The Drone Dish: FourOhFourFilms

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Description: We're excited to be joined by aerial pilot and filmmaker Ken West (AirVūz Profile: FourOhFourFilmFactory) from Four Oh Four Film Factory - His film, UNITED WE RIDE was the winner for the Extreme Sports category at the Los Angeles Drone Film Festival 2017. Tyler Mason asked Ken what it meant to him to be on the LADFF stage, accepting his award? "It was a bit surreal for me. We did that film specifically for the drone film festival, but we actually entered it into the NYCDFF and it wasn't selected, unfortunately. We tried our luck again and entered it into the LADFF, and fortunately it was selected, it won, and it was great to be there. It seems to be a really great event, especially for the drone world. We met a lot of people at the Drone Film Festival and it was pretty eye opening." How did Four Oh Four Film Factory get it's start in the drone space and drone industry in general? "We've always had a motor sports and adventure sports-type background. Year after year it would grow until we started doing our own small projects to movies and stuff like that. Along the way we were trying to pick up our game and of course drones were a part of that." Motorsports are Four Oh Four Films main focus, what is it about motorsports and drones that just seems like a natural fit? "Motorsports are generally in remote locations where the scenery is quite unique and stunning. You want to be able to capture that and being on the ground you can't always capture the scenery. With a drone up in the air, you're able to capture all of that. Also, motorsports are fast moving and you want to have a camera that can follow the shot - camera tracking and things like that are made possible with drones and gimbals. When we started out we had to hire helicopters and gimbals was just a process; they were weighted and big whereas now they are electronic stabilized ones. Now it's a lot more fluid, it's a lot quicker, and the end result is a lot better." Ken and his wife, Amanda, run the company. However, Ken is the solo flier on shoots where you'd typically think there would be dual operators. What kind of rig, camera drone, and set up is he operating? Does he ever use dual ops? "Generally the team is just Amanda and I. It's been a catch-22, where I've taken on the role of drone operator. There's perks and challenges to this - it gets a bit difficult because you have to keep an eye on the drone and an eye on what you're filming. The perk is that you're not relying on anyone to just get the shot; if you miss it then it's your own fault." On AirVuz.com, we see a lot of FPV drones filming action sports like BMX, off-road biking, Monster Trucks, and more; has Ken ever thought of trying out an FPV quad? "Definitely. I've been toying with the idea for awhile now. There's things you can do with an FPV drone that you can't do with a cinematic drone. To be able to get up close, get a tight shot, and be right there with the action would be great. With some of the new projects we are working on, FPV drones are a lot faster, they can go in tight spaces you can't get a cinematic drone and if you do mess up, it's easier to fix than with a big, cinematic drone." What does he enjoy most about working with clients like Red Bull and others in the motorsports industry? "The thing we love the most is all the different personalities we get to work with. Some of the athletes and people we work with are almost superstars, they are very big names, and a lot of the time we find that they are very humble, laid-back, and chill. To meet those motorsports athletes is great! For me, I love to see all of these different places around the world and explore. Because it's motorsports, generally speaking it's never urbanized - you've got to get out of the cities and out in to the country towns and in to the desert to film. So, you get to see and witness places you never normally would. As a tourist, you'd never spend days out in the desert, you'd never spend a ton of time tracking through the snow, so it's great to see the world in a new way as well." Congratulations for the win at the Los Angeles Drone Film Festival, Four Oh Four Film Factory! For more highlights from the world’s best drone pilots, click HERE. And for more amazing aerial views, keep it tuned to AirVūz.com. VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Tyler Mason: 00:05 We're excited to be joined today by Ken West from Four Oh Four Film Factory. Ken that's a fun name to say, and thanks for joining us on the show today. Ken West: 00:12 Not a problem at all Tyler, good to be here. Tyler Mason: 00:15 Now your film, United We Ride, I had a chance to watch at the Los Angeles Drone Film Festival, and it won for the extreme sports category. What did that mean to have that nomination and to be on the stage and win that award? Ken West: 00:26 It was a bit surreal. We did that edit especially for the Drone Film Festival. But we actually entered it in the New York City Drone Film Festival, and it wasn't selected