Harry Potter, Skyfall, Research Section: how professionals use drones

No more big Hollywood movie will now happen drones. As flying cameras, they are increasingly used by chefs operators not to replace the helicopters but to create unique plans.

This is the great opening scene of Skyfall. In search of a terrorist who holds the list of Western agents infiltrated the world, James Bond embarks in Istanbul by car and motorcycle, on the heels of the agent that carries the precious hard disk. This causes the mad rush over the rooftops of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Filmed from the sky and flush with the tiles, this chase sees 007 fail.

To shoot such a lawsuit in the city of Heaven, Sam Mendes, the director, Roger Deakins and his director of photography, have appealed to Flying-cam. This Belgian company literally invented and imposed the drone in Hollywood and in the world’s major studios.

The prosecution conducted by James Bond in Istanbul, a cult scene Skyfall permitted through the drone. (Photo: Sony Pictures)

Prévinaire Emmanuel, founder of Flying-Cam, received an Oscar in 1995 as the inventor of the drone for film. It is indeed a device designed by a team that provided some of the most dynamic of this spectacular pursuit planes. To achieve this, Flying-Cam has developed a large electric drone helicopter type machine 25kg with a rotor diameter of 2.2 m. It has the power to rise into the air a film camera that weighs 8 kg. SARAH dubbed 3.0, the latest version has even earned Flying-cam a second Oscar in 2014, the award “science and engineering” for its interests in Skyfall, but also Prisoners, Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, Oblivion, etc. After conquering the world of advertising and sport, the drone has earned a prominent place in Hollywood, but it is also present in the world series, including France.

The scene of the flying car from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Photo: Warner Bros)

The drone, a new look for film

Some consider the drone as the replacement for the helicopter shooting. On one side, the helicopter, a machine of 1 million euros, 350,000 euros just for the stabilized ball and mobile (the Wescam, where the camera which is placed). On the other side, the drone, which costs only a few thousand euros. The temptation to replace the helicopter for filming aerial shots seems obvious, but the reality is more mixed.

The drone can divide the costs drastically, but mainly provides additional location means available to the director. Antoine Vidaling, cinematographer and founder of Skydrone says: “It is true that the drone allows to make plans that existed before. This is the case for example of a traveling alongside a moving car or a person running. Rather than taking a full day to climb 50 meters of rails for traveling, in 15 minutes the plane was shot with a drone. ”

However, difficult to replace the helicopter if the director wants a high-speed air plan. “The helicopter can fly up to 150 to 180 km / h at higher altitudes from the ground up to 750 m and can carry a heavy camera with a very sophisticated stabilization system, the Wescam. This allows especially to use zoom and imposing heavy and objectives. ”

Filming a commercial for Mercedes AMG on the Castellet circuit with octo-copters Flying Eye. (Photo: Flying Eye)

More than just an alternative to the crane, in traveling or helicopter, the drone brings new writing opportunities for the plans: “We shot the beginning and end plans next film Hugo Gélin Tomorrow all starts with Omar Sy “explains Antoine Vidaling. “These shots were filmed in Cassis, on top of a cliff, with Omar and a child.” Among these plans, a “top shot”, ie a vertical view above the actors who play their scene at the edge of the cliff. “The director wanted a plan including face to actors at the top of the cliff, 40 meters high above the sea. For such a plan, it would have been possible to turn the helicopter. As against another plane, a traveling alongside the actors, at a distance of 1 to 2 meters only helicopter that was not possible. ”

Another fan of the drone, Loïc Berthézène, Production Manager of Research Division Series. This is the French series that achieves more audience on TF1. A detective series in which the use of this device is now fully part of the “codes” of writing screenplays: “The drone brings more to the series. It gives a new angle to the crime scene by forming a common thread between the stage and location. For example, if the action is located in the Nice stadium, Franck Semonin who plays Lt. Lucas Auriol arrived by motorbike, the UAV follows him to the stadium. The drone is the thread that is the action and the geographical position. To do with traveling, it would have represented six different planes while with the drone is a unique sequence shot. ”

Research Section is a fiction TF1 where the drone is fully part of the writing of the series. (Photos: Flying Eye, © Jean-Louis Paris / Authors and associates / TF1)