Ilmo was one of the first beta-testers to receive a HEXO+. He greatly appreciated its ability to use a third person point of view to document his story—and to do this hands-free. Undoubtedly, the aerial footage added much to his piece. Check out the awesome story of his trip to South West France with a select team from Hexo+ below.
My relationship with filming is more on the behind the scenes type of guy, who is more concerned about production schedules, value, logistics, distribution and finance rather than actually pushing the Rec or directing a camera. I have been keeping an eye out to technology from the producer side of things and auto drones have been a great interest due to the value it offers. I was very stoked when I got the opportunity to be among the few who got to test out Hexo+. It was very intriguing.
First I was a little nervous to not mess up and crash the drone and I was a bit over aware of the thing following me, so I struggled to act normally with it following me. Soon enough I stopped noticing it.. From the get go it was all very simple to control it with the help of the crew. Simple mobile app, push this and it will do that. Even an idiot like me could control it. I did have the support of the Hexo+ crew and together we checked for safe flight path’s and landing zone’s. All in all very simple and common sense, which I seem to lack at times..
Once the shoot moved onwards it came easier to vision what the drone could do and seeing the footage we were capturing it came more clear of what were the right angles for each moment. It felt strange to play around with the birds eye view and the different settings you could make the drone do. Basically I become my own production team and “talent” all in one package. I laughed, one of those evil ones.. no more expensive filmers to be paid, whining about insufficient catering etc..! I could do it all and take over the world!
Then reality hit me when I realized that it doesn’t make me look any prettier or allow me to surf or ride better. I still didn’t end up in square one though. It does let you do things that otherwise would be impossible or just very expensive to achieve. If I would of had one when I was growing up and I was disillusioned to think that I would be a famous athlete one day, it would definitely helped to take my “sponsor me” -tape to the next level.
Almost instantly when you have a tool like Hexo+ in your hands, the opportunities are pretty much limitless and you create some golden moments for your family album or as a part of your professional production, it will work perfectly for both. Best thing is that you don’t need to be tech oriented camera nerd to be able to control it. I’m already looking forward for next excuse to use one!
Hexo+ and CKC running wild in South West France
When my friends at Hexo+ contacted me few months ago about a little testing session in the Pyrenees with the drone I was stoked to go and show the boys around some scenic spots where we could get some nice shots of cruising with a motorcycle. When the day came we were faced with a less than optimal weather conditions. Once we got to the foothills of Pyrenees drizzle, wind and low hanging clouds greeted us right before we got ourselves to the top.
While waiting for the weather to clear up we sat down for a little pique nique and chatted away about attitude towards life, adventures and exploring new things in life and business in general. Just a good old chat with like minded people over some good food, while sitting next to a wildly flowing river. A great place to let some ideas flow.
Once we made it to higher elevation the weather really started to make an entrance and after two hours of riding of getting there we got skunked. After one flight we decided its not worth it and after a quick look to the next valley we decided to call it quits. A day lost for some, but I guess more of a normal proceeding of life and luck for anyone who works in the mercy of nature.
While I was wearing my rain gear and cruising back the others at least had a comfortable car to sit in and chat. I guess something from our lunch chats about the Capbreton Knife Club philosophy of inspiring people to go outside and learn new things and to be open to the surroundings caught some fire with the Hexo+ crew and they started to toy around with the idea of shooting something more than just couple of turns on a mountain road.
Soon after the boys came to me and asked how would I feel if we would film a mini documentary about things that CKC does. I was a bit surprised first, but instantly ready for anything as it sounded like epic fun and also great promotion for “CKC” way of thinking.
Quickly dates were set, first drafts of storyline built and tentative list of locations put on paper. Somehow it all came together almost automatically and few weeks later we were sitting around a table and getting ready to execute a plan that was one of those great schemes written on a napkin after few drinks.. maybe a tad bit vague, but like with anything on this dear planet of ours it was easier to get into action and follow a guideline that left us room to improvise heavily.
First day of shooting started at the crack of dawn, which we soon noticed was the standard for the week, with sunrise at some swamp lands close to our base in Capbreton. Setting up for the shots was beyond easy, although everyone seemed to be half asleep: not too many trees, set up the distance and angle, phone in pocket, go, stop, few quick commands and the drone was happily back on ground. It was like playing tetris with the commands, except that nothing moved until you told it to. Simple and easy as long as there weren’t much of trees around as it was fairly easy to forget that you have something following you and get quickly into trouble. Surprisingly I didn’t and all ran smoothly if we don’t count in a moment when I landed the poor thing a tad too close to a cornfield.
