My Favorite Drone Videos

Over the past year, I have found myself watching a ton of drone videos on YouTube and Vimeo. Here’s a few of my favorites.
This video absolutely blew me away. I’m not sure I would ever do this, but flying a drone in the middle of a fireworks display produced some incredible results.

Another perspective you would never get unless you were sitting in an actual helicopter. This video of a volcano erupting has over 1-million views on YouTube.

I love surfing videos and I love drones. This was a slam dunk.

Pipeline Winter 2013 from Eric Sterman on Vimeo.

Los Angeles landmarks at night provide a spectacular backdrop for this video.

Bird’s-eye view of whales in the ocean. There’s a number of videos that feature drones following whales, but this is my personal favorite.

Drone Whale Watching Hawaii from Eric Sterman on Vimeo.

Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation

Our latest project highlights the incredible work being done by the Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation. They are a non-profit organization committed to helping families as they deal with pediatric health care issues.

We shot the interviews and the b-roll at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital over the course of a day. The interview with the doctor was filmed in a break room which presented a number of issues. The main one being a very loud ice machine that would turn on intermittently.

We were able to complete the video within the tight, two-week deadline mandated by the organization, and they were able to feature the video at their annual Gala.


Best Part of the Job

The thing I love the most about video production is the opportunity to meet new people and learn new things on each and every project. Last month, we had the privilege of working on a video for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. Each year the foundation selects a person with Down Syndrome to represent them at their Be Beautiful, Be Yourself Fashion Show. This year their ambassador was Steven Dulcie.

We flew down to Glen Rose, Texas to meet and spend time with the Dulcie family. We interviewed Steven’s parents Jeff and Deedra, along with his three brothers – David, Matthew and Gray. What a great family!

We also had the opportunity to interview some of the top scientists studying Down Syndrome, and specifically, the link between Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s inspiring and encouraging to see the work they are putting it in day-by-day to learn more about these conditions.

Watch the video below.



Marketing Meets Motion Graphics

Utilizing motion graphics is a great way to market your business. Telling your story or walking a potential client through a step-by-step process without shooting a frame of video is proving to be a fun, effective avenue for companies who are looking to do something different.

We recently produced this video for a Colorado startup called Green Piranhas. We don’t need to explain much because the video says it all.



Amazing GoPro Video

Once in awhile we’ll post something on our blog just because it’s cool. This video is a little bit long, but it’s definitely worth watching. As a video production company and a huge fan of surfing videos, the perspectives provided in this video are incredible.


5 Beginner Tips Once You Receive Your Aerial Drone Kit

You’re a photographer or videographer and you’ve made the decision to invest in an “Aerial Film Drone” kit like these from DSLRPros. You’re not necessarily technical, but you’re smart enough to figure things out. The box finally shows up at your door.  You open the kit and you’re first thought is, “Oh boy, I’m in way over my head!”

I can relate. That was my first thought, but it’s not as bad as it looks. Hopefully these 5 tips will be informative and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Tip #1: Don’t Panic

When you order a kit from a place like DSLRPros they have already done the heavy lifting. They’ve made the upgrades to the quadcopter (Phantom 1, Gimbal installed, upgraded Futaba radio), programmed the radio and provided all of the additional materials you’ll need on your shoots (extra batteries, battery charger, prop guards…). Figuring out what all of the parts do and how to install them can be a challenge, but leads me to my next couple of tips…
Tip #2: Read the Manuals

All of the documentation will be included with the kit. This is not like setting up a television or computer. Don’t blow off reading the manuals. They all have important information regarding the quadcopter, radio and monitor. They will walk you through set up for each device, but also explain what each device does and how it does it. Remember, knowledge is power with the quadcopter and the more work you do before takeoff the better your flying experience will be.
Tip #3: Watch Videos

Over the course of three days, I watched 50 videos on everything from how to charge your batteries to how to install prop guards. You name it, I watched it. I’m really glad that I did, and I would highly recommend you do the same. DSLRPros has some great videos on how to get set up and flying, but there are a lot of other people out there who have taken the time to create video tutorials as well. Here are some of  my favorites –
DSLRPros Unboxing – Explains each piece of equipment that comes in the case.

How to charge your batteries – It’s not as simple as you might think. A must watch.

Getting Started with your DJI Phantom – Great introductory video.

