5kdigitalfilm5kdigitalfilm are an aerial filmmaking company proficient in the creation documentaries, adverts and film productions. The company is made up of Chris Boyes, Aerial Director of Photography and cameraman, as well as Peter Roesner, sound engineer and aerial pilot. 5kdigitalfilm use a dual operator setup of the Inspire 2 to capture fantastic shots in various environments. 5kdigitalfilm have a wealth of aerial and ground filming experience and have worked with impressive clients including ARRI, Channel 4, adidas Originals and many more.
VideoTake a look at 5kdigitalfilm’s latest video, Tirol – Over the Wilderness. Filmed for the Cine Tirol Film Commission in the stunning Tirol mountains. Tirol - Over the Wilderness / Zenmuse X7 from 5kdigitalfilm on Vimeo.
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InterviewWe asked Chris about 5kdigitalfilm’s aerial filmmaking experiences and how they found using the Zenmuse X7 Super 35 camera on their shoot in the Tirol mountains. Find out what Chris said below.
What aerial kit do you use for your video production?We were previously using two DJI Inspire 2 aircraft with Zenmuse X5S cameras. These were used together or as a singular aircraft with a dual operator setup. Following the announcement of Zenmuse X7, like all aerial filmmakers, we were excited by the camera’s prospects. With the booking of the job for the Cine Tirol Film Commission, we knew we needed this new camera to achieve the best results. We contacted Heliguy who liaised with DJI to get us an early release of the Zenmuse X7 with a set of four lenses. We also used two CrystalSky Monitors, ideal for the conditions in the snowy mountains. We had to run a beta software from DJI on the Inspire 2 as the final version had not been released when we received the X7. This was due to the early stages of the camera’s release. Following the testing of the camera, we chose to go with an Apple ProRes 4444XQ for this specific project. We also used various ND filters with the camera. [caption id="attachment_11456" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 5kdigitalfilm on location[/caption]
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What are some of the issues you encountered while flying in the extreme conditions of the Austrian mountains?The main issues we faced were with the weather. Winter had come a month earlier than usual, so conditions were sometimes poor. We reached altitudes of up to 3300M above sea level with temperatures as lows as -15°C. This meant we had to carry the batteries on our persons at all times to help keep them warm and ensure they were functioning properly. We also hovered the Inspire 2 at around 1M before flying the aircraft to give the self-heating function time to warm up the batteries as well as monitor the behaviour of the aircraft. This had to be thorough check but quick to avoid missing any shots in the limited light. As well as the cold, there were also high winds to contend with but the Inspire 2 and X7 were solid together. Some days we would take the cable car to the top of the mountain to find the weather was very different to that at the bottom. High wind and rain were impossible for us to fly in. This meant that our planning was very difficult to stick to. We needed the kit to be reliable in these conditions and the equipment was just that. [caption id="attachment_11457" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 5kdigitalfilm on location[/caption]
What are the benefits of using the Inspire 2 and Zenmuse X7 in these conditions?The Inspire 2 is so powerful and robust, it helped us deal with the extreme conditions with ease. Transporting the aircraft was also easy. It fits in a backpack, so it can be carried effortlessly, even when hiking on a mountain. The lenses on the Zenmuse X7 were a breeze as the restart happened immediately, a godsend in the severe and time-sensitive circumstances. It felt great in the air, was smooth and reactive, especially with the CrystalSky Monitor. Our key scene was the Brandenburger Hut, a hut on top of a remote glacier that can only be accessed via helicopter. It was too dangerous to get the permission to land on the glacier, so the Inspire 2 and X7 were used handheld from a helicopter. The results were stunning, even as a handheld camera. [caption id="attachment_11459" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 5kdigitalfilm on location[/caption]
How did you find shooting in the lighting on the mountain?Lighting was sometimes difficult in our location. We mostly filmed early morning or late evening with the ISO pushed to 1600 in the new EI Mode. On the camera, the results were a little soft, however, when these were developed and graded in post-production, the results were organic and natural. The highlight roll of the X7 is much more advanced than that on the X5S. This was evident when we were shooting against the sun. The dynamic range was also greatly superior. We’ve since shot a fashion ad with the X7 in a disused hotel. Again, due to the lighting, an ISO of 1600 was required. The X7 delivered again when used as an aerial and handheld camera. [caption id="attachment_11460" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 5kdigitalfilm on location[/caption]
Would you recommend the new Zenmuse X7?Absolutely, especially if you shoot aerial video professionally and already own a DJI Inspire 2. It’s a no-brainer to invest in this small yet powerful bit of technology. To me, the cinematic images produced by the X7 are unlike any seen from a drone camera before. The camera is obviously designed for the high-end production environment and will require proper handling in post-production. It’s not as ‘plug in and play’ as the Zenmuse X5S but in the right hands, the X7 will produce great images. You should take the time to learn the strengths of the X7 to get the most out of it. Check out the behind the scenes video from 5kdigitalfilm below. Making of - Over the Wilderness / Zenmuse X7 from 5kdigitalfilm on Vimeo.
You can find out more about 5kdigitalfilm on their website here.
SummaryAs you’ve heard from Chris, the Zenmuse X7 is a superb camera made for high-end filmmakers looking for unbeatable results. Its pairing with the Inspire 2 is a robust and reliable partnership that performs even in the most extreme conditions. The combination of the X7’s performance, post-production capabilities and the striking location results in 5kdigitalfilm’s extremely cinematic footage being breath-taking. To read our previous Insider post featuring sample images and video from the demo model of the DJI Zenmuse X7, head to our page here. [caption id="attachment_11461" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 5kdigitalfilm on location[/caption]
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