Superman Flies Through Los Angeles With A Gopro

What happens when you combine a GoPro Hero +3, a DJI Phantom II, an actor dressed as Superman, and some clever video editing? How about one awesome simulation of what it must be like to be Superman as he flies through Los Angeles. If you were upset with our recent Phantom 2 Gopro height test last week, you are definitely not going to want to watch this video. Be sure to check out Sam and Niko's behind the scenes video to see exactly how they came up with the concept and the creative problems they had to overcome to produce this fun video.

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That was so awesome!

I knew superman is real!!!
Awesome video!

Lee Christiansen's picture

Despite the wonderful shots, I have an increasing concern when I see these things being used over often densely populated areas. No kit is flawless and I wonder what the repercussions would be if there were to be a mid-flight failure. GPS-return-to-base isn't a huge amount of use when 3-4kg of dead weight drops on a person or moving vehicle.

We're getting an increased number of "film makers" or photographers wishing to explore the benefits of economical flight, but how many of these operators have received proper training, (in both flight AND safety protocols,) how many of these truly explore the safety risks to people and property under their flights, and how many have specific insurance. I wonder how many of these flights have medical assistance in attendance or have gained permission (or even sought advice,) from local authorities.

The principle seems to be "we want to so we can" and "don't worry there won't be an accident."

If these shots were to be achieved by a professional crew then all manner of precautions would be taken - and this in part is why this sort of thing is complex and expensive.

In my time as a pro broadcast cameraman I've been asked to cut corners in efforts to achieve near Hollywood shots. Hanging out of moving cars / helicopters, cameras over busy motorway bridges, jib arm use in public areas, steadicam shots in densely populated shopping malls... Each time there has been full risk assessment and a suitable team placed / employed to ensure the absolute safety of public who haven't asked to take any risks by being near our efforts to get a shot. This costs money and a bigger team than might be expected.

Fstoppers needs to take care posting these "awesome" videos for whilst at first we may all marvel at the technical possibilities with limited budgets - safety and limited budgets isn't always an easy mix. Consideration should go to whether any submitted video was completed with full safety control before putting it up.

To include videos with questionable health and safety is contributing towards a slack attitude in this respect and I wonder whether Fstoppers truly wants to hold it's head up and be part of that failed responsibility.

With initial comments in the text "If you were upset with our recent Phantom 2 Gopro height test last week, you are definitely not going to want to watch this video," then I suggest safety is not a huge concern for the authors or owners of this site.

Fly these wonderful devices by all means. Get great shots... Show us what modern tech can do with small budgets - I applaud you. But don't risk ANYONE who hasn't asked to be involved and who hasn't agreed to be part of that risk. (And I see quite a few people in this video who at some stage were put at risk from some weather unknown or kit failure which could have caused serious injury or death). Seriously... making a fake Superman video is worth that...?

Patrick Gensel's picture

I don't feel that it is Fstoppers job to police what people are doing with their equipment. In this case, they are merely sharing great content. If you want to help educate people on your concerns, perhaps you should be educating those who create these videos. This is a news outlet just like CNN or the New York Times. You wouldn't tell them to stop reporting on murders in an attempt to make the streets safer, would you? Just my two cents. Not trying to troll or start a battle.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Certainly you're right - it isn't the job of Fstoppers to police anything. They can certainly report any story they like.

However I feel a line must be drawn at some stage when Fstoppers shares content that was not done in a responsible manner or had dangerous consequences.

Airing content on a site such as this can be as much endorsement as it is information - so editorial care needs to be taken. I wouldn't expect CNN to stop reporting murders, but I'd draw the line if they started showing CCTV footage of the murder taking place. The line is how much to show and in what context. This "report" starts off by suggesting people will be upset by the lack of safety but hen happily shows it and tags the effort as "awesome."

That "awesome" comment along with the actual execution of the project infers enough of a blessing from Patrick and why I'm asking for consideration of social responsibility when embedding video clips.

It's very difficult to educate video creators on safety grounds. Often the deed is done by the time we hear of the project. But if hose videos get aired everywhere anyway, then it send a clear signal that it's all acceptable and risking peoples' well being to make a video is OK - as long as retrospectively no one got hurt... yet...

