Aerial video of Boston at night

Now that prime helicopter flying season is upon us, I will share a project that we helped with six months ago: Boston Skyline: A 4K Aerial Experience. Two of us from East Coast Aero Club flew a Robinson R-44, mostly sideways, while Sean Collins used a RED Dragon camera in a gimbal.


  1. George A.

    April 28, 2017 @ 1:25 pm


    Very well done video (I couldn’t believe there is that much light over Boston at night).

    Some of the video is very close to buildings and landmark, was that the camera was zoomed in or actual distance? If actual, I didn’t know one can fly that close!

  2. superMike

    April 28, 2017 @ 1:36 pm


    The high resolution camera really does a great job rendering the lights and the windows.

  3. GermanL

    April 28, 2017 @ 2:22 pm


    Great Job! Makes me very nostalgic… Prudential, Copley Square, Back Bay, etc…

    Yes, I was also surprised by the amount of light at night.


    April 28, 2017 @ 3:04 pm



  5. philg

    April 28, 2017 @ 5:59 pm


    George: I think the videographer was using a reasonably wide lens (maybe a zoom?). Most of the time we were probably a little closer to the buildings than it appears. It is safe to get within 100′ or so of a building laterally. The key is to make sure that you have somewhere clear for an autorotation in the event that the engine quits.

  6. toucan sam

    April 28, 2017 @ 9:40 pm


    This is great Phil!

  7. Andrea Matranga

    April 28, 2017 @ 10:35 pm


    The footage is very nice, but I can’t say I’m a fan of the color grading, particularly after it gets dark. If he got rid of the yellow, there’s a lot more color data he could use.

  8. George A.

    April 29, 2017 @ 8:17 am


    @Andrea are you saying that the video was altered to amplify certain colors? That we are not looking at the true colors over Boston?

    @Philg do you know if that’s the case?

  9. Andrea Matranga

    April 29, 2017 @ 12:02 pm


    ‘True colors’ is not a useful concept in photography. The way the brain perceives color depends on what other colors are present, etc. In this case the colors are rather more neutral than is necessary. Most off what you see are office fluorescents, that tend to appear green yellow on RGB sensors. If you correct for this cast you gain the headspace to push the saturation a bit, without it looking unrealistic.

    Presumably the commercial outlet of this video is to license out 5 second clips to tvshows, movies and ads that need to establish that the action takes place in Boston, and then they will do their own color grading to match the first unit footage.

  10. Andrea Matranga

    April 29, 2017 @ 12:06 pm

  11. SuperMike

    April 29, 2017 @ 2:37 pm


    Philg: what kind of gimbal?

  12. SuperMike

    April 29, 2017 @ 2:41 pm


    Here’s an interesting article about how the change in street lighting technology is changing the way cities appear in film.

  13. philg

    April 30, 2017 @ 1:54 pm


    What kind of gimbal? I think a DJI Ronin.

    George: As Andrea points out, the concept of “true colors” is hard to implement when you’re capturing images with a sensor (or film) and displaying stuff on an LCD screen. The big difference between being in the helicopter and watching the movie is that it seemed a lot darker when we were up there in the helicopter!

Log in