My name is James Hustler, I’m proud I've been able to create a lifestyle where I get to do what I enjoy most for a living - and living in a country I love. Spending days outdoors shooting for tourism operators in New Zealand. There's nothing better than having a passion for something and having it pay your bills also!
Manual Drones vs Autonomous Drones
When I started flying drones about 10 years ago I always flew manually, with no obstacle avoidance. Getting a killer shot was usually more by luck than anything else. Over the years autonomous features/obstacle avoidance steadily built up in the new drones released, but it wasn’t until I first flew the Skydio 2 that I really felt the industry was getting somewhere.
When the Skydio 2 came out, it looked amazing. I knew I had to get hold of one - it lived up to the hype.
Filmmaker, New Zealand Tourism Board
I first saw a video about the Skydio R1 with Casey Neistat back in his old vlog days and knew I wanted to keep an eye on the company and tech. There had been a lot of promises made in the space over many years that never really materialized into anything ( *cough* Lily Drone *cough* ) so you always had to take the promises and early prototypes with a grain of salt. When the Skydio 2 came out, it looked amazing. I knew I had to get hold of one - it lived up to the hype.
Filming with Skydio
One of my favorite Skydio moments was a simple Orbit I did at a popular mountain here in New Zealand, I didn’t even think about where the drone was, but it orbited me at just the right altitude and speed to nail the timing of the shot as I ran along a ridge.
I truly felt I could trust the drone to fly deftly around me, allowing me to focus on what I was doing; without worrying that it was going to crash into something or me. I think to feel that level of confidence was a huge turning point. I just remember thinking how crazy it was that it had achieved such an awesome shot all by itself without any input from me.
I can’t count the number of times I have flown my DJI drones and missed an awesome shot because they got stuck behind a rock or tree however my Skydio 2 has never had a problem, gliding right around obstacles, usually nailing the shot on the first go.
My very first time using KeyFrame turned out exactly as I'd expected - brilliantly! My very first shot was of my girlfriend paddle boarding which Skydio have used in their adverts. I think creatively we always have an idea of some epic shot we would like to pull off, but find it either too hard to fly manually or we can’t fly it manually we want to be in the shot!
Keyframe solves this problem. I always loved the Cable Skill, but it was limited to only having an A and B point. Having almost unlimited points with KeyFrame means your limitation is your imagination.
My top tip for KeyFrame is to do your points backward so your first point is actually your last. This means you can immediately run the KeyFrame as soon as you finish creating it saving your precious battery life.
I also love adjusting the speed of the KeyFrame as it’s recording, eg pulling out at the end really fast, or using the speed to keep your subject where you want them in the frame.
If you want even more control over the camera, you can use the Free-Look Mode, which enables you to control the camera with the Controller or virtual joysticks as it flies the KeyFrame path autonomously.
I love the outdoors here in New Zealand and spend a lot of time hiking and filming. It’s so cool to get an aerial perspective on things you regularly see only from eye level.
I mainly share my Skydio content on my Instagram. I love epic scenery with a subject to give scale and context, like someone hiking. Give me a follow to see more autonomous cinematography of the beautiful landscape here in New Zealand.
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