Feature Stories

Up in the Air: Creating Aerial Videos With PowerDirector

Flying at an altitude of about 200 meters, Jack Simmons' quadcopter captures a bird's eye view of the sceneries around him, which elevates his passion for video shooting to a whole new level with PowerDirector as his best co-pilot.

A quadcopter is multi-rotor helicopter that is lifted by a motor and a propeller at the end of each of its four arms. With a remote control, quadcopter is flown for areal imagery.

Quadcopters were initially used for military and law enforcement. However, with advances in processors, batteries, wireless signal, and general innovation in lightweight mechanical, quadcopters are now available for everyone.

Jack captures a number of aerial views with his quadcopter DJI Phantom designed for GoPro camera

For Jack, this remote controlled aircraft turned his long time passion for video shooting into income generating enterprise.

"I've always had a passion [for video shooting] and have owned video cameras for many years...What I do now stemmed from my technical experience and that is how I got into aerial filming," explains Jack.

His interest for taking videos came from his technical background, having obtained an IT/Telecoms degree in South Florida. Jack's passion for flying on the other hand was developed when he served in the US Army working on helicopters.

"I served in the US Army before I went to school. When I was in Army, my job was actually working on Helicopters, that might be where a lot of my passion was stemmed from - I always wanted to own my own real Helicopter one day." says Jack.

Jack's passion for flying was developed when he served the US Army working with helicopters

Jack says he discovered quadcopters on YouTube while exploring the many ways he can use his GoPro camera. "I have flown RC helicopters for over 10 years and thought it would be fun to fly and film," says Jack.

"After posting my first aerial footage of my dog and I playing in a park, I was asked by several of my friends and others, if I would be interested in shooting what they wanted and they would pay me," Jack says as he explains how he started with his aerial filming business.

He says that this new business gets him excited about his future. "I love what I do...The passion I have for it, is the most I have had for anything in a really long time," says Jack.

Since then, Jack has already taken videos of different aerial views of the beautiful sceneries around him. He also filmed outdoor event from a bird's eye view, most recently a live race at a small dirt track in Florida.

"More people were watching me fly, than they were the race cars. People will come up to and just start asking questions and sharing their excitement on how much they are impressed with it and how cool it is," Jack says.

Quadcopter brings wow factor in home videos

With the advent of quadcopter technology, aerial filming has been brought to ordinary video creators, which brings a new wow factor in home videos, says Jack noting that while aerial filming has been seen on TV, the technique is not available to ordinary video creators before quadcopter.

"Kids love it as well and I have heard so many kids say they want to do what I do, when they grow up. That is really cool to hear," Jack exclaims.

The challenges for aerial video shooting

Taking videos using quadcopters can be quite challenging. This is because a number of uncontrolled factors can affect the video output including wind and lighting. Too much winds will result to shaky videos while light will result to overexposed footage while sudden heavy.

PowerDirector's unique TrueTheater enhancement technology helps solve these problems. For example, TrueTheater Stabilizer automatically stabilizes shaky videos while TrueTheater Lighting fixes lighting issues in footage, such as white balance and backlight problems.

"Finding the CyberLink PowerDirector software was amazing and it is all I use for all of my videos... It is so feature rich that will do anything you need to do," Jack says.

He also commends that "there are so many different ways to customize your video with it, it's absolutely amazing." "When regular people see my final output from PowerDirector 12 Ultra, they are still blown away and that is rewarding enough for me," Jack exclaims.

Tips for aerial filming enthusiasts

Having the right equipment is first of Jack's tips for anyone who is interested in this type of video creation noting that this "makes a huge difference."

"The only way someone will get good at this, is by practicing, obviously, just like everything. I first started to fly without seeing what the camera was shooting and was able to learn the angle of the camera to get the best shot," says Jack. Jack also notes that having the FPV (First Person View) monitor is highly recommended.

Aerial view of car race event in Florida filmed by Jack's quadcopter

"I now have a 7" external monitor that has a live streaming video of what exactly the camera is seeing and shooting. It also tells your longitude and latitude, GPS coordinates and has a compass in the display. I highly recommend having this and it will cut down on your learning time tremendously," explains Jack.

For those who are creating aerial videos only as a hobby, Jack notes that this special equipment is quite expensive and may not be totally necessary.

"[However], when it comes to business, time is money and if I can get a shot one time, instead of doing it several times, that will make a huge difference," Jack says.

"Being able to see what you are filming, from the camera angle is so necessary. When you look up at the copter and think you have the perfect shot and angle in site, then realize it was totally out of range and out of the camera view can be frustrating, because you missed it and will have to spend time and do it again," he explains further.

Above all, Jack emphasizes the importance of practicing, to improve shots.

"It has taken me several months to get to the point where I am at and I have several large companies looking into making an aerial division and having me run it," he says. "I will get better at it as times goes and time is the only thing that will make me better," he says.

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