In February 2020 we were asked by October Films to assist with the drone filming of ‘The Secret Life of Lighthouses’ for Channel 5, which was to include a number of offshore lighthouses around the UK.

Given the filming took place in winter, the ground & drone crew were extremely lucky to have sufficient breaks in stormy conditions to allow us to travel in a small boat to both Bell Rock off the Angus coast near Arbroath in Scotland, & Eddystone Rock, off the Devon/Cornwall coast near Plymouth in England.

Flying DJI’s Inspire 2 above open water at least 10 miles offshore in both cases, requires a drone team of at least two, hand taking off & hand catching while carefully anticipating the sea’s swell to avoid accidents or injury. Compass calibration problems quickly set in too, with the dreaded ‘Cannot Take Off’ error message requiring calibration before each flight & with the drone being held as high as possible to avoid the boat’s metal surfaces. The pilot has to make sure that the home point is dynamically set to follow the controller, & both pilot & camera operator have to contend with the extra queasiness which comes from shifting vision to drone, to screen & back again, all the while trying to avoid queasiness becoming full-blown seasickness!

Flying from a boat even in relatively calm conditions is difficult enough; both at Bell Rock & Eddystone Lighthouse we were at the very edge of acceptable wind & sea state, so Kirk Watson at Bell Rock & Paul Billany at Eddystone did extremely well coping with all of the above & flying some great lines for footage that the client was extremely pleased with.

We shot in both H264 4K Log for the network, + ProRes 4444XQ 4K Log for maximum dynamic range & future-proofing these one-of-a-kind opportunities.

CAA approved for aerial work, PFCO company number 532, FAA number 4242184

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