230 metre Ropewalker opens the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2019

The Norfolk and Norwich Festival launches tonight!

Visit Britain lists the festival as one of the best annual events in Britain in 2019 and describe it as: “The internationally renowned Norfolk and Norwich Festival is a highlight of the region’s cultural calendar. Held over 17 packed days in various locations across the county, the festival presents more than 100 performances in a superb line-up of companies and ensembles from all over the world. There’s music, theatre, dance, circus and visual arts as well as a host of spectacular free outdoor events and plenty of opportunities to get involved in the range of festival workshops.”

Tonight Norwich will see huge crowds gather to witness Chris Bullzini walking across a 230 metre tight rope from the top of Jarrold, across the iconic Norwich Market to the top of The Forum.

Last night was the dress rehearsal for the opening event which, despite windy conditions, all proceeded smoothly. HexCam was involved in the project and captured some aerial footage of the rehearsal for the organisers in cooperation with Eye Film.

For more about what to expect from the festival that runs until the 26th of May visit https://nnfestival.org.uk/


4 Considerations for flying drones in Winter

Flying drones throughout the winter is a necessity to maximise available time for ongoing surveys. Often, conditions in the winter can be perfect for surveying but there are some issues that you should be aware of when flying yourself or hiring in an operator. So here are our top 4 winter drone considerations.

1)      Batteries
The lithium polymer batteries in drones do not cope well with cold conditions. Under some circumstances you can lose 30-50% of your flight time. Generally, batteries need to be kept at least 20oC to function effectively. The cold can also have an impact on the battery life of ground equipment as well. Some types of drone will not allow you to take off if the battery temperatures are too low, but others will allow you to take off, but potentially the drone could fail if power demand increases.

2) Light
Aside from the obvious lack of daylight hours in the winter, the winter sun is much lower even at midday. As a result, working can be more difficult due to the fact that the sun can be low in your eyeline when flying. Often the ground lighting in winter can be an issue, with relatively bright skies and darker ground leading to issues with the camera coping with contrast. Particularly when surveying in the winter for mapping and modelling, harsh shadows can cause very dark areas and loss of detail in images.

3) Fingers
Generally, when we are outside in the winter we move around a lot and wear gloves to keep warm. When flying a drone we tend to stand very still and hands are relatively exposed. In terms of health and safety, it’s really important to be aware of how cold you are getting and to take breaks regularly to warm up and ensure your hands are working properly!

4) Condensation
When moving drones between warmer and colder environments it is really important to acclimatise the camera. Even at different heights the air temperature and humidity can be different. In an early creative wind turbine shoot, the drone got very cold on the ground and, when it got to about 30m up, the lens instantly fogged as the air higher up was a bit warmer. You may also get a lot of condensation on your kit when you get back indoors.

 

 

Off to the Democratic Republic of Congo!

The last time I went to Africa was in 1997 as part of a team from our university.

We worked on a building project as well as doing outreach work in local schools, churches and communities. We travelled as a team of 12 so it feels odd now to be sat in Heathrow airport on my own waiting for my next trip to that beautiful continent.

This time in my flight case I have two radio controlled hexacopters. My small one carries a GoPro our light compact, while the larger one carries a Sony Nex-5N. It’s a big flight case so my biggest worry is getting it on the plane.

I’ve been doing a little bit of reading on the DRC and have learnt a little bit about the tragic genocide during colonisation.

The current president is trying to instigate a “revolution de la modernite” and this is perhaps why I am here. On the surface to provide coverage of the Tour du Congo cycle race, but, looking deeper, to help to show a nation on the brink of change. Apparently there is new road infrastructure to film as well as stunning scenery.

Kinshasa is predicted to become one of Africa’s supercities over the next century if the government can maintain stability over this huge nation.

I am a little nervous but first stop Brussels then Kinshasa!

Octoarchaeology!

  1. AUGUST 27, 2012 / LEAVE A COMMENT

I have had an interest in archaeology as long as I can remember (sounds like the beginning of a personal statement!).

My mum and grandmother used to help out at digs on the Roman sites in Kent, particularly in the area where the A2 was being widened which permanently covered many sites along the ancient Roman road, Watling Street. I dabbled in marine archaeology at university but found that wading around muddy estuaries wasn’t for me.

When I found out we had such an extensive Roman site just South of Norwich I was very keen to get involved and to see if our octocopter and hexacopter could be of use to the archaeologists at Caistor Roman Project.

 

It is also a particularly interesting site for us as it was discovered when crop marks in a 1928 aerial photograph of the site highlighted an extensive street plan of the Roman town. We hoped that, 84 years on, a new age of unmanned aerial photography would be able to assist the team to record the 2012 excavations, which are both taking place outside the boundaries of the town, investigating features highlighted on geophysical scans.

Last week, we spent a gloriously sunny day on site, experimenting with still photographs from different altitudes as well as video. Our priorities were as follows:

  1. Obtain stills of both dig sites, with and without the context of the Roman town
  2. Obtain stills of the ditch site to produce a 3D model of the excavation
  3. Obtain high altitude stills to produce a panoramic image
  4. Obtain video to promote the 2012 dig

Three out of four isn’t bad! The only aim which didn’t work well was the panoramic photos. This was largely due to the fact that I didn’t obtain enough photos for the panorama software to accurately stitch the photos. Here are a couple of photos of the site taken from the octocopter with Sony Alpha Nex-5N.

In the left photo you can see the ditch excavation with the Roman Town in the background. You can see the embankments that surround the town and, if you look carefully, the pale lines in the grass that highlight the hidden roads of the town.

The right photo is a vertical of the main excavation. The three white lines are the predicted lines of the ditches from the geophysics.

The archaeological team then very kindly cleared out the trench to enable us to take a series of photos. We then used 123D Catch to render a model. It is easy to use the model to create an animation. I have uploaded a couple of versions (watch in 720 or 1080 if you can)!

We also got a chance to take some video of the site - a very quick edit showing flyovers of both main trenches and lifts to show them in the context of the town.

HexCam would like to thank the team at Caistor Roman Project for their good humour, helpfulness and cake!

The making of a music video

What can I say? I wish we’d had this week’s weather to film the aerial shots for a music video for Norwich band …of Diamonds, but we didn’t!

When we were contacted by the band’s production team, we were very happy to get involved. We dodged rain showers and flew in 14mph winds to obtain aerial footage of Len Wright’s stunning vintage Bedford SB3 bus. The footage was then mixed in with external and internal ground-based footage of the bus and band to create the final video. Although we have work to do, particularly to cope with the post-processing challenges created by flying in high winds, we think it came out really well!

May we also say that the members of Thurton, Ashby and district WI are absolute stars!!

Below are two videos; a rough cut of some of the aerial shots and the completed pop video.

UAV: HL Octocopter
FC: DJI Wookong M
Camera: Sony Alpha Nex-5N 1080P 50fps