Hovercam inching closer to reality! Hovercar still years late.

A while back, we told you about Parrot’s AR Drone Quadracopter, an iPhone controlled flying thing-a-ma-bob. One of its coolest features was the ability to wirelessly transmit video from two onboard cameras directly to the controlling iPhone.  In other words, it’s a hovercam!

We speculated that under the right circumstances this amazing gizmo could be used to fly in, over and through just about any set or location in order to get relatively inexpensive aerial footage.

But that fantasy was cut short when a Parrot representative told us that they would not be developing any apps that could record the Drone’s transmitted video.  However, since then, Parrot released an SDK, allowing other developers to write apps for use with the Drone. And wouldn’t you know, someone wrote an app to record the transmitted video!

The app is called Flight Recorder.

There’s good news and bad news.  Bad news first:

The recordings are limited to 320×240 resolution at 15 frames a second (the same frame rate that’s transmitted from the Drone). There’s probably certain conditions under which these specs are useable, but clearly the AR Drone and Flight Recorder are not quite ready to collect professional footage. However, I can see using this setup for pre-visualizations and tests prior to renting expensive flying camera gear.

The good news is that the app is only $4.99. So, if you’ve already dropped $300 on the Drone, I can’t think of a good reason not to spend another five bucks for the ability to record potentially useful aerial footage.  The app has some pretty strict requirements, so check ’em out before making the purchase.

You can watch our full CES coverage of the AR Drone right here.

You can pick up your own AR Drone over here.

You can view a bunch of YouTube videos from Flight Recorder users right here.  I’ve embedded one example below.

Now, about those hovercars…


More to explore

Man presenting on stage with a microphone and a projection screen in the background, focusing on Mobile Filmmaking.

Video: The HHH Mobile Filmmaking presentation at LACPUG

Just in case you missed my Mobile Filmmaking presentation at the Los Angeles Creative Pro User Group back in July, here’s a (low angle) video of the whole enchilada! It’s PACKED with apps and accessories you need to know! Check it out! And as always, if you dig it, share it!

Smartphone mounted on a tripod using a New GLIF clamp holder for stability.

The New GLIF tripod mount looks awesome!

UPDATE – MAY 30, 2017: Having successfully wrapped up its Kickstarter campaign, the GLIF is now available for purchase directly from the Studio Neat website! The GLIF will run you $28, while the full set with hand grip and wrist strap will set you back $55. The GLIF, one of the first iPhone camera accessories is still one of the best. And it’s about to get even better! Just in case you’ve been avoiding every article ever written about mobile filmmaking, the GLIF is a pocket-sized tripod mount for your iPhone.


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3 Responses

  1. Hey, Taz.

    Firstly, I love this website! And thanks for the pointer to Palmsounds.com, too.

    Have you seen the Airhogs HowkEye? It’s a cheap flying camera that takes five minutes of 320 x 240 video. I’m not sur eof the format, and you don’t get a view finder like you do with the Parrot. But hey, cameras in cheap cheap toys is interesting! Kids these days…


  2. Hi Matthew,

    I just took a look at the Hawk Eye. Very cool little gizmo! Thanks for the heads-up.

    Seems like it’s got a few restrictions of it’s own, but for the price, it looks cool as hell. You guys can check it out here: Airhogs.com.


  3. Yeah, I got one for christmas(for myself of course), and yes, the video quality is pretty horrible… but good news!
    It has enough payload capacity to fly a Hero GoPro HD. Lots of people on AR Drone Flyers forums about how best to mount… and there’s some pretty good test footage out there. Biggest problem is the way the drone flys it tilts to move so your shot is constantly tilting up and down(forward and back) and dutching left and right. But cool nonetheless.