10 Questions With Maurice Sallave, LA-based Drone Pilot And Digital Advertiser
About: Maurice Sallave is a drone pilot from Los Angeles with over 10 years of experience working as an animator, designer and developer. He launched his own media production company, Toasted Mango, to create immersive media through both on-land and aerial photography. Here’s an interview we had with Maurice.
VeeR: What made you get into drones?
Maurice: I’ve always enjoyed being on the technical creative side, and have been in digital media advertising for over 10 years. When I first heard about UAVs I thought it was just a trend, but as the technology got advanced, I started to see better uses for UAVs. I actually put it off for about 4 months before I gave in and bought my first UAV, which was a discovery pro from TeamBlackSheep. I had a friend who helped me put it together, but when it broke I was left alone to fix it, some friend, but I learned fast, thanks to YouTube and the friendly drone community! Currently for me it’s just a creative tool and outlet since I love flying, but looking at the bigger picture I do see ways of using FPV (first person view) in UAV technology to accomplish humanitarian type services. E.g. Search and rescue, helping flood victims, agricultural needs, land surveillance, and architecture.
VeeR: I learned that you use a Inspire 1 V2.0. What made you choose such a premium product?
Maurice: DJI has been the pioneers of this platform for a couple of years. They pretty much have gone through all their testing and learned from what hasn’t worked. I’ve had the Phantom 4 and Inspire 1, although the Phantom 4 is a good machine, I think the Inspire 1 is pretty solid. I think it has more to offer than just a regular aerial camera.
VeeR: How do you sustain the battery life of your drone during an aerial shoot?
Maurice: A lot of pre-flight planning. For 360 aerial motion shots I try to keep them smooth by flying in ATTI mode, which helps me save less post-production work, flying when there’s less wind, and getting stick time on my remote control radio. You want smooth flowing shots with ease, and no sudden jerky movements. I have a drone racer which allows me to get my practice time in with stick movements. These habits transfer onto my bigger aerial photography type drones. Here’s a sample of me flying my Horus Drone racer quad: https://youtu.be/B_AKMdpQrpQ Results differ from pilot to pilot but this is what’s been working for me lately.
VeeR: What procedures did you go through to obtain a certificate to fly drones?
Maurice: Study, study, study…keeping up with the latest laws and trends for every UAV, whether it’s for drones, racing drones, fixed wings, etc. I usually have B4UFly and Hover apps that I run on my phone, but most of it is common sense and being responsible. Having a certificate to fly is one thing, but you need insurance as well to show some responsibility, and practice to get that muscle memory dialed in. Things can still happen, since you’re the PIC (pilot in command), you have to take that responsibility of calling the shots. Sometimes you have to just say no, and just some shots are not worth it.
VeeR: How do you stabilize your camera, and what software do you use for post-production to prevent motion sickness?
Maurice: I usually fly in ATTI mode to keep it nice and smooth. It’s not like GPS mode where if you let go of the sticks you’ll get an abrupt stop, which is what you don’t want in 360, especially if you have a head gear on. I leave all my hard flying to my drone racers.
VeeR: Do you have any affordable editing software to recommend?
Maurice: Presently I’m using a couple of softwares; Kolor’s AVP and GIGA, Mettle (which is a plug-in for After Effects. I believe Adobe bought Mettle, so expect that to be in the next release of Adobe After Effects).
VeeR: What camera(s) work best with drones?
Maurice: There’s a lot out there, but for what I do and my budget, I can only get the Kodak SP360 4k cams. I’m using a gimbal from the guys at Gimbal-Guard to mount them on my Inspire 1. It’s easy for me to use and picture quality is better than most at a consumer level. Besides it hides my drone nicely…
VeeR: Could you explain your typical workflow, especially how long it takes for you to produce a drone video?
Maurice: While I’m flying, I’m thinking about shots and what would eventually look good. Although I can’t see through my 360 cams, I try to imagine what the aerial shots are looking like in a 360 space, as opposed to just watching it in 2d. An example would be flying through a cave or at a beach next to some cliffs. Just the whole idea of being immersed in a universe you’ve never been in. I often ask myself, what’s that look like without being there and try to bring that experience to life. Sounds like a lot of work but I enjoy that sort of thing. When all is done, I start to upload the videos from both cams. I then run it through AVP, then in Mettle plugin for After Effects running. My final for color grading is usually done in DaVinci Resolve.
VeeR: What has been your biggest challenge and what solution did you come up with?
Maurice: My biggest challenge was getting my UAV back after my DJI app had crashed on my tablet. If it weren’t for my co-pilot, Joshua Hokama, I would’ve lost it. He helped me guide it back in by LOS (line of sight). He was also looking at my tablet as well while I was flying reading all the data and mostly remembered how much battery I had left, how far I was, and where my UAV was located, while I was busy concentrating on the shot. Having a good reliable co-pilot and not flying by yourself helps.
Maurice and his co-pilot, Joshua
VeeR: Are there a lot of people who take interest in 360 among the drone community? Do you have any online groups, informative websites or blogs to recommend for people needing technical help?
Maurice: This digital experience is still kind of new. So, it’s interesting to see what people are doing with it. I just happen to fly drones and wanted to offer an aerial experience that I can bring to the masses, especially for those who may be scared of heights. I’m in digital advertising so I get inspired by a lot of things surrounding me, motion graphics, digital ads, and some code. Influential sites that I like to visit are rcgroups.com and Facebook 360 groups. I started a 360 groups page called 360tours.la which is slowly getting popular, aside from signing up for Google alerts on the latest UAV stuff, and of course YouTube, which has helped me a lot.
For more information, visit Maurice’s company Toasted Mango at: http://toastedmango.com/