Kochi-based aerial cinematographers TheQuadCamBros have been shooting stunning aerial videos of cities and heritage sites in India. The India Tour series, as it is called, aims to capture aerial video footage from 29 states across India. If you haven’t seen the videos yet, take a look at this aerial video of Bangalore:
We caught up with the team — all of two people — behind these videos to figure out how they do it.
Vishnu Sankar and Linto Mathew, aka TheQuadCamBros, have been in the aerial cinematography business since 2013. They’re multitalented with skills ranging from filmmaking, technology to flying.
For the India Tour project, they are using a DJI Inspire 1 drone, which comes equipped with a 4K camera, fitted with a three-axis stabilization gimbal that can turn 360 degrees. The drone, which has a flight time of around 18 minutes, comes equipped with retractable carbon fibre legs, a GPS positioning system and can fly upto a height of 4,500m above sea level.
Even though there is an import ban on drones in India, you can get your hands on one of these from the grey market. However, they don’t come cheap and will cost you upwards of Rs 1 lakh.
Apart from DJI, Yuneec and 3DR also make drones that come equipped with ultra high definition (UHD)-capable cameras. You can also shoot UHD aerial footage with drones that can mount 4K-capable cameras like some from the GoPro Hero series.
Shooting from the stars
TheQuadCamBros have already started filming for the project and have released some of the footage. Here’s what it looks like:
TheQuadCamBros have also shot for Sajid Nadiadwala’s Baaghi (2016) starring Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor, for which they used the Matrice 600 series of drones from DJI. These drones are primarily used in filmmaking and industrial applications as they can carry big DSLRs and large-format cinema cameras made by companies such as Arri, Blackmagic, Canon and RED. Due to the size and the complexity of this setup, these drones usually require two people to operate them: one to fly the drone and another to operate the camera.
If you want to get your hands on a Matrice 600, you will have to rent it; you don’t have to worry about learning to operate this giant of a drone as the rental package usually comes with operators.
Drones in India
Drones are finally beginning to go mainstream in india, with people actually becoming professional drone pilots and operators. Drone racing is emerging as the hot new sport while shooting with drones is also on the rise. Most of these commercial and sporting activities are done with permission from local authorities.
But, for the average consumer, the regulations around buying or flying drones are still unclear. About a year-and-a-half ago, the DGCA had published a draft consultation paper on regulating drones in India, but there’s still no clarity on when the final draft of the regulation will be ready. Read how my colleague Jayadevan PK’s online order of a drone got stuck in customs and what happened when my colleague Ramarko Sengupta went looking for a drone in Bangalore.
So, for now, the only way you can get your hands on a drone in India is to buy one from the grey market or try your luck at importing one and see if it gets cleared by customs — not a very promising option.