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Upper Cut Productions Talk Drone Tech

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With over 10 years' experience flying drones commercially; award-winning Upper Cut Productions is well placed to talk about the ins and outs of aerial filming at the top end of the industry.

"It's been a long road of constant development, investment and hard work..." says Chris, founder of the company, "...but we're now in very exciting times with new drone and camera technology emerging on a regular basis. We've recently acquired the amazing MoVI Pro gimbal from Freefly Systems to pair with our ALEXA Mini and ALTA 8 – our flagship aerial filming setup."

Chris firmly believes the key to success lies in the creativity and skills of the pilot and cameramen behind the operation. "It's relatively easy to fly a drone these days, but executing complex and well-composed shots under pressure is vital for discerning clients... I'm a painful perfectionist on all matters of the business, but we've gained a great reputation and a lot of satisfied clients as a result."

Things have come a long way since the company's first exploits into aerial photography in 2004 using helium balloons and home-built quadcopters. Chris continues: "I remember using a basic octocopter in 2011 to film a Take That music video ('Love, Love') and our anti-vibration system was a block of foam and some rubber bands! A real turning point was seeing the incredible MoVI M10 being used at NAB in 2013."

Chris placed an order and was one of the first in the UK to receive this technology. Clients benefited from an unprecedented level of camera stability, both on land and in the air, which secured regular work and more cash to reinvest.

The current arsenal of equipment includes the full range of MoVI camera mounts, ALTA drones from Freefly Systems, the DJI Inspire 2 with X5s camera, a converted Segway for smooth tracking shots and a host of professional cameras. "All this kit can be quite a burden on the bank account," Chris continues with a grimace, "but it's an integral part of our business plan. We strive to craft beautiful imagery with powerful equipment and creative talent."

Upper Cut Productions have become known for their quality and innovation and were early adopters of heavy-lift drones capable of flying the RED Epic and, more recently, their own Alexa Mini. Productions that require this level of camera quality also expect a slick operation because time is money on location.

"I've worked with these guys a couple of times... they were really quick and knew their stuff which was essential with our hectic shooting schedule," Paul Dale, 1st AD, Fungus The Bogeyman and Agatha Raisin.

It seems there are hundreds of drone operators emerging and with that, an increasing number of stories about accidents and close calls. Upper Cut Productions have a dedicated flight planning team headed by Jordan Brooks who generally handles enquires, permits and logistics for all jobs.

"We take public safety and legal operation very seriously," Jordan explains. "The potential damage or injury caused from a drone falling from any height could be life changing."

Upper Cut have been granted a higher level of license by the CAA, known as an Operating Safety Case (OSC) which is a permission for aerial work in congested areas with less restrictions. Jordan continues: "The CAA have known us for a long time and our application was granted on the back of our clean record and trusted relationship. They know we are really thorough with maintenance and safety procedures." This license has allowed the team to undertake a lot of work in congested cities around the country.

"We are so impressed with the aerial and MoVI footage that Upper Cut filmed for the new series of Trauma Doctors in London – professional and creative, highly recommended," Claire Simpson, Series Producer, 'Trauma Doctors, Series 3'.

The company's credits are extensive and sometimes obscure which fuels excitement in the office. From an explosive Bollywood production on the Top Gear test track to battling 30mph winds on Cornish cliffs for an Agatha Christie drama, there's never a dull moment. They were even treated to some live comedy from Jack Whitehall whilst filming his latest movie.

"From the initial enquiry to filming on location in Cornwall and Pembroke, the guys from Upper Cut were very reliable and the footage was solid," Brett Wilson, Production Manager, 'Bad Education The Movie'.

The flagship service of the company has always been aerial filming and photography but some of the many other services they offer include time lapse, virtual tours, 360 filming, full production and equipment hire.

It's clear to see that Chris and his growing team at Upper Cut Productions is adamant to stay ahead of the game. For a full insight, go behind the scenes to their Facebook, Instagram or website. They're very approachable.
01159 242646
Instagram – uppercutproductions

This article is also available to read at BFV online here, page 29.

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