Tech by VICE

This Facebook Group Recovers Photos From Inside Chinese Drone Factories

This group is revealing the weird mundanities of electronics manufacturing.

by Jason Koebler
Oct 16 2015, 6:02pm

Image recovered from DJI drone camera by SkyzMedia

Thursday, we briefly took you inside DJI's Chinese drone factory with a 40-second video that was recovered from one of the company's drone cameras. Turns out, there's an entire community of people dedicated to extracting old test footage from DJI drones.

The closed Facebook group DJI Factory Photos recommends that drone owners use Lexar's Image Rescue 4 software or EaseUS to repair corrupted video files that haven't been totally wiped from the SD cards that come with a new drone camera.

Screengrab: DJI Factory Photos

Over the past few months, a handful of the group's 356 members have published several-second videos and stills from within DJI's Chinese factories. Turns out, many of the same factory workers show up in multiple photos. There are even threads dedicated to guessing what different-colored uniforms might mean.

"With the earlier photos we could see more of the [assembly] stations and nooks in the factory," Dale Hylton, who founded the group, told me. "I'm not sure what changed but in those older photos there was a lot of guessing what was happening at different stations and guessing what was going on."

Screengrab: DJI Factory Photos

In one post, for instance, a member says, "I have seen this guy before. He must be putting in some hours."

Screengrab: DJI Factory Photos

Hylton says DJI owners have been posting factory photos in disparate forums and Facebook groups for quite some time, and so he decided to compile them all in one place. Hylton says the 40-second footage we posted yesterday is the longest look he's ever seen into the factory—most of the videos are corrupted or unrecoverable.

Screengrab: DJI Factory Photos

"We've only recovered a couple of the videos," he said. "Most of the drones don't have anything on there. It all depends on how much it's been formatted or deleted."

Some employees of DJI are in the group, and the company seemed good-natured about the fact that people were posting images of its factory when I asked a spokesperson about the footage we posted yesterday. It's just another example of the people on the internet banding together to get behind something weird.

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