SkySupplies: What a Beautiful Day to Drone!

 

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 :

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Advertisements

To Drone or Not To Drone… Part 2 of 6

We hear it everywhere, the din of drones. It’s an exciting new time to be in aerial photography with new ways to see the world. It has opened up a new layer of airspace to us (see graphic below). Depending upon the type of angles, views and use of the imagery, you now have several choices. So when do you go drone?

For us, we determine the platform through a discussion with our clients on every project. Sometimes, the best thing in the end is not always a drone. Here are a few key questions to ask when deciding which aerial platform to use:

What altitude is best for the shot? Many times, the goal is to see for miles and miles. That is best done from much higher than the maximum altitude of drones (400′ per FAA guidelines). There are many platforms to do this; helicopters are great around congested areas, airports and between 800′ – 3000′. For really wide expanses of land, the fixed wing gives us maximum altitudes and can be very economical.

What is the image format needed? Still photographs, video, both? The drones are fantastic at capturing video. It’s smooth, gorgeous and the dual controllers get the best camera angles. If high resolution stills are needed for large format printing, there is no beating a full sensor DSLR (Nikon or Canon, whichever you prefer). The cameras on the drones are great for most uses but remember their resolution is still about 10-12MP.

Is there anything getting in the way of using a drone? If your site is close to an airport, highway, over a crowd or in any other restricted space, it may not be possible to use a drone. A lot of the time, the helicopter can get into more spaces safely and may be the best choice. Or even alternative aerial platforms like lifts and masts can be used.

Using a drone just to use a drone may not be the best reasoning before you take to the skies. Think about all of the factors and then decide what platform is safest, best and going to get you the best imagery. We would be happy to answer any of your aerial photography questions. Safe flying and always wear your seat belt!

Wendy Whittemore – Flight Commander

Aerial Innovations of TN, Inc.

View Part One of this 6 blog series

SideViewOfAirspace_LowRes