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Eyes in the sky take eye-catching pics

Update: March, 02/2015 - 21:13
Looking down: A photo taken by a flycam for the Da Chong Mountain and Saint Giong Temple in Soc Son District on the outskirts of Ha Noi. — Photo Zing.vn

Flycams are becoming increasingly popular in Viet Nam, but its use requires considerable technical skills and knowledge, not to mention awareness of several "no fly" zones, Ngo Binh reports.

A flycam is the shorter version of a flying equipment that has a camera attached to it for filming and taking pictures from a height.

Seeing the images captured by a flycam can be a unique and novel experience.

Having been invited to film from a height, views of more than 1,000 people trying to arrange a logo to establish a record, Phan Duc Tho, a member of the Vietnamflycam group and some others set off with two big suitcases that contain some tools and machines.

Two flycams take turns to fly overhead, with their six small propellers buzzing like bees. From a height of more than 40 metres, the camera is able to beautifully capture views of the 1,000 people working below.

Tho said four persons have to be recruited to operate the flycam, with one person each controlling the flycam, the cinecamera, supervising the flycam's safety and another acting as stage director.

When the flycam is in the air, the flycam operator moves it to the required position, the camera films the necessary images and the stage director determine thes picture frames, Tho pointed out.

For difficult scenery, the group has to take five to 10 shots.

"The most difficult aspect is to keep the flycam from shaking. Calculating the wind direction and levels is also an important task," he said.

Flying conditions: Before using the flycam, an operator must check the wind speed, wind direction and air humidity to ensure that the flycam is stable. — VNS Photos Ngo Binh

Tran Duc Vinh, a member of Tho's group, said that to operate the flycam, the operator must practise continuously for four months to a year to understand every aspect of how a flycam functions.

"The flycam controller needs to possess prior knowledge about aviation, physics, calculation and photography," said Vinh.

"An operator can get really creative with a flycam, take beautiful shots, photos and capture the overall scenery from a height, which no other equipment can do," he added.

Flycams can also be used to shoot in the forest, at sea, or made to pass through leafy canopies and lawns or venture into waves, which normal cameras cannot access easily.

"Seeing pictures of areas that are full of obstacles and difficult to access, such as rivers, bays and mountains, people can understand that the film is taken by a flycam," said Vinh.

Tho said there are different groups of flycam players operating currently in HCM City, but only a few of them are professionals.

People, who are interested in technology in HCM City, have welcomed the flycam as part of a new and creative trend. Its use is considered a high society perk, because the cheapest set of flycam costs about US$5,000, and some expensive models can cost up to tens of thousand of dollars.

Tho said flycam operators in Viet Nam are now trying to manufacture the simpler parts of the flycam themselves, and only buying the complicated parts, such as the global positioning system (GPS) equipment from foreign countries.

The GPS equipment is programmed automatically so that whenever it loses control, the flycam can easily return to the point of departure.

Each flycam has four to eight propellers. The more propellers it has, the more stable it is and can bear the wind's influence.

A flycam's frame is made from two main materials: graphene and aluminium. Graphene is remarkably strong and weighs very little, is about 100 times stronger than steel, and conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency.

The higher you go...

Each flycam's value can range from millions of dong to US$60,000. If it falls, it immediately stops functioning, and the investment can be lost just because of a small mistake.

The Son, a member of the flycam group in District 7, HCM City, recalled an incident where he was filming some scenery in a rural area from a considerable height. Local residents had warned him about three flycams having already fallen into the local river before.

"Hearing this made me very nervous. But I was lucky to complete my work without any problems," he said.

Multi-functional: The flycam worth VND300 million (US$14,200) of Phan Duc Tho's Vietnamflycam group. It can be used to shoot in the forest, at sea or made to pass through leafy canopies.

Son said that before using the flycam, an operator must check the wind speed, wind direction and air humidity to ensure that the flycam is stable.

Each group of flycam operators must register in advance for their work, said Tho.

One of Tho's friends had let the flycam venture into a military and restricted area, following which all his equipment was seized and he ended up paying a big fine.

"Each flycam operator should also know how to fix any technical glitches in the equipment," he added.

For instance, when the equipment loses its GPS connection, the operator should turn off the equipment immediately so it returns to the point of departure.

Professor Nguyen Thien Tong, the former chairman of aviation technology at the HCM City University of Technology, said operators should also be aware of the areas, where such equipment is banned so as not to impact aviation security. — VNS

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