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RPAs: Designing, Building & Using Them For Business

SILICON CHIP talks to (while we watch in awe!) two young men who are dedicated RPA hobbyists turned businessmen: they are setting up a company specialising in aerial cinematography for movies and TV using RPAs - one of the first in Australia to do so.

By Ross Tester

On page 22 we showed an RPA – in this case a large octocopter – taking photographs at the top of a 50m-high communications tower and relaying the images back to ground operators in real time.

That particular octocopter – a huge thing compared to the Parrot we reviewed – is one of several belonging to Matt Chang and Peter Maruncic. They’ve formed a business called “Rotorworks” to use RPAs in film, TV and advertising production, giving producers and directors hitherto impossible-to-obtain aerial shots and angles, at dramatically lower cost than traditional methods.

“Previously only a real helicopter could get the angles but could never approach to such intimate close-up distance that we can achieve with our octocopter,” said Matt.

With 35+ years of RC aircraft experience, Matt is the Chief UAV controller who will be certified to fly the octocopter, while Peter with 25 years RC experience is the Aerial Video operator and UAV controller.

Matt was one the first UAV Operators certified back in year 2000 with the pioneering use of RC blimps for aerial advertising.

With multi-rotor technology now available and certification to operate commercially in Australia, they are in a unique position to shoot aerial angles that have never before been available to the cinematographer without significant investment in manpower and costs.

“We can fly indoors or outdoors and we can get her moving up to about 60km/h or faster if required for high speed tracking shots.”

“Importantly, we can shoot in high-risk locations in complete safety and zero risk to people, with almost zero set-up time. For example, it’s simple for us to hover off a cliff face, above a tree or under a bridge. We can also take off and land on a moving boat. Shots over water are another great aspect of what we can offer, even take off and landing on water if required.”


Matt and Pete currently have about seven multi rotor aircraft of all types that carry all types of cameras, from a tiny GoPro to large Epic.

The smallest craft can fly through narrow doorways and windows if required, while still carrying a camera (albeit a small one)!

Click for larger image
Invasion of the RPAs! While the smallest of these are virtually hobby machines, they are still capable of taking a small camera aloft. But the real work is done by the hexacopter (at rear) and the octocopter at front. The orange-coloured radial arms assist the operator in orienting the craft from a distance - they're mounted facing forward (same direction as camera).

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