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SAFETY ALERT: look how DJI is marketing their Ronin-M with photos of extremely reckless and dangerous camera operating

Toby Birney
 

It was recently brought to my attention in a Facebook group that I belong to that the DJI Ronin-M website is their Ronin-M using photos of an unrestrained camera operator standing up in a convertible "camera car", hand-holding a Ronin-M camera rig, while the "camera car" is driving down a gravel road. He appears to be capturing a shot of a motorcycle that is also driving just in front of the "camera car."  These photos made me think about just how dangerous this type of marketing is, especially for inexperienced or impressionable filmmakers or those who haven't necessarily come up through the ranks a traditional film-set culture with a grip crew or AD who would have never allowed this type of behavior. 

The DJI website features 3 different photos showing this reckless activity, and they are using these images to sell their product. I encourage you to look for yourself and read the marketing language that they are using to sell the Ronin-M. https://www.dji.com/ronin-m

Now, I'm a big fan of DJI's products and I have used several of them (safely) with great success on my own projects. But these photos deeply troubled and angered me and prompted me to start a Facebook page called "Safe On Set" which I will use to try to use to spread safety awareness and educate filmmakers. https://www.facebook.com/safeonset

But I am curious as to what you all think that we, as a professional community, should (or even can) do about this type of marketing.It's irresponsible corporate behavior at best and it could, in my humble opinion, endanger peoples' lives at worst. 

Here are the photos that spurred me to bring up this topic:



Toby Birney
Director of Photography and Camera Operator 
Currently in Lithuania
 

Toby Birney
 

PS- my apologies, I meant to type,

“It's irresponsible at best and it could, in my humble opinion, endanger peoples' lives at worst.”

I see that the words “corporate behavior” crept into that sentence from when I was drafting this post earlier and I meant to delete that.

Toby Birney
Director of Photography & Camera Operator
Currently in Lithuania


On Apr 30, 2018, at 13:08, Toby Birney <birneycam@...> wrote:

But I am curious as to what you all think that we, as a professional community, should (or even can) do about this type of marketing.It's irresponsible corporate behavior at best and it could, in my humble opinion, endanger peoples' lives at worst.

George Hupka
 

I was looking for the tiny print that says "stunt driver on closed course - do not try this"

Yep, "save time" by completely ignoring safety, that's something we might not want to embrace...
--

----------
George Hupka
Director/DP
Saskatoon, Canada
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List

Bernard Harper
 



Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.
From: George Hupka
Sent: Tuesday, 1 May 2018 00:07
To: cml-general@...
Reply To: cml-general@...
Subject: Re: [cml-general] SAFETY ALERT: look how DJI is marketing their Ronin-M with photos of extremely reckless and dangerous camera operating

I was looking for the tiny print that says "stunt driver on closed course - do not try this"

Yep, "save time" by completely ignoring safety, that's something we might not want to embrace...
--

----------
George Hupka
Director/DP
Saskatoon, Canada
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List


Toby Birney
 

I sent DJI a direct message via Instagram. I’ll follow up here if I get a response. If anyone here has a direct line to DJI’s marketing department and is as outraged as I am by the use of this imagery, please pass along a message to them. 

I wrote,
“Your marketing photos for the Ronin-M are irresponsible. You are encouraging risky behavior to sell your product. Please, change the imagery you are using before someone makes a fatal error in judgement while using your product as shown on your website.”

image1.png

I’m serious, I really believe that these photos should come down. 

Toby Birney
Director of Photography / Camera Operator 
Currently in Lithuania 

On May 1, 2018, at 02:10, Bernard Harper <bernieharper@...> wrote:



Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.
From: George Hupka
Sent: Tuesday, 1 May 2018 00:07
Reply To: cml-general@...
Subject: Re: [cml-general] SAFETY ALERT: look how DJI is marketing their Ronin-M with photos of extremely reckless and dangerous camera operating

I was looking for the tiny print that says "stunt driver on closed course - do not try this"

Yep, "save time" by completely ignoring safety, that's something we might not want to embrace...
--

----------
George Hupka
Director/DP
Saskatoon, Canada
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List


Art Adams
 

Yeah, DJI's marketing department seems completely out of touch.

