FPV Drone Equipment
FPV (first person view) drones are controlled by a pilot who wears video goggles which show a live feed of the drone's camera, meaning the drone can be flown very precisely, through buildings, into/out of windows, small gaps, to give an enthralling moving camera perspective.
They are much smaller than our main workhorse the Inspire 2, as shown in the picture above.
Unlike many drones these days which are very easy to fly, FPV drones are a much harder craft to master, as their controls are fully manual and they have no GPS position hold, return-to-home function, or any other flight aids.
It takes many tens, or hundreds of hours of flight time to gain the skills for the best FPV flying, on two fronts:
- Flying safely - these drones are built for flying at high speed, and 'dangerously close' to objects, in order to gain the desired visual effect. While the occasional crash is to be expected, the better the pilot, the closer they can place the camera to the object of interest without causing an accident, or damaging the drone or something else.
- Getting the shot - FPV flying is a marriage of angling the drone to fly in the chosen direction, while also controlling it in a way that the camera is facing the scene. The constant movement of these drones, and the angles which they fly at again means that the more skilled pilots will be able to pull off unlikely acrobatic movements, while still capturing the developing action.
A GoPro or similar action camera is hard-mounted on the top to record the video.
Once the shots have been captured, the video files are processed through post-stabilisation software to provide a smooth, shake-free shot.
Here's what an FPV pilot looks like - face mask now optional.
This is me conducting an indoor building tour of an engineering firm's shiny new offices in central London.
Due to the fact that the pilot does not have 'unaided visual line of sight' (VLOS) as per the legal requirements for commercial drone flights, an FPV pilot must be accompanied by a 'competent observer', whose job it is to keep their eyes on the drone and inform the pilot of any potential obstacles they may not have seen.
Additionally as the pilot is blind to the world once the goggles go on, the observer may also need to guide the pilot round, or sometimes even push them around a building in a wheelchair order to maintain video link with the drone as it the pilot flies the route.
High-speed 5" racing drone, carrying GoPro.
This can fly up to 70mph, and move very precisely. Great for filming large landscapes in a cinematic fashion, such as mountain valleys, tall buildings, rocky coastline, forest canopies etc.
3" Cinewhoop, carrying GoPro.
Cinewhoops are a certain kind of FPV drone - they move slower than their racing brethren, but they have a padded frame around the propellers to protect them, which makes these drones the ideal tool for indoor flying and working around cars and actors. If the drone were to clip any of these, it would just bounce off the frame, as opposed to damaging the object or person it hits, and sending the drone into the ground.
There are many different batteries, accessories, camera parts and spares required to keep an FPV shoot running - here's our specialist FPV rucksack which contains all we need for a day in the field, including on-board battery charging!