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Drones on the rise / Campus in a new view

By Courtney Wirths
Features Editor

Lewkowicz’s drone captures images of the College’s campus from over 200 feet above the ground during one of the busiest days for the Lion’s athletics. (Photo courtesy of Joshua Lewkowicz)
Lewkowicz’s drone captures images of the College’s campus from over 200 feet above the ground during one of the busiest days for the Lion’s athletics. (Photo courtesy of Joshua Lewkowicz)

Odds are, most students have seen Joshua Lewkowicz on campus.  Between winning Campus Moviefest with his team, his job with the College’s Department of Communications, Marketing and Brand Management, and now an internship with DreamWorks, the senior interactive multimedia major is rarely seen without his camera. 

Lately, however, Lewkowicz has been letting his camera out of his hands and into the sky.

“I’m always looking at what other filmmakers are doing,” he said. “A lot of people are beginning to move toward using drones for video.”

The idea for making a campus video had stemmed from Lewkowicz sharing some of his personal footage, using the video drone, with the Communications Department. 

The Department loved the footage and thought it would be a unique way to look at the campus.

One sunny afternoon, and an especially busy day on the College’s athletic fields, Lewkowicz set out to film campus with his DJI Phantom 2 Aerial Video Drone. The result was a hugely successful aerial video of the College’s athletics facilities, including the Lions’ baseball, softball, lacrosse and track and field games for the Communications Department.  

Lewkowicz operates his quadcopter on the fields behind the College’s athletic fields using the device’s remote control.  (Photo courtesy of Joshua Lewkowicz)
Lewkowicz operates his quadcopter on the fields behind the College’s athletic fields using the device’s remote control. (Photo courtesy of Joshua Lewkowicz)

“We knew it was going to be a really big day for the TCNJ campus to show off our facilities, how many sports we have and how many people are coming to them,” he said. 

The drone is a quadcopter (four propellers) that is made to hold a GoPro video camera while flying. The drone is controlled by a remote control on the ground, according to Lewkowicz. A smartphone can be wirelessly connected to the device so the controller has the same view as the GoPro while flying. 

Operating the drone takes a lot of practice.

“When I was a kid, I used to play with Air Hogs and I would just be happy to get the thing up and moving away from me,” said Lewkowicz laughing.

The technology for these devices has greatly improved since then, he explained. The drones now not only have the ability to stabilize themselves, but can also land themselves if connection with the controller is lost or if the user doesn’t feel comfortable landing the device.

“You are always supposed to have a direct line of sight when flying,” he said.

The footage found in the campus video is taken from anywhere between 200 and 250 feet above the ground.

“There’s also a lot of magic going on in the editing room,” he added, explaining how the full video came to be. “We are, of course, showing you the best of our footage.” 

And his camera isn’t the only thing on the rise for Lewkowicz.

Now in his senior year, Lewkowicz has used his time at the College to create experiences that will better prepare him for a career in film.

He and his team are two-time Campus Moviefest winners. This year, the team took its film, “Iris,” to Los Angeles for the national level of the competition. 

The film took first place nationally for visual effects, and they were nominated for Best Picture and Best Drama.

“About 55,000 films were entered in the competition nationally,” Lewkowicz said. 

Additionally, he spent his summer in Los Angeles interning for DreamWorks Animation in the company’s videography department. 

He had applied cold call to the internship during the semester and hadn’t heard back from the company until 3 months later when he and his team were at the screening of the Campus Moviefest finalists. 

“During Campus Moviefest, I saw a call come in from California, and I thought I don’t know what that is I am just going to let it go,” he said. “It turned out to be DreamWorks.”

The experienced has solidified for Lewkowicz that his ideal future within the industry.

 “I’ve always loved film – the shooting and the cinematography of it actually going out and shooting coming up with shots, lighting and all of that,” he said. “So I am still trying to figure it out, but hopefully I’ll be doing something having to do with film or the industry in general.”

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