unfortunately. But we then tried our luck again and tried with the Los Angeles Drone Film Festival, and fortunately it was selected. It won, and yeah, it was great to be there. It seems to be a really great event, especially for the drone world. We met a lot of people at the festival, and it was, you know, pretty eye opening. Tyler Mason: 01:01 Yeah, it was great to see you guys up there and to watch your film on the big screen, which is always cool. Now, tell me a little bit about your company, Four Oh Four Film Factory. How did you guys start out in the drone space, or I guess, just in media in general? Ken West: 01:13 We started out mainly doing event videos and things like that. We've always had a motor sports type background, and action sports type background. And year after year, that generally grew to the point where we were doing our own one off projects to movies, and things like that. And along the way, cinematically, you know, you're always trying to kick up the game and get better and better. Of course, drones was a part of that. Tyler Mason: 01:39 Now that you mention motor sports is your guys' primary focus, what is it about drones and motor sports and action sports that just really seem to be kind of a natural fit? Ken West: 01:46 Yeah, definitely. Well, motor sports, you know, you're generally in remote locations and by remote sceneries, normally quite unique and stunning. So, you want to be able to capture that, and being on the ground, you can't always capture the scenery. Having a drone, capturing it from the air, you're able to see so much more. Ken West: 02:12 And motor sports, they're fast moving, you want to have camera movement with the shots. So, you know, the camera tracking and things like that are made possible with drones and gimbals and things like that. Whereas, we started out, we had to hire helicopters. And then gimbals was just a process of, you know, they're more weighted as opposed ... as like the physical old-school gimbals as opposed to now the electronic stabilized ones. So now, it's a lot more fluid, it's a lot quicker, and the end result is a lot better. Tyler Mason: 02:51 Now it's you and your wife Amanda that run the company, but you're the solo drone pilot, which watching the footage, I was impressed that that was just a solo operator. Tell me about the rigs you're flying, and have you thought about doing any dual-operator type stuff along the way? Ken West: 03:03 Well generally, the team is my wife Amanda and I at Four Oh Four. It's been a bit of a catch-22. Because we're a small unit, I've kind of taken on the role of just doing the drone operating. Now that comes with its own quirks and challenges. The challenges sometimes it gets a bit difficult, because you've got to keep an eye on the drone and keep an eye on what you're filming, and things like that. But then, the perk is that you're not relying on anyone to get the shot. If you don't get the shot, that's your own fault. Tyler Mason: 03:35 Now, we've seen some FVP drones being used to chase some action sports, whether it's motocross or any of that type of stuff. Have you thought about that at all, or is that something that you've try to explore a little bit? Ken West: 03:46 Definitely, we've been toying with ... or I've been toying with the idea for a while, because there's things that you can do on an FVP that you just can't do on a cinematic drone to get a unique and more close up and right there with the action, with the new projects that we're working on, a lot faster. They can go in spaces where you can't get a cinematic drone. And then on top of that, if you do have a mess up, it's easier to repair than a big drone. Tyler Mason: 04:16 My last question for you. What do you enjoy the most about working in the motor sports industry, and with some of the clients that you have, like Red Bull and some of those other companies? Ken West: 04:24 Yeah, generally the thing we love about the most is probably all the different personalities that we get to work with, some athletes and some people we work with, you know, they're almost super stars. They're very big names. But at the same time, we find a lot of them are very humble, very laid back, very chill. So, getting to meet these people is great. Ken West: 04:43 For me, I love to go to all these different places around the world and just get to explore. And because it's motor sports, it's generally, it's never urbanized. You've got to kind of go out of the cities and out into the country towns, and out in the middle of the desert and things like that to film. So you get to see and witness places that you never normally would. As a tourist, you're not going to really go out in the middle of the desert for days on end or camping out in the snow and things like that. So, it's really cool of that element, and to see nature in a completely different way as well. Tyler Mason: 05:24 Congratulations again on the big win out in Los Angeles, and thanks for joining us on the Drone Dish, Ken. Ken West: 05:29 Perfect, thank you.

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