Since it's inception, Brooklyn Aerials has been lucky enough to revolutionize a handful of shooting techniques. We pioneered the dolly-zoom (aka. 'Vertigo-effect') and extreme roll movements on the drone, pushed drone lighting into a new realm and captured NYC in new ways that haven't been seen before with our pieces STREETS and MOMENTS.
Our latest piece, VORTEX, explores the streets of NYC yet again and uses one of the first handheld gimbal that is capable of 360° barrel roll moves: Freefly Systems MoVI iPhone gimbal.
In BALANCE we used the roll effect on helicopter and drone to create a feeling of uneasiness and confusion, within a space and city that we are all familiar with (in some way or another).
For VORTEX the goal was to have a more grounded view of the city. While the spinning camera was the perfect way to capture the feeling we were trying to evoke, the idea was to portray the buildings as the foundation - the body and bones - of all of it. Yet the people are the ones that really suck you into it and create the pulse and flow of the city and help to create the overstimulating element in our piece.
Personally, we would have never seen ourselves shooting an entire piece (or even just a shot) with an iPhone. But given that there is no other tool out there that could achieve this effect and also being able to film without a large rig, in very busy, high security spaces like the World Trade Center, Penn Station or Grand Central, this turned out to be the perfect combination.
The tricky part for such a light gimbal and camera is the support. When shooting with a heavy camera package - e.g. our MoVI Pro with Alexa Mini and Panavision G anamorphics or Master anamorphics - the weight itself really helps to smooth out steps and make the camera float through space. While a light camera - e.g. MoVI M5 with a Sony a7s - would have a lot more noticeable steps and translated movement. Freefly's MoVI Carbon will be one of the first handheld gimbals to tackle this issue - but for the time being we'd have to find alternative solutions to achieve smooth and constant movements.
For our NYC exteriors we ended up relying on a Ninebot Segway MiniPro. For interiors we used an old school wheelchair - that helped shooting hyperlapses ('MoVI-lapses') without drawing too much attention from the NYPD and also with pedestrians that were mostly mindful and cleared a path.
While it was an interesting challenge to film this entire piece on an iPhone, we think the real revolution might come with products like the RED Hydrogen that might be able to open new doors to have both a very small form factor camera, as well as a truly cinematic tool. Regardless, we are at the beginning of a very interesting era that will lead to new creative and technical opportunities that we are very excited about. To be continued very soon, I am sure.
EDIT Dec 7th, 2017:
The original blog stated that the Freefly MoVI is the first handheld gimbal that is capable of 360 degree roll moves. It looks like this is not accurate and that other gimbals, such as the Letus Helix are already capable of those same moves.