Crowdfunding projects are often hit or miss, but this new aerial photography Kickstarter project is a toss-up — literally. The AER is essentially a giant Nerf football for GoPros, with a foam base keeping the camera safe from impact and a pair of wings allowing for higher, steadier flight.
Designed to capture aerial views without the expense (or complexity) of a drone, the AER appears to turn aerial photography into something as simple as a game of catch. The GoPro (a 3+, 4 or 5 will fit) snaps inside the AER’s base. Two wings then slide in the back of the device to give the camera a longer, steadier flight.
The AER was designed by college students Levin Pablo Trautwein and Nick Schjivens, both 23, and Mark de Boer, 21. “During a previous project I did last year, we decided to make a small video series using creative cinematography,” Schjivens said. “We didn’t have the money to buy a professional drone, but both owned a GoPro. Using a lot of foam padding, duct tape, and cardboard wings to keep it steady, we managed to throw our GoPros through the air. When we looked at the footage, we saw potential for a great product. Two friends joined, we created a real company, and the following year we devoted all our time to developing a durable, consumer-friendly version.”
The newly formed company, based in the Netherlands, aims to start shipping in January 2017 if the crowdfunding comes through. The prototype is quite a bit more refined than the original cardboard-and-duct-tape contraption that inspired it. The foam base keeps the GoPro protected and the whole device is buoyant, so a water landing is no problem (provided you’re willing to get wet to retrieve it).
While drones and the AER are both designed for aerial footage, the results from the AER are different than shots from a quadcopter, the founders explained. The sample footage from the toss shows a slight slow spiral that adds a different cinematic effect and the early footage seems surprisingly stable. “Throwing AER is a fun activity and motivates you to be active while shooting your videos,” Trautwein said. “When you’re flying a drone you’re staring at a screen far away from the action. They’re both awesome tools, but the experience and also the footage [is] quite different.”
The Kickstarter aims to raise about $78,500 by November 3 to fund the manufacturing process — and they’ve already accumulated nearly $20,000. A single AER is available for $57, though that pledge option only has a few remaining slots. A three-pack is also available for $151.