Last year, the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made exemptions for a number of Hollywood studios, allowing the first ever commercial use of drones. This allowed six major studios the right to legally fly drones over the top of people, but only when shooting on an outdoor, ‘closed’ film sets. Since then, another forty similar applications have been submitted to the FAA, many of which have nothing to do with filmmaking.

It’s easy to see how companies such as Amazon and Google have a vested interest in the future use of drones, but for filmmakers, their use is a massive benefit to cinematography. Not to mention, the fact it’s a far less expensive way of obtaining spectacular footage than the costs associated with hiring a crane or helicopter.

Commenting on the FAA’s decision, Greg Cirillo, Chairman of the Aviation Practice, at Washington law firm Wiley Rein,  said, “While the approval for Hollywood is very limited in scope, it’s a message to everyone that this ball is rolling.” 

Indeed the ball is rolling, and one of its first stops is north of the border.

DJI Phantom and the 3DR IRIS both sporting SHIFT kits.

DJI Phantom and the 3DR IRIS both sporting SHIFT kits.

This week, the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) announced a collaboration with tech startup Perceptiv Labs for the use of its SHIFT drone technology during production on the feature, 22 CHASER, produced by Aeschylus Poulos (Blindness, October Gale).

That collaboration extends to several productions that CFC has slated for this year, all of which will benefit from the technology. Including a new feature, titled Body/Mind/Change Redux and starring David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, eXistenZ).

“Perceptiv SHIFT has created and refined a technology that will enable all filmmakers to achieve looks and shots not otherwise possible,” said Poulos. “We are thrilled to be able to use the technology on 22 CHASER, a film set in the tow-truck world that navigates the urban jungle in powerful rescue machines, where its uses will be as limitless as our imagination.”

The technology is more than just another drone, in fact, it’s not a drone at all, but rather a state-of-the-art vision guided camera motion control system, which you purchase as an upgrade kit for your drone.


“Framing subjects with a flying camera is hard. Perceptiv SHIFT makes it easy, allowing a filmmaker to frame a subject quickly and efficiently while maintaining creative control,” said Neil Mathew, CEO, Perceptiv Labs.

“We’re giving the CFC and its partner creators all the control without the pain, while allowing them to take filmmaking into new exciting territory. The work we’ll produce together will be truly remarkable, and it would have been unaffordable – even impossible – to achieve a few years ago.”

It works by using ‘computer vision technology’ and ‘high speed machine learning’, to keep the camera tracking its subjects and in focus whilst you operate the drone.

Acting like a ‘virtual dolly’, users can preset complex gimbal and drone motions, repeatable and patterned flight paths, pan, tilt and zoom all whilst tracking up to four subjects simultaneously, via their iOS or Android Tablets and Smart Phones.


“The future of modern filmmaking has literally arrived at our doorstep, made possible through Perceptiv Lab’s incredible, affordable technology,” said Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, CFC.

“This is exactly the kind of company and product that we love to support through our digital entertainment accelerator, ideaBOOST, and we’re thrilled to introduce Perceptiv SHIFT to our partners including CORUS Entertainment and SHAW Media and to be among the first film organizations to leverage this innovative technology for our internal projects.”

Currently, SHIFT is only available for the most popular drones, such as DJI, 3DRobotics, and Freefly Cinestar, but future updates will include more makes. It also supports a number of the most popular Gimbals (MoVI, Ronin, Zenmuse, etc.) and Autopilot devices (Wookong, Pixhawk, etc.).


The Shift Kit is available on pre-order for US$599, shipping in Q3 of 2015. Also available on pre-order are a number of pre-installed kits: DJI Phantom & SHIFT – US$1649 or the 3DR IRIS & SHIFT – US$1699. The company also offer a ‘Ship Us your Drone’ installation service.

For more info, check: www.flytheshift.com


Excerpts from Press Release

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