Beautiful Scotland – a bird’s eye view

Regular readers of our blog might have noticed a recurring theme of nature and technology. So, when we saw freelance filmmaker John Duncan’s short film, Beautiful Scotland, a stunning product of this relationship, we asked John to say a few words about the making of his film for Scotland’s Nature.

Wherever we live in Scotland, be it in Edinburgh as I do, down in Dumfries or up in Inverness, we’re fortunate to have some truly magnificent sites on our doorstep.

lighthouse - John duncanOver the last eight months or so I’ve been putting together shots for my aerial show reel, Beautiful Scotland. This has involved traveling around the country and getting up at offensively early times to catch the best light. I wanted to make a film which really shows what a beautiful country Scotland is and I’ve been utterly blown away the past few days at the response to it. Social media has enabled me to very quickly share the video with a wide audience and it’s also allowed people to instantly give me their feedback.

tentLight was a very important factor when making the film. I found a great website called Suncalc, which projects a chart onto Google Maps showing the angle at which the sun will rise at specific times. This was really helpful when planning where I needed to be and when. Walkhighlands was a great resource for researching routes up into the hills and fortunately the Met Office weather forecasts were pretty much spot on, so there weren’t too many wasted trips.

suncalcThe film was shot using a quite incredible Quadcopter, a DJI Phantom 2, with a GoPro 3+. Before I could use it for commercial purposes, I had to get my Civil Aviation Authority unmanned aircraft qualification, known as a BNUC-s. The CAA regards Quadcopters as aircraft but they are more commonly known as drones.

DroneThe Quadcopter allowed me to get incredible shots that would otherwise be impossible. Due to its size it has the ability to reach places impossible for a full sized helicopter. The drone has a flight time of 15 minutes and with the GoPro on a stabilised gimbal, it remains totally smooth even with the wind. From the ground I am able to see what the camera is filming and other information, such as battery life, distance from take-off and speed.

Scotland 25.Still008Making this film has been an incredible experience and most of the shots involved some kind of adventure: from camping on top of Sgurr a’ Mhaim as the sun sets, driving overnight to Skye’s Old Man of Stor to catch the sun rise and stomping through fields, chasing after the Jacobite Steam Train. The film also includes shots of the magnificent Kelpies, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the Wallace Monument in Stirling, Ben Nevis, Dunbar, Rannoch Moor, and some closer to my home in Edinburgh.

Click on the image below to watch the film. I really hope you like it and if you want to leave feedback, or if you have any burning questions, you’ll find a way to contact me here.


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