IBC2018: High end cinema drones were put through their paces by programme makers in an HBO documentary which premiered at IBC.

HBO has premiered the second season of its technology documentary series HBO Image Study at IBC with an in depth cinematic examination of the capabilities and limitations of the latest drone technology.

HBO hit: Game of Thrones

HBO hit: Game of Thrones

The short film puts a number of high end cinema drones from companies such DJI through their paces and compares their performance with a helicopter.

Exhibited as part of IBC’s Big Screen programme, the film features HBO SVP Media and Production Operations Steve Beres and director and cinematographer Suny Behar conducting speed trials on various drones, comparing their manoeuvrability and the limits of RF control and GPS steering on various tracking shots.

HBO SVP Post Gena Desclos said: “Drone photography is

 important at HBO right now because there are so many people making fantastic quality content. Everybody is shooting on the same kind of cameras and lenses. But at HBO we try to offer a different perspective, and that’s where drones are great – putting a camera in a place where nothing else can reach.”

Suny Behar added: “Drones can achieve things where helicopters struggle – even the smaller drones now are capable of carrying cameras shooting RAW so you can get fantastic looking panoramic shots. You can also use them to get a quick up and down shot which would take half a day to set up using a crane.”

Steve Beres added: “Directors do put drone shots in to be hot. Creative people want to use the newest tech but it’s important to remember that there’s a lot to it. It’s about matching the talent to the task. We weren’t able to use them as much as we wanted on Game of Thrones when we factored in Irish weather. You have to ask yourself will this work in deep mud when its raining sideways?”

Desclos added: “It’s important for producers to realise that you need a full camera crew and you have got to really rehearse drone shots. It takes a lot of technology and organisation. It’s not a quick fix.”

During the trial Beres and Behar discovered that drones have limitations when used on tightly controlled tracking shots such as flying in front of a car. These shots are probably best achieved with a Russian arm camera mount system, said Beres. “We found the GPS steering isn’t accurate enough. The only way to do it is manually with GPS tracking turned off, which means that you have to have a really good pilot.”

They also discovered that RF signal interference in some locations can present camera control problems.