DRONE FILMING IN THE FINNISH ARCTIC CIRCLE
BMW Winter Driving Experience, Reindeer Ride & Ice Fishing in the Finnish Arctic Circle
Back in March we joined the BMW i8 pure impulse team just outside of Rovaniemi, Finland for an event based around an ice driving experience. The instructors split up the guests and took them through a series of manoeuvres including drifting, oversteering and emergency braking before taking them around the track to experience a hot lap. Getting in the car with the instructors for the hot lap was an unforgettable experience and mind boggling how the instructors can slide and drift around so much yet still seem to have total control. After a day of instruction the guests were pitted against one another for a timed hot lap of their own in which all of the cars miraculously returned in one piece!
The final day in Rovaniemi included a reindeer ride in which the guests were towed through the rugged Lapland landscape via sled whilst wrapped up in blankets. At the end of the reindeer ride guests were shown around the farm and given a detailed look into the life of a reindeer farmer, the hardships involved and the traditional methods of the trade that are still being used today. After a short snowmobile ride over a massive frozen lake it was time to give ice fishing a go, any fish caught were quickly cooked up on a BBQ.
The Equipment Used:
- DJI Inspire 2 (Shooting in 4K Apple Pro Res 422)
- Freefly Movi Pro (Equipped with the Sony A7R III)
- Ronin S (Equipped with the Panasonic GH4)
- Panasonic GH5 (Balanced up on the Ronin S switching between 24mm or 50mm lens options)
- Sony A7R III (Balanced up on the Movi Pro with the Zero D Laowa 12mm)
We were relatively limited in terms of what kit we could bring so decided to keep it as run and gun as possible. Our Sony FS7 II would have made a nice addition on a slider and tripod but we thought it was best to leave the beast at home.
5 Tips for Aerial Filming & Drone Photography In Cold Climates
1 – Dress Appropriately
For the most part you’re going to be stood still whilst operating and you can guarantee the cold is going to start creeping in whilst the aircraft is mid flight, we recommend ensuring your team is comfortable before powering up and taking off. If you don’t have all the equipment and don’t want to shell out a load of cash for it you could always try renting. We opted to rent our kit including a down coat, insulated Salopettes, thermals, gloves and boots which cost us around £115 per person. A pair of touch screen gloves are a must combined with a pair of mitts which can be pulled on easily whilst you wait to fly.
2 – Keep Equipment Warm
Now you have yourself wrapped up it’s time to consider what equipment might need to be kept warm. We aimed to ensure that all of our electronics and batteries were kept as warm as possible but our main focus was on the Inspire 2 and relevant equipment. For the duration of our trip we hired a car which was a vital part of keeping our equipment at a suitable temperature. For reasons unknown one of our Inspire 2’s doesn’t like to link with the controllers when its below 0°C so we end up sitting around for up to 5 minutes waiting for the components to heat up before a stable link is established. To avoid this embarrassing scenario and having to wait for the batteries to warm up we had the equipment ready to fly in the boot of the car with the heaters on full blast. When we were ready to land and change batteries we kept the aircraft and equipment powered on and hot swapped the batteries.
If you aren’t familiar with the term hot swapping it involves swapping the used batteries for a fresh pair without powering off the aircraft. Each battery can be removed individually from the Inspire 2 which allows us to swap the batteries out without cutting power to the aircraft. If you are expecting to hot swap and fly right away make sure the new batteries are pre heated!
3 – Moisture & Propeller Icing
If its snowing we wouldn’t recommend flying as the flakes will likely melt when coming into contact with the aircraft and seep into the electronics. Make sure you bring a towel or cloth to wipe the aircraft down after each flight not forgetting to pay special attention to the props as any build up of moisture could result in icing which can alter flight characteristics or bring the aircraft down altogether. Depending on the level of snowfall its always a good idea to split a batteries flight time into chunks i.e. land after 6 minutes and check the aircraft over, wipe the airframe down, check for icing on the blades and launch again. This isn’t always possible as shoots can become demanding quickly but it could be the difference between finishing the shoot and cutting it short if you don’t have a backup system available.
4 – Drone Batteries & Flight Time
Cold weather limits the chemical reaction that takes place in your batteries so be sure to limit your flights accordingly. We were landing at the 40% mark to ensure we had plenty of redundancy should a battery fail. The TB50 batteries that are compatible with the Inspire 2 have a built in heater function but be aware that this uses power from the batteries which will result in less flight time. If you are using non DJI batteries like the Tattu/GensAce it’s going to be worth purchasing some sort of insulation for that batteries to sit in whilst mounted onto the airframe. The chemical reaction that takes place in the batteries during discharge will warm the batteries up during use but any additional thermal protection is going to keep them operating smoothly.
5 – Camera Settings & Filters
Check your white balance through the duration of the shoot, this can be adjusted in post but this is something any professional should aim to nail on a daily basis. Do not underestimate the power of a polarizing filter as this will massively help to reduce glare on the snow and ice and help to reduce overexposed highlights. We would recommend having a selection of filters available that are both Neutral Density (ND) and Polarised (PL) ranging from 4-64 so you have an option for whatever the weather.
Check out the final edit linked below.