AES introduces stabilized UAV camera gimbal for cinematographers

By Patrick C. Miller | April 16, 2015

Capturing video shot from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) without jitter or annoying artifacts was the goal of Ascendant Engineering Solutions when it designed the DaVinci professional cinema gimbal.

“The folks who have used it say the video doesn’t need any post-production processing and is always 100 percent useable,” said Jon Noeth, president of AES, headquartered in Austin, Texas.

Noeth is in Las Vegas this week at the National Association of Broadcast Conference to showcase the DaVinci, a high-performance, three-axis gyro stabilized gimbal designed to serve the professional cinematography market.

It’s designed to work with the industry standard RED Epic 5K camera and Zeiss CP series lenses while remaining under the 55 pound limit for small UAS set by the Federal Aviation Administration. According to Noeth, AES is also working to pair the DaVinci system with two other camera systems.

“The DaVinci is a very big challenge meeting that 55-pound limit while carrying an eight-pound payload,” Noeth said. “Between the copter and the gimbal, that’s a tight range, but we now have a product that’s under 55 pounds and can fly jitter free while perfectly stabilized.”

Noeth noted that the GoPro gimbal system on the 3D Robotics Solo unmanned aerial vehicle unveiled at the NAB Conference was also designed by AES, giving the company products in the military, commercial and consumer markets.

AES worked with HeliVideo Productions and Snaproll Media—two of the first companies to receive FAA commercial exemptions—in designing the DaVinci to meet the needs of professional cinematographers.

“The DaVinci was specifically designed for that market and its application is based on their requirements,” Noeth said.

Another key feature of the DaVinci gimbal is its auto-horizon system, which Noeth said will keep the horizon level through the hardest banks and turns that a UAS pilot can put it through.

“What’s special that AES brings to this industry are the tools we’ve developed to measure the real-world environment,” Noeth said.

Under a contract to develop a gimbal system for the U.S. Air Force, AES created a device that can be attached to UAS, a ground vehicle or a hand-held system that gathers and records how they move in the real world.

“It represents the rates of motion that the subject platform would experience,” Noeth explained. “I can totally and thoroughly test any system we design without having to put it back on the primary vehicle. When I do that vehicle integration, it works the first time.”


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