Hollywood heavyweights get behind Kiwi drone-tech competition

James Cameron (Image courtesy of National Geographic GSCA)
Today’s launch of the C-Prize, a $50,000 innovation challenge run by Callaghan Innovation, has garnered the praise of A-list filmmaker James Cameron, who says the competition is a real opportunity to improve drone technology for the international screen industry.

“I am starting to really like drones as camera platforms,” says Cameron. “Any improvements that can be made to make them more stable and quieter would enable them to be used for a wider variety of world class shots.”

“This is what excites me about the C-prize; teams can develop technology to reduce noise, increase stability and track filming subjects. I look forward to seeing what people come up with.”   

The creation of the competition, with the aim of encouraging the development of cutting-edge UAV technology, has also drawn praise from Jon Landau, producer of the New Zealand-filmed Avatar, who says New Zealanders’ innovative nature and passion for filmmaking make the country the perfect location for an innovation challenge.

“I can’t think of a better place to launch this technology challenge,” he says.

Image: Avatar producer Jon Landau

Callaghan Innovation chief executive Dr Mary Quin says the support of world-class filmmakers shows there is a real industry appetite for the initiative, which aims to encourage Kiwi innovation of UAV technology by bringing together companies, entrepreneurs, future innovators and research organisations.  

“Internationally, filmmakers are increasingly looking to use unmanned aircraft to help them tell their stories in innovative new ways,” Dr Quin says. “These include Avatar director James Cameron and producer Jon Landau, who have both expressed excitement at what the C-Prize will do to help this emerging sector and the screen industry innovate.”

“Their public support shows there is great industry support and major opportunities for Kiwi innovators and entrepreneurs seeking to commercialise world-leading UAV technology.”

“Combined with Callaghan Innovation’s existing support for our growing UAV sector as well as the backing of key industry figures such as James Cameron, the C-Prize is set to stimulate continued development of the UAV sector, commercialise high value technology products bred in New Zealand and stimulate a new generation of hi-tech entrepreneurs.”

Image: Dr Mary Quin, chief executive, Callaghan Innovation 

About the C-Prize

Entrants’ initial concepts are due 5 July and will be judged by a panel of film, technology, and commercialisation experts. Those who make it past the first round will be awarded $10,000 and supported to develop their prototypes. 

The grand prize winner will be announced in December with the winner receiving the $50,000 grand prize as well as an expenses-paid trip to exhibit at the 2016 National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas.

For more information on the competition visit www.cprize.nz.