DJI Phantom: First Flight Advice – Fun video that takes a beginner and has her fly the Phantom 1.
Tip #4: Use Your Prop Guards

“If you’re not crashing, you’re not flying.” That was one of the quotes I remember from my video research. Initially, you are going to crash. The copter will tip over while the props are active. You’re landings will not be gentle. Save yourself the money and the headaches and install your prop guards. At times they get in the way of your shot, but it’s better to use them and risk ruining a few shots then to damage the quadcopter.
Tip #5: Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself

Take it slow. You need to have a genuine understanding of the quadcopter and the equipment that came with it before you fly. Once you start flying, don’t worry about the video you’re getting. Everything I’ve been getting has been purely accidental, and it still looks great! Work on getting the quadcopter in the air. Practice hovering. Work with the command sticks on the radio. Practice landing. There’s no need to test the limitations of the copter right off the bat. Once you get comfortable, then you can start to push the capabilities of the technology.
Bonus tip: Practice

Get out and fly as much as you can. The more you do it the easier it gets. Trust me!

*Quick disclaimer – at this time, we are only flying our quadcopter for personal uses. It is still not legal to fly commercially. We are hoping that will change next year, but if you need any clarification on the legal issues surrounding this issue click here.


UNC E-Challenge Brings Shark Tank Feel to Colorado

Shark Tank is one of my favorite shows on television right now. Maybe it’s because I run my own business, but I have a lot of respect for entrepreneurs who believe in their idea enough to step out and pitch it in front of a national television audience. So when KUSA-TV in Denver approached me about teaming up to produce a show based loosely on the concept of Shark Tank, I jumped at the opportunity.

For the past five years, The University of Northern Colorado’s Monfort School of Business hosts their Entrepreneurial Challenge (E-Challenge). The idea is for entrepreneurs from all over the state to pitch their business ideas in the hopes of winning $50,000 in prize money. In the past, the challenge has taken place on campus, but this year the University thought it would be fun to work with title sponsor KUSA to put the presentations on TV.

More than 30 companies submitted proposals. The University sorted through the business plans and whittled it down to the five best. The companies then had the opportunity to introduce and pitch their ideas on television to the three judges who would pick the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.

We taped in KUSA’s Studio B on a Tuesday afternoon and the show ran on a Saturday evening.  The turn around was tight, but the show turned out great. We won’t tell you who won, but if you’re interested in seeing the next great business ideas in the state of Colorado you can watch the entire show on the Monfort School of Business website



The Lost Art of Storytelling

The longer I work in video production, the easier things get. Efficiencies in technology allow you to produce videos only high-end production houses could of put together 10 years ago. Just look at render time, effects or even the cost of operating a production company, and you can see how technology has shattered the barriers to producing high-quality videos.

But “easier” does not always mean better.

Despite these advantages, you still must be able to tell a story. At times, it’s the forgotten piece of the video production process, and it is why so many people struggle as they enter the business. Keep in mind, when I discuss storytelling I’m talking about creatively crafting a story using all of the advantages video provides – not just putting words on the page.

It’s deciding the style of the video and how it is going to be shot. Both important decisions that will help advance your story when done right. It’s always asking “what is the story I’m telling” and “how can I use the tools at my disposal to tell it?”

The storyline is the heartbeat of any project. From corporate videos, 30-second advertisements or feature length films – it must be carefully considered long before you begin the production process. It’s just as important as cinematography, editing or the post-production process.

GoPro Featured on 60 Minutes

We are huge fans of the GoPro Camera. Over the years, we’ve attached them to cars, mountain bikes, helmets and even our kids. Professionally, it has allowed us to get shots we never would of been able to get otherwise.

I’m not an avid watcher of 60 Minutes, but I did happen to catch this feature on GoPro Sunday night. Interesting to learn about the history of the company, and see how they have progressed from selling the first versions of the camera out of the back of their van to where it is today. It’s an incredible success story. If you have 12 minutes, it’s definitely worth your time.


GoPro Hero 3 Time Lapse

Blog Entry 4.3 [ print | web | video | illustration ]

Cameras are making it easier to produce compelling time lapse photography. We use the GoPro Hero 3 to generate our time lapse shots, and we have been blown away at the quality and ease of use the GoPro provides.

First, you need to get the settings right. For the time lapse example above, we set the camera to shoot a still frame every 30 seconds. The Hero 3 makes it easy to set your interval and gives you a number of options in the menu settings. You also want to make sure to set the size of your images. We set ours at 7 megapixels. You can go bigger, but it takes more space on your card and most of the time is not necessary. Set the camera to record and let it go (extended battery pack recommended otherwise the battery life will be limited).

Once you are satisfied that you have enough footage, take the GoPro and import your shots. Since we use Final Cut X, we created an event and imported all of the photos off the card. At this point, you can take out any of the shots you don’t want included in the time lapse. We ended up using over 220 images for this particular time lapse. Then, “select all” of the images in the event and drag them to the timeline. Final Cut automatically places them in the order they are shot. Next, you need to create a compound clip. This creates one giant clip with which to work. Re-time the clip, and you are done (we sped up this footage over 12,000%).

You end up with a great looking shot that can provide unique, visual interest for the story you are telling.