Cinematographer Christoph Benfey’s incredible drone boomerang shot was featured on DJI’s Instagram this week and the talented cameraman has revealed the secrets to creating the impressive effect.
Benfey calls the technique the “Space Elevator Effect,” a name that the Canadian-native coined himself. He has even made a tutorial video where he breaks down the method.
Speaking to PetaPixel, he explains how he took advantage of the new DJI Mini 3 Pro to create the timelapse boomerang shot while on vacation in Barcelona, Spain.
“It was nice to have the vertical camera option because the plan was always for this video to go on Instagram. So shooting the true vertical meant I didn’t have to crop the 16×9 images, and I could get a much wider final shot than I’ve gotten before with my other drones.”
Benfey is referring to the ability of the Mini 3 Pro to rotate its camera into a portrait orientation, a first for any DJI drone.
While the shot is fast and dynamic, pulling the viewers in, the timelapse was actually shot painfully slowly as the drone tracked La Sagrada Familia. Benfey recommends that the drone should travel at a sluggish 0.1 meters per second until the drone hits the legal flight ceiling.
Benfey says that by the end, photographers who want to mimic the technique should have 200 to 240 photos and their camera battery will be around 35% if everything’s been done correctly.
“Then in editing, I speed ramp the footage to music and reverse it so it boomerangs back to the beginning. I’ll sometimes add a digital zoom as well because it seems to throw people off in a good way,” explains the 36-year-old.
Benfey uses Lightroom and then After Effects to create the finished video, which he says requires some time in editing to get the perfect effect.
A Creative Technique Growing in Popularity
Benfey says he currently works as a director of photography on a Netflix series and uses Instagram as a creative outlet.
“I’ve been messing around with drones, both for fun and for work, for 10 years now. I mostly use Instagram as a place to experiment with new ideas without all the rigamarole of being on set with a huge unit of people waiting around,” he explains.
Benfey’s “Space Elevator Effect” tutorial has been a success with over 100,000 views, and the camera operator says he’s seen people from all over the world using it.
More from Benfey can be found on his Instagram.