We know Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (or UAVs/drones) are a lot more than toys. Still, they sure are a lot of fun. We’ve already done a series of posts about the common myths about drones, but there’s something we’d really like to drive home: successfully completing a drone shoot is not easy. This past weekend we were shooting a series of medical buildings with our DJI Inspire 2 Drone with Zenmuse X5s 20.8 mg camera.
On this particular shoot Paul was the Pilot (operating the “master” controller to the drone) and Ron was the cinematographer (operating the “slave” controller to the camera).
It is important to avoid any interference from the outside world to ensure maximum communication and focus between the controllers. It is possible to do a one person set-up but the two person rig is safer, enables more eyes on the sky to make sure there is no interference and gives us more camera motions–definitely our preference!
During flight, Paul keeps his eyes on the sky while Ron is focused on the screen watching the video capture. Fortunately, the drone camera is crazy steady, so no matter the wind level or drone speed we are able to take high quality stabilized video. Included in our gear is also the Crystal Sky display
which reduces glare on the screen. That is probably our most frustrating situation…not being able to see the iPad screen in bright sunlight. We also use an app called DJI Go which is our iPad operating system to calibrate, control and monitor the drone. It’s incredibly powerful and the possibilities are nearly endless.
There are a number of drone rules to keep in mind when shooting, and here are two key takeaways from this recent healthcare building drone shoot :
- You can’t fly a drone over high traffic thoroughfares — this is to prevent the possibility of drones falling from the sky and causing interstate havoc. Legally, we are only allowed to fly to 400’ and that is only if we are away from airports. The drone even has a “geo-fence” on it that alerts us when we are close to 400 ft as an extra failsafe.
- Keep an eye on battery life. Seriously. This will ruin your shoot if you don’t have an eye on it. It can depend on winds and how we are flying, but typically one battery will last around 10-12 minutes, with the Inspire 2, there are 2 batteries so we can get closer to 20 minutes of flight time.
Between regulations and technical specifications, drone photography and videography are not simplest tasks, but with advanced tools, talent and expertise it can be a blast. Plus, we get to deliver our clients exactly what they want.
Our very sexy differentiating factor or value proposition is that we have “developed a thorough process that gives clients better service & products at an affordable cost.” How very sexy. To tell the truth, it actually is! In plain speak, we have a way of doing everything around here and we all do it the same way. This minimizes mistakes, increases effective communication and does save time and money in the end.
What does this mean for integrating our drone into our product line….which has been the focus of our series? It means we diligently developed new systems for working with the drone. From the time a client calls about a drone shoot, our team knows exactly how to handle the inquiry, the pricing, the set up, the shoot, the ingestion, final production and delivery to client.
While the drone imagery has been similar to process once we get it in the office, it’s the capture that has been all new to us. By communicating often pre-shoot and collaborating with our clients and operators, we have developed a step by step system that works best for us once we walk out the door with the drone.
My mantra to my photographers and operators is I don’t want you to think meaning every decision has been addressed ahead of time and the operators/photographers can focus on safe flying and quality imagery.
Flight Commander – Aerial Innovations of TN, Inc.
We’ve all seen the viral videos and epic shots made with ready to go out-of-the-box flying machines, aka drones or UASs. It looks and IS so easy to click BUY on Amazon, unpack and learn how to fly and shoot with a drone…. the 7yr old in me is already out the window and down the street…wheeeeeeee!
There are guidelines out there. Hobbyists have been following them for years. And I’ll guess they are mostly for not running into things like people, buildings and other aircraft. As of this writing, in order to fly for commercial purposes (and that is anything incidental to business, not just for pay) then you need to obtain a 333 waiver from the FAA and have a licensed pilot at the helm. Later this year, we are expecting Part 107 to come out with updated regulations that may loosen some of these requirements.
In brief, there are a few basics that apply to ALL operators.
- Don’t fly over people, crowds, etc.
- Don’t fly over highways or busy intersections
- Don’t fly within 5 miles of an active airport without authorization
- Always keep the drone in line of site
- Always have a spotter on hand
Every project is different. Builders know that. And as photographers we look at each and every project like it’s new and different. Our first priority is to safely get you the imagery. Period. And if it means we can’t operate the drone, we have several other platforms to choose from. (and they also satisfy the 7yr old in me!) We’ll have more about safety in our next blog post…..stay tuned!
Flight Commander – Aerial Innovations of TN, Inc.
*Commercial purposes as defined by the FAA is not necessarily for the all mighty dollar but might also be for internal use in a business. How to stay compliant? For now, apply for a 333 exemption or hire a 333 exempt company. In time, the FAA will publish Part 107 rules for commercial UAV operation.
View our previous posts about drones:
Introduction to Drones – Part 1 of 6
Selecting the Best Platform – Part 2 of 6
Best Bets on Pricing Options – Part 3 of 6