The following is a guest post by Sasha Rezvina of leading aerial cinematography company Aerobo.
Brian Streem and his team have spent four years flying drones for the biggest production houses in Hollywood. In that time, they believe they’ve discovered a fundamental design flaw with how drones are operated. They decided to build Vermeer, an augmented reality drone app to fix it.
“People don’t care about the drone. They care about the camera,” says Streem. Vermeer has redesigned camera flight around this principle. A user designs a camera path and the drone autonomously flies it.
The Friction of Flying Camera Control
Flying a drone is fun, and, many would say that flying a drone is easy. But if you really care about capturing precisely the photo or video you’re envisioning, you’re going to be disappointed the first time you fly a drone– and, probably, the third, tenth and hundredth time.
A high-quality and precise shot requires independent control over the camera and the drone. You either need two people who can intuit each other’s movements or to train yourself to be an exceptional multi-tasker. This creates a barrier-to-entry for those who want really Hollywood-grade aerial shots and discourages a lot of photographers and cinematographers from sticking to the craft.
The Vermeer team is building an AR-enabled app to enable any person, regardless of technical skills, to take aerial photos or videos–whether it’s for filmmaking, content creation, or taking Real Estate marketing videos.
How Vermeer Uses AR to Simplify Camera Flight
Vermeer shrinks down your flying field to a manageable size– just 5 feet by 5 feet. The user sees and interacts with the miniature 3D environment through the screen of their iOS device.
Rabbit Island, Hawaii, in a miniature 3D model as seen through an iPad Pro screen.
Everything that a user sees on their screen is what’s in frame for the drone camera. To design the shot, the user can physically push, rotate, or lift their phone to create a camera path through the environment.
Once the user is happy with their shot, they can send it to the drone to execute autonomously. The footage from the drone will match the pre-visualized design.
The software leverages the brand new augmented reality technology to amend drone flight. The focus for the end user is on what’s in frame and what the camera is doing, never worrying about the throttle or the heading of the drone.
This type of application could not have been made ever before. The team started creating this 3d playground for drone flight the minute ARKit became available for iOS developers. While the app is still officially under development, drone enthusiasts can start flying and testing the concept for the app today.
Test Vermeer Beta for Yourself
The app works on all the latest iOS devices, and all DJI prosumer drones.
Compatible iOS Devices:
- iPhone 7
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone X
- iPhone Xs
- iPad Pro
- Phantom 3 Professional, Phantom 3 Advanced
- Phantom 4 , Phantom 4 Professional
- Inspire 1 and Inspire 2 (the pre-vis is optimized for the FOV for the X7-24mm lens, and the X5S-15mm lens; all lenses, however, are supported)
- Mavic Pro, Mavic Air, Mavic 2 Pro
The Vermeer team has released a public beta so they can continuing developing with the end-user in mind. They believe this alternative to the current way of flying a drone will succeed only when the user experience is built around the needs of real people.
Try Vermeer App today by downloading it from the iOS store.
Sasha Rezvina is a Brooklyn-based writer who explores the intersection of technology and art. Throughout her career she’s worked with over 30 tech companies to help them shape their brand stories and tell the world about their products. She’s currently the Director of Marketing for Aerobo, the largest aerial cinematography company in the U.S.