In 2017, footage shot by drone is nothing new. But a spectacular new first-person drone flyover of the Swiss Alps will drop your jaw — and quite possibly give you vertigo, too. Titled Elevations, the short film was shot by Gabriel Kocher, a Swiss physicist living in Montreal, who moonlights as a racing drone pilot. Having finished second in the Drone Racing League’s Allianz World Championship earlier this year, Elevations is part of Kocher’s Gab707 YouTube channel — designed to focus on more creative uses of drones as a way of exploring rugged landscapes.
“This shoot came about while I was hiking in the Swiss Alps in early September this year,” Kocher told Digital Trends. “The drone is a small 220mm diameter custom-built racing drone made for long range that I built myself. It gets strapped to my backpack, along with all the photographic gear that I carry wherever I go. What makes this unique is that the drone is flown FPV [first-person view], through video glasses that allow me to see through a small camera placed on the drone. In contrast to regular camera rigs, this kind of machine brings through all the control movements made by the pilot, capturing much more of the sensation of flight. Its very high power-to-weight ratio — around 8:1 — allows it to get very close to obstacles and acrobatic flights.”
The footage is accompanied by a second video offering an uncut, lower resolution look at the material shot by Kocher. The final edit includes an added sheen — although the only thing that’s tweaked is the addition of driving background music and some footage stabilization to iron out wind-related wobbles.
“The biggest challenge in capturing this kind of footage is that it is shot at the edge of what the technology can do,” Kocher continued. “Not outrunning the battery capacity is a key factor, but the hardest one is keeping the drone in view from the ground station. While I’m looking for a maximum of proximity to the terrain, dropping behind an obstacle will result in a control loss and likely a crash — so this is a constant memory and mental 3D-mapping game.”
On this occasion, we think Kocher won this particular game!