Michael Bay–endorsed 3DR Solo drone takes off over Sydney

Flying solo

Aussie filmmaker's have a new tool at their disposal following the Sydney launch of the 3DR Solo, a drone that makes sweeping aerial shots a breeze.

Used by Michael Bay in the shooting of his upcoming film, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, the 3DR Solo offers a simple way of capturing dramatic shots without hours of practice behind the drone's controls.

Designed to work with GoPro's HERO3+ and HERO4 cameras, the 3DR Solo offers four computer-assisted Smart Shots that capture sophisticated aerial footage, making the user look like some kind of drone-flying ace.

Shoot smart

The first Smart Shot, the Cable cam, guides the drone between two pre-set points as if it's attached to a cable suspended in the air.

To set it up, the user simply flies the drone to the point where the shot needs to commence, and then once it's hovering in place just presses the A button on the dual-stick controller to set it as starting point. The process is completed by flying the drone to the finishing point and pressing B.

Once this is complete, pressing the A and B buttons causes the drone to auto-navigate between the two points, freeing up the user to focus on panning and tilting the camera – the 3DR Solo can memorise shots, too.

The 3DR Solo can also track a 360-degree circular shot around an object using a second Smart Shot mode called Orbit. This is achieved by simply pointing the camera at the object and pressing the Orbit button. The drone then locks on and performs circular tracking shots, which can be adjusted for height, speed and radius.

Expensive selfies

Perhaps more for enthusiasts than filmmakers is the Selfie mode. This involves placing the drone on the ground in front of the user, tapping the Selfie button, and then once the drone has taken off it will fly up and away, filming the user and slowly revealing their surroundings.

The final Smart Shot mode is Follow, and it does exactly that. Locked onto the user's mobile device, the 3DR Solo simply follows behind, with the fully-automated flight and camera controls meaning the user can forget about the controller.

The 3DR Solo is impressive in that it places previously complex aerial manoeuvres and shots within the grasp of just about anyone. During our brief time behind the controls of the drone it proved surprisingly easy to use.

At $1,799.95 (plus the cost of the accompanying GoPro) it may not appeal to amateurs, but for filmmakers, the potential to add slick aerial shots to their work could make it a very tempting investment.

  • Looking for a more affordable drone experience? Perhaps the new range of Parrot mini drones is the ticket.