How’d They Do That? The Incredible Story Behind Casey Neista…

Unless you’ve been residing below a rock, you’ve seen this video. But how on earth did they pull this off?

Last weekend on the New York City Drone Film Festival we sat in on a panel session that went over the unimaginable story behind the making of this video.

Although the video is whimsical and an entire lot of enjoyable to look at, the fact is that making it was a really severe endeavor, and it took a complete yr and TONS of testing to make this occur.

The panel was moderated by Sam Sheffer from Mashable, and included Casey Neistat, Paul Leys of Samsung, and Justin Oakes and Elaine Lozano of Droneworks Studios.

Let’s dive in.

How Was the Idea for the Video Born?

Just a little over a yr in the past Samsung launched their Gear 360, and partnered with Casey Neistat to assist get the phrase out.

In case you’re not aware of 360 cameras, they actually movie in 360 levels, in order that it’s essential to put on VR goggles to view the whole lot of the footage captured.

They had VR goggles on the NYC Drone Film Festival and had been letting individuals put on them and watch the 360 video Casey filmed with a selfie stick whereas being pulled by the large drone, and it was a tremendous (though considerably nauseating) expertise to look at the 360 footage. You might transfer your head round, as when you had been really on location the place the video had been filmed, and it was as when you had been merely seeing the world round you.

When the 360 first got here out again in 2016, Casey brainstormed about methods to make use of it.

It was essential to supply no less than three factors of curiosity, so that you simply really noticed one thing when you appeared round within the digital world the 360 digital camera captured. If there was just one focal point, and even two, that wouldn’t actually be taking full benefit of the 360’s capabilities, since these photographs might be captured simply the identical utilizing a daily video digital camera.

So, in fact, one thing spectacular needed to be finished so as to actually leverage the capabilities of 360 video.

Drones had already been used to movie surfers, however what a few video the place a drone was carrying an individual?

You might movie not simply the individual in flight, however the reactions of these on the bottom and the encompassing panorama, offering a spectacle that may permit for a number of factors of curiosity.

Around this time Casey started speaking with Paul Leys of Samsung, they usually looped in Justin Oakes and Elaine Lozano of the DroneWorks staff. After chatting, Justin did some fast calculations on a spreadsheet and discovered that it was really bodily potential to make a drone that lifted an individual into the air, and the concept for the mission was born.

Making the Drone

It took a yr to create the customized octocopter that carries Casey Neistat into the sky.

During the panel we discovered that the DroneWorks staff named their distinctive creation Janet, and that’s the identify we’re going to make use of to discuss with her for the rest of this text.

The panel: Janet, Justin Oakes, Elaine Lozano, Casey Neistat, Paul Leys, and Sam Sheffer

Building Janet was an unimaginable endeavor. Every single piece was customized made, and examined to failure to make sure security and reliability.

Elaine Lozano of DroneWorks Studios mentioned that in that point that they had 5 to 50 containers being delivered each single day containing components and items for constructing the drone.

There is a large quantity of redundancy constructed into Janet. She can lose batteries, flight controllers, and even a number of propellers and nonetheless keep within the air (they even examined her with solely 4 of her eight propellers).

Despite her spectacular dimension and energy, Justin mentioned that Janet’s not really that refined. She’s actually only a massive, extremely highly effective RC helicopter.

Janet’s Specs and Details

  • 50 minutes of flight in good situations, however solely four through the making of the video given varied components (like how chilly it’s in Finland!)
  • 16 7 cell batteries
  • Every a part of the body was lower from carbon and customized made by the DroneWorks staff
  • Every part was examined to failure
  • Fits into eight totally different instances, and took about 2 and 1/2 months to move to Finland, the place the video was shot
  • Uses an analog FPV system
  • Flying is totally handbook, but it surely does have a GPS as a failsafe
  • Can solely be flown by Justin Oakes (and possibly just a few different individuals on this planet)
  • Handles easily, “better than ALEXA or RED” in response to Justin Oakes

Making the Video


Regulatory challenges had been prime of thoughts as Janet was being constructed. Once that they had her constructed, the place would they really be capable to fly her?

The U.S. wasn’t thought-about in any respect, as a result of potential crimson tape flying an individual with a drone would entail. The indisputable fact that Janet weighs over 50 kilos, and most nations don’t permit drones to fly that weigh over 50 kilos, meant the listing of potential nations that may permit them to fly Janet in any respect (not to mention fly her with an individual in tow within the air) was fairly quick out of the gate.

After an exhaustive search, Finland was one of many solely nations fully open to letting the Samsung/DroneWorks staff fly Janet. Once the choice was made and the plan drawn up, it took about two and half months to move Janet, in bits and items, to Finland.

Location was additionally a problem. To movie the video they took over a city referred to as Santa’s Village, a tough feat in and of itself provided that they filmed closed to Christmas in probably the most widespread vacationer locations within the nation.

And then there have been points with merely getting sufficient time to shoot. It turns on the market’s solely a 3 hour window of sunshine in Finland throughout Christmas time, from 11:30am to 2:30pm, which left little or no time to get all of the photographs wanted.

Add to this the truth that Janet might solely be within the air for about 4 minutes earlier than her batteries wanted to be switched out, and that switching the batteries took 20-30 minutes, and you’ll see how onerous it was to get any filming finished in any respect.


Safety was an enormous concern, each for Casey, who in fact was being flown excessive into the air by a drone, and for these people standing round, who might doubtlessly be harmed in the event that they bought too near Janet.

A staff of 50 individuals—50 PEOPLE!—supported the making of the video. A stunt coordinator and crew of stuntmen had been required to maintain everybody secure, and to seem as extras within the background through the snowboarding parts of the capturing (although the individuals giving Casey excessive 5s as he snowboards via city are precise Finnish residents).

In addition to the stunt staff, Skynamic, based mostly in Mainz, Germany was on website to help filming (they gained the Showreel class in final yr’s NYC Drone Film Festival).

A truck was required simply to move Janet’s batteries and further components, and Casey was connected to the drone with an invisible wire, which ensured that even when he misplaced his grip on the rope connecting him to the drone he wouldn’t fall.

The highest they took Casey was 200 toes within the air, though the Finnish authorities had given them permission to go as excessive as 400 toes. (200 looks like a lot to me.)

Piloting Janet was its personal topic through the panel, as a result of it was so troublesome to do.

Justin Oakes was the pilot, and he had a staff of three individuals supporting him as he flew Janet, maintaining the trail in entrance of him and area surrounding him clear so he wouldn’t be bumped, and permitting him to focus all of his consideration on flying and maintaining Casey secure. Justin mentioned he had gloves customized made simply to fly Janet within the chilly local weather of Finland, which might match a transmitter into them.

In quick, after studying about the entire challenges and logistics required, it appears fairly superb that this video was made in any respect.


Zacc Dukowitz

Zacc Dukowitz

Zacc Dukowitz is the Director of Marketing for UAV Coach. A author with skilled expertise in schooling know-how and digital advertising, Zacc is keen about reporting on the drone trade at a time when UAVs can assist us stay higher lives. Zacc additionally holds the rank of nidan in Aikido, a Japanese martial artwork, and is a broadly revealed fiction author. Zacc has an MFA from the University of Florida and a BA from St. John’s College. Follow @zaccdukowitz or try to learn his work.

Zacc Dukowitz

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