After the morning activities we had a brief rest, recharge of batteries and “planning”. In the afternoon the call was to gear up for a night out at the beach and on the way shoot some of cuts in the forest. What could I say? Camp out at the beach, fire, sneaky beers, riding a motorcycle through the sandy forest roads to get there while claiming in my office calendar that I’m unavailable. Not to mention the potential of solo dawn surf session at dawn.
We quickly figured out that the forest was too dense to fly the drone, so we ended up capturing some extra footage while getting to the beach. At the start of the dune we flew of the drone to capture the sunset and do some tests with the 360 feature. Soon enough the sun disappeared behind the horizon and camp was set. All what was anticipated happened in due order.. accompanied by the necessary evil of having sand absolutely everywhere.
Morning light didn’t quite make it to the sky when first of our crew started shuffling around in the tents. Swell was small, but it was there. Drone up to the sky, cell phone in the wetsuit and run towards the sea. Only thing we were missing was a water proof case for the phone to control the Hexo+ from the water. We were also hindered to fly over water by the fact that we were flying a prototype of only hand full of devices ever made. Sounds expensive? Well it kind of was.. So we resorted on getting few shots from the beach and some water angles to fill up the void..
After a few kooky rides by yours truly it was time to pack and head over to the mountains. It all seemed like we were like kids in a candy store just doing the most awesome things South West France could provide us in as little of a time possible. Close to three hours on a motorcycle and a decent hike in front of you does put things into perspective. We weren’t tired, but perhaps not at our sharpest when we started lugging camping gear and food for three man sized humans, 3 cameras with their accessories and a drone, which actually doesn’t weigh that much at all.
Shots, stops, silent walking and awe struck moments of beautiful sceneries later we found ourselves in about 2000m above the sea level we had just left behind.
Sunset was upon us and we decided to set up camp and get a few shots before darkness. We were in a tight valley surrounded by high peaks all around us. We flew a 360 of the campsite and all of a sudden the drone lost contact with the phone and started landing into a 1.5 m wide mountain stream, the only “NO LANDING” zone within our immediate surroundings. Swiftly one of the filmers was running towards the drone and saved it from getting wet by heroic action. I guess its needless to mention that he got completely soaked in the process, but he did save the drone. Sort of a like a falling drunkard doesn’t spill his drink.. There we were, one freshly ice bathed filmer, 4 hour hike up, falling darkness and a lurking hunger, accompanied by two giggling comrades. Nothing that some hot food, whiskey and a warm sleeping bag couldn’t fix. It worked like magic.
Stars came out after the low clouds cleared out and promised us an amazing sunrise. Well deserved sleep later we were awaken by an amazing sunrise. Hustle and bustle later we sat down for a quick brekkie before heading further up to find some more amazingness to shoot.
The descend from the mountain was again fairly silent one. Once we got back to the van and my bike one of the filmers revealed that he didn’t have much skin left in the soles of his feet. We nodded, without being too much of smart asses about his shoe selection of classic Vans. No pain no gain. We had footage.
Only thing we had missing was the mountain riding shots. We decided to head towards the same area we were initially trying to shoot few weeks back and once we got to the spot 3 hours later we were not disappointed. Golden hour was starting to creep on us, but we had plenty of time to set things up. It was pure joy. Warm sunset, amazing scenery and a motorcycle.. what else would you need? Well hexo + came in pretty handy capturing the magic.
It was a wrap. Time was out. Everything was done. Hopefully we got it. We weren’t 100% sure, there was no time to go through the footage while we were shooting. It was hectic, but enjoyable 3 man show. We did more in 3 days, than I would ever want to squeeze into such short period of time.
Now about a month later looking back into the shoot all I can say I’m surprised how smooth it all went. We had almost zero technical difficulties and all the drone shots seemed so simple. All I needed to do was to push a few buttons and the damn thing followed me. I did have amazing help from people who knew what they were doing with the drone, compilation, edit etc etc. I’m not saying I could get something like that done myself, but I’m very confident to say that I can make the Hexo+ do all those things that it did with few buttons pushed on a cell phone. Its an amazing tool and a great toy in one package.
For any mission its your best buddy to capture the things you see and more.