DRONEWRX specializes in aerial cinematography services for film, TV, & corporate productions. In addition to their drone cinematography and traditional production capabilities, Drew and Eric have recently added a four point wirecam system called EagleCam and a car crane named ChaseJib.In an exclusive interview, we spoke with Aerial DP, Drew Cobb, about this technology and more.
PH: Let’s start with probably a loaded question: What has DRONEWRX been up to lately?
Drew Cobb: Funny you should ask...I’ve been up to a few things:
- R&D of the the Chase Jib
- Developing the EagleCam business
- Refining my FPV skills and arsenal
PH: How (if at all) did you see the drone industry and production needs change around COVID, and did that impact the way you did business?
Drew Cobb: As I’m sure everyone knows, the industry shut down for a period, then carefully started to open. We actually worked on the first show that had all union approval which was “Behind the Boys” with Aiesha Tyler and was shot in augmented reality. That first swabbing scared the crap out of me as it was when they were going into the deep recess of your sinuses. We’ve followed protocols, got our vaccines and got our nose swabbed constantly. Thankfully subsequent swabs didn’t require a spinal fluid sample. We took a couple of COVID protocol training courses “Safe Sets” and the Contract Services training course. Drones, and robotic controlled cameras are generally removed from the rest of the crew, so they are inherently safer than most other departments, so our work flow has been minimally hampered.
I posted a blog about all of this back in July 2020, which you can read here.
PH: One of the things you have been busy doing is “developing something called the ChaseJib”. Can you talk a bit more about what that is and what inspired its creation?
Drew Cobb: My Partner Eric Bergez (Industry Sherpa) and I we’re doing a lot of Flo-Cine BlackArm work on car-to-car jobs back in 2018-2019. Eric is the 1st Flo-Cine dealer in the US, so he has a built-in clientele and was looking for something that would augment his Black Arm client business’. Eric and I started working together on drone jobs and that relationship grew from there, I fly, he camera ops. We transfer those skills and the working relationship directly to our car jobs; I drive, he camera ops, (which subsequently applies to the EagleCam as well).
We would build out his SUV, or client’s cars with speed rail, which is a fairly large task that takes 3+ hours. We saw that productions have to choose between either a static mount, or the large jump to a tradition arm car so we set out to develop something in between and something that would enhance the Black Arm. We worked on a MotoCrane team for a spell and we found the whole thing is a bit daunting, and overkill for many if not most clients jobs.
PH: Can you provide a quick feature rundown? Is it easy to install? What’s it compatible with, etc.?
Drew Cobb: We have two versions of the ChaseJib. We first developed the Chase Jib which reduces the build out from 3+ hours to 15-30 minutes using a car or trucks a 2” trailer hitch. We designed a heavy-duty trailer hitch adapter which is very stable and allows the unit to swing right or left and puts the camera closer, or over top of the subject. The Chase Jib also makes repositioning from ground level to 12’ high with the push of a button making it easier to, faster AND gives more vertical range than the speed rail builds.
With the Chase Jib Pro we’ve added a high speed actuator, a precision controller and (plus some secret software sauce) giving productions the ability to do in camera moves rivaling those of an arm car (Russian Arm, U-Crane, Motocrane, Tilta Hydra, etc) without the need to shut down streets and highways, AND it won’t damage the cars roof (a lesson we learned with the Motocrane). This aspect alone saves productions time and money. We aren’t replacing arm cars for high-speed chase scenes, but we can do a lot of what an arm car can do for a fraction of the cost. If we feel a job requires an arm car we can refer clients.
One of the main features of the ChaseJib is the integration with the Black Arm. The Black Arm is the original stabilizing arm and that, paired with their Tranquilizer creates a VERY stable and smooth shot. Eric developed his own ‘shores’ (the bushings that dampen the vibration in the Tranquilizer), so we have our own secret sauce for that as well. With his years of experience tuning this system, you’re assured top-notch end results!
PH: What types of productions are you noticing the ChaseJib is really catering to?
Drew Cobb: All types. Any production looking to save money, doesn’t want the expense and hassle of highway shut-downs, hiring police officers, etc., etc. We’re currently talking to a production that is looking at using it on its Grip Trix camera platform for an entire season.
You can rent the unit from us, or hire us in our decked-out Toyota Sequoia which seats five. We provide monitors, have various gimbal choices, joy stick controllers or wheels available to suit your needs.
PH: It was recently used on HBO’s Hacks. Can you talk about how this came about?
Drew Cobb: Eric works with their second unit camera team who have been using a Black Arm for the bus scenes. They were setting out on a two week cross country shoot and renting our Movi XL, and and Eric told them about the ChaseJib. They were immediately interested. We helped them rig it up for the first time and they were on their way! For the record, I watched the show because of our affiliation and really like it!
