Interview with Victor Chu, the maker of the New York City viral drone video

VICTOR CHU

 

Tell us a little about you and what you do.

I’m an event, editorial and portrait photographer. I also have a comedy channel on youtube.com/nychity. I’ve lived in the Bronx for most my life – born in Brooklyn. 

Where did the idea for drone photography come from?

It was supposed to be a demo reel for my website. I saw some videos online, but they only focused on Manhattan or Brooklyn. So, I thought, would one on NYC be fair to the other boroughs and maybe even go viral?

 

Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com
Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com

 

How do you bring your videos to life?

I plan out most of the shots in my head and then I normally write it down. For this piece I didn’t have a totally methodic process. Flying through the unisphere was in my mind for a while (see the link). I even went on phantom pilots to get some ideas (though I said it was a steel cube to avoid any trouble). Finally I had the idea to practice with my light stands in the middle of the night. I was originally going to fly in AND out of the sphere but there’s a steel net going diagonally across which made it practically impossible

 

Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com
Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com

 

How did you get started in the drone industry?

I used to fly RC planes ever since college. I started out with a crappy $30 one, burned through plenty of air hogs, and eventually hobby zone. I remember buying my first DJI. My cousin’s husband had one when I went to visit in Cali about a year ago. I saw it, and I thought it was cool. So I decided to use my credit card points to buy just the Phantom 2 and H3-2D and a GoPro to take photos. Without FPV it was kind of silly but I got some pretty good pics. Then I lost the drone in a flyaway, but luckily I found it and had a warrantee. This time I got FPV.

 

Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com
Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com

 

What advice would you give to others who want to get started flying drones?

If you haven’t done RC, get a cheap $60 drone to get yourself acquainted with flying backwards. Google the wind speed and start out flying at winds of 8mph or less. Fly safe… FAA currently states under 400 meters. Get liability insurance if you are flying a lot or doing risky things. Get a spotter for tricky shots.

 

Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com
Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com

 

Share an experience of a failure you had (a crash, equipment failure, etc.) and what you learned from it.

My first P2 got sucked into a building, most likely due to radio interference. Avoid flying near high rises. I also saved my second P2 by pulling away hard and high from a building. Avoid flying near high-powered antennas. I flew near a police boat with many antennas and almost lost it again. Hence the need to look around before you fly, and scope out the field.

Where do you see drones and drone technology in the future?

I am seeing that they will be more advanced: more sensors, perhaps even to avoid buildings and hopefully eliminate flyaway situations.

 

Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com
Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com

 

Give an example of a real-world application of drone technology that you envision.

I believe delivery will be possible. I think there will be a designated air space for drones. I already saw a medical drone that delivers a first aid kit on kickstarter. I think the more people get creative with drones in a positive way, the more the public will accept and approve of drones. I can envision drones having a role in construction and architecture…perhaps by using a laser measurement system. Perhaps they can walk your dog. Perhaps they can keep an eye on your children. The uses are endless and only limited by battery life and regulations.

 

Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com
Victor Chu, New York City Photographer, Drone Videographer at skytechone.com

 

What was the best piece of advice ever given to you?

I started somewhat early, and had to figure out most of the stuff on my own. One of my fans and now friend let me know about VRS (vortex ring state). Before I knew the term, I did have a crash from that, but not too bad… but I figured out that if you move laterally, you can recover.

Are you participating at the NYC Drone Film Festival?

Yes.

 

New York City Drone Film Festival - March 7, 2015 @ The Directors Guild of America Theater in NYC
New York City Drone Film Festival – March 7, 2015 @ The Directors Guild of America Theater in NYC

 

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I haven’t read any but I want to get Drone X Academy. I think that drones will soon be regulated, and I would be interested in taking a course.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others? 

Phantom Pilots forum and NYCDUG.

 

 

You can follow Victor here:

Youtube
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
Website

 

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