And the dangerous part is not just that someone will be stupid enough to do it, but that producers and directors will see this and expect us to do exactly what's in those pictures. "Just grab that shot, you don't need any safety gear. DJI is so safe you can just hold it against the bed of the truck. It's super light, you can even lean out." Someone who usually knows better may be situationally stupid enough to believe that impressing them is worth the risk.

--
Art Adams
Director of Photography
San Francisco Bay Area

Charles Pickel
 

https://www.icg600.com/SAFETY

Charles Pickel
seriousgear.com
Tel 206-285-4776

On May 1, 2018 1:13 PM, Art Adams <art.cml.only@...> wrote:
Yeah, DJI's marketing department seems completely out of touch.

And the dangerous part is not just that someone will be stupid enough to do it, but that producers and directors will see this and expect us to do exactly what's in those pictures. "Just grab that shot, you don't need any safety gear. DJI is so safe you can just hold it against the bed of the truck. It's super light, you can even lean out." Someone who usually knows better may be situationally stupid enough to believe that impressing them is worth the risk.

--
Art Adams
Director of Photography
San Francisco Bay Area

Barry Goyette
 

Where were y’all back in 2013 when Freefly showed us the best way to Catch a cab in NYC... 


Barry Goyette
Stills Motion & Design 
San Luis Obispo CA



On May 1, 2018 1:13 PM, Art Adams <art.cml.only@...> wroteb:
Yeah, DJI's marketing department seems completely out of touch.


Toby Birney
 

I agree Art, and I am trying to call them out on it. I invite you and all other professionals here to do the same. So far, I’ve posted the images to an Instagram and Facebook account and tagged DJI. I’ve also sent a DM to their Instagram account. I’m not sure what more I can do, but I’m going to keep trying to get a response.

Toby Birney
Director of photography / Camera Operator
Currently in Lithuania

On May 1, 2018, at 23:13, Art Adams <art.cml.only@...> wrote:

Yeah, DJI's marketing department seems completely out of touch.

Toby Birney
 

Oh man, I remember that short. And to be honest, my safety radar never went off back then when I saw it. I’d like to think I was just as safety conscious back then but clearly I wasn’t, I know that I thought it was really clever and freeing to be able to move a camera around like that. And a lot of people who aren’t safety conscious today will be seeing the DJI Ronin-M marketing website without their radars going off either. That’s why we need to call them out on it.

Toby Birney
Director of Photography / Camera Operator
Currently in Lithuania

On May 1, 2018, at 23:58, Barry Goyette <barrygoyette@...> wrote:

Where were y’all back in 2013 when Freefly showed us the best way to Catch a cab in NYC...

Bob Kertesz
 

Where were y’all back in 2013 when Freefly showed us the best way to Catch a cab in NYC... 


A lot of the shots the rig took in that video feature mostly or totally headless people.

Is that a feature of the product?

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC
Hollywood, California

DIT, Video Controller, and live compositor extraordinaire.

High quality images for more than four decades - whether you've wanted them or not.©

* * * * * * * * * *

Rakesh Malik
 

Given the way that most people who use gimbals regularly shoot use them, it's probably just the luck of the draw.


On Tue, May 1, 2018 at 2:14 PM, Bob Kertesz <bob@...> wrote:

    A lot of the shots the rig took in that video feature mostly or totally headless people.

Is that a feature of the product?

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC
Hollywood, California

-----------------------------


Ricardo Alfonso
 

I agree, it’s like Uber for cinematography.

Ricardo Alfonso
Photography in Motion
1.647.625.9393
Toronto, ON


Craig Kief
 

On Tue, May 1, 2018 at 2:14 PM, Bob Kertesz <bob@...> wrote:

    A lot of the shots the rig took in that video feature mostly or totally headless people.

I shot the first commercial to use a Movi, right after that video and the rig premiered at NAB. We were using the prototype rig, and it was extremely rough. 30 minutes to recalibrate for a lens change for example, barely operateable in dual mode, and unusable in single. But think back to 5 years ago, when this was mind blowing technology regardless.

