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Go Pro on a soaring eagle [video] (kottke.org)
335 points by pccampbell 1348 days ago | hide | past | web | 79 comments | favorite

When I got my Oculus dev kit I was most excited about the potential for designing interactive experiences driven by unity / 3d graphics.

Then I checked out a "wingsuit" video shot in 360 degrees and realized I had completely missed the potential of the platform:


The resolution is mediocre but for a first-gen experience in VR I was literally floored. I showed these demos to some unwitting subjects and where riftcoaster was "WOW" the 360 video had their mouths hanging open.

And this isn't speculative or crazy expensive - 360 riggings + cameras can be had for <$2k and here are lots of interesting experiences already popping up.


http://www.360heros.com/ or http://freedom360.us/




These 360 rigs are cool, but they're not stereoscopic as far as I can tell.

I'm not sure how feasible a 360 AND stereoscopic rig would be, but it would be totally awesome. Maybe some sort of head-sized sphere of fisheye cameras with some software to stitch the stereoscopic channels together. Or maybe something involving light field photography (Lytro etc).

Actually, stereoscopic vision is overrated.

There are many hits our brain uses to make the 3D model of the world we have on our minds. Stereoscopic vision is one of them, but really just kick in for objects nearer than you arm cam hold. For distant objects, our brain uses other hints - that's why people aiming at far objects close one of their eyes.

One of the strongest is the parallax effect, specially for medium distance and relative distance between objects. If you doubt it, look at this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw

Relative size and color fading works well for big distances - this is the prominent effect in parachuting videos.

These are only two mecanisms, and immersion is not only about 3D sensation. Full periphery vision is of great value for this (IMAX, anyone?). Sound hints, brigthness, contrast, and a lot of other hints also help our brain making the 3D model.

As you say, for far objects, stereoscopic vision doesn’t do much; however, that can be changed..

A really fun project I recommend anyone try is to make a sort of periscope for one eye [make one out of e.g a milk carton and a couple of rectangular mirrors, or some similar tube].

Leave one eye looking out normally, and make the other eye look through the periscope, aimed sideways. The result of this is to increase the effective distance between the two eyes from a couple inches to a foot or more (depending on your periscope).

Now try looking at distant objects like a cityscape or some mountains. The stereo effect will be increased dramatically, and the whole scene will feel very dimensional and close.

No doubt you can induce the same effect in far objects by exaggerating the difference between what each eyes can see. If you didn't have the size to compare, you would actually think they are nearer.

However, this is not very realistic - this is why sometimes the 3D effect in a movie vanishes or looks gimmicky. Until today, the most convincing 3D scene I ever saw were the recording in Avatar, which were recorded using a 3D camera very near to the face of the actor.

So binoculars?

Really cool - I can't wait to see more of this. There's a flaw in the stitching of the 360heros vidoes.. a pinch point at the top and bottom that looks like a black dot with a radial exposure inconsistency. Someone should work on a better way to blend those edges.

Have you been able to view a 360 demo in the rift? I'd imagine not considering 360 demos are not captured stereo-graphically?

I have viewed 360 vids on the Rift. It's true they are not stereo, but they are still very effective. Simply being able to turn your head an look around is a significant aspect of presence.

These two vids http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN7HtvXc-Bo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4iltd0wMlU played through http://vrplayer.codeplex.com/ are great examples.

I imagine you could, though it'd be flat (unless they were captured in 3D).

I'd watch a 4 hour movie of this, i was so disappointed when the video stopped

Agreed. The scenery in that part of the world is breathless and no better way to see it then on the back of this beautiful animal.


I agree. I was really hoping to see the eagle land but it looks like the video cut just short of that moment.

Sounds kind of corny, but Winged Migration is a cool movie. Not flying on the back of the bird, but it's shot in a way that is pretty awesome. Worth watching on a high def TV.

Agreed and there is so much beautiful sceneries around here it could be flying for ages and amaze

Completely agree.

The Kottke via link also has a link to a Perigrine Falcon hunting a duck:




The camera mounting makes it a little tiresome to watch but doesn't really make it less interesting.

The forest flight was amazing. Haa nature.

ps: I wish they uploaded a 720p video of it. a slow-mo camera would have been nice too.

Ah, this is just beautiful.

There's a whole community flying model airplanes trough a camera and video goggles: http://vimeo.com/16604842

More than that, it is so very peaceful.

But, I'm afraid people are going to hurt a lot of birds in making more videos like this.

I was just about to type how the footage is very similar to videos like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxBM-JLNyBg These guys are playing with fpv r/c drone-things.

The one video I really remember was a drone with a GoPro I think in Bangkok and it was going straight down the sides of skyscrapers and going over the top of the city.

It was an amazing video and I can't seem to find it anymore.

Wow. The first thing I thought was, if you tried this in New York you'd be arrested for terrorism and thrown into a Guantanamo prison.

AWESOME. You just completely made my day!!!

And here's some gorgeous video of people slope soaring RC gliders. It's amazing how similar the flight is to the eagle's.


And some slope soaring FPV: https://vimeo.com/37879715

Is there a forum where tech info on this topic is discussed?

It's called 'FPV' (first person view), and google searches for "RC FPV" and "FPV flying" should be fruitful.

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/index.php has an FPV section (and the rest of the RC stuff is obviously still relevant).

I'd also suggest a couple YouTube channels. Both FliteTest and RCModelReviews have numerous videos covering various aspects of the RC and FPV hobby.

The first time I saw this was Human Planet, in an episode about Kazakh hunters training Golden Eagles to hunt foxes for them:


The extras part of the documentary includes a behind-the-scenes look at getting the birds-eye shot.

