Recently, DreamCapture’s owner, Ben Moore, had the pleasure of encountering Dmitriy Molla, a fellow entrepreneur in the visual media biz. Dmitriy, along with his brother, founded FlyWorx, which has quickly become an industry leader spanning three states in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) video production and photography. Born in Atlanta, GA, FlyWorx has a local office in Vancouver, which makes them a terrific power partner for northwest productions.
Ok, what the heck is a drone?
A “UAV” isn’t something your brother or boyfriend uses to decimate the enemy in today’s popular gaming console adventures. It’s more commonly known as a “drone.” These small quad copters are engineered to carry a diverse array of cameras, from a GoPro to Red Epic and Canon D5 Mark III. With a maximum operational altitude of 400 feet, the device typically stays airborne for 10-15 minutes depending on payload; a company like FlyWorx carries plenty of extra batteries for all-day flights.
The results of leveraging drone photography and videography for a project are unparalleled. The aerial footage offers sweeping panoramas, jaw-dropping vantage points and creates an incredible, tangible feeling of flight and weightlessness the Wright brothers must have experienced on that hill in North Carolina.
The benefits of your drone camera? Myriad!
Cost effective vs. long dollies, helicopters and cranes (some drone packages start in the $500 range – easily subcontracted into your next production’s budget).
Safety: Drones are much more secure than low altitude helicopters. A reputable drone company like FlyWorx will always disclose their safety protocols prior to filming.
Flexibility: There’s no need to break down heavy, cumbersome equipment. Drones are nimble, agile and the shot path and angle are easily and fluidly adjusted.
Perspective: your scenes and cinematography will be enhanced by aerial imagery.
Traditional videography and airborne videography offer the client a harmonious, high-definition melange of stationary b-roll and sweeping aerial shots. To the discerning viewer, this is a sensory feast for the eyes. What’s more, this alluring marriage of land-based and air-based imagery is still new, giving its early adopters yet another competitive edge. Brides are feverishly seeking out the technology as a sophisticated enhancement to traditional wedding video coverage. Even a United States Representative hired a drone operator to cover his wedding.
Ready to give it a go? Here are important pointers before you add drone-based cameras to the mix:
Aerial drones will only work in certain weather conditions. While the technology is being developed for all weather projects, the current devices cannot operate safely in winds in excess of 20 mph.
Rain is not compatible with drones; light precipitation is a stretch.
Background noise is always a concern when planning a production. Remember drones do produce sound which could result in unwanted feedback. Plan your scenes accordingly and ensure the client is aware of the noise factor.
Consider the time of day in which you will deploy a drone camera; lighting is emphatically important. Different times of day produce softer light, longer shadows, etc.
Of course, with all early-adopted technology and innovations, there is controversy surrounding the deployment of airborne cameras and the implications on privacy laws. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has repeatedly commented that drones are considered illegal when used in commercial operations. The caveat to this “ruling” is simple. There is no official law rendering drone video production illegal; hence, there is nothing to enforce. When one particular consumer was fined $10,000 for using a drone, he took the FAA to court, emphasizing there cannot be a fine without a written law enforcing a fine upon lawbreakers. As you can assume, the consumer won his case, and did not have to pay a fine. Fly on!
With that stated, the FAA is expected to issue official regulations concerning commercial drone operation and use as early as 2015. Until then, there is no executive ability to enforce laws governing or regulating drone use or their operators.