Three years ago, filmmaker Michael Vanarey was frustrated that his day job in the financial industry kept him from pursuing a growing desire to tell visual stories through photo and video. So, just like that, Vanarey quit and embarked on a now 36-month journey around the globe capturing the beauty that he sees primarily by using his DJI Phantom 4 drone. In the process, he became Creative Director of Roam Travel PR, a travel content and PR company. In the last half of 2016, his excursion totaled over 30 hours of footage which he was able to edit down to one pretty amazing montage.
Vanarey gives credit to the camera system as well as being willing to flying with a cinematic mindset.
When watching Vanarey’s skillful cinematic take on aerial photo and video, it’s hard to believe his initial background was in the corporate world working in real estate economics. Michael began to crave something more out of life and packed his bags before heading to over 21 countries. All he needed was his camera, a close friend or two, and a vision.
We sat down with Michael to talk about the work that went into capturing this film.
How has the addition of a drone changed your creative process?
Wow, where do I start. The DJI Phantom 4 has taken my production value to the next level – no pun intended! It’s allowed me to capture another perspective that is critical to my storytelling by allowing me to get to places my legs simply can’t. The drone ticks all the boxes and fits in seamlessly with my Sony a7 footage on the ground.
I use the DJI Phantom 4 as a flying camera platform not a toy. I cinematically compose a flight path and have a creative vision before I take off. I also sometimes remove the blades to handhold the drone to get that steady shot as well – It nearly replaces the DJI Ronin M!
Where do you plan to take the DJI Phantom 4 next?
I am currently in Hawaii with my company Roam Travel PR shooting for some Resorts for the upcoming month. I am super excited to have just ordered the new Phantom 4 Pro with the larger sensor and extra obstacle avoidance! Pumped to test it out on the incredible coastline of Maui and mountainous terrain of Kauai. After Hawaii I am off to Cuba, Argentina, Colombia and Peru in the spring. I can never say no to a Mediterranean summer and then I am off to Africa and Iceland in the Autumn.
I will hopefully capture plenty of footage to add to my drone montage of the last 6 months that’s up on my Vimeo channel.
Any advice to those who are considering following in your footsteps and travel with a drone?
While traveling, I always check the legality of importing a drone. Morocco, for example, will confiscate on arrival. I always bring the DJI Phantom 4 as carry on with the LiPo batteries out and at a ~50% charge for safety. When passing through security always act friendly and be confident in what you’re carrying. I have a rain coat for the styrofoam box incase I get caught out in the rain. I also have put stickers on the Phantom 4 itself with my contact details in case I lose it.
While it doesn’t suit my professional needs now, I highly recommend the DJI Mavic Pro for its portability – it can fit in your pocket and pump out some seriously quality footage.
While on location and ready to fly, be prepared and 100% confident in safety. Properly manage and cycle through your LiPo batteries to ensure their reliability. There is nothing worse than crashing on location! I bought an ND filter kit to slow down my shutter speeds in bright lighting environments. It has been the biggest step I took towards getting a cinematic shot.
I record in smaller clips to highlight what I want to record and don’t film meaningless footage – be clinical in what you capture. When recording I am super careful about adjusting my Yaw (left stick on the controller) as it’s the fastest way to make a great shot seem amateur.
We really appreciate Vanarey and Roam Travel for sharing his film and photos with us, so we gave him a vote in the current Woodbox film competition. Check it out and give him a vote here!
Check out more from Vanarey on his website, Facebook, and Instagram