Patrick Hall's picture

The laws will have to be written for sure but I find it strange how outraged everyone gets about this when at the moment it seems like a highly unlikely event someone will get hurt or injured compared to other activities we do everyday.

Compare it to bicycles, mopeds, and drivers. Not every state requires you to have a license and insurance to drive a moped, but every state does requires this for a car. This is the case of all three though, there are people acting reckless every day and putting arguably more people at danger than the few people flying drones throughout the week. Getting side swiped by a cyclist, motorcycle, or car is way more likely and probably way more fatal than anything else you are in contact with day to day yet they are legal and relatively unregulated (how many teens and elders probably shouldn't have a license to begin with?).

Now if a quadcopter hits a commercial airliner then yes, the chances of catastrophic casualties are greater than anything else on land but hitting a private jet, helicopter, or anything else in the sky doesn't seem that much more dangerous than some teenager texting and driving into a semi truck, mini van, or bridge. We live in a dangerous world and unfortunate things happen.

My hope is that insurance, fines, and awareness will help make flying these copters more like driving a moped or car than some evil US drone. We also need better performance and quality builds out of these units but considering how well the DJI performs and safety systems like the "gps go home" feature, I don't think we are that far off.

Obviously it is a scary place for some people and it is a whole new area we have never thought about. If you do not have the insurance or know how to fly these then maybe the average person shouldn't fly them but to say they should be outlawed is a bit like saying Marijuana is a dangerous drug but alcohol is okay don't you think? Of course I'm playing a bit of devil's advocate here but there are def two sides to this argument.

Lee Christiansen's picture

mmm... Essentially hi-tech, non regulated 3kg flying objects several hundred feet in the air over densely populated areas or busy roads, operated by often non-qualified people with no requirements for consideration of health and safety.

Let's have just one of these things fail mid-air, or be swiped by an unexpected gust of air / weather. At that point do we say, well it's just one of those things, only one person got killed... overall they're quite safe...

And the trade off...? Well we can enjoy short videos posted on blog sites in return...

Fly them by all means. Send them up as high as you like. But the second they're over public areas / roads / building sites, near buildings... then ground them until specific permissions have been granted, risk assessments have been made and the integrity of the devices and operators have been checked thoroughly.

Eventually we'll get regulation but until then it's beholden to sites like this and act responsibly. If there's a video which shows (albeit) dramatic images there should be consideration as to whether it's inclusion (and in this case praise,) should warrant showing. If we keep showing videos made that risk non contributors (that would be the public underneath,) then people will keep making them without regard to safety.

I'm not, as Veldask suggests, shifting blame. The blame for poor safety rests solely with the video makers. I'm questioning whether the video should be supported and promoted (not simply reported on,) by showing it.

In the meantime lets find equally fine examples of aerial work with these devices - but videos that show great images that didn't put unknowing people at risk.

Motors fail, electronics short, wind blows... 3kg from great heights on your head or moving car - kills.

Great, another person in our society shifting blame and personal responsibility away from the actual person. Why should a company censor themselves in the off chance that some outsider will harm someone?

Instead of your ridiculous idea, it would be better to use our efforts not in censorship, but in education. Post the video, but if you really want, add in some information regarding possible safety/legal issues with something like this.

Punish the person who actually harms someone with such techniques. Don't punish the 99.9% (and likely much higher) of people who simply enjoy the video. What is with all this blame shifting these days? Sadly, it seems another by-product of the trophies-for-participating crowd.

Patrick Hall's picture

I think this is a very difficult thing to ask of any publisher. People like seeing other people do ridiculous stuff. From America's funniest video, to Tosh.0, and the whole Jackass series, people like seeing unexpected, dangerous, funny, marvelous, the ground breaking footage. It is in our nature. Obviously there are lines that are drawn such as showing death, perverse nudity or sexuality, evading privacy, etc but I don't think anything we've published on FS goes past that line. In the case of this video, it has already been viewed over a million times and will likely hit millions by the end of the week.

When I said "If you were upset with our recent...." I simply meant those who did like it will love this, and those who were up in arms should probably not watch this.

