CASE STUDY: Aerial Frontiers: ‘Keepers’

Sam Short of Aerial Frontiers shares some background with us on their work on ‘Keepers’:

What was the project brief?

The brief was to go out as a single unit self shooting an opening shot for the scene of lighthouse keepers coming to the lighthouse for the first time by boat.

Operating from a second boat, our aim was to slowly fly behind the hero boat with the actors, showing the boat in the foreground with the lighthouse in the background. Then slowly push over the boat wile ascending towards the lighthouse on the cliffs.

We got a last minute call to film with a second unit on the Isle of Mull shooting another hero boat. We worked closely with the Director and DOP all day out at sea. The Producer and DOP decided to use the drone because they could not cover the ground with crew and kit safely. It was a chemistry between getting as close as possible to their vision while offering our own ideas on how to execute each shot and suggesting other shots to make the most out of being there with the equipment, time and conditions.

The shots were to capture the hero boat passing the land placing the drone in the crevasse between the cliffs, with rocks in the foreground. Making the drone perfect for getting in those tight locations.

We also shot some shots of the hero boat turning in the open sea for the VFX team to paint in rocks.

Back on dry land we captured GVs of the lighthouse from different angles.

What services/facilities did you provide for the project?

We supplied aerials for the projects and had detailed conversations about the best lenses to use that fit within weight range and ensure it matched that being used for the rest of the film. Then we rented the camera and lenses of choice.

What challenges did you face?

  1. Weather. Operating down at Stranraer Lighthouse you always experience winds and unpredictable weather, lots of time is spent checking weather and re-checking weather before deploying as our drones cannot operate over 22mph and in rain.
  2. Conditions. Operating out at sea, taking off and landing out of the boat in the choppy water and in windy conditions was a challenge, timing the swell for when the boat was rocking, catching it when it was at its flattest for take off, then coming in for landing was a hand catch on some of the flights when the swell was too big to get a flat landing.

What are you especially proud of achieving with this project?

  • We were especially proud of being entrusted to get the shots the DOP and Director requested without being there and being asked to head out again after production had wrapped to get GVs on request from the edit.
  • Beating the weather by working in demanding elements testing our kit and us and achieving the shots required.
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