Aerial Imagery and Cinematography IDP109

Aerial Imagery and Cinematography ~ IDP109

W 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Sabin Reed 104 – Spatial Analysis Lab
September 11th through October 23rd, 2019
One Credit Course

Course Description

The Aerial Imagery and Cinematography course proposal is a seven-week, one credit course designed to immerse students in drone avionics, aerial photography and videography, and photogrammetry and image processing. The course will encourage teamwork, curiosity, critical thinking, perseverance, and creativity and will best suit the motivated student who wants to learn methods and techniques for acquiring and analyzing aerial data. Students will apply or propose appropriate drone flight protocols to acquire imagery/data to design a final project of their choice based on one of the twin drivers of the course – a mapping analysis / 3D modeling or a cinematography production highlighting drone flight and aerial imagery acquisition. The final project may also take the form of a research proposal that harnesses the affordances of drone technology.

Course Goal

After completing the course activities and exercises, students will be able to safely and purposefully operate drones (with supervision), and acquire and analyze imagery and data for use in their academic coursework and research.

Course Prerequisites

Participating in this course requires dedication and a willingness to devote time outside of class to obtain a competent level of proficiency in flight operations. No prior knowledge regarding the use of drones or radio-controlled aircraft is required, but students should have a driving interest in aerial imagery, drone robotics, and/or research applications of drone technology. Basic computer literacy, ability to participate in moderate physical activity for lengthy periods of time (indoors and outdoors), minimum 20/40 corrected vision in the dominant eye, and fine motor coordination of the hands are recommended skills for students enrolled in this course. Note that physical limitations do not exclude learners from enrolling in this course.

Course Instructors

Jon Caris, Director of the Spatial Analysis Lab, Smith College
Jon directs the Spatial Analysis Lab at Smith College which supports classes across the curriculum as well as faculty and student scholarship. He studies how decisions made in the political economy manifest themselves upon the landscape. He is particularly interested in visualizing partitioned, regulated space that unintentionally marginalizes individuals and communities. Jon began tinkering with drones in 2013 to capture aerial imagery for a variety of mapping and research projects.  He is now a FAA certified remote pilot and teaches short courses and workshops on drone technology and applications with emphasis on mapping and broadly understanding the emergence of this disruptive technology.

Tracy Tien, Spatial Data Specialist, Smith College
Tracy works with students and faculty whose research intersects with spatial science. Her affinity for the bird’s eye view extends from satellites to drones. She’s interested in the research capabilities of UAVs, from data acquisition to deriving digital models of the landscape. She’s a FAA certified remote pilot and part of the Spatial Analysis Lab team that teaches short courses/workshops regarding drones and considers how this emerging technology influences human spatial narratives.

Learning Objectives

  • Operating as members of a three-person flight crew, students will successfully follow pre-flight, flight, and post-flight protocols to acquire correctly exposed aerial imagery for mapping, 3D modeling and cinematography projects.
  • In the Spatial Analysis Lab, students will use photogrammetric techniques and software to generate high resolution orthophoto mosaics, 3D models, and digital surface models.
  • In the Digital Media Lab, students will use non-linear editing software to import, edit, enhance, and share a 2-3 minute cinematography production highlighting drone flight mapping and aerial imagery acquisition.

Course Outline

  • Drone Technology in Higher Education
  • Drone Anatomy
  • Simulated Flight
  • Safety and Legal Issues
  • DJI Software Review
  • Pre-Flight Checklist
  • Flight Patterns
  • Aerial Imagery and Cinematography
  • Post-Flight Checklist
  • 3D Mapping & Modeling Project Design and Presentation
  • Cinematography Project Design and Presentation

For More Information:

Jon Caris, Director of the Spatial Analysis Lab,
Tracy Tien, Spatial Data Specialist,