The preproduction for Zombie College has been going great! Yes, there’s a lot to plan for, but it’s all part of filmmaking. The more complex piece of equipment that I needed to personally prepare for the film was the DJI S800 hexacopter.
The main issue was that this copter arrived about a week before production began for Zombie College. Soooo, not only did I have to build the craft, but I had to do some quick test flights to iron out the wrinkles of the build. You know, to make sure the thing’s going to fly.
The build itself took about 4 hours total. The main issue was figuring out where I needed to mount each module. Now the S800 is an open source craft so each user can customize it to their liking. Most rigs are built with the WooKong guidance system, along with a receiver and video transmitter. Well, I on the other hand have maxed out this craft. Each of my modules are listed below:
- WooKong Guidance System
- IOSD for heads up display (pilot readings)
- Two receivers (8 channel for craft, 7 channel for gimbal)
- Sony HD WD700 camera for pilot
- Two video transmitters
So after several hours of building, software calibrating, transmitter tweaking, and radio customizing, I was ready for my first flight. Now I have built several RC airplanes and helicopters in my day, but this hexacopter was the most advance build. It may look intimidating at first, but once you break down each system, it’s not that bad. So after I checked all of my systems, I revved up the motors, and started to increase power slowly. To my amazement (not that I should have been surprised), the hexacopter slowly rose into the air. The system seemed stable and everything was working correctly. After a few minutes of enjoyment, we came in for a soft landing. Everything checked out correctly.
Be mindful as well, that I tested the hexacopter without the gimbal. If she’s going to crash, you want it to with the least about of equipment on board… naturally.