Behind The FPV Goggles: Gab707

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Description: Gabriel Kocher, aka FPV pilot Gab707, blew minds with his Stone Eagles flight back in 2016. His cinematic freestyle flights and skills in the DRL circuit have propelled him up the ranks in the FPV community, but his introduction into the sport may surprise you. “I didn’t actually start drones because I wanted to FPV. I used to be big into photography at the time and I loved the idea of putting the camera up there and I was just annoyed. For example, we moved to Quebec, I used to be in Switzerland before, I used to do a lot of mountains and everything and then we came to Quebec here in Canada and suddenly there are forests everywhere, so you don’t see stuff. You’re just stuck in the forest, you know there’s a beautiful view out there but you just can’t see it! So that’s maybe one of the smaller, funnier parts about why I got driven to make something fly is I wanted to put the camera up over the tree line.” He built a DIY drone, strapped the GoPro on, then quickly realized he couldn’t see what the camera was seeing. That’s where the goggles came in. “I got one of those foam boxes with the screen in the back then started flying FPV.” Gabriel was eventually scouted by the Drone Racing League and has been racing on their circuit since. As many of us know, it’s no cake walk staying in those ranks. “When you’re at a DRL race and you put a decent performance you’re halfway down the pack already. You feel like you’ve given it your all already because everyone is that good. I work very hard to not have the pressure work on me. It’s really intense though. Like a lot of these other races you speak to other people, you have your own quad that you’re actually working on, right? Your props are tightened... you may disregard this but it’s sort of a routine. In DRL you don’t touch anything, so you’re just sitting there. You know someone has put out a quad, you’ve maybe hover tested it, and suddenly there’s this voice that goes ’30 seconds to race,’ and you go ‘ohhhhh,’ and the room goes silent. They’re freaking out, and that’s the first moment where you can actually touch the controller. You cannot touch the controller, you cannot touch the sticks and get the nerves out any other way. So, you know, suddenly ’30 seconds to race,’ ‘Oh my God!’ ’20 seconds to race,’ ‘Ah I gotta put my goggles on, oh my God.’ ’10 seconds,’ ‘Noooo!’ Then the countdown starts and you have to go. It’s really, really intense. I’ve tried to control that by breathing, making sure I don’t get too hyped up about the racing. Some of the other guys, they get hyped up on that energy – they need to trash talk each other and sort of, I don’t know chat it out. I’d rather be centered and take it one race at a time.” Traveling is part of any DRL pilot’s life, but his favorite place to fly has remained the same throughout his career. “I think the best place I’ve flown is just in the mountains. Some of the best videos I’ve made are just in the mountains and that’s where I love being. It’s always an amazing experience just hiking and finding a nice place, just visualizing a line. Usually I don’t go out to the mountains with 15 packs and just rip them out there for an hour. I usually have 1 pack to fly to 2 packs to fly, max, because there’s usually other people there waiting for me. It’s usually about visualizing something, imagining a line, imagining what it’s going to look like, flying out, coming back – hopefully – it usually happens. Then yeah, pack it up and go, it’s just the experience of being out there.” That’s one of the tricks with Gabriel’s work – his most epic and inspirational flights aren’t as long-range as you may think. “There’s definitely more to be done with it. Right now, people are pushing and putting more research into it. They use bigger props, then they use smaller props, then they use different motors, and for sure you get different efficiency. So it depends on how far you actually need to go. I’m always someone, as I was saying, I just like hiking. In the winter I’ll go with skis, in the summer we’ll just use our own two feet, but I’m always relatively close to the terrain. Now, a lot of people are like, ‘I just want to pull up with the car and fly up 4 miles up the mountain and make it easy for me.’ So, there obviously you might want to put in some more work to have the setup that can fly out four miles then fly back. That’s when the whole research goes in, but it’s not that obvious how you can have a good video. For me, what’s very important is video, because I’m also putting a lot of time into sort of production filming, because you can get all sorts of angles with these mini quads that goes beyond the standard look-down with the Phantom. It’s just so much more intuitive and there’s so much more movement that you can put into it. It’s more than, just not about, ‘oh you’re doing something new,’ it’s about an art from as well. So I think, with art, even though you may be reproducing – for an artist, if you’re a painter sure it’s paint on a piece of cardboard or a piece of canvas. It’s not about how you do it, it’s about what you say. The gear doesn’t really matter, it’s about what you’re expressing and what you have to say, and how you see the world.” Gabriel appreciates the artistry long-range, proximity, and cinematic flights can bring to the table. But he’s also incredibly passionate about the challenge and exhilaration that comes with racing. He’s hoping both sides of the sport continue to grow in the years to come. “On the filming side of things, I’m happy to have brought maybe more exposure to what mini quads can do, so I’m hoping to see more productions let’s say hire mini quad pilots.” “Drone racing, obviously is going to become – there’s a lot of questions about where are we going with drone racing. I’m hoping that the world will sort of organize a little bit better. Everyone and their mother, as I like to say, has a drone racing league and it would be just a bit more organized. I like DRL in the sense that we’re making a product that’s good for audiences and something that’s TV worthy. People are learning about drone racing and that's the first stage of making sure everybody knows about it. Once they know about it, they can decide to start getting into things so maybe we'll start getting more into that. But, yeah, I'm hoping to see drone racing grow and keep us all fed at the end of the day." Hear more about some of Gabriel's favorite videos on Behind the Goggles EXTRA, only on AirVuz.com VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Kendall: Drone racing and FPV freestyle are some of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Meet the men and