Paul Nurk dives 18-story building with $20,000 custom-built drone


In the world of production, large cameras and sensors are king. Paul Nurk is pushing the limits of FPV by piloting large cameras mounted to custom-built aircraft. These custom drones provide a completely new perspective for high-end production.

An average FPV drone might be built on a 5″ frame with an action cam onboard for recording. A setup like this would typically weigh around 500-1000 grams or just under 2.5 lbs. In that situation, Nurk is flying a custom FPV drone with a RED cinema camera on board, weighing in at around 30 lbs.

Big difference? Yes, but not only in cost.

Flight Dynamics and Potential

While DJI drones may offer that smooth and stable flight and video, FPV drones move in a whole different way. They have much more agility, speed, and control with plenty of room for tuning. These drones can fly up to 100+ mph, do flips, spins, and dives. Previously in film, these types of shots would be done using CGI. Now they can literally be shot via drone, with the right pilot and tools.

At this level of piloting, there is very little joking around when it comes to safety and build quality. These drones are not manufactured by any specific company, they are built by experienced pilots. Diving from the building provides quite a test for any real-life flying scenarios a director may throw at you on set. Yet, capturing FPV footage while flying a RED takes a lot more knowledge and experience than just how to fly FPV.

Flying a bigger/heavier camera is going to require a drone that can carry that payload. The heavier the payload, the more powerful, responsive, and reliable the drone needs to be. Piloting machinery like this takes hundreds of hours of training – if not more. The pilot must be able to understand the mounting of the camera and flight dynamics, including things like weight/distribution, power/voltage, and transmission range.

This dive video proves that having trust in your equipment is key. Being able to test this equipment and learn/understand how it works is a huge benefit. Before doing maneuvers like this, it is important for the pilot to really feel good about the equipment. Again, this may require even more hours of flight testing in an open area.

This is certainly not a drone that you want to crash unless you have some spare cash for new parts ;) Having said that, I think that Nurk has some great experience flying a variety of custom aircraft over the past few years. This is not his first heavy lifter and it is cool to see him learn and manage new tools like this.

Why building dive with a $20,000 aircraft?

Nurk is one of the top FPV pilots breaking into the world of cinema. He has created very clever and fun FPV content that has impressed the entire drone community. I think one reason Nurk may be doing this is that he wants to show directors and producers what this equipment is truly capable of. He wants to prove that this technology can be trusted, even while flying higher-end equipment like a RED. This is really ground-breaking stuff to fly a cinema camera like this.

It is an inspiration to see people so dedicated to their craft, and I know Nurk has a lot more planned for the future. I feel like though he has been doing cinematic FPV for a while, it is just getting to a point where there is a lot more potential. I only see a handful of pilots going after this innovation and Nurk is certainly one of them, constantly turning his ideas into reality and sharing them with the world.

If Nurk isn’t already on your drone radar, please add him to the list. He is doing some big things and I don’t think he plans on stopping anytime soon! Give him a follow on Instagram or check out his YouTube for more.

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