The industrial slabs of Hong Kong. A ceremonial center in the Mexican jungle. Science. Anti-science. Teleportation. Goons. Opposing forces. A menacing international space agency. A Type III alien civilization. An element not of this planet. The dawn of a new human epoch. Drones.
That’s right: We’re launching a full-on sci-fi series. “Life After Gravity” (read more on Fast Company, and watch the trailer below) is a thriller on a global scale — intergalactic, really — about the blessings and poisons of extraordinary power, the many conflicts of its pursuit, and the birth of a new era for our civilization when we’re suddenly relieved of the trappings of gravity. All of it was ambitiously shot by our in-house video production team in collaboration with producers and Solo users in locations all over the world, under some serious budgetary and time constraints, using only the elements found in a typical 3DR Backpack for Solo. The series debuts on our YouTube channel next week, and we’ll release the first six episodes at regular intervals over the remaining months of 2015.
Why we’re doing it
The entire concept behind Solo was to give people a powerful and easy-to-use new storytelling tool that fits in a single backpack. And with this series, we’re putting that fundamental concept into real-world practice so you can see the results.
It’s one thing to demonstrate (or even to capture) the cool and unique types of shots that only Solo’s computer-powered Smart Shots and automatic camera control make possible. But Solo’s potential goes so much further than just getting cool shots: It’s a complete video production unit in a backpack. After all, we ourselves aren’t just cool things to look at: We’re humans, meaning, effectually, that we’re stories. So it’s another thing entirely to understand what Solo means in terms of storytelling power — and what better way to demonstrate this than through a great story.
In the LAG series, we give Solo’s technology and all those cool shots the weight of narrative. This way we can show how Cable cam isn’t just an easy way to fly a camera from one cinematic point to another: This is how the intelligent camera control of Cable cam can be used to convey an impactful scene, establish a character or demonstrate that a change has taken place. Or here, Solo as a camera in a transhuman character’s POV (see main title card shot in the trailer). Or Orbit, capturing a dynamic or epic moment in a way that no other piece of video equipment can. We even use Solo for all of the traditional ground-level shots — even replacing handheld shots — lending them a subtle new energy and urgency. And all of this is done pretty much on the fly, with a small crew of two or three people shooting on location for a day or two entirely out of one or two 3DR Backpacks for Solo. We hope first and foremost that this story entertains and inspires you as a film, of course, but that it also inspires you to start thinking of drones in a new, more expansive and fully realized way.
To help make this clear we’re co-releasing user field reports with each episode. The field reports will be a combination of behind-the-scenes videos narrated by production team members themselves and blog posts about the overall process and experience of each shoot. The behind-the-scenes videos will provide insight into the technical aspects of how exactly certain shots in the episode were created and captured on Solo. The blogs will fully flesh out the planning, the work, the adventure and the problems overcome on each shoot.
Aerial Motion Control
Given Solo’s versatility and control, we’ve now come to think of it as not really just a drone, but rather more as an aerial motion control unit. An affordable one: the majority of the cost of shooting this film went to travel. The only equipment you need to tell a story in this way is a Solo, a few extra batteries, a GoPro HERO and some editing software. And your big, beautiful brain.
We really hope you enjoy the series, and would love your feedback. We’ve built a story framework that’s nearly infinitely extensible, so in the future you’ll be able to play a part in where this all is headed.