Where were y’all back in 2013 when Freefly showed us the best way to Catch a cab in NYC... 

On our spot we had the operator who did that cab grab, John Lyke, and did a similar shot for us on the Warner Brothers backlot. I can’t speak to the specifics of the NYC shoot, but it was a controlled street and John is a brilliant operator. 

If there was such a thing, he'd be considered a precision rollerblader. Our shooting involved transitions from curbs to streets, 360° circle moves, backpedalling, transitioning to a rideable crane, the aforementioned cab grab, and more. We had all sorts of tools there to assist him if need be such as golf carts he could ride because nobody believed he could do what we were asking solely on blades. But he did. For 10 hours, only taking the blades off for lunch. It was incredible.

Yes safety is crucial, always. But professional stunt people, precision drivers, and even precision bladers do what they do in a safe way, while inherently working with a certain amount of acceptable risk.

Craig Kief
DP/LA

Rachel Dunn
 

It's not the professionals that are the problem.

It's the producer handing me the rollerblades.

- Rachel D

310-562-5779
www.racheldunn.com


On May 1, 2018, at 9:21 PM, Craig Kief <cml@...> wrote:

Yes safety is crucial, always. But professional stunt people, precision drivers, and even precision bladers do what they do in a safe way, while inherently working with a certain amount of acceptable risk.

Craig Kief
 


On May 1, 2018, at 9:25 PM, Rachel Dunn <rachel@...> wrote:

It's not the professionals that are the problem.

It's the producer handing me the rollerblades.

In which case, I’d hand them back and suggest they call John Lyke to operate

Craig Kief
DP/LA

Toby Birney
 

On May 2, 2018, at 07:31, Craig Kief <cml@...> wrote:

In which case, I’d hand them back and suggest they call John Lyke to operate
I have contact info for all sorts of specialty operators. I know an operator who can operate on snow skis, I know several underwater operators, I know several steadicam operators, and now I have the name of a rollerblade operator to add to my contact list.

But to get this discussion back on track (for me at least), and to continue on what Rachel Dunn wrote, it’s the producer who sees this marketing imagery from DJI and then asks someone to get a motorcycle chase shot on a gravel road with a handheld gimbal standing up in a rented Camaro that is the problem. It’s the inexperienced and easily manipulated camera operator who is susceptible to this type of marketing that is the problem. But most of all, it’s DJI who is the problem. They should not be using these images to sell their product. Point.

What can we as seasoned pros do about this? Does anyone have a direct line to someone from DJI?

Toby Birney
Director of Photography / Camera Operator
Currently in Lithuania

Rachel Dunn
 

What his contact info?

;}

- Rachel D

      310-562-5779


On May 2, 2018, at 7:38 AM, Toby Birney <birneycam@...> wrote:

On May 2, 2018, at 07:31, Craig Kief <cml@...> wrote:

In which case, I’d hand them back and suggest they call John Lyke to operate
I have contact info for all sorts of specialty operators. I know an operator who can operate on snow skis, I know several underwater operators, I know several steadicam operators, and now I have the name of a rollerblade operator to add to my contact list.

But to get this discussion back on track (for me at least), and to continue on what Rachel Dunn wrote, it’s the producer who sees this marketing imagery from DJI and then asks someone to get a motorcycle chase shot on a gravel road with a handheld gimbal standing up in a rented Camaro that is the problem. It’s the inexperienced and easily manipulated camera operator who is susceptible to this type of marketing that is the problem. But most of all, it’s DJI who is the problem. They should not be using these images to sell their product. Point.

What can we as seasoned pros do about this? Does anyone have a direct line to someone from DJI?

Toby Birney
Director of Photography / Camera Operator
Currently in Lithuania

Glenn Lee Dicus
 

I would bring this to the attention of Local 600; AMPTP (818) 565.1656. They should have a good idea of where to start.

Glenn Dicus
LA based Loader
818.903.7069

Glenn Lee Dicus
 

Sorry, that was not Local 600. The site redirected to contract services. I’m actually having a difficult time trying to navigate their website to find the appropriate people to talk too.

Glenn Dicus
LA based Loader

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