John Maher talks with J.T. of Woodman’s of Essex, about his exciting project of filming Woodman’s restaurant and a North Shore clambake party from the air via a drone.

John: Hi I’m John Maher and I’m here today with John True of Woodman’s of Essex, a restaurant and catering company in Essex, Massachusetts and today we’re talking about woodman’s north shore drone videos, welcome, J.T..

J.T.: Thanks, John for having me on, glad to be here.

John: Sure, so JT, what’s your connection to Woodman’s?

J.T.: I’ve worked at Woodman for all the summers since I was 14, we’re a close friend of the family so they’ve given me a job there and I’ve been glad to work for them and just work my way up the ladder from table clearing to bartender and now I’m just doing catering events for them and I’ve just been brought in to do drone videos now because that’s what I’ve been doing in Florida. They’ve seen some of my work and that’s what they saw, that I could maybe help them out at Woodman’s, help them with a nice video of the facility and it’s worked out so far.

John: Okay, so did you grow up in Essex?

J.T.: Actually, I grew up in Florida, but every summer we’d come up to Massachusetts because my family is originally from here, so we always make it up here for the summer.

John: So you’ve mentioned that you’ve taken some drone videos of the Woodman’s restaurant and the surrounding river and marsh as well as doing a clambake at a north shore ocean front home, how did you get into drones and doing aerial video like that?

J.T.: I originally built a drone about five year ago and it was just a regular, you put all the parts together for this drone, attach a go-pro and then just seeing those views from the sky just really changed the mindset of what we could do with this because my parents were realtors and seeing that just helped them visualize that we could eventually do this for properties and maybe get this pictures up on MLX for them, just for advertising for the property.

John: Right, so what kind of equipment do you use and how do you actually control the drone?

J.T.: I use a DJI phantom 4, it’s one of the newer DJI drone models and it connects by Wi-Fi, it has a transmitter and you connect a IPhone or an IPad and you can view the video live on your phone screen and that enables you to use the controller and you can guide yourself around, set up your video shots that you need.

John: So when you’re controlling it, are you looking out at the drone as it’s flying around or are you looking down at your IPhone at the screen and controlling it by the camera?

J.T.: For most of the shots, you are looking directly at the screen, you’re just trying to get the shot lined up, but most of the times you will look at the drone just for a spatial safety aspect to make sure it’s not going to crash anything, because it does have a large blind spot view from the video, but when you’re high up enough and you’re lining up your shots, the best way to do it is to look at the video screen.

John: Right, because the most important thing in the end is the end video that you get, so you don’t want to have that video jumping all around because you’re trying to control the drone.

J.T.: Yes, you want those shots to be slow, stable, just steady shots that typically don’t fidget too much.

John: Can you control the camera itself and the angle of the camera from the remote control?

J.T.: Yes, the camera faces wherever the drone’s facing, so that’s how you aim the camera, you turn the drone but then the drone’s camera can actually aim straight or it can aim all the way down, so using that ability you can do rising shots and lowering shots with the camera and it comes out really good.

John: So you can tilt the camera?

J.T.: Yes, up and down, it goes, I think it’s 90 degrees, it can go up. You can go straight down which really adds a good perspective for over the head shots.

John: Okay, so it could be like right up over a house and shooting straight down and on top of the house.

J.T.: Exactly, it just makes it look like a two-dimensional picture instead of a video, but then you can back out and raise that camera at the same time, which makes some very interesting shots.

John: Right, so the videos that I saw that you did look really smooth and fluid, how do you achieve that and not have the camera just bouncing around?

J.T.: The camera is fixed on anti-vibration mounting and those mounts are then fixed to a three access gimbal which counters any movement in any direction, left, right, up, down, it has three motors on it which adjust for those movements and just makes the video stable.

John: Okay, so you’re moving the drone around, but the video itself comes out fairly stable.

J.T.: Yes, the video, it’s combined from the surveying of the motors makes everything really smooth.

John: Okay, so you were saying that you do some real estate videos in Florida, tell me a little bit more about that and what you’re doing.

J.T.: Yes, so I started out doing real estate videos for my parents in South Florida and then other realtors had seen some of the work and they had asked me to do some shots for them. Most of the time it’s just pictures or better aerial photos of the properties for MLX, but then recently I’ve been putting videos together and being in flat Florida you can see a lot more of the perspective and then a lot of ocean front homes where we live just comes out looking really great of the property.

John: So MLX is that real estate listings that do you see when you go on a real estate website and you’re looking at homes that are for sale, it’s that sort of standard, you have a set of pictures, you have all the information and background about the house and the cost and things like that.

J.T.: Yes, it’s more of a professional realtor tool than a personal tool right now but realtors do use it to find properties and that’s a good way just to get a great image of the entire property; showing all its amenities in one thing and then showing its location and proximity to the water and other important places.

John: And you’re doing more – actually still shots of the properties from above, again getting that perspective that you’d only be able to get otherwise from like a low-flying plane or something like that so– but still shots more than videos, why not more videos?

J.T.: The still shots are just kind of the typical thing because realtors, they don’t really change, they just like looking at the photos of- typically they’re used to seeing those helicopter and airplane photos from above. So this drone is kind of like a slow work into the changing of times and then the videos aren’t as popular because 3D video models of the inside of homes is the more popular thing and MLX only allows for one slot for the video. So most realtors do enjoy just having the three-dimensional walkthrough of the home on there instead of a—

John: Okay, so if they can only pick one video they’re generally picking the walkthrough of the home rather than an outside aerial shot?

J.T.: Yes. They typically like seeing the inside full 3D, being able to walk through while the outside, you can typically capture just with a few nice photos.

John: But like you said, especially down in South Florida, that must be great to get some of those photos from above that just shows that home is right there on the ocean and you can see that or maybe it’s on an inner waterway or something like that and you’re seeing the whole area that must make it really appealing for buyers.

J.T.: Yes, where typical ground shot might not be able to show you how close you are to the ocean or how close you are to an important place or a waterway. Just putting the drone up another 5,000 feet could really just open your eyes and show you how close you are to everything.

John: Right, so what’s the future for this, do you think with you – do you have any plans for what you want to do with the drone videos moving forward?

J.T.: I hope to incorporate my engineering degree into maybe some drone research, maybe material detection or three-dimensional surveying for properties or businesses, just something new that hasn’t really been out there for too long yet.

John: All right, great, that’s great information J.T.. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

J.T.: I had a great time, thank you.

John: And you can see J.T.’s videos on the Woodman’s of Essex YouTube channel or on the website at and for more information about Woodman’s catering services, call 978-768-2559.


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