Welcome to Dronewrx and 2015. This plans to be a banner year for aerial cinematography as the technology has been advancing rapidly. We’ve put the finishing touches on our newest rig the Align 480, which is small and lightweight compared to other popular rigs. With a Panasonic GH4 attached it’s a low-impact combination which is quiet and draws less attention. Thanks to my girlfriend Tina for taking instagram pix and spicing up the pix with her lovely smile!
Looking back on this blog, which was my first entry to a website that has now been replaced, I reminisce about this particular drone, there’s not a lot of fond memories. The Align 480 cost me a lot of time and heartache, and I think I might have flown it a total of five times, this final flight was an autonymous “flip of death”. This drone was a recommendation from Sergio at Piro Flip which was the go to shop at the time. Yes, at one time you could walk into a store where all they sold is drones and RC cars and planes. There was no such thing as FPV at the time! This was of course before he turned his company into the FPV juggernaut which is now Pyrodrone. At the time, the Phantom 2 had a serious bug and I had three of them fly away within a year. Yes, you read that right, three fly aways at $2,000 a pop. So when Sergio told me NOT to by an S900 which was DJI’s current hexacopter that flew the GH4, I was all ears. He told me that Align had dominated the single bladed helicopter market, and that they would do that with the multi-rotor market. The thing is, DJI WASN’T the dominant force in the market at the time, many guys flying big drones were making them, which of course is a long and arduous task. I wanted to start flying! So I listened to Sergio and spent a year trying to iron out the kinks in that drone, which of course never happened. I must have traveled to Align’s headquarters in Cerritos a dozen times which was a good hour drive. I ended up selling that right about the time the Inspire 1 was released, and so continued my love / hate relationship with DJI.
I have to say, this is in sharp contrast to another fly away I had on the 4th of July of that same year. Agoura High puts on a fireworks display for all the well-to-do neighbors. So as I wanted to grab shot of “bombs bursting in air” the warning lights on the drone were blinking red and I had no control of the drone. Slowly the drone started flying South. I watch helpless from the bluff as my $2,000 toy decided it wasn’t having any of it. But wait!? It had landed in a field just 1/4 of a mile away, I could see the blinking lights reflecting off the gym. SO I threw my case and various accessories in my car and ran down there in my flip-flops. In the 5 minutes it took me to get down there on foot, someone had stolen it. A I had mentioned Agoura is a very upscale neighborhood on the outskirts of Los Angeles, The next day I printed up posters and offered a reward and never heard back. Contrast that with the worker who likely found my drone on Oahu’s East side which is NOT upscale by any means and you see the comparison between haves and have nots and the difference in honesty and integrity.
In fact later that year, Tina and I were in Hawaii. I had taken my Phantom 2 with me to Oahu. I was on the East side of the island, near “Chinaman’s Hat” island and Kualoa Ranch. Kualoa is of course the famous spot where many Hollywood Blockbusters have been filmed, including Jurassic park. So getting some shots of the island, then back to shore where the infamous lava peaks project skyward, the Phantom 2 got a twitch in the camera. There was some weather coming in, so I thought it might be some mechanical turbulence from the mountain. As I backed away , the camera twitched again and the drone started falling. WTF!!?? “SKY GROUND SKY GROUND” My girlfriend ask what was going on and I said “it’s gone!?” she said “well, let’s go find it!!” and I pointed out it could be anywhere in that jungle, and how were we even going to get access as it’s private property. The next day we went zip-lining at Kualoa, and as I was walking out I stopped at the lost and found. I knock on the door and a serious looking chap answered. I told him what had happened and he said “hold on” I thought “UH OH, he’s gonna call the cops” seconds later the door opened, and he was holding my drone “Is THIS it!?”. I was very happy to get the drone back, DJI repaired it for free, never said what happened, but it worked!
So I turned the footage into a fun little piece, with an homage to the Brady Bunch’s episode where Greg finds a tiki that was dug up at the site his dad was the architect on, and a Hawaiian War gods curse followed him!
See the result of MY Hawaiian War gods curse below!