Interview With Draganfly Creator

Apple.com has an article of cool use of iMovie to promote equally cool toys for adults. The company, Draganfly, makes some extraordinary products full of spirit of play that makes it no wonder that they are also Mac users. The Mac Observer (TMO) interviewed the founder, Zenon Dragan.

TMO: Mr. Dragan, your company and Web site got its fifteen minutes of fame recently when it was featured on Apple.com because you used iMovie to produce the videos of your flying products. Tell us about the videos; why did you use iMovie?

Mr. Dragan: We find that the biggest reason a customer will hesitate before purchasing anything from our Web site is doubt. They doubt that our products work - especially the Draganflyer III. Customers who havenit watched the videos on our Web site are always easy to pick out on the phone, because they have no idea what the Draganflyer III can do. Our videos are designed to show all aspects of the Draganflyeris capabilities.

We used iMovie because it works with our Canon GL-1 digital video camera over FireWire beautifully - just plug in the camera and begin! For someone who is new to video work - as we were - the versatility combined with the extreme ease of use enabled us to create professional looking videos in a minimal time frame. Movies can be made and posted to our Web site quickly. iMovie also compresses the video for us, which is essential for web-based video. The alternatives to iMovie are very expensive, and donit offer anything that we feel is lacking in iMovie.

TMO: How long have you used Macintosh? Is everybody in the company using Macs?

Mr. Dragan: I have been using a Mac for 7 years now. We have always used Macs to run Draganfly Innovations, but we keep one PC on hand for certain book keeping software. We chose to work with Macs because they work with us and allow us to do many things in-house, instead of contracting professionals. Mac software seems to be more suited to us, because we arenit professional video editors, HTML writers, or graphic designers.

TMO: What was the first non-commercial flying toy you built? And what was the first commercial one?

Mr. Dragan: I started with the R/C Mach II, a helium-filled indoor blimp. It was a much simpler and less functional version of the Mach II we still sell, but we could produce them easily and they were fun to fly. For the commercial market we have developed a huge version of the Mach II, called the Summit. The Summit is 8 feet in diameter and has four motors. It is designed for a company to put their logo on it and fly above the crowd at a trade show.

TMO: How did you come up with the amazing four-rotor design of the Draganflyer?

Mr. Dragan: The four-rotor concept had actually been around before my time, but I was able to employ some very advanced technology: piezo-gyros. Three of these little canisters tell the Draganflyer what it is doing, so the programming can keep the Draganflyer stable. These gyros were originally used in cruise missiles, but their price became reasonable when high-end video cameras began using them for image stabilization. We now sell a four-rotor helicopter that provides a very simple path to flying an R/C helicopter in your house.

TMO: Tell us about the materials used in the Draganflyer.

Mr. Dragan: The rotors are a soft foam because the Draganflyer must be safe indoors and around people. The frame is all carbon fiber and a super-hard nylon. Both are very hard to break, and durability is essential for customers new to R/C helicopters. The Draganflyer can actually be dropped on cement from 5 feet up without taking any damage, and this was a huge milestone for the Draganflyer that we finally achieved in December 2001. All previous Draganflyers have been very fragile, and customers would go through 2-4 frames before becoming a proficient pilot.

TMO: Is it true that they are considering real helicopters on the four-rotor principle? How is that going?

Mr. Dragan: No idea! Draganfly doesnit have the resources to be involved in that market. And besides, weive already made the principle work - and our version doesnit require a trained pilot with hundreds of hours of experience to pilot.

TMO: Draganflyis products seem very different from anything else Iive seen. How did that happen?

Mr. Dragan: Draganfly Innovations has never tried to sell to the R/C hobby market. We always try to sell to the customer who wants something cool, fun, and most of all: simple. All of our products use electronics, while the other companies are using mechanical parts. This lowers the cost, eliminates maintenance, and keeps everything very simple. That is really what the R/C toy market wants.


Eolake Stobblehouse is a contributing editor to The Mac Observer, specializing in cultural matters, and comes to us by way of MacCreator. Send him your comments and tips.

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