women behind the goggles who are changing the way we see our planet. Gabriel Kocher blew mindS with his Stone Eagle's Flight back in 2016. His cinematic freestyle flights and skills on the DRL circuit have propelled him up the ranks in the community. However, his introduction to the sport might surprise you. Gabriel: I didn't actually start drones because I wanted to do FPV. I used to be into photography, and I loved the idea of putting the camera up there, and I was just annoyed. For example, we moved to Quebec. I used to be in Switzerland before and used to do a lot of mountains, and then you come to Quebec in Canada, and suddenly, there are forests everywhere, so you don't see stuff. You're just stuck in the forest. You know there's a beautiful view out there, you just can't see it. [00:00:59] So, one of the smaller, funnier parts of why I actually got driven to make something fly is because I wanted to put the camera over the tree lines. Kendall: He built a DIY drone, strapped a GoPro on, then quickly realized he couldn't see what the camera was seeing. That's where the goggles came in. Gabriel: I got these foam boxes with a screen at the back and started flying FPV. Kendall: Gabriel was eventually scouted by the DRL and has been racing on their circuit since. As many of us know, it's no cakewalk to stay in those ranks. Gabriel: When you're at a DRL race and you put up a decent performance, you're halfway down the pack already. You feel like you've given everything because everybody is that good. I work very hard to not have pressure on myself. It's really intense, though. With a lot of these other races, you speak to other people, you have your own quad that you're actually working on, and you make sure your props are tightened. You may disregard this, but it's sort of a routine. [00:01:56] In DRL, you don't touch anything, so you're just sitting there. Someone has put out a quad, and suddenly, there's this voice that says, "30 seconds to race," and you think, "Oh…", and the room goes silent, and you're just there freaking out. That's the first moment where you can actually touch the controller. You could not touch the controller, you could not touch the sticks, you could not get the nerves out any other way. So, suddenly, "30 seconds to race." Oh, my God. "20 seconds to race." Oh, I've got to put the goggles on. The DVR - oh, what? "10 seconds." No!!! The countdown starts, and then you have the go. It's really intense. I've tried to control that by breathing and making sure that I don't get too hyped up about the racing. Some of the other guys feed on that energy and they need to trash-talk each other. They need to…I don't know, chat it out. I'd rather juts keep centered and take it one race at a time. Kendall: Traveling is part of any DRL pilot's life, but his favorite place to fly has remained the same throughout his career. [00:02:56] Gabriel: The best place I've ever been is just these mountains. Some of the best videos I've made, I think, are in the mountains, and that's where I love being, so it's always an amazing experience to hike, find a nice place, and visualize a line. I don't go out to the mountains and come with 15 packs and just rip them out for an hour. I usually have one or two packs to fly at max because I've got other people waiting for me. So, it's usually about visualizing something, imagining a line, imagining what it's going to look like, flying out, coming back - hopefully; it usually happens - and then, pack it up and go. That's the experience of being out there. Kendall: That's one of the tricks with Gabriel's work. His most epic and inspirational flights aren't as long-range as you might think. Gabriel: There is definitely more to be done with it. Right now, people are pushing and putting more research into it. Can I use bigger props? Can I use smaller props? Can I use higher voltage? Can I use lower-KV motors? For sure, you get more efficiency, so now it depends on how far you actually need to go. [00:03:57] I just like hiking, so in the winter, I will go with skis, in the summer, I'll just use my own two feet, and I'm always relatively close to the terrain. A lot of people also think, "I just want to pull up with the car and fly four miles up the mountain. That's easy for me." So, there, obviously, you might want to put in some more work just to have a setup that can actually fly four miles and back. That's when research comes in, but it's not that obvious how you can have a good video. For me, what's very important is video because I'm also putting time into doing sort of production shooting, uh, because you can get all sorts of angles with these mini quads, and they can go beyond, you know, your standard "I'm going to look down with the DJI Phantom" or "I'm just going to do a traveling one." It's so much more intuitive and there's just more movement that you can bring. It's more - it's not about, "Oh, you're doing something new," it's about an art form as well, so I think art - even though you may be reproducing - for an artist, if you're a painter, sure: It's paint on a piece of cardboard or a piece of canvas. The gear doesn't really matter. It's just - as I said - what you want to express, and what you want to say, and, uh, how you see the world. [00:05:05] Kendall: Gabriel appreciates the artistry long-range, proximity, and cinematic flights can bring to the table, but he's also incredibly passionate about the challenge and exhilaration that comes with racing. He's hoping both sides of the sport continue to grow in the years to come. Gabriel: So, on the filming side of things, I think I'm happy to have brought maybe more exposure to what, uh, mini quads can do, so I'm hoping to see more productions, let's say higher FPV quad pilots. If anything, then drone racing, obviously, there's big questions like, uh, where are we going with drone racing? I'm hoping just for, you know, the world to sort of organize a little bit better. Right now, uh, everyone and their - and their mother has, uh, as I like to say, has a drone racing league. I like DRL's in the sense that it's racing a product that's for audiences and we're making something that's TV-worthy, right? Everyone can watch it. People are learning about drone racing so, uh, I think the first stage is making sure everybody knows about it. [00:06:00] And then, once they know about it, they can decide to start getting interested. Um, but - yeah, I'm hoping drone racing will grow and, uh, keep us all fed at the end of the day. That - that would be nice. Kendall: Hear about Gabriel's award-winning Stone Eagle's Flight and more on Behind the Goggles Extra on AirVūz.com. [End of Audio] Duration: 7 minutes

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