PH: Can you share some of the sequences it was used for? What was the crew able to achieve through using the Chase Jib?
Drew Cobb: One of the characters/sets in Hacks is an RV that “Deborah Vance” and her crew travel on in season 2. The ChaseJib was used for all those external shots of the RV, moving or static. They were able to put the camera down low, or up high in a minute, and we able to swing the camera side to side. It’s also really useful when the subjects is static and you drive the camera car around. It’s essentially also a techno crane that can put the camera 12-15’ high.
PH: What pain points does the Chase Jib help productions alleviate?
Drew Cobb: Cost. Planning. Ease. Do you have a car shot you want for your show, but don’t have the budget or time to clear permitting? Give us a call. Do you need a unique robotic camera system? Give us a call. We are also strategic partners with one of Hollywood’s top broadcast truck / rail cam providers.
PH: Can you provide other examples of projects that have used the Chase Jib?
Drew Cobb: Wheeler Dealers, Hacks, Genesis EV Commercial. This is a brand-new product, so we don’t have a long client list.
PH: Where can someone go to purchase or rent one for their next project?
Drew Cobb: We don’t offer them for sale as of now. You rent from us directly, or hire us to do the job. Eric handles the bookings so best to send him an email or text. He will respond in a timely manner.
email@example.com • (818) 800-7898
PH: You’ve also recently developed the EagleCam business. What is this and how did this come about?
Drew Cobb: EagleCam is a 4 winch / 3D wirecam system based on the Eagle Eye from SEC Swiss. It’s similar to SpyderCam, Cable Cam, Dynamicam, etc. with some features that they don’t offer. The main benefit is it’s more cost effective than other full-sized / custom systems and can use a wide variety of gimbals and cameras. Two of the support cables have fiber optic cables inside them, that transfer both video and data, with SDI Fiber Optic converters. The other two cables have power built in from a 24V DC power supply that powers the gimbal and camera. It supports camera payloads of up to 15kg (35lbs) including lens. So Power, communication and 4K signal are transferred via winches. No wireless required.
Eric met The Eagle Eye team when they were sharing a booth at NAB and took note of their rig. Cut to a year later he was working on a couple of shows that use the DynamiCam which is limited to using a Black Magic Micro Studio 4K camera and their own gimbal. Eric was talking to the director who was unhappy with the notable difference when cutting between cameras. We discussed it, and a new entity was forged. We ordered the 1st of a new generation of Eagle Eye systems for use on an upcoming show at the time called Family Game Fight starring Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, and the rest is history.
PH: Can you talk about any projects that have used EagleCam?
Drew Cobb: As mentioned, Family Game Fight, also used on Wipe Out, it was recently used in an attraction / promo for the Netflix movie: The Grey Man at the San Diego Comicon, and we just got back from Detroit where we were ‘A Camera’ for the global live release of the 2024 “Dark Horse” Mustang. We have a couple projects on the horizon for studio work and awards shows.
PH: Can you dive into some of the specs?
Drew Cobb: This system can have up to 100m (328’) diagonal between towers, is only limited to how high the camera can be by the height of the towers and amount of weight on the dolly which is 50 pounds and can travel at 6mps (13.5mph). There are things technical specs like sag ratio that depend on a lot of factors. Multiple programmable camera moves are an exciting aspect of this system. We can draw a path to repeat a move, change the speed and refine as necessary, which can also be micro managed live.
PH: What types of projects would best utilize EagleCam and why?
Drew Cobb: It’s hard to say if there is an “ideal” type of project for this tech. TV Shows, movies, augmented reality, concerts, sporting events, the The Grey Man job is something we would’ve never even thought of. Obviously, the space needs to make sense, as it requires some breathing room. Basically, it’s a silent drone that can legally fly over an audience, repeat moves, doesn’t need battery changes, and is virtually infallible. You can even attach audio or a prompter.
PH: Can you customize this technology based on your needs? If so, can you explain further?
Drew Cobb: This system is completely customizable, in fact every job is different and actually requires customization. We can use a wide variety of gimbals (Movi Pro, Movi XL, Intuitive Aerial Newton, Shotover G1), different cameras, lenses, FIZ, etc. We can configure the system to travel in a straight line similar to a single cable system (CondorCam, DactylCam, WireCam), but can also make the camera travel up and down which a one cable system can’t do. We can also configure two winches to make the payload go straight up and down like an elevator.
Our primary reason for starting EagleCam was providing the industry with a cost-effective solution that wasn’t limited to one camera, or one gimbal. It’s 100% configurable based on your space and needs. We’re always figuring out new tricks and developing the technology further.
PH: Where can someone reach out to learn more or use EagleCam for their next project?
Drew Cobb: Eric handles the bookings so best to send him an email or text. He will respond in a timely manner. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (818) 800-7898.
You can also learn more about DRONEWRX by visiting their profile on ProductionHUB.com.