MIT researchers get drones to work as intelligent moving photography lights
Researchers at MIT have come up with a solution to rim lighting issues by putting the lights on drones. This means moving lights every time the subject changes position is far easier.
Rim lighting is a technique that requires the subject to be lit from the side. Each time they move all the lights on tripods need to be shifted around carefully. By placing those lights on drones the movement can be fully automated and very precise.
The camera-mounted interface allows the drones, armed with flash units, to move automatically. The modified Parrot AR.Drone not only has a flash unit but also carries a halogen light as a continuous light source and a laser rangefinder to measure distance.
The photographer first sets up how the light should look on the subject then the drones intelligently maintain that. As the subject moves so too do the lights. Every second the camera produces around 20 images that are transmitted to a computer running the control algorithm which allows the drones to respond appropriately.
The prototype system will be presented at the International Symposium on Computational Aesthetic in Graphics, Visualisation and Imaging in August. Hopefully private use will follow making this available to everyone in some form - though it's likely something only professionals will end up using.