Cinema 2.0: Attack Of The (Handheld) Drones - Raindance

By now, unless you’ve been in enforced isolation, you’ve heard about the popularity and the controversy surrounding drone cameras and the development of personal, light weight flying platforms for your smartphones, smaller digital action cameras and other more robust models. Here in Chicago, like many major cities, strict laws have been put in place to limit the usage, flight paths and height these mobile filming platforms can operate in.medium-3-3d53e7185_3130912c-300x187

As an advocate of DIY cinema and no-cost content creation, the appeal of these noisy little crop dusters is evident. A unique perspective rivaling much more expensive filming options, a balanced gimbal-oriented filming platform that stays level and true – and a unique opportunity to emulate big budget vistas never before possible by outsider content creators.

One of my personal favorites is the LILY – – that’s pre-ordering now – and has the ability to actually fly itself!

But what if you could get all the benefits of this drone technology – and use it for a handheld cinema platform rivaling the high-end Steadicam ™ rig or similar glide-cam technologies?

Meet DJI’s OSMO, a 4k handheld camera gimbal stabilizing system that allows you to record to a MicroSd Card and shoot fully stabilized live action and cinema content for under $650 USD!

What’s mind-blowing about gear like the OSMO is that you can strap on your smartphone as an on-camera monitor and shoot smooth, Z-Avis content leading and chasing your on-screen talent with precision and true handheld fidelity. No cumbersome and expensive Steadicam ™ rig is needed here as the OSMO takes advantage of drone-based gimbal motors to stabilize the camera and move it manually in relation to the handle. The OSMO adds a time-lapse and hyper lapse function as well for added stop motion adoption making this a  stable and reliable shooting platform for content creators. If you want to check out this effect, watch the video below.

As noted above, the OSMO shoots in 4k(!) but also offers a number of frame rates and sizes for DIY usage. Pick your speed and resolution (4K: 4096 x 2160 (DCI): 24p, 25p 3840 x 2160 (UHD): 24p, 25p, 30p FHD (1080p): 1920 x 1080: 24p, 25p, 30p, 48p, 50p, 60p, 120p HD (720p): 1280 x 720: 24p, 25p, 30p, 48p, 50p, 60p Maximum Bitrate: 60 Mb/s) and start shooting.

Added DIY features include an integrated microphone, an extended use battery, auto sleep mode – and did I mention it will also shoot 12K still photos?! You can add the  DJI GO App and access advanced features, view footage live and remotely control the Osmo 4K Camera system using your smartphone. DJI GO app is available for iOS and Android and free to download. Wi-fi connection allows control from a range of up to 85′.

So, my mind was blown when I saw the OSMO in use and I immediately considered using this for my next microcinema project – and looking through the DJI site I came across a host of standalone and phone-based drone platforms to augment the OSMO – and then had my mind further blown as the fine folks at dropped the 4K ROTOR (an OSMO replica if ever I saw one) for $200 USD!!! This includes an on-board monitor and similar tech specs as the OSMO but for EVEN LESS! WTF!?


Using a smart gimbal fully stabilized 4K Micro Sd. recording platform similar to the DJI OSMO offer, the ROXOR offers a replaceable battery (an essential IMHO), time-lapse and slow motion features with the promise of ¼” screw accessories coming soon to augment the platform. The ROXOR (shipping in about two weeks from Hong Kong) adds an App Support module similar to the OSMO but the kicker is the onboard monitor making your smartphone unnecessary to see your action – but Wifi sync is possible if you want it for remote filming. I dropped the $200 without a second thought.

As a DIY content creator, I’m always looking for new and ever-streamlined approaches to shooting my own cinema. Back in 2010, I shot the first feature film here in the Midwest using the Canon 7d, have used Go-Pros and waterproof mini-cameras from Kodak extensively and other hacked consumer HD Cameras to shoot action and B-camera content – but the thought of having a gimbal-based, handheld filming platform that shoots in 4K for under $200 is just a game changer. Guerilla filmmaking has always counted on keeping a very small footprint and both the ROTOR and the OSMO allow the next generation content creator a remarkable – and affordable – option to the big girl cameras and the heavy (and expensive) support devices needed to shoot VERY smooth handheld cinema just about anywhere.

Get ready for the attack of the handheld drones!