A drone can give you unique and epic shots for your projects. However there are times when using a drone just isn't possible or practical. The area you are filming in might have laws preventing you from using a drone. Other places, such as dense woods might make it impossible to fly a drone safely. Then there are events with large crowds where flying a drone presents safety and even legal issues. If you are filming near airports, you will likely be in a no-fly zone for drones. So how can you get smooth overhead shots in these situations? Today we'll look at an alternative to drones which can come in very handy on your projects.
We captured the shots in the video above without using a drone. To do this we used a neat little device we heard about only recently. Using this device, along with some other gear, we've put together a great camera motion system that can be used where drones cannot.
Meet the Wiral LITE
Wiral LITE's timelapse mode. Timelapse shot on a GoPro HERO 7 Black.
The height of your shot is limited to the height of anchor points available, so no, you can't get a shot flying high over a city, but you can get much higher and smoother footage than you would typically be able to. As a rule, you want to be fairly close in on your subject anyways so that the audience knows who or what the subject is. The Wiral will let you get great, smooth overhead shots while still remaining close to your subject. It can take your camera through tree tops where no other system can go.
The Wiral LITE can also be useful for more than just overhead shots. You can use it for doing long slider shots across a great distance. You could use it in sport mode for something like getting a smooth profile shot while keeping up with a bicycle or runner, especially on narrow trails where it wouldn't be practical to run along beside them. As with any motion system, you can find tons of creative uses for it when you use your imagination.
The Wiral LITE comes with a swivel head which can be used for mounting the camera of your choice and positioning it to capture your shot. With the 3.3 pound payload it can carry, the Wiral can accommodate lighter DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, in addition to GoPros, 360 cameras, and smartphones. You might not have a need to pan, tilt, or roll your camera in every situation, but being able to do so while the Wiral is in motion lets you get way more creative with your shots. With the Wiral by itself, there isn't a way to control the camera remotely. However, with the system we've put together, we are able to remotely control the pan, tilt, and roll of the camera while the Wiral is in motion, as seen in a few shots during the video above. So how can you do this?
Using a Gimbal with the Wiral
Filming a motorcycle with the Wiral mounted with a gimbal.
Smartphone cameras may not give you a wide enough field of view to suit your needs on their own though. This is where a set of smartphone universal lenses can come in handy. We use an inexpensive set of universal smartphone clip-on lenses when we need a different look or field of view in our Wiral shots. You can get more expensive and elaborate smartphone lenses if you want as well.
If you are using a phone lens that causes vignette, it is a good idea to film in 4K so that you retain more detail when scaling the footage in post. We don't use smartphone lenses every time we film with the Wiral LITE, but they are a nice tool to have when you need them!
You can also use the Wiral LITE with a 360 camera which would let you reframe your shot to face any direction in post-production. If you're not familiar with it, 360 footage can be difficult to work with though. Using a gimbal may be the easiest route to take, depending on your personal preference. If you do want to use the Wiral LITE with a 360 camera, we recommend using the GoPro MAX.
The Wiral LITE is a great alternative to a drone for getting smooth overhead motion shots. It may not be able to reach the massive heights a drone can, but it will help you capture shots well above the height you could otherwise reach in situations where using a drone isn't an option. Using your imagination and other accessories like a gimbal, you can find many other creative uses for the Wiral as well.
If you are in the Middle Georgia or surrounding areas, you can rent our Wiral LITE for your productions!