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Tasmania’s Stories

Global ride for drone start-up

Edition 187 Ignite Digi Chris Fox Tom Waugh

A small Tasmanian company, Ignite Digi, is using drone technology, cutting-edge accessories for digital movie cameras and high-end personal skills to carve a niche in the global film industry.

Hollywood studios have enlisted their services and they have contributed to the creation of such notable local productions as The Kettering Incident and Death or Liberty.

The two-man team operates at present from a tiny flat in a suburban house, but Brand Tasmania's Executive Director, Robert Heazlewood, is confident that is going to change.

Ignite Digi has recently been invited to join the famed German Arri Camera stand at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam.

Mr Heazlewood, an experienced cinematographer who has interviewed company founders Chris Fox and Tom Waugh, said: "IBC is the biggest broadcasting, entertainment and technology expo in the world.

"The only comparable annual event is in Las Vegas.

"This is a huge opportunity for Chris and Tom.

"I used Arriflex film cameras at the ABC 40 years ago and now the company makes the best high-end digital cameras in the world.

"They are really computers with a very good lens and lens system.

"The product manager from Arri wants to display a full set of Ignite Digi accessories as demonstration parts at all future expos."

Ignite Digi was formed four years ago when the partners decided to create a business based on their shared interest in aerial cinematography.

Mr Fox said: "We went out and bought the best drones we could.

"We found that the available technology just wasn't good enough for the quality of cinematography we wanted to produce.

"So we decided to develop our own drones and aerial systems."

Mr Waugh said he had been lucky enough to work on a number of big sets and he was always conscious after those experiences that time was money in the film industry.

"The more efficient we could be the more we were appreciated, so we naturally looked to continue to customise our operation to eliminate risk and increase efficiency," he said.

Ignite Digi was soon turning out clever light-weight accessories that add value to the finest cameras.

Their flexibility and efficiency enhance camera capability when they are mounted on drones or gimbals.

Film makers from Tasmania to Hollywood were soon signing on.

Mr Fox is Ignite Digi's chief pilot, designer and engineer, contributing his engineering skills and a flair for technical innovation to the business.

He said: "With Ignite Digi accessories, a film crew can get an Arri Alexa camera rigged on a drone or gimbal more quickly. Weight balancing is simplified."

Mr Fox said the Ignite Digi parts were attractive.

"The design and finish immediately strikes you as high-end and although they are not cheap, they look as though they deserve to be relatively expensive."

Accessory parts are milled from solid blocks of aircraft-grade aluminium billet in Bellerive and sent to Melbourne for a high-quality anodised finish.

Mr Fox’s skills in programming an impressive CNC router and CNC mill machine complement Mr Waugh's creative film shooting capability.

"This adds up to a unique blend of talents that are solving problems that cinematographers have had to work around for years as they adapted to, and tried to get the best out of, the new drone and gimbal technology," Mr Heazlewood said.

"This is a collaboration where the sum of two parts, equals much more than two."

It is also a shining example of Tasmanian innovation.

Image courtesy of Robert Heazlewood

10 September 2017, Edition 187

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Facts about Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.

Tasmania

Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012-13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.

Geography

Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.

Geography

The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island's land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.

Geography

About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.

Climate

Twice named 'Best Temperate Island in the World' by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.

Climate

In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.

Population

The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of Mt Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania's highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.

Flora

Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.

Flora

Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King's holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.

Fauna

Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.

Fauna

The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.

Fauna

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania's predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.

Economy

A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.

Economy

Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world's biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.

Economy

The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.

Economy

Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.

Economy

Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.

Economy

The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.

Economy

Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.

Economy

The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the state's gross product in 2010-11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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