The Melbourne company XM2 – a global leader in drone cinematography – has now opened an office on the Gold Coast to be at the heart of the action in Australia’s movie industry. The company, which is not only the pioneer of drone use for movie-making and the first in the world to successfully stabilise the Red Epic camera from a drone in 2013, also designs, builds, develops and tests the drones they use for film-making.
The XM2 Aerial, an earlier model developed by XM2 shown in this video, allows two cameras to be operated from a single platform. The Freefly Systems Movi M15 gimbals allow independent or synchronous operation enabling various applications. Using two RED Digital cameras, the XM2 Aerial was designed to be used for unique one-off scene setups.
By comparison XM2’s latest drone, XM2 Sierra, can haul an Alexa 65 camera with a Panavision 200-400mm lens. Designed in-house, it carries the 65mm large format device and has been extensively checked to fly with high payloads and extreme conditions, ensuring safety and reliability. The ability to film in 6k means it is often used for IMAX and extra widescreen movies to provide stunning landscape shots. “It is the heaviest in the world for cinematography applications – it can carry on par with what cranes and helicopters can carry and there is no need to compromise,” says Oh, founder, chief pilot and cinematographer of XM2.
Another tremendous advantage is the ability to reconfigure the drone in a matter of minutes rather than hours – imperative when movie production costs can top $30,000 an hour. “The other advantage we have is that we can change lenses or even cameras in a couple of minutes and, of course, we can endlessly alter the way we shoot, unlike a crane shot that is limited – and even helicopters.” Oh further revealed. Paul Currie, the director-producer of The King’s Daughter, a $40 million fantasy-adventure film starring Pierce Brosnan and William Hurt, used XM2 successfully for aerial shots, including some complicated close-in work.
Oh says the decision to open a Gold Coast office was easy one to make – it is the centre of Australia’s film industry. “I have been spending 70 per cent of my time on the Gold Coast filming, so it just makes sense,” Oh says. “We started in Melbourne but most of our Australian work has been in Queensland. Being there will allow us to communicate with producers because they usually set up their offices there too.” he added.
The company already has offices in both Los Angeles and Seoul, and a plethora of hefty film credit feathers in their hats, such as Thor: Ragnarok, Lion, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Red Dog, The Dressmaker, Aquaman, and the not-yet-released sci-fi sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising. Not to mention working with celebrated British naturalist, Sir David Attenborough to capture vision of The Great Barrier Reef.
The opening of XM2 at the studios is undoubtedly a boon for the already successful Gold Coast film industry. With the addition of the latest studio – Studio 9 – Village Roadshow Studios Gold Coast has the largest footprint of any film studio complex in the southern hemisphere. President Lynne Benzie is excited to have XM2 on location. “It is great to have XM2 based at Village Roadshow Studios,” Benzie says. “It is exciting to work with a company that embraces new and innovative technology.”
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