A Drone’s-Eye View of Beaver Stadium

By day, Jesse Brown is an IT consultant in Penn State’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations—one of the go-to guys on an incredibly helpful and friendly tech staff that we’re lucky to have. But by night (and on certain mornings and weekends), Brown is an amateur drone pilot who has compiled some very cool footage of Beaver Stadium, all controlled via an app on his iPad.

With the Nittany Lions’ home opener this Saturday, we recently caught up with Brown—whose drone video of the University Park campus got some buzz a few weeks back—and he was happy to talk about capturing these occasionally breathtaking views of Beaver Stadium. If anything, he was probably happy we weren’t calling to ask why we couldn’t get our laptop to start. Make that two of us.

TFL: So when did you get into flying drones?

Brown: I’ve been using them for about a year now. I started with a cheap, $30 one I got off Amazon. After that, I tried making a few, but that was kind of short-lived. But I wanted to get more into aerial photography, and I found that Phantom 3 quadcopter drone. It’s got a 4K camera, which I wanted because it gives you a lot more room to get the shot you want. It’s not a whole lot different from a GoPro.

TFL: When did you decide to start shooting University Park?

Brown: I had fun with it over the summer, just taking shots over campus. There are so many beautiful views around campus, it seemed like a natural thing to take pictures of. And Beaver Stadium especially is really impressive. I probably shot most of that over two, two-and-a-half weeks, just going out before work, after work, on the weekends.

TFL: How much footage did you get to put the stadium video together?

Brown: In total, it’s about an hour and a half of flight time.

TFL: What made the stadium appealing as a subject? Are you a big football fan?

Brown: I am a fan, but it was pretty much just the coolness of the structure. And it was kind of the perfect location, far enough from the center of campus that you’re not going to endanger anyone.

TFL: Safety’s something you’ve got to be mindful of with these things, right?

Brown: Right. You can’t fly over open-air events, and before I go out, I call the air traffic controller at University Park airport.

TFL: I’m assuming if you could recreate this footage on a game day, you’d jump at the chance?

Brown: If I could get permission to do it, sure. My dream shot would be a panorama. I’d love to get it full of people.

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