Stanford University

An Interactive Tool for Designing
Quadrotor Camera Shots

SIGGRAPH Asia 2015
*Authors contributed equally


Cameras attached to small quadrotor aircraft are rapidly becoming a ubiquitous tool for cinematographers, enabling dynamic camera movements through 3D environments. Currently, professionals use these cameras by flying quadrotors manually, a process which requires much skill and dexterity. In this paper, we investigate the needs of quadrotor cinematographers, and build a tool to support video capture using quadrotor-based camera systems. We begin by conducting semi-structured interviews with professional photographers and videographers, from which we extract a set of design principles. We present a tool based on these principles for designing and autonomously executing quadrotor-based camera shots. Our tool enables users to: (1) specify shots visually using keyframes; (2) preview the resulting shots in a virtual environment; (3) precisely control the timing of shots using easing curves; and (4) capture the resulting shots in the real world with a single button click using commercially available quadrotors. We evaluate our tool in a user study with novice and expert cinematographers. We show that our tool makes it possible for novices and experts to design compelling and challenging shots, and capture them fully autonomously.
Technical Paper
Source Code
Supplementary Material
MLA Citation
BibTeX Citation


This video shows overview of our system:
This video shows a more technical explanation of our system:


* Authors contributed equally
We would like to pay our respects to our friend and co-author Floraine Berthouzoz, who passed away unexpectedly shortly after this paper was accepted, well before her time. Floraine, you were an incredible and inspiring collaborator; your contributions to this work and your impact on us as researchers is immeasurable. You will be dearly missed.


This project would not have been possible without the generous assistance and support of many individuals.

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Copyright Stanford University, 2015