Lee Christiansen's picture

You're right, people love seeing other people do ridiculous stuff. Jackass material is populated by crazy people doing dangerous things with scant regard for their own well-being.

But that is where the line is... Do anything you like if it doesn't risk others.

But when it risks other peoples' safety then think twice about publishing and showing. I'm saying that whilst you have the lines you listed, you should be considering whether to add "safety to others" to that list.

We'll get copycat videos of this recent showing. Perhaps ever more daring shots across busy highways and close by high sided buildings in public areas. Maybe the next one will swoop lower to be more "awesome" and the next will try for higher shots or mix it up with the public.

Heck, show them all. Let us see how marvelous this new found film making freedom is - but when someone is hurt, remember that you were part of the reason it became popular to disregard professional safety measures and promote how easy it is to fly a GoPro at 200ft in the city.

Or take the responsible route. It's not difficult. Don't go for the easy option of finding a popular video and just sticking it up. Find us something that actually shows how film making and photography should be done (in every sense,) and rest easy that your conscience won't take a beating when things hit the fan for some twit with a toy helicopter.

I truly hope the latter is the path you'll take, and raise the bar for other sites to follow.

There's a legal gray area with these things right now. Just like E-cigs, a time will come when regulations will need to be applied. Flying one over an active constructions site (Wilshire Grand Center) with cranes in operation is extremely irresponsible, and just try to do that during a Dodger game and see what happens. Comparing them to real helicopters falling out of the sky is ridiculous (from the article they "pulled"). Hundreds of hours of training aside, the shear limited access to one sets it apart. Drones are semi-affordable, helicopters certainly are not. That said, great video, but I fear their days are numbered. Electronics are not infallible. It's only going to take one incident to end the fun.

I understand your points, and do agree with them in principle, but it's all a bit presumptuous. You have no idea if he had filed a flight plan(s) or not. Let's find that out first, then make such remarks. Thank you.

Patrick Hall's picture

Is this about the e-cigs or another comment?

The regulations were regarding where they can be used. In California they just passed regulations holding them to the same restrictions regular cigs have. People smoke them in public spaces and indoors, not everyone is OK with that.

Veld: I'd be willing to bet they had no flight plan filed. If they did, every drone flier from now on would have to do the same, wouldn't they?

Patrick Hall's picture

I'm curious, what is the grey area with E-cigs? As someone who has a degree in biology, I personally think the E-cig could be the greatest invention of the last 8 years. If we can infact get addicts off of combustible nicotine (cigarettes) and onto a safe vaporized alternative (ecigs), I think this could change the health field industry in a huge way. Heart Disease is a leading cause of death in the US and cancers caused by burning cigarettes are far too common especially in the baby boomer generation. If the e-cig can curb those stats and alleviate the costs associated with treating these diseases then that is a HUGE step in the right direction. Unfortunately pharmaceuticals aren't happy that this invention will take away from their strong hold in the "stop smoking drugs" like Chantix, and they will do a lot to regulate the E-cig.

I don't follow the politics as closely as I should but I'd be interested in hearing why the E-cig is needing regulations. Are people smoking too much nicotine?

Jayson Carey's picture

I think he means public use of them. Some places allow them and some don't. Also, some people who don't smoke still associate the act of smoking with the bad smell and the general uncouth behavior of doing it in public. They still look down on people using e-cigs in restaurants and such even though there are literally no downsides other than looking like they're smoking.

That was really awesome! Thanks for sharing!

I have a friend that owns a drone flying service (about 40 people in the company) and he has to file flight plans for each flight regardless of the altitude. They carry millions in liability insurance and almost never allowed to fly over a city. He has mentioned it's getting really hard to compete with the one man operations using Phantoms. At any rate it was an impressive video.

Brian Reese's picture

Freaken love Sam and Niko.

Excellent article just came to my inbox from B&H about Radio control aircraft.

greg tennyson's picture

I bet Lawyers can't wait for one of these to cause a traffic accident or land on top of some poor old lady watering her garden.

Man, I must say that made me feel like a kid lol. sweet. [stop the politics just enjoy the dam content.]