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DJI unveils the Air 2S drone with 20-megapixel camera

Engadget

It's barely been a month since DJI unveiled a new drone, and the company already has another to show. Note the absence of the Mavic branding, indicating we might be seeing more of a shift in how the company pitches each level of quadcopter it offers. It's not clear if the "S" branding here is an Apple-style upgrade to the previous model, but the Air 2S certainly looks like someone gave the previous model a light facelift. The design seems near-identical bar a few smoother lines and an extra pair of front obstacle avoidance cameras. But what's important here is the camera it seems.


DJI's New Drone Makes Aerial Cinematography a Breeze

WIRED

DJI has a new drone, the Air 2S, and it's one of the best drones I've ever flown. The Air 2S is externally nearly identical to last year's Mavic Air 2. It even uses the same batteries, which makes upgrading a little cheaper. There are some very welcome changes in this update. The Air 2S adds an object detection camera to the top of the drone, which improves the collision avoidance system. It really helps when you're flying toward something at high speed, since the drone pitches forward, rendering the front sensor slightly less effective.


Answer Man: AI program for Answer Man reporting? Fear of long words? Drone deliveries?

#artificialintelligence

Question: A friend of mine who has a connection to the Asheville Citizen Times told me that because of the staff shortage in the newsroom, the paper has purchased a software program using artificial intelligence that researches and then generates the answers to about half of the Answer Man columns. From what I've heard, this is being done to provide the Answer Man more time to work on other writing assignments. Apparently, the only part of the AI questions that are actually addressed by the real Answer Man are the smart aleck answers, because the AI program is not that developed. Could you please provide some additional information on how this is going? My answer: You've got to admit it would be nice to have some intelligence in this column.


Best photography drone in 2021

ZDNet

Increasingly the line between the two is blurring, with prosumer and sub-$4,000 drones delivering commercial-level quality and advanced flying features that just a few years ago were exclusive to the highest-end equipment. The best aerial hardware and technology stacks for keeping an eye on operations, individuals, and valued assets from above. It can be daunting wading into the deep roster of drones designed for enterprise photography and video. Sure, DJI, long the market leader, makes some truly fantastic devices, but before you go out to buy the first Mavic you come across for your business photography needs, take a moment to appreciate the nuanced diversity of UAV hardware out there and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the current offerings across a variety of applications and budgets. To help, we reached out to video and photography professionals to hear what they had to say.


Watch the incredible single-shot drone video that's impressing Hollywood

Mashable

When your 87-second short film prompts the director of Toy Story 3 to tweet praise calling it "one of the most amazing things I've ever seen," you know you've done something right. Filmed at Bryant Lake Bowl and Theatre in Minneapolis with one continuous drone shot, Jay Christensen's Right Up Our Alley is a stunning short film that's essentially a high-speed tour of a regular night at a bowling alley. At the time of writing, it's clocked up over 6.1 million views on Twitter and 660,000 views on YouTube and caught the attention of Hollywood star Elijah Wood and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who both had similarly enthusiastic things to say about it. In terms of how it was made, Christensen confirmed on Instagram that the sound was added separately later. It's worth noting that Christensen has previous form when it comes to single-shot drone films -- you can watch his previous shorts, including one filmed at a movie theatre and one that follows a motorbike rider through an empty mall, on his YouTube channel.


Sony's first drone packs an imaging punch for pro content creators

Mashable

During its keynote at CES 2021, Sony gave us a glimpse at its very first drone: Airpeak. And, since Sony is essentially synonymous with sharp and cinematic image quality, it makes sense that Airpeak will first cater to professional photographers and videographers when it launches this Spring. The drone project was initially announced back in November via press release, but Sony clearly wanted to wait for a special occasion like CES to debut it in all its glory. Details are still scarce, but Sony did reveal that the Airpeak is the smallest drone yet for mounting and flying a DSLR or mirrorless camera (specifically its own lineup of Alpha mirrorless cameras). With Sony's drone, content creators can use more heavy-duty cameras to capture aerial footage rather than having to rely on built-in cameras that come equipped with most drones.


AI, drones and 4K cameras: New tech boosts security systems in Japan

The Japan Times

An increasing variety of technologies such as artificial intelligence, drones and high-quality 4K video cameras is being introduced in the field of security amid a serious shortage of personnel in the field. A virtual "AI guard" developed by major Japanese security firm Secom Co. was tested at Ogikubo Hospital in Tokyo in late October. An animated character displayed on an electric panel at the hospital entrance takes visitors' temperatures and then welcomes those without fevers into the facility. The character has been programmed to respond verbally to basic inquiries and can tell visitors where the bathrooms are located and what time their buses will arrive. It is also able to make eye contact with visitors and lean down when approached by children or people in wheelchairs.


Future Tense Newsletter: The Great Real Housewives Emoji Debate

Slate

Sometimes, like a total eclipse, my two great passions--technology and reality TV--become one. It happened in November 2017, when, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I cajoled then-Future Tense contributor Jacob Brogan into writing about the previous night's Teen Mom 2 episode. It grappled with a critical question: Is it OK to shoot down a drone flying above private property? The segment in question begins as (former) teen mom Jenelle prepares for her wedding to David, a very cool and normal dude who we will return to in a moment. David, stalking the property like an ornery bison, calls Jenelle, informing her that "some girls" were attempting to take pictures of the event before it began.


Batteries, camera, action! Learning a semantic control space for expressive robot cinematography

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Aerial vehicles are revolutionizing the way film-makers can capture shots of actors by composing novel aerial and dynamic viewpoints. However, despite great advancements in autonomous flight technology, generating expressive camera behaviors is still a challenge and requires non-technical users to edit a large number of unintuitive control parameters. In this work we develop a data-driven framework that enables editing of these complex camera positioning parameters in a semantic space (e.g. calm, enjoyable, establishing). First, we generate a database of video clips with a diverse range of shots in a photo-realistic simulator, and use hundreds of participants in a crowd-sourcing framework to obtain scores for a set of semantic descriptors for each clip. Next, we analyze correlations between descriptors and build a semantic control space based on cinematography guidelines and human perception studies. Finally, we learn a generative model that can map a set of desired semantic video descriptors into low-level camera trajectory parameters. We evaluate our system by demonstrating that our model successfully generates shots that are rated by participants as having the expected degrees of expression for each descriptor. We also show that our models generalize to different scenes in both simulation and real-world experiments. Supplementary video: https://youtu.be/6WX2yEUE9_k


12 cool drones for photography and more — including some on sale

Mashable

To snap the photo of your dreams, you might have to get creative. You know, like climbing to the roof, flying over a cityscape, or scaling buildings. Here are 12 drones on sale as of Oct. 31, including drones designed specifically for photography, micro drones, and drones suitable for beginners. The E88 Four-Axis High-Definition Aerial Photography Drone is both lightweight and durable. This drone is on sale for 21% off for a limited time, making it just $59.95.