Drones have become an essential tool for modern-day filmmaking, and are especially useful in capturing the grandeur of landscapes. Since 90% of scenes Marvel's Thor:Ragnarok film movies are created through post-production VFX, shooting background plates is an essential part of the movie, especially aerial shots. While drones can easily accomplish aerial shots in hard to reach terrain, that would otherwise require expensive cranes and helicopters, there's one asset that’s critical for any drone workflow: zero-delay video.
For DoP's, having a real-time view of the shot is essential, especially for tricky aerial shots. Marvel's latest film Thor:Ragnarok, utilized Teradek's Bolt and Antenna Array products to ensure lossless live video transmission for real-time monitoring. Australian-based production company XM2, which specializes in drone cinematography, relied on the Teradek Bolt 3000 to deliver real-time video to receivers up to 3000 ft. away, which gave the crew more than enough range to always have a clear view.
It also allowed them to make adjustments in real-time, making the workflow much more efficient than shooting blind or with extra frames of latency. Stephen Oh, CEO of XM2 said, “We absolutely need that instant imagery when we’re shooting. When you have 700-800 people on set, there can’t be any delays, so we need it to be working guaranteed every time. In the thousands of hours we’ve spent on set using it on our drones, the Teradek has never failed us once."
For the shoot, XM2 employed their own specially-designed UAV, along with a ARRI Alexa Mini and Primo V lens. Connected to the camera was the Teradek Bolt 3000 video transmitter, a zero-delay wireless system that sends live video to a receiver up to 3000 ft. away. On the ground, the production team set up a Bolt receiver connected to a Teradek Antenna Array, which offers stronger and more robust signal detection through RF interference. This picked up a real-time video feed from the drone, which pushed the feed to the Bolt receiver and then to an Atomos Shogun monitor, which they used to see and maneuver the drone.