Ben Zenker

Broadcast Drone

August 2015 - May 2016

An out-of-the-box solution to dynamic broadcasting without the need for a multi-person crew.

Product

The goal of this project was to develop a drone that will intelligently work alongside a single broadcast reporter and accurately frame, shoot, and broadcast a live signal to a variety of media formats, all without a drone pilot.

Due to various obstacles we encountered over our research, FlyCast is still very much a proof of concept and may require more time for the hardware, software, legal, and public acceptance of drones before the system could replace a professional broadcast crew for everyday reporting.

The project page here on my website does a great job of explaining this product, but we also wrote a technical paper that goes into detail on our research and product building process.

An excerpt from our introduction

The best solution is to either get more professional and dynamic broadcast equipment to the masses or make the modern professional broadcast journalist more portable than ever.

Broadcast Drone - Technical Paper

Video

Play Video

We produced this video to be the corner pin of advertising and explaining our product. Ideally, this video will be used in a crowdfunding campaign should we decide to further progress this product.

Code

During our year-long journey to build this product, I took most of the software development responsibilities while Alex took most of the hardware responsibilities. We already both had a fluid understanding of the Tower Android app offered by 3DR, so it was not too difficult to customize it for our own needs.

FlyCast is built on top of Tower which is a Ground Control Station (GCS) Android app built atop 3DR Services, for UAVs running Ardupilot software. Click above for my forked GitHub repository.

Brand

This project offered many opportunities to compose a cohesive brand, given that we built a mobile app, designed a poster, produced a product video, and crafted a final slideshow presentation.

We chose an incredibly simple color palette and used flat design throughout the icons. The poster below brings together several materials that we designed throughout the project, which communicates the brand in a vivid way.

click to enlarge

Graphics

These graphics were created and used in multiple mediums throughout the project.

click to enlarge

Mobile

Our custom-built Android app uses and builds upon many preexisting features made accessible by 3DR’s open-source SDK. The app was never submitted to the Google Play store, however, you could download the source code and install the application via Android Studio. You would also need a 3DR Drone to use the app.

Above is a screenshot of the app from a Galaxy tablet.

Animation

Play Video

Most of the animations I created for FlyCast involved 2D tracking and text manipulation. The last clip in this breakdown was my favorite to create. You'll notice that the particles which explode past the logo are actually the wings from the logo itself.