There is a series on PBS in the US called Earthflight. It's breathtaking: http://schedule.wttw.com/series/20052/Earthflight-A-Nature-S...

So this is what being Gandalf feels like.

Spies of Saruman! The passage South is being watched.

Radagast is better with animals.

I wish they would have shown the eagle landing, that would have been interesting to see.

I agree, it would also have been nice if it was possible to mount the camera a little further back to see some of the wing action particularly when changing direction or avoiding obstacles like the tree.

Excellent nonetheless, very reminiscent of base jumper Jeb Corliss' - Grinding the Crack http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWfph3iNC-k (1:35-1:45 of the video gets me everytime)

Yeah, there's humans flying like this too :)

There's some great proximity basejump wingsuit footage out there, the sport is developing quickly. Try this one:


Very cool! The eagle appears to be using the ridge lift generated by wind coming up that slope very effectively.

Yes, it was very impressive to see just how little flapping was involved.

Looks like it's time to fire up Unity and make an eagle hunting sim.

It is not only eagles ;) http://www.reddit.com/r/gamingsuggestions/comments/1edfwh/ow... ... and yes creating a flying sim based on abilities of those masters of the skies in the wild would make for an epic game... i believe.

is there anything that suggests this is an actual GoPro?

i own several of them and i'd imagine that because of the way they have to be mounted, their width and frontal surface area would impede flying quite significantly.

i'm inclined to think it's a more slender camera, like the Contour. http://store.contour.com/ae/us/page/home

GoPro goes way overboard with their marketing; they've become the Kleenex of action cams.

Yeah, Midland Radio (no affiliation) also makes a slimmer action camera called the XTC: https://midlandusa.com/xtc-cameras/

GoPro's brand definitely doing that Kleenex thing where it's just the word for a small tough camera.

For those curious, the word for the phenomenon is 'genericization'[1], though I am particularly fond of the more colorful synonym 'genericide'[2], even if it's a bit etymologically unsound.

For an example of attempts at prevention, see [3], and remember, images aren't 'photoshopped', they're "enhanced with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements software.". :)

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generic_trademark

[2] http://www.legalzoom.com/intellectual-property-rights/tradem...

[3] http://www.adobe.com/legal/permissions/trademarks.html#photo...

The peregrine falcon videos linked to in the article used a "808 #16 HD Key Chain Camera" attached to the bird's back with a little harness. While they are much larger birds, I suspect something similar was used for the golden eagle video.

I'm pretty doubtful it's a GoPro as well. I think the title was just pulled from Reddit.

As an ex-games developer it reminded me of flying around a level editor with a fixed forward speed and using a mouse for orientation.

Maybe that's just me!

Reminds me of the time I was watching my cat and had a sudden revelation: The fur and flesh over his skeleton and organs is just like "skinning" a basic web page with CSS styles.

A second later I was like...


I'd quite like to see what it looks like with the visual acuity of an eagle as well. Or at least some representation. EG where we see blobs of colour as cars in a car park, the eagle sees the mouse under the front bumper of the red one.

I'd like to see some facsimile of this as well. Googling a bit unearthed this description of what it might look like:

"Eagles and hawks are neither near sighted nor far-sighted. Since long focal length lenses have a narrow angle of view, they have poor peripheral vision. Hawks and eagles have to turn their heads to see more of their surroundings. They can turn their heads 180 degrees, not quite as much as the owls, which can turn their heads 270 degrees. In contrast, human eyes have a short focal length, so we have a wider angle of view, nearly 180 degrees horizontally, so we don't have to turn our heads unless we need to look behind us, but we don't see as much detail as hawks can when something is far away..." Source: http://ca.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=2011011108374...

So it would be a representation of a much longer focal length with a much narrower field of vision.

Related fun fact: Owl's don't have eyballs they have eyetubes. They can't rotate their eyes in their sockets at all, which is why they can turn their head ~270 degrees, and why they have such an incredibly long focal length.

Earthflight has similarly beautiful footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIKnol2i850

At the end, they shot the eagle to retrieve the camera.

It's done as an a animation, but here's a similar video from the point-of-view of a kiwi bird:


Animation or not, it may be the most poignant short film that I've ever seen.

I'm guessing it was a tamed eagle or something like that? Very impressive, though, nonetheless.

Yes, likely a bird kept for falconry.

The present king of Saudi was a falconer. Interesting pic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:King_Abdullah_in_his_youth...

If you look at the shadow at 1:20 or so, you can see the jesses (falconry straps) trailing behind the bird.

They play this video while you wait for the train to take you up to that glacier (the mer de glace). I stared at it gapemouthed for some time!

This is like paragliding :) But without the hassle of collapses, material problems and a wee bit faster.

exactly like paragliding.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Zr6gf1OejE

Ps. If you fly laminar air from the ocean there are hardly any collapses, regarding speed ~ 40kmh

what is this reddit?

How did they retrieve the camera?

I'm surprised how many people assume this was a wild bird.


That's what I was wondering... I'd assume it's a trained eagle. Wouldn't want the eagle to be stuck with a camera on it's back.

I would expect a wild eagle to either avoid the people more or to make a bigger fuss about them. This one flies over them for fun (or so).

pattern matching maybe? I would assume he can recognize his handlers by sight and checks out all of those he passes just in case they moved from where he took off from?

that or he saw lots of tasty little critters about

One possibility: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-daxzVxrQI

But I'm sure it was a trained bird that returned to its handler after the flight.

I'm a little terrified as to how close to the trees it got.

It's had lots of practice, don't worry ;)

Fantastic - quite some speed it's got there.

This was well worth watching!

I wish I had an eagle

Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' Into the future

Oh, you know. Just a GoPro on an eagle...


reminds me Ocarina Of Time

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