"The Best Thing I've Ever Filmed" is the most viewed quadcopter (commonly known as a drone) flight videos on the Internet. The simple footage of part of the Cornwall coast was made by Clym Montgomery, a 17-year-old from Devon in the U.K. Within a week of its posting, the clip had gathered almost 500,000 views, with people blown away by the natural beauty and stunning cinematography. Montgomery assembled the quadcopter himself and uses special goggles to view the live feeds coming from the camera. GrindTV.com caught up with Montgomery to see exactly how he did it.
Tell us about your kit: Is it true you built it yourself?
Yes. I assembled the quadcopter, which is a Discovery Pro, made by the team at Blacksheep. The build took 19 hours over the course of a single weekend, taking me from unpacking all the little individual components to actually getting [it] in the air. They manufacture the frame, which has integrated circuitry pre-built in, and produce a manual for construction with their recommended parts.
There are many different directions that you can take for motors, propellers, transmitters, etc., to customize the setup for specific needs or wants; that's the nature of the hobby. For example, I wanted better signal penetration through obstacles, so I used a lower transmission frequency than they suggest. This caused other conflicts, however, due to varying voltages and power requirements, so I needed to integrate some further electronics into my build.
My build used parts from over nine different companies, so there's always going to be some thinking to be done. The manual, well written as it is, can only go so far; you're the one who'll be soldering and assembling your choice of components at the end of the day.
How much did it all cost?
I've spent over $3,600 on this setup, although it's hard to know exactly because I had orders from many different suppliers from all over the world.
How long have you been using the aerial cameras?
I started with a hexacopter (DJI F550) two years ago. I had a GoPro before that and came across the hobby when looking at different uses for the camera. I then progressed to FPV (First Person View), when you fly using the video stream, and now I've upgraded to the more capable Discovery Pro.
Tell us about the FPV.
I wear video goggles when flying to view the camera feeds. The goggles I use are called Fatshark Dominators and they're designed specifically for the FPV flying market. They have two tiny LCD screens inside and a system of mirrors and lenses that make it fill your vision when you put them on. They block out all external light and it makes for a very immersive experience. It feels similar to sitting in the middle row of an empty cinema and seeing the flight on the big screen in front.
So you can be anywhere—in your bedroom, for example—whilst watching and directing the footage from the copter as it is beamed into your goggles?
Yes, exactly. It makes for a very portable and flexible setup, although there is a limit to the number of trees/walls/buildings that the signals will penetrate and legally I am required to stay in line of sight. But it certainly means that hard-to-reach places become very accessible, like in the clip. The theoretical range for my setup is many miles, perhaps 7 or 8, and I could get 3 miles out before needing to return before the battery dies. Again, however, I'm limited legally to 500 meters.
And has the reaction to the clip caught you caught by surprise?
I've been astounded by the reaction, to be honest. I was already really happy just to have been able to film such a nice piece, and to have this many people appreciate it is incredible. My film has already had many times more views than the manufacturer's official product video, and in fact from what I've seen it's one of the most viewed quadcopter flight videos on the Internet. That's pretty amazing to me, since these were the videos that I watched when I first got into the hobby and found my feet with it all. It's great to have come so far.
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