Wild Scotland and painting with light: amazingly accomplished drone footage

Written by Simon Wyndham

John Duncan / RedShark NewsWild Scotland by John Duncan

Light makes great images – cameras just record them. This concept is beautifully illustrated by John Duncan's Wild Scotland.

A cinematographer friend of mine has his own saying, that the only thing that makes a good picture is great light. As RedShark Editor-in-Chief David Shapton reminded me the other day, many of the great artists said that they painted light, not objects.

Of utmost importance

Light is the one defining thing that will determine how beautiful your imagery is, what mood it sets and how polished your production will look. Light, whether it is nicely set up artificial light or one which has been created by nature, all takes effort to take advantage of.

When it comes to studio set-ups, the number of lights you have is immaterial. Some of the most wonderful set-ups have been done with the minimum of lighting gear. But it is how those lights are used that will determine how successful you are. And that takes skill and time.

Likewise, when it comes to obtaining the best exterior shots, you will need the patience to allow nature to do its work. More often than not, this will mean very early mornings or a lot of physical work to find the best spots.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than John Duncan’s Wild Scotland, a short video montage captured entirely with a DJI Inspire 1 and Phantom 3. If he wanted to, he could lament the lack of bitrate on the recording system. But instead, he just gets on with things and captures beautiful imagery – the light, the composition and the sounds taking precedence over any minor quibbles about codecs.

The best tool...

Could John have used a RED Epic or even a Sony A7 for the video? Certainly, but then he would have had to have hiked in to the mountains with a much larger aerial system, with bigger batteries, along with all his camping equipment. The best tool is the one that you have with you and the Inspire 1 and Phantom 3 were ideally suited to this task.

This was topped off by some excellent, subtle sound design, which really brings the piece to life, and it really shows that no camera is a substitute for skill and tenacity.

Tags: Production

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