Wednesday, August 5, 2015
When we were planning on making a corporate film, the director told us that he would have a surprise for us. Turned out that the surprise was a drone-cam. The radio controlled drone was designed and fabricated by the director himself, with his brother helping out on the electronics bits. It needed two sets of controls; one to fly the drone itself and the other to manipulate the Go-Pro camera that was its payload.
As in many other parts of the world, Chennai is grappling with issues around regulating drones. There are some basic controls in place; anyone planning to fly a drone must get the equipment cleared by the DGCA. In addition to that, each time one plans to send the drone into the air, the plans have to be cleared by the city police. The uncertainty around getting the permission from the police was the reason for our director saying that he might surprise us - there was no way he could commit to having a drone-cam for the shoot.
It was quite a curiosity and the crew took turns at trying to pilot the drone. After going up a bit - around 15m or so - they found that the signals from a nearby cellphone tower were interfering with the drone's radio controls. There was a danger that it would crash; but as it came down, the controls were re-established and the drone-cam landed safely. And then, the roles were reversed. Rather than the drone-cam focussing on us, we all pulled out our cellphones and cameras and tried to get a good shot of the drone!