How to get rid of vibrations in your multi rotor helicopter

If you want to snap images or record video from your quadcopter it needs to be as vibration free as possible. When you manage that you get shots like these:

But when you start googling you get the same answer all over:

1. Balance your propellers
2. Balance your motors

But I did that:

And I still had vibrations, blurry stills and jelly-looking video. After a lot of trial and error found the solution.

It doesn’t matter how much you balance your props if they’re the wrong props. You need high quality very stiff props for aerial photography (AP). So, on the same quad, with perfectly balanced props I had lots of vibrations with one set of props and no vibrations with another.

I have had best results with Gaui props and Graupner E-props.

In addition to this I made a dampening system. First I tried to mount the camera directly on a small plate that was mounted on the quad with rubber dampers. That din’t work very well:

(Dampers = red)

Then I made a long extra board under the quad. Mounted it to the quad using four rubber dampeners and mounted both the camera and the battery on that one. Wow! No vibrations with any of my cameras!

(Dampers = red)

Update:
And this is how video looks like if you don’t limit the vibrations.

How to get rid of vibrations in your multi rotor helicopter

One year in 90 seconds

Please digg this story here.

Link to the video in HD on YouTube.

If you like these videos then follow me on twitter: @eirikso – and you’ll be the first to know about other projects that I might do.

The story

All through 2008 I snapped still images from the same spot on my balcony to make a sort of time lapse video showing one year passing by. The video was hugely successful and has close to two million views on YouTube in addition to about one million on Vimeo and hundreds of thousands of views and downloads from other web sites.

Last year I bought a new camera. The Canon 5D Mark II. In addition to excellent quality stills you can also shoot HD video with that camera. So I decided to do the same thing all over again. But this time I recorded 30 second video clips each time. My idea was that it would be possible to dissolve between the videos to get the same kind of time lapse effect, but this time with motion all the way. Snow falling, wind blowing etc.

2009 is over and I have now put all the clips I recorded through the year into a couple of videos.

I recorded clips with a 15mm fisheye, a 24mm wide angle and a 50mm lens. I’ve made three different versions. The first one is the one at the top of this article. Shot with the 15mm fisheye and “defished” using Fisheye Hemi in Photoshop. To do that I exported the video as an image sequence and did a batch job in Photoshop to run the fisheye hemi filter and some cropping.

The 50mm gives a closer look at the trees and I decided to make a longer video that gives a better view of how nature evolves with that footage. I ended up with 120 seconds.

Link to the video in HD on YouTube.

The last video is a version from the 24mm footage. That’s the short one. One year in 60 seconds…

Link to the video in HD on YouTube.

Download the full quality versions through BitTorrent:

All the videos are available on Mininova for download through BitTorrent in HD:

24 mm – One Year in 60 seconds (1280×720 30P)
15 mm – One Year in 90 seconds (1280×720 30P)
50 mm – One Year in 120 seconds (1280×720 30P)

How To-video (english) (1280×720 30P)

How did you do it?

The way I did it is actually quite simple. I found a spot on my balcony where I could place the camera in the exact same spot each time. Then I recorded video clips at irregular intervals. More or less once a week all thorugh 2009. More often during spring and autumn and not that often during summer and winter. All the videos are then put together using lots of dissolves.

It’s easier to explain the process in a video, so here it is:

Link to the video in HD on YouTube.

The audio

The sound was simply recorded with the Canon 5D Mark II as well. And left as it was recorded on all the clips in the video.

Can I use the videos in my projects?

Yes. All the videos are licensed with a Creative Commons License. To be exact: by attribution, share alike, non commercial.

Creative Commons License
This work by Eirik Solheim is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Norway License.

But what about commercial use?

If you want to use the video commercially I’ve decided to test a feature called Files Forever. At my hosting company, Dreamhost. You can buy a royalty-free, eirikso.com-bug free, totally clean full quality version of the file. It’s a ridiculous $99,- and the money will cover parts of my hosting fees for this website. Buy the files here:

One year in 60 seconds (24 mm)
One year in 90 seconds (15 mm)
One year in 120 seconds (50 mm)

Yeah. But I want to buy the original footage. The files directly from your 5D. I want to edit this myself. No problem. Please contact me at:
eirikso (at) eirikso (dot) com

Where was this filmed?

In Oslo, Norway

I don’t believe you, this is fake.

If you think the video was made in post production using fancy graphics software… Well, that’s your problem. Not mine.

I want to make something amazing from the raw clips

Contact me, and we’ll see what we can do.

I have other questions

Use the comments, so that I can answer to all the other people with the same questions.

…and by the way: if you’re into geocaching I’ve actually placed a cache in the area you see in the videos.

One year in 90 seconds

Thunderstorm in Oslo

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=5443733&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=01AAEA&fullscreen=1

Thunderstorm in Oslo – July 2009 from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

We’ve had 30 degrees Celsius and fantastic weather for the last couple of weeks. But today we had the most serious thunderstorm I’ve seen so far in the five years we’ve been living in this flat. A couple of minutes later and I have learned that my 5D Mark II survives huge amounts of rain. And it is capable of capturing lightning in HD…

At the end of the video I helped the storm stopping using a simple dissolve…

Thunderstorm in Oslo

HDR Timelapsevideo

I’ve written about the HDR effect before. And I’ve written about timelapse several times

Per Erik Sviland just published a video that combines the stuff. Timelapse and HDR. That high dynamic range effect usually just add an intense feeling of something kitschy. But because it really enhance the clouds it works well in a video like this.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=4844110&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=01AAEA&fullscreen=1

Gruda/Ullandhaug HDR Timelapse in HD from Per Erik Sviland on Vimeo.

