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Flat Objects, Flying Cams, and Photogrammetry: The V4Design Pipeline

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Still from a vertical tracking shot of Poppelsdorfer Schloss in Bonn – or just the kind of footage we need for our 3D design pipeline

“What kind of video footage can we best rehash for digital 3D reconstruction?” – that’s one of the main questions we’ve been exploring in the V4Design project. Our aim is to train innovative photogrammetry algorithms, i.e.: to automatically turn multi-perspective 2D video shots of an object (e.g. an iconic building) into a decent 3D version of that thing. Over the course of the project, we’ve evaluated all kinds of archived footage. Initial results were disappointing, but once we started looking for material in the right place, we actually discovered a very promising approach. (more…)

Farewell Multidrone!

A MultiDrone waits for liftoff, while team-members prepare in the background

For more than three years we learnt how to fly. We flew far and high, but we also had some crashes (fortunately, nobody was hurt). In the H2020 Research and Innovation Action MULTIDRONE, we developed a platform for autonomous drone flights and tested this platform in experimental media productions. Here’s a quick review of the project that was successfully completed with an excellent review in February 2020.
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“I believe that drones can be used for good, I believe that they can be transformative” – a video interview with Johnny Miller

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Johnny Miller at Deutsche Welle Bonn (photo by Alexander Plaum)

For a long time, drones were a) very expensive and b) almost exclusively used for spying, instilling fear, and killing people. This has significantly changed in recent years. While there’s – naturally – still a massive market for so-called military UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), drone production for the civil sector has increased as well: Several tech companies now offer peaceful flying gadgets that feature high quality propellers and cameras and are available for less than 1000 euros. Simultaneously, drones have become favorite tools for a dedicated scene of journalists, artists, and media innovators all over the world. One of them is Johnny Miller. (more…)

Take me out to the boat race: Experimental drone video production over Wannsee

As part of the research in the MultiDrone Project, one of our consortiums investigates how drones can support journalistic work in an innovative way. The project plan foresees a set of evaluation scenarios due in the third project year, when the custom-made MultiDrone UAVs are ready to fly. In order to gain more experience with hands on drone-cinematography until then, DW has started experimenting with off-the-shelf drones. One of those experiments was the trip to the Meteora region in Greece, in August 2018. There, a DW-team used three drones (Mavic Pro, Mavic Air, Inspire 2) to closely follow two climbers exploring the wonderful mountain peaks in the area.

In October 2018, the project took it a step closer to the actual MultiDrone production scenario: A live rowing regatta. (more…)

Drones in media production: Creating a new look and feel

This year, we have started working on a new (EU co-funded) project called MultiDrone. One of our goals in this project is to develop a specific drone cinematography aiming for new visual experiences by operating multiple camera drones at the same time. This will take a lot of testing, and failing, and testing again in order to achieve this goal.
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