vc006: Self-portrait with Drone and Sheep Skull

For #6 of my #100videoclips project, I tried a self-portrait with the addition of a mini-drone (quadcopter), piloted by my son, and a sheep skull, picked up from the hills of Ireland on a trip a few years ago.

The Inspiration

Sadly, I can’t find the video. However, within the past year or two, I saw a video of a drone (quadcopter) flying over a lake, and it was edited in such a way to create trails of light, like a dragon flying through the sky or something. (If someone knows how to find this video, please let me know in the comments below.)

Anyway, I was intrigued by the idea, and when my son got a mini-drone recently, I thought I would try it out on a more intimate scale.

What I Did

The filming involved a single front light, a white screen behind, a costume (a jacket my wife made for me when I played “The Sheriff of Nottingham” a few years ago), and a sheep skull.

Most of the shot relied on my son’s drone piloting skills, which are still being developed, but I think it turned out well.

The PremierePro editing consisted of two layers of the same shot, both color-corrected with RGB curves, with the top layer blended using Color Burn, and the bottom layer including more radical color manipulation along with an Echo (Maximum) effect of 30 to create the drone trails as well as the interesting portraiture effects.

The sound track is a combination of the sound of the drone, mixed with a recording of a subway train (the Metro of Valencia, Spain), slowed down to 17%.

What I Learned

Most of what I learned was from just playing with the various effects and layers:

  • The Color Burn layer obscured my facial details, but they were subtly revealed by the drone light whenever it passed in front. Very cool!
  • Also, I love the way my face is revealed and then “painted over” again when I move the skull down — I think because the lighted drone is flying in front at the same moment. Definitely a happy accident!
  • The “trail of light” from the skull and my silver collar in the last sequence (slowed to 50%) was another unexpected result.
  • Of course, the original motivation was to show the drone flying around like a Chinese dragon, and it didn’t disappoint. I feel there is a lot more potential there.