Per Erik has also been kind enough to include a nice how-to explaining how he made this video on his blog.

HDR Timelapsevideo

Passing a subway station

You need:
1. One train
2. A subway station
3. The Canon 5D Mark II
4. And a Canon 15mm f2.8 Fisheye

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3946951&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=01AAEA&fullscreen=1
Passing a subway station from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

Place the camera firmly against the window. Start video recording just before you approach the station. Add a stupid sound from the default Apple audio library.

Exact location: Nationalteateret station, Oslo, Norway.

…and you can click through to Vimeo to watch the video in HD.

Passing a subway station

Five seconds in 5 seconds

An excellent parody of my “One year in 40 seconds“.

Direct link to the video on YouTube.

And if you dare, you might want to have a look at this version as well.

I’m also working on a couple of articles about my experience around having a video roam around the internet. With millions of views and thousands of comments. I’ll give you statistics, and helpful advice on what to do and what not to do.

And by the way: I’ll never overwhelm you with articles here, so I can safely recommend subscribing to my RSS-feed or email update.

Update:
I’ve also had several questions about adding music to my video. Here’s one example.

Five seconds in 5 seconds

One year worth of images give some amazing videos

Update:
I made three new videos of 2009 with my 5D Mark II last year.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2639782&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=01AAEA&fullscreen=1
One year in 40 seconds from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

So far I’ve made two videos of the images I describe in this article. The one here at the top and another two minutes version. Read on to learn how I did this, to see the other video and to download the videos and images in high quality. And if you want to watch this video here at the top in HD quality you have to click through to Vimeo.

The story

Back in 2005 I did an experiment shooting images out of my window for one year. It turned out pretty cool and in the end of 2007 I decided to do the same. But in much better quality.

seasons1024

So I started shooting images with my Canon 400D. From the same spot each time, but not through my window. I found a spot outside that gave more or less the same framing each time I placed my camera. So, I went out on our balcony snapping some images at pretty irregular intervals all through 2008 .

20080414-dsc07821

20080414-dsc07819

Each time I snapped the following images:

3 exposures @10mm (Canon EF-S 10-22 F3.5-4.5 USM)
3 exposures @17mm (Canon EF-S 17-55 f2.8 IS USM)
3 exposures @55mm (Canon EF-S 17-55 f2.8 IS USM)

All images shot in RAW. The three exposures where: normal, +2 EV and -2 EV.

In addition to the images I decided to record some audio at the same place. Using my Canon S2 IS and my Canon HF10 I recorded simple background sounds trough 2008 as well. Not with exact connections to each image. More with a focus on getting audio from winter, spring, summer and autumn.

All together giving me a pretty decent range of material to put together some experiments.

Then what? The videos…

Link to this video in HD on YouTube.

At the top of this article you find a 40 second version that show one year. Using the 10mm wide angle images. Right above you find a two minute version made from the 55mm zoomed in images.

First I used Photomatix to make HDR images of the ones I decided to use. Mostly because the HDR effect makes the images flat so that the difference in light and shadows won’t disturb the transitions in my video.

Then I used Photoshop to align all the images. Placing the camera manually at the same spot each time won’t give the exact same spot. So I needed some fine adjustment. Photoshop does this. Here’s how:

First load the images you have chosen into layers by using “File->Scripts->Load files into stack
ps_seasons_01

When you have found all your files make sure to check “Attempt to automatically align…
ps_seasons_02

Give your computer huge amounts of time and get back when it has finished. Now Photoshop has adjusted all the images and put them on separate layers in one file. The next thing you have to do is to crop the image. Because of the adjustments the images are not the exact same size. A crop will do the trick.
ps_seasons_03

When the computer is done cropping you export the layers to files. “File->Scripts->Export Layers to files
ps_seasons_04

Now you have a folder with a bunch of images with the same framing. I decided to do simple dissolves between them.

fcexpress_edit

And ended up with a project in Final Cut Express that looked like the image above. I didn’t want one dissolve at a time. I wanted to make some kind of flow where one dissolve is taken over by the new one before it is finished. As you can see from the timeline my dissolves overlap.

The free downloads

First of all: please comment here or contact me if you use the images. I’ll link to all cool projects made from these files!

All the images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license. In other words: Use them non commercially as long as you give me credit and as long as you share the work you do under the same license.

For commercial use please contact me. Or you can simply buy non exclusive royalty free use by purchasing the full quality file here: OneYear40seconds1920x1080.30p.H264.mp4
It’s $99,- and the money will be spent on hosting for my projects.

For commercial use of the full quality non branded still images you can buy the complete package of high resolution stills here: EiriksoStills.zip

indexflickr

And where are the files?

Images:
10mm wide angle aligned HDR images in this flickr set.
All the images from that Flickr set in a ZIP file.
55mm zoomed in aligned HDR images in this flickr set.
All the images from that Flickr set in a ZIP file.

Audio:
The audio as WAV in a ZIP file

Video:
40 second movie, 8 mbit/s H264, 1280×720 25p
Two minutes movie, 8 mbit/s H264, 1280×720 25p

But I know what I’m doing and want the full resolution RAW files to make something really cool!

Please comment here or contact me and I’ll provide you with what you want. RAW files, video footage, more audio from the same spot etc…

Whats’s next?

Eh. Well. I just upgraded my camera to a Canon 5D Mark II. Giving me a possibility of getting even higher quality footage from this nice view of some trees… Guess I’ll snap some images on my balcony through 2009 as well. :-)

One year worth of images give some amazing videos