Pushing the boundaries of drone journalism, this video shows African SkyCAM’s three-dimensional virtual recreation of Nairobi’s Dandora Dumpsite, and demonstrates how drone produced content is not limited to aerial video and images. The video also shows how to navigate the 3D model, which was created by Ben Kreimer from images he captured using a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter.
Tip: Use an updated version of Firefox or Chrome to interact with the above three-dimensional model. Click the eyeball ‘viewer mode’ button and select ‘first person’ to experience flying through the Dandora dumpsite like a bird or our African SkyCAM drone. Use the arrow keys to move and steer by clicking and dragging with your mouse.
One of African SkyCAM’s aims is to demonstrate how drones provide new, experiential perspectives and add unique context to stories. This includes exploring the different ways a drone can tell a story, beyond simply taking aerial images and video. The above three-dimensional model demonstrates one such storytelling application of a drone.
African SkyCAM’s Ben Kreimer collaborated with Matt Rhodes, a journalist for VICE News, to do a story about Nairobi’s controversial Dandora dumpsite and the people surviving off its refuse.
Dandora dumpsite, located in the Nairobi suburb of Eastlands.
Rhodes approached African SkyCAM seeking aerial video and images of the landfill to complement his footage shot on the ground. In addition to capturing aerial video and images for the story, Kreimer also produced the above three-dimensional model as proof-of-concept to demonstrate the potential for using drones to create virtual environments for media consumers to explore as part of the storytelling process. Such digital visualizations add an experiential element to stories that was not possible before the emergence of drone technology.
DJI Phantom 2 modified by Ben Kreimer.
The Dandora three-dimensional model is a synthesis of 574 still photographs captured by a Canon SX260 HS
camera mounted underneath a DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter. Kreimer programmed the quadcopter to systematically fly back and forth across the landfill while the camera, always pointing straight towards the ground, automatically took a photograph every two seconds. Below are three images that became part of the three-dimensional model.
A school bordering the Dandora dump and separated by the Nairobi River.
Yellow trash bags from Kenya Airways.
The epicenter of dumping activity on the day this photograph was taken.
After capturing aerial images the photographs were processed in Agisoft PhotoScan, a program that processes image batches and creates three-dimensional models. During the process of creating a model, PhotoScan can also produce two-dimensional image mosaics, like the one seen below, featuring all 574 images stitched together into a single photograph.