DJI was invited to visit Chernobyl with filmmaker Philip Grossman, who is making a documentary named ‘Exploring the Zone’. This documentary is part of a five-year personal project that Philip has been working on about the area surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, where in the early hours of 26 April 1986, one of four nuclear reactors exploded creating a 30km radius zone now known as the “The Zone”.
This was Philip’s 5th expedition to the zone.
The team arrived on-site in Chernobyl armed with 257 lbs of gear, including a DJI Inspire 1, three DJI Phantom 3 units and a DJI Ronin-M, as well as 15 LiPo batteries to keep the machines going. Though Philip did find the Ronin-M to be surprisingly easy to pack and take with him on the 16-hour journey to Chernobyl.
For the duration of the 4-day visit, DJI and Philip were given exclusive access to fly the Inspire 1 and the Phantom 3 to capture remarkable footage in Chernobyl. These included DUGA-3, a radar system consisting of 30 towers rising 500 feet above the ground, inside the control room at reactor number four and the Jupiter Factory on the southwest side of the abandoned city of Pripyat. Time was of the essence to prevent over-exposure of radiation.
The photos and videos don’t just showcase nature’s retake of the world’s worst nuclear disaster but more importantly, they illustrate the durability of DJI equipment. The Phantom 3’s durability was tested to the highest limit on a number of occasions during the expedition, including while filming at the first stop, inside the Natatorium Lazurney. “If you really want to put an untested piece of equipment, such as the DJI Ronin-M, through its paces, I would submit that Chernobyl is probably a good place to do this.” Said Philip.
In another example, the team wanted to take a shot where the goal was to fly low in the pool and follow the slope into the deep end, before finally increasing the altitude to reveal the 7.5 meter diving platform. The Phantom 3 stayed amazingly intact and flew again perfectly without any issues even when the Phantom struck the edge of the platform.
When the team made their way to DUGA-3 to film a unique “dronie”, the Phantom 3 proved amazingly durable given the tough environment and retakes required.
The Inspire 1 was also used to film extensive footage during the trip. On one particular day, the footage stretched from the southwestern most corner of the city, from the roof of the 16-story Fujiyama building, out to a distance of over 4,351 feet and at an altitude of 250 feet across the city of Pripyat. They made 8 flights on the first day and 16 flights on day two as they flew around the DUGA-3, Krug, and City Center just to name a few high points.