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  • Writer's pictureCK Chan

Japan's Ace Micro-drone Filmmaker - An Interview with Katsuhiko Masuda

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

Skyshot partnered with Katsuhiko Masuda in Singapore in January 2021. He was the FPV pilot who filmed the NTUC Income TV commercial that went viral in Singapore. Katsu shared with us openly about his incredible journey as a film-maker specialising in micro-drones.

1. Can you tell us more about micro-drones.

Micro-drones are very small drones around 10cm in diameter and weigh about 100g. They are commonly used for FPV drone racing. I modify the micro-drone to include a strip-down GoPro Hero action camera on top. This provides a reasonably good video quality that is needed for filming. Because the micro-drone is so tiny, it can fly into tight spaces, which is really effective for a one-shot film.

2. You started as a film-maker, how did u pick up micro-drones?

I wanted to make films that nobody has seen before. The micro-drone allows me to tell stories that are more realistic because the camera can get really close to the action and characters.

3. How has it shaped your career as a film-maker?

I own a video production company for 15 years making promotional videos for companies. Several years ago, I found new possibilities of filming-making with drone cameras and micro-drones.

Katsu became a top FPV drone pilot by taking part in drone racing.

However, micro-drones are built for racing. To adapt them for filming, I have to learn how to control them precisely. I did this by taking part in the drone races. I was really fortunate to win many titles in the early days of FPV drone races in Japan.

After the release of the film "Onnanoko", I got many offers from directors to film music videos, commercial films, TV shows, and many live events with micro drones. That was the launch of my specialisation in micro-drone filming.

This masterpiece by Katsu shot him to fame worldwide.

4. What is unique about micro-drone, compared to using normal drones in film-making?

A micro-drone can go fly through really tight spaces. This cannot be achieved by bigger drones. The audience gets drawn into the film as the camera brings us close to the subject. This entertains them a lot more, I think.

Katsu custom-build his fleet of micro-drones to make them film-ready.

5. Do you custom-built your micro-drones? How and what did you do?

Yes, I custom build all my drones. There are so many ways of making them. The important considerations are, to make the drone as light as possible, fly longer and safely. I have also tried attaching different cameras in the process, to find the best compromise in terms of picture quality, weight, control, flight-time, and safety.

6. What are the challenges of micro-drone film-making?

The most important thing is the concept of the story. The story has to be told in a single continuous shot. So planning, timing, and coordination are paramount.

7. What is the future of micro-drones?

Micro-drone can provide the perspective from insects, wind, or something in nature.

There can be a lot of possibilities using micro-drone cameras for filming.

The NTUC Income commercial.

Watch Katsu's latest work here.

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