Drones/Quadcopters are doing some pretty amazing things these days. In photography, setting up for lighting is very tedious and time consuming; therefore, researchers of MIT and Cornell University have been working on a drone that could make a photographer’s job much easier. They call it “drone lighting” and the autonomous helicopters are built to automatically position themselves in the perfect position to achieve the best lighting.
How Do Drones Help with Photography?
The mini-quadcopters are equipped with a light, a photographic flash, and a laser rangefinder. How do these drones know exactly how to position themselves? Well it’s easy. (Hah!) First off, the photographer indicates to the drone which side of the subject it should be on. For this particular experiment, once the drone is in place, the photographer specifies a “rim width” to keep the subject in the correct lighting; this is an attempt to get the appearance of a silhouette, known as “rim lighting.” The photographer’s camera sends out control signals to the drone based on the constantly updated rim width value. The drone then automatically adjusts itself to those values. What this means is that the autonomous helicopter is able to account for the photographer’s movements, re-adjusting itself whenever the photographer moves the camera.
Challenges with Drones
As you can imagine, there are a few challenges involved with the making of this drone. The drone’s blades have to be spinning at a really high speed just to keep it in the air. On top of that, it has to adjust to the constantly updating camera signal. Did we mention the signal updates 20 times per second? Man, technology is amazing! Another challenge was coming up with the simplest algorithm to implement into the drone. There’s no room for time-consuming calculations when the drone needs to be constantly moving and updating its position. It took a lot of tweaking, but the researchers now believe they have the simplest algorithm to keep the drone flying smoothly. Drone technology has come a long way in recent times, but it’s clear to anyone involved that we have only scraped the surface of the possible applications of drones in photography and video. If you are interested in keeping up to date with the latest news in drone takeover, be sure to follow MIT at web.mit.edu.