo reels from 2012/2013
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Have them in circles
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Providing professional remote-controlled aerial cinematography services world-wide.