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  • Wedge-Tail Pictures

Thermal-imaging drones to find koalas - documentary shoot

What a great drone video assignment for Wedge-Tail a few weeks back; hired to spend a few days in the wild with a team of cutting-edge government and university researchers using heat-seeking drone hardware to detect and monitor koalas.

Working with Germany's Smac Media, it was the kind of video production assignment there hasn't been enough of over the last year of Covid disruptions; the adventure kind.

The team were using a range of DJI hardware - Matrice and Mavic drones - to seek out koalas in the dead of night (they give off greater heat spots at night, in winter) before attempting to locate any positive sightings on foot afterwards.

We were on the NSW mid-north Coast; but temperatures were still dipping to around 3/4c each night. A camera operator's (or indeed a drone operator's) hands are definitely best-friends with fingerless gloves in these conditions. There are also questions around drones, cameras and their batteries, as well as foggy lenses in cold conditions like this.

Koalas - and many other species - were hit hard by the devastating fire season the summer before last. It's hoped that technological advancements with the capabilities of drones will keep monitoring efforts on track. Ultimately though, there is no doubt what the big issues are for koalas - habitat loss thanks to humans, along with illness such as chlamydia, attacks by dogs (feral and domestic), and death by motor vehicle.

Using drones to locate wildlife is something that has been used in different territories around the world - including in Australia - for a number of years. Working with the team of researchers on this environmental filmmaking project was also of real interest for us given that the use of drones for mapping and wildlife monitoring is also something Wedge-Tail Pictures has been developing to work alongside our video production capabilities in remote environments.

Editing will be carried out by Smac in Munich; dig out the final show ('Wildlife Diaries') to see what we found with the drone!

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