Drones in Cathedrals: An Interview with BigFly, “Architecture” Category Winner at the NYCDFF
BY Zacc Dukowitz12 May 2017
The video is a mind bending journey into the vaulted ceilings of the Saint Louis Cathedral in Paimboeuf, France, and presents the closest we’ve ever gotten to the beautiful paintings and architecture found inside cathedrals.
We wanted to pick the directors’ brains on how they pulled the video off, from getting the shots to the work done in post-production, and also hear about how they got permission to shoot inside the cathedral in the first place.
UAV Coach: Your video takes something most of us have seen (the interior of a cathedral) and makes us look at in a completely new way. Was that your original vision for the project, or what was your artistic goal when you started shooting for the video?
Joris and Guillaume: The idea was to create a non-narrative movie that would take us through an immersive discovery of the church. We wanted something epic and dramatic. Also, since our drone can lift a camera and gimbal ON the drone itself, which allows for filming upward at a low angle, we thought this was the ideal situation to see what was possible with the versatile equipment we had.
UAV Coach: What were the most challenging parts of making this video?
Joris and Guillaume: Flying in the church! Our big heavylifter octocopter is 1,67m wide (that’s 5 and 1/2 feet!), and the church is not as big as you might imagine (the very wide angle lens can let you think this is a big church, but…no). It was a very stressful experience to fly in there.
We spent one hour to check every detail in the church that could endanger the drone, and to make sure there wouldn’t be an accident (there was one long wire at the right side that we had to navigate around, after careful inspection).
UAV Coach: I believe you said you only shot for one day to create this video. Did you just get a ton of raw footage so you’d have lots of options in post-production, or did you have a detailed plan for the shots you wanted to get?
Joris and Guillaume: Indeed, we shot all the footage in just 2-3 hours (and also spent 2 hours preparing before we shot).
We planned approximately 2/3 of the shots ahead of time, and the other 1/3 were improvised shots, which ended up pretty good.
UAV Coach: How difficult was it to get permission to film inside the Saint Louis Church in Paimboeuf?
Joris and Guillaume: It took about 15 days. We had to get permission from both the mayor (who was the owner of the space), and from the priest/church itself. We made some phone calls, sent two letters, and it was all arranged.
UAV Coach: How did you first get involved in aerial cinematography?
Joris and Guillaume: We are both filmmakers, and were filmmakers before we started flying drones.
We saw a big artistic potential in these new technologies, so we embraced them and created our aerial production company, BigFly.
Of course, we started small, just flying a DJI Phantom, but after a while we decided we wanted more and we wanted to offer more to our clients.
Check out BigFly’s showreel to see the other kind of work Joris and Guillaume do
UAV Coach: What drone(s) do you fly, and what cameras do you use?
Joris and Guillaume: For most projects we use our big heavylifter drone, which is a Gryphon Redback X8 1200mm. The camera we used in the church was a Sony Alpha a7sII, with some different lenses. We also now have an Inspire 2 x5s.
UAV Coach: What are your predictions for aerial cinematography, and the drone industry in general? Please feel free to answer at length (what you see way down the road, what you see for next year, where you see regulations headed in the U.S. and abroad, new applications, etc.).
Joris and Guillaume: The drone industry has moved so quickly these past 5 years. When we see what we were able to accomplish with this video with a crew of just two people, in half a day, that’s crazy. Ten years ago, it would have been impossible to do something like what we did here (or you would have needed a big crew, huge machinery, cranes, etc). So we just can’t imagine what we’re going to see and do in another ten years.
We often think that we’ve reach the end of what we can do and need with a drone, but we are always surprised every year by the new technology that continues to come out.
As French regulated drone pilots, we feel pretty stifled by drone regulation outside of France, and outside of Europe in general. We just can’t work in many countries.
We hope that in the near future, there will be at least some kind of global / European drone regulations created to solve the regulation issue.
What’s better than race cars? Race cars by drone! Check out this BigFly video, Motor Spirit.
Into climbing? How about ice climbing? The drone shots in this BigFly video of people climbing a frozen cliff face are amazing, and also kind of terrifying to watch. This is not for the light of heart!
Want more interviews from the NYCDFF? Check these out:
- Parkour in Spain—An Interview with Giles Campbell Longley, “Extreme Sports” Winner at NYCDFF 2017
- An Interview with Lucas Zanatto, “Featuring Drones” Category Winner at the New York City Drone Film Festival
- An Interview with KopterCam, “ShowReel” Category Winner at the New York City Drone Film Festival